Men & Women, continued…

Posted: November 7, 2009 in Humans

As most of you know, I am married.  Like all marriages, there are good things and bad things that run the course in such a relationship, but I am gonna tell you a story or two, which in some ways relate to the topic at hand as posted about previously.

On more than a few occasions, whilst hanging out with folk (generally) of the man persuasion who know both myself and Mr.E, the question is asked of me “So, how is your wife?”

Make no mistake, this is often a neutral to complementary statement towards me, and intended as a grievous insult to him.  Which one, pisses me off because there is nothing wrong with being a wife, so why is it seen as possibly the worst insult in the entire world one can level against a married man, and two, when making such a statement the people making it are drawing upon the worst stereotypes they can think of in a “wife”- nagging, jealous, passive aggressive, selfish, lazy (as if those were not merely human traits and solely belonged to women/wives).  Now, to be fair, true enough, Mr.E can be any or all of those things.  But so can anyone.  In fact, at some point in their lives, I would venture that all humans, male or female, are at least one of those things if not more.

And I wonder what it is that leads people to make those male/female things, or why it is this attitude and statement is made or taken the way it is.

The first time I heard it uttered it was kind of funny- because it was like something out of a sitcom.  A group of friends had gathered for a BBQ on one particularly (insanely) hot summer afternoon.  All married folk, a couple of whom had very small children- all female.  I’d not really noticed it, but as it happened, myself and three of the husbands were out seeing to the meat on the grill, drinking beer, and talking sports.  Mr. E  (probably the more sane of the two of us at the time, it was 100+ degrees outside) was inside with the wives and kids, watching some Disney movie and sipping tea.  No, he was not helping with the indoor food prep.  Upon noting this, one of the men-folk, a good friend of both myself and Mr. E, hands me a beer, grins, and says “So Ren, how is the wife?”

I laughed because at that moment it was funny- as I said, like something out of a sitcom.  But I did not think much of it at the time.  I like grilling, I like beer, I like hot weather, and I like to talk about sports.  These things were not in my mind “man things”, but at that moment I started to notice they were.  Or at least in the minds of some people they were.  I certainly think dealing with kids should be “parent things”, esp. on weekends.  And I could not fault Mr.E (not a lover of hot weather) for wanting to be inside. 

But I have heard that sentiment, been asked that question, several times since then.  And while I get the intent…Mr.E is a homebody, that is just the way he is, whereas I am not….I am not sure why it being a “wife” or doing things that are “wife like” has to be derided as some ritual of manhood.  Okay, so what, I like to go out with the crew and have a beer and watch sports, I like to shoot pool, go to the gun range, hit the gym, go to clubs, I have even been known to (gasp) go to a strip club.  So what?  I am still a woman, and why yes, a wife, and when using that word as an insult to my husband (and apparently compliment me for being so not wife like) I have to wonder…WTF are you thinking, dudes?  You are insulting the whole concept of wife in front of one, thanks.  Just because I might be able to beat dude X in pool or know more about the NFL than dude Y does not negate the fact that wow, I happen to be a wife.  I especially wonder about this statement out of dudes whom are married…especially if I know their wives…a few of whom would kick their fucking asses into the middle of next Thursday for busting on “wives”. 

And this is not to say that all wives I know are awesome.  I can think of one right off the top of my head who sucks eggs straight out of the chicken.  She is every bad stereotype I can think of about “wives”:  Controlling, lazy, passive aggressive, arrogant, totally convinced her dear offspring walk on water and can do no wrong when they are, in truth, uncontrollable little shits.  She does nothing other than sit on her ass all day while her kids run wild or other people look after them and she thinks she is just the bees knees…and god forbid her husband want to do anything- from go golfing to shoot pool- without her presence.  And she talks smack about everyone.  That is her life…sitting on her ass and gossiping.  Suffices to say I hate this woman.  But who is the wussie, the “weak one” there, her, or her husband who puts up with it?

