9 Reasons Men are Jealous of Women
Men envy you. That may seem counter intuitive, seeing as how we wield more power, earn higher salaries and get to wander around topless in boxer shorts with impunity. How could we possibly envy you? But we do, though most of us would never admit it.
What particularly piques our jealousy is that your world seems so much more interesting than the universe we inhabit. It’s not your cosmopolitan jobs or sleek apartment that we lust after-we can have those too. No, when we pass a window into your world, we often press out noses against the glass, look in with wonder and think, Whoa! Wouldn’t it be cool to have…
Sure, men eat lunch. Sometimes in groups, sometimes with just one friend, often for business. But women have another kind of midday meal, one that we covet.
"I used to go out with a woman who made these long-range lunch dates with friends," Matthew recalls. "It was a major event planned for a Saturday or a vacation day. When the time arrived, Liz would dress up and they’d all go shopping or to a museum, then finish with lunch. For hours, they’d tell each other everything in their lives that had happened since their last encounter."
We suspect you get more out of these meals than just reconnecting with pals and sharing a sinful dessert. We’re not exactly sure what transpires, mind you, but we figure it must be very, very good.
"I’m mostly jealous of the time women take for these lunches," Dan says. "They slow down to pay attention to personal stuff." To be sure, men have their own decadent indulgences, but we’re not proficient lingerers. We address the business at hand. If we play a game of golf, spend a day at the ballpark, have a beer after work, we wind up talking about golf, baseball or the fight on the TV above the bar-anything, in fact, except private matters. Women manage to make a wrap sandwich and a bottle of spring water last as long as a four-course meal and a bottle of wine.
GREAT BATHROOM ESCAPES
We see you slipping into a tub of hot water, the little freesia-scented gelatin balls melting to release their flowery aroma and, damn it, just once we’d like to sit for hours in nice-smelling water with our eyes closed, listening to Vivaldi. We wish we could walk into one of those shopping mall nirvanas of immersion with their hundreds of soaps, oils, lotions and candles and buy out the place for an orgy of bathing. Instead, we hop into the shower and scrub down with Dial.
"When my wife’s had a rough day at work she’ll run a bath, light candles and retreat with a couple of magazines," sighs Abraham. "Sometimes I’ll poke my head in to say hello, wishing I could join in." There’s no law, of course, that says Abraham cannot take luxury baths, "but I would feel ridiculous," he says. "That’s something for women, like getting pedicures or facials. It would make me look soft in her eyes."
We also get the idea that, except for predesignated romantic bath-for-two nights, you would much rather be alone. "My girlfriend can hide in the bathroom for hours," says Zeke. "I have no legitimate place where I can lock her out for a while. Sitting on the toilet and reading the sports section hardly counts."
Not only do we have serious bath-time envy, we are jealous of your bathroom decorating too. A couple I know recently moved into a new house and each got a small bathroom. "I thought it was great that I could finally have my own space with my stuff," Michael reports. "Then my wife decked out hers with a claw-foot tub, a cushioned stool, a lighted mirror, even a tiny bookcase. And it always smells good. Mine is strictly utilitarian. She’s got a miniature clubhouse. Now I look for excuses to use hers."
By the way, we’re on to this business of the women’s "lounge" in restaurants. Don’t think we haven’t glimpsed the gilded mirrors, the overstuffed chairs, the products-filled countertops, the private stalls. It’s like realizing you’ve been staying at a Super 8 Motel when the Beverly Hills Hotel is right next door. Yes, you women may have to wait in line, but what a payoff! While you are reclining like Cleopatra on the chaise lounge, we are peeing in a stainless steel trough with five other guys, lined up like elephants at a watering hole.
BREAST THAT WORK
Men are not quite sure how to regard their chests. We have nipples, but why? Frankly, our nipples make us nervous. They are certainly not masculine. They are merely pale versions of yours. So we try to ignore our breast altogether, calling them pectorals and spending hours in the gym trying to make them hard as rocks.
Perhaps our breasts perplex us most when we become fathers. Our children grow inside you, come out of you and proceed to get their food supply from you. We soon realize we had our big moment when we delivered the sperm.
"We just had a boy and we’re both thrilled," Samuel says. "I have to say, though, I get a little jealous when my wife nurses him. He twists his tiny hand up towards her nipple, squeezes her breast and nuzzles it, literally joining himself to her. Sometimes I will be holding him and he will reach out for his mother. I’m just this other being-he knows his mom is where all the good things reside."
"My wife is where the rubber meets the road as far as our daughter is concerned," agrees George. "Yes, I protect them and provide meat for our cave, but I’ll never have that sense of instant gratification my wife gets."
Ok, maybe if these guys completely thought this through they’d realize they do not truly desire functional breasts. The leaks, the pumps, having your nipples gummed by an insistent. hungry mouth-these we could live without. Still, we yearn for something tangible that will give us the same bonding power you possess. But with breasts drier that the Gobi desert, we are reminded that our duties lie elsewhere.
