It was a dark Thursday night, tired of being alone with my dissertation, I invited Connie over. I plied her with mugs of milky tea and got her to tell me about her horrible man-friend, the one she had been crying over that night at Samsara: “He was all over me like a rash, when we first met. Wouldn’t leave me alone until I agreed to meet up with him. I slept with him, it was consensual, but I felt pressured. Like I was being rushed into something I wasn’t quite ready for. I still didn’t know if I could really trust him. We would meet up on Sunday’s after my busy Saturday shift at the bar, and chill out together. It was nice. But I noticed that he wasn’t replying if I texted him. Just things like, do you want to go for a drink after work. But I wouldn’t hear from him. I was too embarrassed to press it. I didn’t want to look desperate by texting again and again. Obviously he would still contact me if he wanted us to get together, to hang out or have sex. But it was alway on his terms. When it suited him. Like last Friday I texted him saying do you want to come over for dinner? And he didn’t even respond. If you blanked a dinner invitation from a friend, or a colleague, or a family member, that would be considered the height of bad manners. But it’s ok to blank a dinner invitation from a young woman. A young woman who you have sex with.”
I could sense that Connie was slipping into paranoia. Men can be horrid, but I don’t buy into the “all men are bastards” school of thought. It’s wrong to make generalisations about three and a half billion people. They’re all human. Some very flawed, some not so flawed.
“Do you think he gets a kick out of treating you badly?” I ventured.
“Yes,” she nodded. “I made myself vulnerable to him. I slept with him, and confessed that I might have feelings for him. He’s played games ever since.”
“What do you mean by games?” I asked. I find it funny that men accuse women of playing games, and women accuse men of playing games. Maybe we all are. Maybe we don’t even realise we’re doing it.
“I think he gets a massive ego boost every time I contact him. It makes him feel like a man. And not replying just magnifies that. It’s like, she wants me, but I’m not fussed.”
I was feeling blue. Between Connie’s problems and Rupert not calling me, I was starting to lose faith in men. Were they all petty-chauvinists. Or was it just selection bias?
“Maybe we just have really bad taste,” I said. “Surely there must be a vein of men out there who aren’t douche-bags.”
Connie took hold of my hands, and looked at me earnestly. “We should make a pact,” she said, “to treat them how they treat us. To not reply to messages. And to use them.”
“That’s just silly,” I said, “you’ll die an old spinster, and just end up mistreating the dozen or so hetero-men in the known universe who aren’t misogynists.”
“Maybe you like horrible men,” I ventured. “Maybe if you dated somebody nice there wouldn’t be that frisson.”