Mr. E may have his less than charming qualities no doubt, but he ain’t that meatsack by any stretch. 

But it leads me to wonder, aside from and along with the wife thing, why is every insult directed at a dudes manhood  has to do with being a woman?  “He is a pussy, a bitch, he throws like a girl, whines like woman?”  I get that man is in some peoples head the direct opposite of woman, but is woman such a bad fucking thing that is has to be used as the gravest of all insults?  I mean come on…we’re supposed to, as women, like this, and the men who hold this attitude?  Dudes, are you stupid??

Smirk.  I want to know if the dudes who say this shit can not only bench press their own body weight, but make Chicken Kiev, get a hysterical two year old to stop screaming, and load a clip- while keeping up on the NFL with rollers in their hair…without whining. 

*There are also women who use “you are such a dude” as the same sort of insult, but that is different post.

  1. every man should know how to cook, don;t know why that is considered a “woman” thing anyway

    ==also to say I throw like a girl, well that’s just an insult to women everywhere


  2. rootietoot says:

    I have a statement I pull out whenever I can, “When was the last time you did anything for 29 hours straight? I was in labor that long…”

    • Stone Fox says:

      oh i TOTALLY use this: “when you can grow and carry a baby for 9 months, then spend 24 hours pushing it out, you can call yourself ‘tough.'”

      • Ren says:

        see, never having been through the hard nautral labor thing, I can’t use that one….

        but i can and do say ‘oh yeah? you ever been SET ON FIRE?”

        For some reason, the whole set on fire thing tends to shut people up, esp. when I have the scars to prove it 🙂

        I think men sometimes, some men anyway, underestimate the GAH of pregnacy and child birth because they just cannot imagine it…being set on fire, however….


  3. FW says:

    I wonder why you are so sure it’s not meant as an insult towards you as well? I would be insulted, I think, because I would feel that they were implying that I’m not wifely, and that I am ‘husbandly’. Which, yeah, doesn’t really bother me, but it would bother me because they think it’s somehow clever to “switch” the gender roles – and why bother to ‘switch’ them unless they had some belief in the rightness of them. If they are insulting your mans masculinity by calling him a wife, aren’t they by default also insulting your perceived femininity at the same time? (not that you would feel insulted just because they tried to insult you, if that makes any sense… like I wouldn’t be insulted at the gender role switch joke, but I’d be offended that they’d even try to or want to insult me.)

    and also, as far as pussy and bitch go, – I’ve always wondered about the words “dick” and “dickhead” in that these are words for male sex organs, and they mean “cruel” or “rude” or “mean”, and nobody ever seems to have a problem with that. Though admittedly, I haven’t checked out what the MRAs say about it. If anyone had a problem with it, they would.

  4. Gaina says:

    Personally I think being at home with your feminine side is *incredibly* sexy in a man and always to be admired.

    From the female perspective I also wonder if being a bit of a tom-boy can be a hurdle when you are ready to start thinking about relationships and actually want guys to start seeing you as more than ‘one of the boys’ . I have a pretty male-dominant brain according to umpteen tests I’ve done on the subject and quite frankly I really enjoy that aspect of my personality so it’s not something I want to bury.

    • Ren says:

      Don’t bury it, if it is who you are, it is who you are.

    • rootietoot says:

      A while back, Terry and I took that test that measures your feminine/masculine traits. I forget what it was called. Anyway, he tested 51% feminine, and I was 48% feminine. Kinda funny really, if you knew us. He’s kinda of Paul Bunyan meets John Wayne, and I’m sorta June Cleaver meets Lucille Ball…

    • Roy Kay says:


      I gravitate towards tom-boys. They are lots of fun. And as for creating connection and raising hard-ons. Much much easier to deal with someone free spirited, simple, direct and to the point. I find having to figure people out a real PITA.

