One of the great things about being a woman is that I can make gross generalities about women without getting into too much trouble. I get into a little more trouble when I make gross generalities about men, but happily there is always some kind male reader who writes "So true! LOL!"
Okay, so today I am going to be swimming in the ocean of hypothoses and gross generalizations, because I don't know where I read this opinion, which I saw written somewhere, and which I share because of life experience. And it is this: "Outside of school and work, don't compete with men."
Will there be screams of horror when I hit the "Publish Post" button? I hope not. But I fear there will be because we in the West live in societies that tell us to WIN! Win at all costs! Did you see the film Girlfight? I did. I watch all young-women-who-want-to-box films. And the heroine beats her boxing boyfriend in a match. He was mighty upset, which is believable, but he got over it, which kind of isn't.
Okay, I just stared at that line for five minutes because I'm struggling between memories of the Ring and memories of boys being ticked off because I beat them at stuff. I mean, I actually know a girl (see photo) whose boyfriend introduced her to our boxing club. He won the Golden Gloves (Michigan). But she won the WIBC Lightweight World Championship three times, lives in Las Vegas, is best friends with Laila Ali. I am not making this up. And I wonder if she and he are still together. Hmm.
Well, frankly, being a three-time WIBC Champ counts as work. If you're a world class female athlete, you're just going to be better than most men at your sport. And YAY you! That rocks. Being really good at stuff rocks. And, of course, you don't usually compete with men at your sport.
But let's leave that aside. Let us leave Las Vegas and ponder the men in our lives. I am pondering the boys of my elementary school, over whom I exulted because I was better than them at school stuff. Not surprising, they hated me. But I firmly and self-defeatingly held by the 1970s schoolyard taunt, "Anything boys can do girls can do better."
This statement is not actually true, except for stuff like reading and writing, delicate hand movements, high altitude flying and having babies. And girls do tend to perform better than boys do at school until the senior years of high school, when the boys catch up. But it was not nice to rub the boys' noses in it.
I carried on my "Anything boys can do girls can do better" schtick in high school, even though there weren't many boys around, because I thought it was saucy and flirtatious. Ah ha ha ha. It so didn't come across that way. And I thought it was perfectly appropriate to speak to my crush objects with hauteur when they did something I perceived of as wrong, and to mock them with gentle raillery. I now read my high school diaries and cringe. I want to get in there and sort me out.
I did rather better as an adult, for I had learned enough about young men to know that their egos are quite easily squished by female competition, sneers and mockery. And it sunk into my head that my mother's attitude toward my father was that he was a marvellous chap and the best of men. "Oh children," she says. "Look how clever your father is! He has done [whatever righteous deed]!" My own husband has profited from this because, without even thinking about it, I just parrot my mother: "Oh, B.A.! How clever! How brilliant! And thank you for taking out the garbage, you marvellous man."
This post is longer than I meant it to be. Sigh. To cut to the chase, when you are at school and at work, girls, show no mercy. Get in and win (in a classy way; try not to brag. Smile grimly and carry on. You are your greatest competition, etc). But in your private lives, don't insist on winning all the time. Don't brag about your salary and compare it to male friends' salaries. Don't brag about your snazzy college degree and compare it to male friends' more proletarian degrees. Don't brag about your long list of publications to that cute, struggling writer. Don't get the lid off the pickle jar a male friend has been straining at for ten minutes. Don't do a victory dance when you beat a man at tennis.
Men, says the woman whose book I read but can't remember the title of, have to compete all day at work. The last thing they want to do when they go home or go out with a woman is compete some more. They want soothing. They want to relax. They want to have fun. Sure, there are some men who love sparky arguments with their love objects. These men are few and live mostly in detective novels and on TV.
A note about your fantastic worldly success:
In general, men marry women who make less money than they do. This is, in part, because women seek men who make more money than they do. And if you are a woman at the top of the earning heap, this creates a very, very small pool of men, men who have no problem marrying women who earn much, much less than they. So bragging about your salary and Harvard degree may get you everywhere with recruiters but NOWHERE with eligible men.
The skills we use to get ahead in school are not the same skills we need to attract men. This is sad and annoying, but it is so. I know of a brain surgeon who talks to her artist husband in baby talk. It makes her sister sick, but the marriage is a very happy one. What are we to make of that?