The Assumption

n626775205_5227919_414I wish I could write about ponies and rainbows and Christmas miracles all day and that’s usually my intention when I wake up in the morning, but then I come across stuff like this and I can’t focus because my blood is boiling.

I was at a school recently, talking to kids about bullying, while my mind drifted back to my own experiences as a kid. As I’m talking, it’s simultaneously dawning on me that it was my teachers who were just as problematic as the bullies. I suddenly felt compelled to change my presentation, and since I was workin’ for free, no one could stop me. I virtually stopped mid–“don’t bully each other, kids”–sentence and started explaining to the teachers (who were there with their students) how my grade-school teachers never stepped in to help me, even when I was being bullied right in front of them. The teachers would see me cry and pull ME aside to say that I shouldn’t let the boys get to me. They said I was in the wrong for letting them make me cry. I worked up the courage once to ask if they would help me…or at least let me change seats so I didn’t have to sit between the boys who teased me incessantly. They’d always kick my backpack and flick wads of paper on my desk with threats and diagrams as to how they were going to find my horses and kill them in the middle of the night. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much compared to the way kids treat other kids today (the number of “go kill yourself” remarks on Instagram and Vine are truly horrifying), but at the time, I still found it pretty traumatizing.

And you know what the teachers told me? “This is a matter between you and them. You need to learn how to deal with it.”

I was ten…and then eleven and twelve and thirteen. I asked the teachers for help because I DIDN’T know how to deal with it. Someone with disciplinary authority should have stepped in. And I wonder how many suicides, eating disorders, self-mutilations, teenage drug overdoses, rapes, and **school shootings** would be prevented around the country if more teachers and parents DID step in the moment signs of bullying or trouble arise among the bullies and the bullied.

I respect kids more than I respect most adults, but kids ARE kids, and until they aren’t, the adults in their life have the right and responsibility to teach, guide, manage, and intervene. But as soon as those words came out of my mouth in front of all those teachers, I realized that I had a part in this, too. When I see or hear trouble, I need to act, too. Maybe I’m just one voice, but it counts, if only to stick up for the one in trouble and let he or she know, “you’re worth it.”

And maybe my voice counts more today, than ever before.

I find this Tuthmosis insulting and dangerous on so many levels. First of all, he’s a complete contradiction. “Damaged women” who cut their hair are a red flag, but based on his definition, women with eating disorders are also “damaged,” but he likes those girls because they make him feel like a man and fit his cheap-wad, ego-centric dating criteria. As an aspiring writer, I appreciate the ability to write freely through blogs without being required to be a famous author first, because heaven knows, this has yet to happen. But I find it terrible that this guy is not only blogging, but websites and magazines feature his trash. His articles cover everything from why all girls are spoiled to why you should never work for a female boss to why women ask to be raped and why girls with eating disorders are prime dating material. There’s plenty more where that came from, but I was going to go into cardiac arrest if I read any more.

His most recent article is the one about how women with short hair are broken, and that’s when I realized what his problem is…what most men’s problem is. Men assume that what women do and live for is to attract THEM, and when women do something that they do not find *sexually* appealing…it means those women have lost all meaning and purpose to their life, and are therefore, broken or damaged.

Let me explain, I DO like my long hair, and I’ve always had long hair, though I used to cut it all the time to donate to Locks of Love. I haven’t done that for awhile, and now that I can’t give blood because I travel to Africa all the time and no longer qualify with the Red Cross, I’ve been feeling guilty about my recent lull in giving back/paying it forward.

But now that I’ve been sick with mono and can’t physically get up to do much (like shower) and sleeping can be painful and involve lots of tossing and turning (which creates a lovely tangled mess of hair), I’ve often thought about just cutting my hair ALL off, donating it to Locks of Love, and having short hair with no maintenance, which would instantly make me feel better. It’s a win-win. That’s what Shelby did in Steel Magnolias—she cut her hair before major surgery—and it always made perfect sense to me. And M’Lynn was right…it turned out looking “real sweet.” Also, I would like to point out that Shelby never asked her husband what he thought. She just ducks back into the house to tell him where she’s headed, which is to the beauty shop. Now that’s a healthy relationship. Independence, but courtesy.