  5. I also wonder not if it’s an intentional slap torwards womanhood at this point but so ingrained, you insult a man by likening him to a woman and you insult a woman by likening her to a man (she’s butch etc)

    also at this point I think pussy and bitch are no longer gender specific when used as insults
    that mgiht have been the root once but the connations are now free of that

    • Ren says:

      eh, I still think there is knee jerk reaction when people call men pussy or bitch that is like “dude, are you saying I’m a woman?”

      • naah to me I think calling me a cocksucker would be worse. Pussy to me doesn’t mean women, it means chicken shit, and bitch means complainer regardless of sex. I find and I don;t know if this is a personal thing or an old school NYC thing, that homosexual insults are more threatening to my concept of manliness, than calling me a bitch or a pussy. Then again look at who my female best friend is , so perhaps i know women can be strong (and press their own body weight)

    • Stone Fox says:

      i disagree; i think bitch will always be tied to gender. when it’s directed at a woman, the meaning is so varied; uptight, rude, bad attitude, etc. when it’s directed at a man, it always implies weakness. if you call a man a bitch, it is to imply that he is weak and therefore, not manly. which kind of leaves ‘girly’ by default. yes i am aware that there are a zillion types of “strength,” many that can be attributed to women. i think the first definition of strength that pops into most people’s heads is physical strength, a definitely male characteristic.

      hey don’t blame me, blame saturday night live and ahnold’s “gurly-man” skits.

      also, i think any insult that has animal roots will always have a gender; sow, cow, heifer, bitch, etc.

      • Ren says:

        heheh, next time you hear a man call anyone a bitch, ask him if he can bench his own body weight…this is my new strategy!!!

      • see if someone calls me a bitch, I don’t feel they are calling me weak , rather a complainer, or a person who is mean and gives people a hard time for no reason. now if you appended it with “little” in the front that does/would add a bit of the weak connotation, at least to me, that you are talkign about.
        But like all words and language, these things do change, and whatever it’s root, there will come a point where that is just a historical curiosity. Maybe we aren’t there yet, but I think we are closer rather than not. Now of course this begs the whole question of when a guy goes to another guy “Don’t be such a effing woman” which unfortunately sure as hell is an insult that is gender driven.

  6. Ernest Greene says:

    I get a fair amount of this kind of shit by virtue of being married to a porn star. Certain assumptions seem to come with that territory. Number One on that list is that I’m some sort of pimp, either the suitcase variety, who just lives off Nina’s money and deos nothing, or an actual pimp, which is what I assume those fools who approach me first about whatever before talking to her must think. I suggest they try talking to her. She’s much friendlier in any case.

    But I’ve at least acquired some sense of humor about the telephone thing:

    “Is Nina Hartlley in?”

    “She’s out of town at the moment. May I take a message?”

    “Is this Mr. Hartley?”

    “Um .. Sure. About that message …”

    If our situation screws up economic assumptions, the reality of it screws up gender assumptions even more. I’m the one who decorates and shops and snags good stuff off ebay for Nina, who likes fashion but doesn’t think much about it. She’s the sports fan, travel booker and event scheduler. She’s also the social director who gets things started. I tend to be wary of people and keep an eye out for sudden movements.

    And I’m definitely the designated closer. She doesn’t like being tough with people, but in business, any business, the inability to do that is a guaranteed screwing, and not in a good way. So when it comes time to seal some contract, the wannabe employer has to pass the bullshit detector of which I am the official operator.

    Yet, oddly, at the bottom of it all, I’m the one who takes things personally, gets upset, holds grudges and generally struggles with emotional turmoil much more than she does.

    The whole arrangement, like most real life arrangements, defies expectations, whatever they may be.

    As for being called this or that by men or women, I get plenty of all of it from both. Gendered insults always seem to carry the same intent, regardless of the gender hurling them or the specific language. The purpose would seem to be to put me down owing to something gender-related, and I regard it as preposterous irrespective of the source.

