There’s this interesting poem titled My Last Duchess by Robert Browning. The speaker in this poem is a man speaking to another man visiting his home. The speaker takes this man around his house and settles on a painting of his deceased wife. As they stand there looking at her image, the widower begins to describe her. That’s when things get weird.
“She had/ A heart– how shall I say?– too soon made glad,/ Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er/ She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.”
According to my male friends and partners, men have weak constitutions that are– how shall I say?– too soon aroused. Anything from a touch on the arm while laughing to a simple smile, men will read into it, instant boners threaten, and they suddenly believe they have a shot in hell of getting into our pants. According to various partners and male friends, I am too friendly with the opposite sex. Too provocative. Now, ladies, I’m a lady who knows damn well when I’m flirting, and I can flirt with the best of them (unless it’s a strange gorgeous man looking at me from across some public place, or not looking at me, it really doesn’t matter, I seize up– something about the “don’t be a whore” message that was beaten over my head my entire life).
So when I am not flirting, like not even thinking about flirting, and a male friend or partner describes by behavior as “too nice,” I get frustrated. According to most of the men I’ve talked too, smiling too much is a definite sign of giving off signals. I get it, there’s such a thing as body language, and we are always giving off signals, and different behaviors carry different science-supported meanings. But ladies, I’m telling you, this happens constantly when I’m not actually flirting. Wtf?
Acknowledging the fact that different cultures interpret nonverbal communication differently, I’m starting to wonder if men and women are actually different cultures.
For as often as I hear men refer to women as bitches, I’m dumbfounded. You mean one minute it’s too nice to smile, and the next minute, if a woman doesn’t smile enough, she’s a bitch? Seems to me that any woman who manages to perfectly walk that fine line should join Cirque du Soleil and start traveling the world. Am I the only one, ladies? What’s been your experience?
Listen, folks, I’m much like the woman in the painting:
“My favor at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace– all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech.”
A lot of things make me happy. And when I’m happy, I like to show that I’m happy. In short, I’m not good at playing it rude. And although I was raised with strong cautions against looseness, I was also raised to be really nice. So much so that I think I’m actually really nice. And my nice usually looks a lot like Elaine Benes shoving some man halfway across the room.
Your thesaurus may be a little different from mine, but I assure you that “really nice” is apparently also a synonym for “man magnet” “giving off signals” “telling him you want him” “telling him he has a chance” “being a boner master” and/or “being immature or naive.”
Well, gosh darn it. I’ve tried being “less nice”, which defined by my thesaurus and men, also means “cold” “a bitch” “stuck up” “being uncomfortable because I can’t be my genuine self because men have an inability to interpret social cues, like the difference between ‘we’re just having a good conversation’ versus ‘we’ll be having sex soon.’”
Again, ladies, please chime in here. Do you find yourself having to go the extra mile to not give off the wrong signals to men? Have you found yourself becoming less friendly because men frequently misinterpret your kindness as a come on? This isn’t about male-bashing; I just want to share some experiences and maybe gain some perspective. That being said, I’d also love to hear from the guys. What’s your experience been like from the other side?
I’m going to be talking more about this subject on my Instagram Live on Thursday 8pm est. I like to call it Lit Talks. I’d love for you to follow me there. We’ll also be discussing this weird and interesting poem. Wait till you hear how his wife died, and what he’s up to now!
My name is Lyz-Stephanie and I want to inspire you to be more connected to yourself and the world, to find beauty in simple pleasures, and to have more adventures. Every day we can do something to make our lives happier and richer, make our minds more active and engaged. I’m on the journey. Will you join me?