Anyway, NEVER once has it crossed my mind as to what a man might think…never once have I weighed the option, “what if a man no longer finds me attractive with short hair?”

Men are a LOT of work (of course, they are completely oblivious to this). In my opinion, they don’t earn their keep, so you really have to LOVE one in order to put up with him. It takes a lot of giving, and they do a lot of taking. My dad is 58 years old, and without meaning to, he STILL wears my mother out. My grandfather is 80, and it seems like that’s the age when men finally have it together. I have no trouble waiting until I’m 80 to get married. That’s what my grandmother did (the second time around), and she’s the happiest married person I know.

Unlike Tuthmosis (who likes to count both his actual dates and call-girl experiences as relationships), I have very limited experience with men and relationships. But I would also like to point out that this has been ON PURPOSE. I’ve had 5 marriage proposals to date…and none of them came from a boyfriend. They were from guys I just thought were friends. If I wanted to be married right now, I could be.

My first real relationship ended up being with a guy I DID think I was going to marry. I was ready to marry him. I loved him and I loved making him happy…until he confessed what that really meant.

No more school. No talk of Kenya. No more acting. No CELL PHONE.

I broke up with him almost immediately after that, once I got over the shock of his selfishness, insecurity, and control issues. Somehow, I had managed to love and support the most selfish man alive. He was equally shocked because he ASSUMED that my life goal was to do whatever he wanted. Never once did he think about what I wanted. I’d rather live alone and free than under his terms. He wasn’t offering me a life or a happily ever after…he was offering me a contract as an indentured servant, while assuming his mere presence (including his womanizing on the side) was more than worth it.

Now, not ALL men are THAT selfish (and stupid). But they still make selfish, egocentric assumptions. For a good couple years, I had a close guy friend whom I absolutely, hands-down adored. I could tell him anything and I know he’d respect my opinion and he’d listen to me and he’d always be there for me. And I’d do the same for him. The important thing about all this is that he was beginning to change the way I thought about men…for the better.

…but then he wanted to date, and I knew right then and there a time would come when he’d condemn me to hell no matter what I said, and sure enough, it came in a ranting, lethal email. Yet, he still took me by surprise.

He wrote the email as IF I was in love with him (for the record, I never once told him any variation of “I love you,” “I’m in love with you,” and we never DATED) and I was condemned because, from his perspective, I led him on and that kind of deception means I am dead to him because it must also mean I am a deceptive person in general and I lie to the world and I have everyone tricked into thinking I’m a good person. All while being presumably in love with him.


For real.

I learned that night that I did, in fact, love him. Because only the people you love can hurt you to the degree he hurt me. I was cut to the core. It still hurts.

But I’m not IN love with him, and there’s a big difference. I DID give it a chance when he brought the idea of dating to the table. I was open to the idea. But I wasn’t going to say yes until I knew I was or could be in love with him. Because I didn’t think there was any point in being with him, otherwise, and I was afraid that just jumping into a relationship would lead him to believe that I was in love because he was in love. I was hoping with time, I’d feel differently and could whole-heartedly go there with him. But he was emotional and impatient, so instead of giving me the time I kept asking for, he hurt me instead.

His words still haunt me. I’ve had a broken heart before…maybe I broke his and for that I will always be sorry and therefore probably deserve the condemnation I got….because he IS decent…but words like his cut me straight to my soul. He knew exactly how to hurt me and he went for it. I wasn’t the one who asked for his attention or his advances in the first place. I always kept my distance. I didn’t say “I love you.” He did.

Until now, I’ve never really fought back, either. Because you can mess with me all you want. But after reading Mummy Man’s (his Twitter picture is of a mummy) stuff, it’s not just about me anymore. This is something all women are up against.