    One thing I can say with confidence is that anyone who assumes anything about me because of my anatomy, or presumes I will respond to this or that in a certain way because of it, clearly doesn’t know much about me.

  7. Roy Kay says:

    The only reference to wife that I ever here is women saying “I need a wife.”, meaning someone to make the household hum while they pursue careers. Not much disdain there, actually. I suppose I could be considered “the wife” in my house since I tend to do the cooking and dishwashing, and sometimes Jane’s uniforms; but this relates to her 3-day 12-hour 3rd shift work schedule and her need for sleep as opposed to cooking and such. I also tend to be the one who scrubs the kitchen floor – again a matter of her being gone tile morning, so I can scrub, shower and go to bed while it dries.

    However, I wouldn’t take it as much of an insult if it were intended as such. I’ve found that taking offense generally just gets greater efforts at giving offense. Besides I think someone who denigrates being equal partners, which we basically are, is just showing their own idiocy. It’s a free country. They’re allowed to be a idiot if they want.

    Meanwhile, I have the advantage of a Poly relationship; can pursue a host of interests: history, business, science and rarely nag or get nagged. Life. She is good. There is much I might trade for; but far greater the trades I would gleefully pass up. If someone, somehow, needs to see me as a “gurly-man” that bespeaks their miserable existence, not mine.

  8. rachel cervantes says:

    The whole arbitrary division of labor, traits, interests, etc., on the basis of gender is stupid. Not much more to be said about it.

    Oh, and pet peeves: Mine is being addressed as Dr. and Mrs. Husband’sName when we both have the same degree but NOT the same name. And this by folks who know better, too. It’s not so much that I’m not addressed by the academic title that bugs me (although if they are going to recognize his, why not mine?), it’s that I HATE BEING CALLLED MRS. I have an idea: Let’s get rid of ALL titles other than Ms. and Mr.

    Oh, yes, I feel much better now. A lil rant is good for the soul on occasion, isn’t it?

    • Roy Kay says:

      Oh, I loved it when Ms. came along. Saves a ton of stupid “Hello, Uh is this Miss or Mrs. X sojourns before getting to the crux of the matter. And yeah, the conventional Dr. & Mrs. bugs me on two levels: 1) The failure to recognize the each person has and identity in their own right, and 2) the creeping social stratification. I mean why not “Bachelor and Mrs.” or “Master and Mrs.” or “Dr. X and Bachelor Y”. Then again, social strictures that require stratification tend to be pretty stupid anyway.

      • Gaina says:

        Hehehe, my very, very pet hate is to see ‘Ms’ on any correspondance sent to me as I think it makes me sound like a Radical Feminist Bee LOL. I don’t mind if people think me old fashioned, but I like ‘Miss’ very much :).

        Mind you, if I get married I shall enjoy being ‘Mrs’ aswell….but I’m keeping my maiden name. Self-contradictory or what? haha

        • Ren says:

          I took Mr. E’s last name for one simple reason:

          It is several letters shorter than my own. LOL

        • Roy Kay says:

          Ms. used to mean “Libber” and that was very cool with me – both for the freer spirit and the self assertiveness. The was in the pre-RadFem hive-borg your-not-a-real-woman-unless-rape-victim-is-the-center-of-your-self-definition days.

          Actually, back then radical meant something very different from today. It meant really looking at gender roles as something not to be imposed on people against their will. The dominant cultural memes were examined, which is good. The were not, however, the subject of a quasi inquisition. Absent a Women’s Studies orthodoxy, there was no new prescription, just the free flowing move away from old prescriptions.

          Really, RadFem strikes me as more ReactFem. The old “Marxist-Leninist” paradigm. The disdain for sluts and whores. The perpetual need to yoke women-and-children. That and the authoritarianism (which is interesting since Augustine was the architect of the ideology/theology of “Authority”)

  9. Gaina says:

    Yeah, I can see why that works 🙂

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