It is a brand new year on campus, so I think it high time I write another post admonishing you all not to bake boys cookies, make them dinner, do their laundry, tidy their disgusting rooms and all those other things some of you do for free, to be "nice."
How well I remember my first High School Party with Boys. It was way across town at the house of a girl who was not very popular at my school, but she seemed nice enough, so I went to this party, and across the room from a few shy girls was a sniggering group of Bad Boys. At 14 I had all the social smarts of a four year old, so I was quite terrified of these boys. They were discussing some girl I didn't know, and I have never forgotten the breathless excitement of the one who exclaimed, "I hear she gives, man. She gives."
What this girl was believed to give I would rather have died than ask, but I am sure it wasn't chocolate chip cookies. And whatever it was that this girl gave (if she really did), it clear was that her generosity wasn't something that brought her respect.
Well, you might be saying, obviously. That's sex stuff. Although it is now The Most Important Thing in the World ™, we know men don't respect women who offer or give up their favours generously and indiscriminately. We know men never have conversations that go like this: "Wow. So-and-so is a great girl. She never lets a guy go without, no matter who he is or how lousy he treats her. Respect." "I hear you, man. The man who marries her will be really lucky. And she'll make a great mother, too." "You bet. She's a living saint." We know that doesn't happen.
Because knowledge of this strange male reaction to getting The Most Important Thing in the World™ for free was hammered into young women's head from the beginning of human sentience until the 1960s, it does not come as a surprise. What does come as a surprise--indeed, often as a nasty shock--is that there are all kinds of generous deeds that backfire.
These include baking cookies for a guy who hasn't as much as bought you dinner, making a special dinner for a guy who isn't even your boyfriend, doing the laundry for a man who tells you he doesn't understand how, and getting on your hands and knees to clean his messy place. In short, anything that Single men used to hire servants to do.
If you are the same age as some guy, you can never be his mother. And you probably don't want him to think of you as his mother, as that would be weird. If you really, really like him, and have honourable intentions, then you probably want him to see you as a potential wife and mother to his kids. And what better way to do that, you think, than some wifely and motherly activities like baking, cooking, laundering....
But strangely no woman goes to the altar dressed in an apron holding a bouquet of wooden spoons and toilet brushes. No. Most brides go to the altar dressed like princesses. Some dress as fairy princesses. Some dress as Hollywood princesses. Some, e.g. the ones in red, dress as rock'n'roll princesses. Some dress as Personifications of the Christian Church as the Bride of Christ. And why? Because men want to marry princesses, not servants*, and deep down we know that. Our mistake is thinking that a woman can simultaneously serve a man and be his princess without him being totally in love with her first.
Meanwhile, I know how tempting it is to do all that cooking, baking, cleaning and blah blah because I love to do it for guests--especially young guests whom I can pretend are my children home from college. But socially I can get away with it only because (A) everyone knows you have to be extra-nice to guests not related to you by blood and (B) I am way old and married and totally non-eligible. And if I don't get at least a bread-and-butter note, I get mad, a truth which cannot be too widely known.
*Occasionally men have married their housekeepers. Laicised priests, for a more contemporary example. Those housekeepers earned wages, though. They weren't scrubbing for love.