I have quite a few friends – shocking, I know – who reflect the modern, stereotypical man pretty well. None of them dislike women, and most of them are either married or in healthy relationships, but they can be a little ‘machismo’ sometimes. With that, I mean the typical ‘women can’t drive, my wife always nags, damn shoes and she made up our minds’ nonsense. I get it, it’s just making conversation. I’ll admit to partaking in this kind of banter a few times as well: “There’s a sale next door? Better not tell the missus! Haha, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, snicker.” And to support equality for all: Some women are just as bad! “Football match tonight. Guess my husband’s unavailable then. Blah-blah, something that doesn’t get done around the house.”
These conversations are kind of like the weather. It’s out there, it’s definable, it’s something to talk about. When people see your wedding ring, they instantly think they have something in common with you. The fact of the matter is, they don’t.
Every relationship is different, and people are different. Yet we’re still bogged down by petty stereotypes and expected behavior. In reality, these exist to a lesser extent every day, so we might as well stop clinging to them. I’m a man – last time I checked, at least – and I can’t stand football. I think it’s utterly, fucking stupid! I also keep my hands out of my boxers, and have no clue what goes on under the hood of a car. I know what colors go together, and I can buy furniture for the house, because I have taste. Do you know what this makes me? Still just a regular man! My wife hates shopping; because she’s not that into shoes or fashion. On the flip-side, she loves whiskey just as much as I do. Do you know what that makes her? Still just a regular woman. Some of these stereotypes are so worked into our psyche, it makes us instantly label people who deviate from them. I realize we’ve shied away from some of them – we’re not all about the ‘dolls or cars’ dichotomy anymore – but at least one gender stereotype still exist and thrive: How we relate to one another.
This is where that dreadful ‘whipped’ expression comes into play. I’m fairly certain I don’t have to explain this, but Urban Dictionary [link] explains it as “being completely controlled by your girlfriend or boyfriend . . . in most cases a guy being completely controlled by his girlfriend.”
Whether or not you use ‘whipped’ as an expression, and how you define it, doesn’t really matter. The implications are still there: Our partners have control over us to varying degrees, and it is in our best interest to listen. Most of the time, this comes across innocently enough. I’ll say that, “my wife wants to go to this and that tonight.” And someone will reply, “Ah, that means you want to go as well, right?” Wink-wink and so forth. I’ve talked to my wife about this – I do see the irony in that statement, thank you – and she finds it appalling. She doesn’t want the world, as it were, to think that she controls me. And that’s because she doesn’t! Just the same as I don’t control her. Do I sometimes do things I don’t want to, for her sake? Of course I do! Like visit her family and send Christmas cards to our friends. (There it is, friends – thank her, not me.) But she does the exact same for me! (And my family is a lot worse than hers!)
Like I said; the tone is usually light in these conversations, and they’re mostly innocent; but I’ve just about had it with all these stereotypes. Us men are not ‘useless tools’ who sit on the couch watching football until ‘activated’ by our mistresses. Just the same as women aren’t household overlords who spend their husband’s money and dictate where and when dinner will be. I love my wife! If I’ve told her I’ll be home for dinner, it’s because I want to! I won’t blow her off to eat dinner at a sleazy burger joint with a group of people I don’t know, so we can talk about how ‘shitty our marriages are’. (If I’m with someone cool, I’ll bring them, though – you see, my wife ‘allows’ that sort of thing.)
I understand that I’m blowing this a little out of proportion here, but I don’t think people realize how ugly and mean others can be. Especially when we’re alone with friends of the same gender. I used to have a friend who was extreme at this. He was bitter, jealous and a really bad friend as well, but it shone most through on the sexism and stereotyping. He’d reduce women to objects, and always talk vaguely about ‘tits and ass’, even though he’d never really been with anyone. He was, of course, happy ‘living the single life’, and would refer to his piece of shit apartment as a ‘shag shack’. (He was a friend, okay? Past tense!) Every time I was leaving that messy, smelly place to go have dinner with my ex, he’d make a whipping sound, or claim that I was whipped. Every time I didn’t want to hang (he was an asshole, after all), he’d indicate my girlfriend wouldn’t ‘let me.’ If we did hang, the first thing he’d ask me was when my ‘curfew’ was.
Some of us actually love our wives (and husbands, I hope), and want to spend as much time with them as possible. Then the kids come along, and you’ll want to hang with them. I have a very good friend who I haven’t seen in months now, because he’s busy with his girlfriend and his soon-to-be two year old bundle of joy. Do I think he’s whipped, or that he secretly wants to ‘escape’ to hang with me instead? Hell no! He loves those two, and he’d much rather see them than my sorry face! And that’s quite all right in my book! I realize during a long life and a long relationship, you’ll get tired and bored. I realize that ten, twenty or fifty years down the line, that beer with the boys sounds a lot better than sitting at home once again. But I sincerely believe that if you ‘escape’ more than you stay at home – or even label it as an escape – you’ve already lost. You’re not whipped; you’re just in an unhealthy relationship. Likewise, if you actually do have a curfew, and if your partner treats you like a kid or a dog, you should get the hell out. If you’re going to spend one third of your life with your significant other – you better make damn sure they are, in fact, significant! Don’t make a mockery out of your relationship, or someone else’s.
I’m Robert Bishop, and I love my wife.
(And she totally didn’t force me to write this)