The Breakdown: Just Be Friends

(Header credit: alegria)

So the Internet is apparently still on fire about the notion that VP Pence doesn’t dine alone with women who aren’t his wife, and it’s spiraled into bigger questions about whether or not men can even be friends with women.

Short answer is “of course they can, why the fuck not?”

Everyone’s had thinkpieces about the VP already, and I don’t really want to delve into that any more. I just want to talk about this notion re: dinners, as someone who counts a lot more women as close friends than men.

The notion that men can’t be friends with women because of sexual tension or temptation is really fucked up, since it implies that men can’t control themselves and/or that women are all temptresses who want that dick, whether the man is in a relationship with someone or not. There are so many reasons why this is fucked up, but here’s just a few:

  1. If you’re a guy who claims that he can’t control himself around a woman, then you’re pretty much an animal at best and a rapist at worst. You need to be beaten about the head with sticks until you realize that resisting the urge to put your dick in someone is part of having a brain.
  2. If you’re a guy who claims that all women are temptresses, then a) you can fuck right off and b) no they’re not. Women deal with uninvited sexual advances all the time, because of entrenched toxic masculinity that insists on treating women as sexual objects and not as people. Part of recognizing someone is a person is recognizing that they have more purpose than being a place where you put your dick.
  3. If you’re a woman who refuses to trust her partner to keep it in his pants, then him having dinner with someone else isn’t really the problem you need to address.

Now I should stop for a moment and state that if a couple of people (husband and wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, dedicated partnerships of any kind) decide to set a boundary about this kind of thing, then that’s completely fine. I won’t shame Pence for making that decision with his wife, because adults get to make decisions for themselves; that’s what being an adult is about. Call it respect, call it avoiding appearances of impropriety, call it a restraint given prior instances of serial infidelity, call it whatever you want… but if you assert for an instant that there is some fundamental nature inherent to men and women that demands that any semi-private encounter between them is going to lead to sex as though neither person has any decision-making ability, I’m going to call bullshit and I’m going to beat you about the head with sticks, because PEOPLE have AGENCY and aren’t CONTROLLED by their GENITALIA.

There’s other parts about this notion that are troublesome, since it completely ignores folks who aren’t heterosexual. Gay men having female friends, lesbians having male friends, the whole spectrum of trans and genderqueer folk who don’t identify as male OR female… it would serve to focus on that angle for a moment. Because the whole gist of this notion appears to be this: if it is even PLAUSIBLE that you could have fuckings with someone you’re dining privately with, then it shouldn’t even matter what gender that someone identifies as, if any. If you extrapolate this notion to include everyone, no private dinner is safe. Which is exactly the reason why the notion is moronic at its very core.

So with all that in mind, why don’t we step back for a second and maybe just decide that we’re going to work at making the best decisions for ourselves, both regarding who we dine with and our relationships with our partners?

Bon appetit.

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