Now, perhaps Tuthmosis just picks (pays) the wrong girls, and this is what has left him so terribly confused. He accuses girls for having issues related to problems with their fathers (or a lack of a father all together), yet those are the women he likes best (especially ones with eating disorders) because they are drawn to him. But other types of issues cause women to cut their hair off, and those are the issues and the women you want to avoid.

First of all, who DOESN’T have issues?

Besides his assumption, he has also mistaken all women for “his” women. He’s the one who has chosen “broken/damaged” women…and taken advantage of them. He says he’s been encouraged to rape his woman by his woman (and therefore, all women ask to be raped) and that dating women with eating disorders is a real win because they’re cheap (in many ways) and they’re vulnerable and fragile which gives him the fantasy of being a real man.

How, in any way, shape, or form, do his preferences benefit HER? A Tuthmosis sort of man will only kill her in the end.

NEWSFLASH, Tuthmosis. EVERY WOMAN HAS ISSUES. Just like every man has issues. But a real man wants his woman healthy and happy, so he’ll help her through any issues preventing her from being that way. And a real woman should do the same for her man. Real humans with HUMANITY do not monopolize or prey upon other people’s poor physical or mental state for their own gain, especially when that means sex.

And issues do NOT mean damaged or broken. They mean wisdom, maturity, depth, and character. And sometimes acquiring those precious qualities require transition and change, which might involve a hair cut or letting bangs grow out. Men make decisions with their facial hair for the same reasons.

I think what makes this even MORE dangerous is that this guy is an ADULT. He’s influencing young men and boys to think and act like cave men; he’s telling young women and girls that if they want to be loved, they must comply to be treated like a slave or an object; he’s encouraging GROWN men to mistreat the women in their life; and what’s worse, he’s bullied and taken advantage of every single woman he’s been with. And they’ve let him.

Some of my best and closest friends are victims of rape or molestation they experienced as kids. I can guarantee they never asked for or encouraged it. Were they affected by what happened? Absolutely. Will it be an issue they’ll carry with them? Of course. And WHO caused it? MEN. MEN did this stuff to them. But guess what? They aren’t defined by those issues. They haven’t given up on life or themselves or other men. They wear their physical and emotional scars in various ways (none of which involve short hair, by the way), but it’s their right…and if any man DARES to tell them it’s not to his liking, I will personally throw him in the stall with my wild zebra for he will be shown less mercy than if it were a lion.

Tuthmosis claims his theory about short hair is sound because he once asked a girl with short hair if she gets hit on less since her haircut and she said, “yes.” We won’t get into the fact that she was younger when she had longer hair, was living in a different country, and could have undergone countless behavioral, personality, and life changes since then, nor is her reply relevant if she was drunk, became involved in a relationship and changed her social patterns, or became surrounded by a different group of friends or social settings.

The IMPORTANT point is that I, as most women, do not measure my worth by the number of times I’ve been hit on. But it does make sense that the few women that do measure their worth in that way would be the kind of women to also voluntarily accept Tuthmosis’ advances.

Maybe it IS true that women cut all their hair off during a crisis. They may also re-arrange the living room or start Zumba or join a book club or get a makeover.

You know what men do during a crisis? They go sleep with their secretaries. Or buy a sports car. Or go see a specialist to reverse balding and hair loss. OR they go to Bible study or hang out in a bookstore looking at self-help books or sign up for online dating. Or take their wives to couples therapy.

It’s called wanting/taking control over the situation, if only indirectly. It’s called change, and everyone does it and they do it differently. It’s called re-invention. It’s called individuality. Sometimes it involves being superficial and sometimes it doesn’t.

Tuthmosis, it’s called LIVE AND LET LIVE and stop wondering what’s in it for YOU.