"We had a big night last week-we partied heavily, came home, made love, crashed," Andrew says of a particularly raucous evening with his fiancee. "The next morning I shower, get dressed, check myself in the mirror, and I’ve got huge dark circles under my eyes. I look like I spent the night wrestling a bottle of Jim Beam. Then Wendy goes inot the bathroom, showers and comes out looking like she’s spent a day at the spa."
what accounts for the difference? Concealer. "It’s just not fair," Andrew moans. Any number of skin imperfections can be wiped off our face with a quick application of cover-up or foundation. We could try to hide our blemished too, but all men carry the high-school memory of the cracked, dried Clearsil that never really matched our skin color. So off to work we go with under-eye bags, razor nicks and pimples.
"Once in a while, when I have a zit that’s especially egregious, I sneak inot my wife’s makeup bag, dig out her concealer and smear a little on," John sheeplishy admits. "But I am so paranoid that somebody will think I’ve used makeup that I end up rubbing it in until it barely makes a difference-and I’ve made the spot even redder."
ORGASMS THAT DON’T CAUSE FLOOD DAMAGE
You see it all the time in the movies: A couple overcome by lust stumbles to an office desk. She raises her skirt, he drops his pants, and the moments later they sigh blissfully and embrace. That happy ending would never occur in real life. Right after their last heave, the man in this scene would frantically search the office for tissues, napkins, Post-Its-anything that would allow him to clean up enough so he could pull up his pants without gluing them to his genitals and incurring an embarrassingly large dry-cleaning bill. Since he has also generously given of himself to his lover, she’d probably be in the same state.
Men do not have tidy orgasms. We once had the fluid-free kind, and we miss them. Robert was nine years old when he realized that manipulating his penis for a few minutes could result in a spasm of pleasure. "Then one day-I must have been about 11-all this stuff just shot out! I’m like, Did I hurt myself? I sneak into the bathroom, try to clean up the mess. I’ve got little pieces of toilet paper sticking to me like my dad’s face after a bad shave. I finally had to take a shower, which-it being the middle of the afternoon-made my mom very suspicious."
It was the end of the peachy-faced era for Robert. From now on, he would have to scout ahead, weigh the consequences. Once guys start having sex, their anxities expand. Do we dare have orgasms in elevators, on public transportation, on furniture that we do not own? How much does carpet-cleaning service cost, anyway? This angst may even influence our home décor.
"I used to have funky bright blue sheets," Sam says. "But I had a lot of sex on them with a former girlfriend and the stains never really came out, not matter what detergent I used. A few months ago I slept with my current girlfriend for the first time. I pulled back the covers, and she zeroed in on the marks right away. She reused to have sex on them. Now I am a strictly winter-white sheets guy."
Every time a man sleeps in a wet spot, every time he hankers for spontaneous sex in his Fiat, he wishes his orgasms were like yours: No fuss, no muss.
Men shower each other with sarcasm and contrary opinions. We are in constant competition: "Hey Bob! Whattaya think of my new Blauplunkt stereo?" "It blows, Jimmy! Shoulda bought a Bang & Olufsen like I did." In contrast, women seem like members of one big sorority. You’re always standing up for each other.
"I see it all the time at parties," says Doug. "Some women will venture an opinion, and the others will nod in agreement or say, ‘Yes I know what you mean!’ At my Sunday poker game, we sit around and tell one another we’re full of it. That gets tired after a while."
We especially crave this camaraderie during hard times. "When my company had a round of layoffs last year and I lost my job, my male biddies did try to cheer me up," George says. "But it was like, ‘Tough break’ and a clap on the shoulder or ‘Hey, who needs that crummy job? You’ll get a better one. Come on, let’s party!’ The women who were fired got tons of support from their friends. They told each other how talented they were, how wonderful they were, that anyone would be lucky to hire them."
"The same thing happens after a breakup," observes Elliot. "A guy will tell his friend, ‘Forget about her.’ That’s it. Girlfriends will analyze the relationship for weeks and help the woman fell good about herself again."
Of course we do realize that female solidarity occasionally breaks down (She is such a bitch!), and that you can be each other’s harshest critics, but we envy the freedom you feel the comfort and praise. The kudos we get from our pals are mostly limited to ones heard in a muddy, bloody, rugby scum.
"I cannot recall a make friend ever telling be how talented or good-looking I am," gripes David. "I know my friends must think I’m an OK sort of guy or they wouldn’t hang out with me, but sometimes I need to hear it. That’s why I love being around my female friends. They are always telling me, ‘You’re so funny,’ or ‘You look great today!’ At times like these I’ll think, Who needs men anyway?"
Men may not be sure what a scrunchy is, but we’d sure like to try one because it sounds like fun. You have so many more enticing personal accoutrements than we do. "The other day, my girlfriend dumped the contents of her purse onto my kitchen table when she was looking for something," says Brad. "She’s got this neat little leather-bound address book, a tiny eelskin lipstick case, a little blue holder for her tampons, a tiny doohickey for her birth control pills. Me, I have pockets."
