All I know for sure is that I had some amazing friendships with straight guys in high school.
Of course I also had a lot of male “friends” turn into emotionally and sometimes physically abusive assholes. I can think of four off the top of my head who either threatened me with violence or actually hit me. Others spread slut-shaming rumours about me. Others would only talk to me on the phone, not willing to be seen talking to me in public.
Still, I miss having straight male friends.
But this last few weeks of witnessing the vile, hateful and abusive things (here and here) that have been said to and about women I respect, admire, and in some cases consider to be friends has driven home how I got to a point where I no longer had male friends.
Because you reach a point where you can no longer ignore the bullshit that sometimes comes out of their mouths. Part of the deal was always that you didn’t call them on every sexist thing they say, besides, to do so would be exhausting. So I pulled back.
As I was reading all the hate and vitriol on Twitter this past week all I could think was, “There’s no way to tell which guys walking down the street think this way”. There are truly no signifiers of who is safe. As any woman in the activist community will tell you, lefty beliefs and proclamations of feminist ideologies is no guarantee that a guy won’t shut you down with misogynist epithets or rape you after he gets you back to his place to check out his collection of feminist essays.
And I know what you might be thinking, what about the queers? I’ve heard straight women say things like “just hang out with gay guys!” but being gay is not some magic bullet to shedding all your misogynist baggage. In some cases it’s just more open because, unlike straight or bi guys, gay guys don’t have to worry that they won’t get laid if they piss you off. I’ve been forced to hide out in a bar bathroom because a gay male “friend” was trying to physically intimidate me because I was upset with his friend’s sexism.
So what’s a girl who likes to hang with guys to do?
There are many amazing, open, and thoughtful guys out there but the problem is that it can take so much time and work just to find out if any given guy is “one of the good ones”. There are friends I had in high school that I still wonder about. For various reasons I lost touch with pretty much everyone but I still miss some of those guys, especially the ones with whom I spent a lot of one-on-one time. I miss my friend Ryan who’s only reaction to me coming out as bi was to shrug and start talking with me about who we thought was hot, and who promised me that if I ever died he wouldn’t let anyone eulogize me by talking about how “pretty” I was. I miss my friend Jay whose only reaction to finding me crying in his bedroom at one in the morning was simply, “what happened?”
But at this point in my life as a married mother in her thirties the door on new guy friendship feels closed to me. Because as far as I can tell, straight (or bi) guys don’t make close friendships with married women, especially when the only men I meet these days are married fathers.
So I miss those old friends, and I wish I still had that kind of friendship in my life but Goddamn if I know how to find it now.