Of course, women want to be attractive and beautiful and wanted by the people we LOVE. Everyone wants that. But, if you couldn’t already tell, I do NOT love most men. The ones I do love, including my dad and my grandfather…it is MORE important to me that they think I am smart than beautiful. I would rather know that my opinion matters to them and holds merit in some way…because it’s something that came from me. From WITHIN. This actually all began with my dad. I was all set to start first grade at a local Lutheran school, but when he found out that school policy required teachers to call on the boys first and only let the girls answer if the boys failed to provide a response, he pulled me out and gladly lost his tuition deposit. Sometimes, I fear my dad regrets his decision, because now I’m not only an opinionated, outspoken (obviously) PhD student who doesn’t even wait to be called on to state her point, but I also never fail to correct him in his own house. He’s not the smartest person in the room anymore, and his “because I said so,” no longer flies unless he has the facts to back it up.

Deep down, though, I know he’s proud.

However, I would like to make one important clarification.

There ARE decent men out there. I know some. But most men are jerks. There are plenty of women who are jerks, too, and have their own set of terrible, horrible sexist ways they take advantage of men.

The difference is…a woman doesn’t assume every man she comes across WANTS HER. I mean, we all know a man’s life doesn’t revolve around female love and admiration because they don’t make daily life choices based on what we want or prefer. They show up in gym clothes for dinner and sport mangy beards that look unsanitary and they have beer bellies and they don’t look you in the eye when they ask you out and they write blogs about how dating women with eating disorders is where it’s at.

I doubt this guy will ever change. Most guys will never change. But we also know how karma works, so I’m not worried about them. I’m worried about us. I’m worried about women.

But there is something we, as women, can do.

We can take better care of each other. We can stand up for each other (and not emulate Desperate Housewives behavior). We can raise daughters who know better. And we can raise sons, students, nephews, and little brothers to know that love and the desire for affection and approval is something they must first earn and then respect and appreciate. That the only woman they should assume loves them unconditionally is their mother, though Tuthmosis’ mother may qualify for immunity on that one.

And another thing: I love my mom (she has short hair by the way and gets regular complements on how beautiful she is, “even at 58 years old”), and I respect her profoundly. But she is not a fan of my blogs. She doesn’t like hearing about bad stuff in the world, and I get it, but I’m just not the best at holding my tongue. I read her some of the blog titles from Tuthmosis, and she asked me to stop, halfway through. She said she couldn’t “take that $***.”

I countered with, “someone needs to do something.”

She asked if that meant I was writing a blog…

Touché, Mom.

…but then she said that anyone who is someone wouldn’t take this guy seriously, as in, no real woman is going to starve herself or keep her hair long just because this guy says that’s the ideal woman.

But this is where it all comes back to what I was trying to tell those teachers. And maybe this is where I have a unique perspective, because I’m still stuck somewhere between a kid and an adult. Adults need to step IN, even if it’s against other adults when kids are affected. Because this IS about kids. Teenagers. Young women. And my own commitment to stand between them and the line of fire.

My mom is right. No real, grown, self-respecting, independent woman is going to take this guy seriously. But a 16 year old girl or an 11 year old boy might.

A 14 year old girl is NOT someone yet. She’s not a real woman yet. She’s still a kid. Every kid wants love and approval and they look for ways the cool, hip, adult world gives and receives it. Girls want to be women as soon as they can, so they search for the quick ways to make that happen. Boys want to score the girls. The more this guy gets featured and the less counter information there is out there (that isn’t featured), the more kids that will walk away with his impression, and his impression alone.

I can’t sleep at night under those pretenses.

So I say, Hail to the QUEENS. Let’s make sure women, especially, know this filth is, indeed, filth.

And before I get accused of preaching to the choir…let me say that I’m okay with that. Because I want women to know that we are brave, we are beautiful, and we do have issues, but by OWNING them, with a shaved head or a new tattoo or whatever else we do to be ourselves, we are just helping men like Tuthmosis realize the world does not revolve around them or their sex drive. REAL men support real beauty and independence and they get rewarded for it. Because nothing beat’s a real woman’s love, trust, and loyalty. Everyone who lacks it will just be left blogging…and lonely.

So what I’m trying to say is be yourself. Stand up for others. Parent your kids, specifically the boys and the bullies. Cut your hair. Or don’t.

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