All these items make you seem more complex and sophisticated. Entire floors of department stores are dedicated to your accessories. Hats, scarfs, purses, costume jewelry, belts. What do men get to play with? Pocket electronic organizers and ties. What’ll it be, fella-paisley or regimental stripes? Feeling frisky? Here’s a tie with Gooofy.
Women also have the option of transforming their looks in bed. "My wife is the lingerie queen," Don says. "Her matching bras and panties, the silky teddies-they all make me weak. Nothing I own compares; my cotton boxers with red hearts are more silly than sexy." Of course, we’d could try silk underwear or maybe a leopard-print G-string, but we only get wedgies-and take it from me (I won’t tell you how I know) there is nothing erotic about a triangular island of faux leopardskin surrounded by a sea or wiry hair. Don’t even ask about the backside.
Undeterred, don keeps trying. "I’m always asking my wife, ‘What could I wear that would totally turn you on?’ Finally she says, ‘You know, you’d look great in a pair of chaps, like cowboys wear, nothing else.’ Chaps? Where the hell am I supposed to find chaps?"
PUBLIC DISPLAY OF EXPRESSION
"I was right there in the delivery room when my daughter was born," says David. "She popped out, whimpered, and the nurses wrapped her up and gave her to my wife. I was filled with love, happiness, relief everything was OK, and I just stood there, speechless. Then I walked outside, met relatives and went ‘Yesss!’ like I do when my team wins a game. But what I was feeling was so much bigger than that."
It’s not that we don’t feel the feelings; it’s that we are never quite sure what to do with them. We are missing some key vocabulary. Women have an entire dictionary covering a huge range of emotion.
"When my girlfriend is pissed off, there is absolutely not doubt what’s going through her mind," Elliot reports. "She has the ability to express herself without speaking. I could talk for an hour and still not make her understand how I feel, but just looking at her, I can tell that I screwed up by, say, talking that call from my ex-girlfriend-and what will happen if I do it again."
It is possible that men shut themselves off from such expression because they value self-image above emotional release. When a man sitting at a casino blackjack table wins, for example, he might coolly nod, or toss a dollar tip to the dealer with studied nonchalance. You will never see a man clap his hands, let out a shout or kiss his girlfriend, the way women sometimes do when they win. If Clint Eastwood wouldn’t do it, neither would we.
Crying is a major component of the female emotional range. You seem to be able to use tears as a release; men can almost never use them to good effect. "When something really upsets my girlfriend," notes Jason, "she has a ‘good cry’ and seems genuinely to feel better afterward. You’d never hear one guy say to another, ‘Go on, Fred, let it all out.’ All we do is punch stuff and hope nothing breaks."
MORE LIFE CHOICES
This one is touchy. I can hear your groans of protest already: "Hah! How can men even think they have the raw end of the life deal when women must cope with residual chauvinism and glass ceilings, not to mention bearing children and having the primary responsibility for raising them?" Hear us out before you chuck this magazine at the nearest man.
"Women in my company regularly opt to go part-time or quit when they go back to school, marry or become mothers," says Bradley, an accountant. "Yes, they may not get ahead as quickly as their male colleagues, but they can lead fuller lives and nearly everyone understands. For a guy, it’s up or out. In most companies, even in the P.C. times, if a man decides not to advance he’s considered lazy, a non-go-getter."
"I envy the way women can be thought of as competent and successful in the business world and competent and successful as mothers," says George, an executive with a major HMO. "In my office moms will on occasion leave early to attend a function at their child’s school, or come in late because they were at the pediatrician. They’re being good moms. A father who does that isn’t doing his job."
Men feel restricted by society’s perceptions and by our own sense of duty, too. We can’t help but believe that in some ways, women have more latitude. "My wife decided to take off a few years to stay at home with out daughter," says Josh. "I haven’t thought twice about supporting or family. But I’d like the choice she made to be sanctioned for men too."
"I do pretty well on my job," says one young trader I know, "and we’ve always considered the salary my wife earns as a graphic designer to be ‘extra’ money. She’s been able to make more exciting jobs that pay less without worrying about economics. Even if she made a lot more than me, though, there’s no way I’d feel comfortable taking a more thrilling but lower-paying position. How often do you hear of a man’s salary being ‘extra money’?"
On the extreme end of this envy, my friend Edward moans that he could never be a kept man. "Think about it," he urges. "A woman could gall in love with a bazillionaire, spend the rest of her life unemployed, and it would be considered a legitimate choice. Maybe she’d be seen as a gold digger but if she is nice, does some charity work, probably not. Now, say a man marries a woman who has a lot of money, and he doesn’t work. He’s a bum no matter how charity balls he organizes. He’s mooching off her."
Even if Edward’s live-in lover won the lottery tomorrow, though, I suspect he’d end up feeling miserable. In the end, no matter how much we envy women, we could never let go of our visions of manhood, even if Donna Karan popularized male lingerie or guys had to take courses on how to have meaningful conversations with close friends. So we’ll just keep pressing our noses to the window of your world. Maybe we can’t have what’s inside. but we sure like what we see.
Glamour Magazine, June 1998
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Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander