1. “Women don’t even like sex.”
There are two circumstances in which you usually field this gem: 1) You are not having sex at this very moment, and thus it is assumed to be a reflection of your whole gender or 2) a male friend is bitter lemons over his current sexual prospects, and he’s looking to blame the universe. Here’s the thing: Some women like sex, some women don’t. Some men like sex, some men don’t. And an even more precise subset of the ‘women who like sex’ demographic — and it’s a very real one — are the women who like sex in general, but just not with you personally. To imply that women don’t like sex, that a full 50 percent of the population is not interested in one of our most basic and pleasurable human functions, is a total cop out for what is in reality a very complicated and personal thing. (And, yes, this may be an unfortunate thing to consider, but sometimes a woman who otherwise enjoys sex is driven into not wanting it because her partner(s) know nothing about her anatomy and cannot give her an orgasm, yet expect her to have one routinely. How do we flippantly dismiss those women, huh?)
2. “Are you on your period?”
God, is there anything worse than this question? You know fucking what, people who assume that a woman must be presently bleeding from her vagina to feel anything left of “passively calm” on the human emotion spectrum, maybe she is. Do you understand that the process of having a period is not just a delicate transition from “normal existence” to “pleasant reminder that you are fertile and reproductively healthy” necessitating only the coquettish insertion of a tampon? Do you understand that cramps are real, that hormones have tangible effects, and general fatigue can be so strong as to make the regular work day extremely difficult? She’s probably not on her period, statistically — but even if she was, GOOD FOR HER FOR BEING ANYWHERE BUT IN HER BED EATING PRINGLES. She doesn’t need your shit.
3. “[Insert intended-to-be-devastating comment about her appearance here].”
Let’s get personal here for a minute, because this is serious: I have been putting myself out there publicly in my writing for three years now, and there has been a pretty constant theme in the criticism I’ve received: No matter how unimportant my physical appearance is to my actual job, there will be a constant influx of men who feel that the most effective way to upset me is to call me fat or ugly. A recent example:
.@rooshv i'm not self-conscious about my weight, i would suggest insulting my rosacea. although you're right, i have flawless hair.
— Chelsea Fagan (@Chelsea_Fagan) January 5, 2014
Here’s the thing: There are a lot of things that really upset me, if you want to be critical. I am sensitive to harsh criticisms of my work, I hate being called out when I’m not a good or compassionate friend, and I would fall apart entirely if someone talked shit about my dinner parties. But I don’t care what random men think of my appearance, and I doubt that I am alone in that. Many men enjoy living in the delusion that our universal achilles’ heel is to be called fat, because it allows them to dismiss every other part of us, and it puts them in an absolute position of power and judgment over our worth. But to assume that she cares what you think about her waistline or her smile is to give yourself way, way too much credit.
4. “She’s too sweet to be a boss.”
They may never say it in these explicit terms, but if you want to avoid the “bitch” label by being soft, available, and a good listener at work — you’re fucked. You may not be regarded as a humorless ball buster, but you sure as hell aren’t going to be taken seriously. There is a tendency in many men to make the division between the schoolmarmy Hillary Clintons of the world, and the stand-in mother figures who will spruce up the office like a particularly joyous plant but never be an actual source of competition. It’s a Scylla and Charybdis that is impossible to sail between, and can only be navigated as you go.
5. “She has daddy issues.”
Hahahahaha, fuck you. What an awful thing to say, even if it were true. Either she actually does have a traumatic past with her father and you are making light of it by condescendingly ascribing all of her personal problems to it and referring to him repulsively as her “daddy,” or you are falsely assuming that there could be no source of dysfunction in women’s relationships that wasn’t another man. It’s the ultimate in narcissism, in the same way we assume that the way random man perceive a woman’s appearance is the most important thing to her, we are saying that her very complex problems can be reduced down to the presence of another male figure, and nothing else. And even if the assertion is dead-on, and her difficulty in committing is because of her absentee father, what an asshole thing to hold against someone.
6. “Girls never get along with each other.”
I honestly feel badly for people who think this, because they are clearly missing out — in their own lives and in the social circles they are exposed to — to the awesome relationships that women actually have with each other. For many of us, our female best friends are like surrogate sisters, irreplaceable to us and close because they have an intimate understanding of what we are going through and what is important to us. We may have tons of guy friends, but girl-on-girl platonic relationships are something very precious and important. (And despite what the Real Housewives might indicate, most of us have hobbies outside of drinking rosé and calling one another sluts. At least, most of the time.)
7. “She’s not like other girls.”
If you have to compliment one woman by putting her gender down, you are doing it wrong. And there’s no more intricate explanation than that, you’re just a fool.