I'm going to say something that will upset a few men. (Let's not pretend it's the first time I've done this.)
There are a lot of guys – yes, even some of you reading this right now – who don't seem to be able to fully humanise women.
Many of you consider yourselves "nice guys". The kind of people who hold doors open, employ old-fashioned manners, buy your mum flowers every year, and would never, EVER lay a hand on a lady. You've probably been called a gentleman before – even been told you're "one of the good ones".
I've got news for you: you're not as nice of a guy as you think you are.
Being good has nothing to do with superficial acts or basic politeness. A man who thinks that having made it through life without violating or assaulting a woman is commendable enough to warrant the "nice guy" label is really just proof of how abysmally low our culture sets the bar for men.
And frankly, guys who need to be constantly acknowledged for the very little they do (I guarantee, there'll be a few of you proving my point on Twitter once you're done reading. Don't @ me, please.) are exhausting.
"Good" men don't require women to smile and stroke their egos to find it within themselves to treat us with dignity and humanity. They recognise we're worthy of respect because they're able to conceptualise the fact we exist in this world as equals – not merely as decorative ornaments that line the shelves of the halls they walk through.
And nowhere is this more evident than in their sexual interactions with women.
Because truly viewing a woman as an equal human being means seeing her dialectically: she's not either a "Madonna" or a "wh*re"; she's a complex person capable of being simultaneously nurturing and sexual. Of being both maternal AND raunchy. A wife, girlfriend or partner AND someone with an appetite for sex.
Sadly, we know most men aren't able to hold all these ideas at once.
We know it because some of the best-selling dating advice books written by men (I'm looking at you, Steve Harvey's Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man) still caution women to "make him wait for sex" and "be a lady on the streets and a freak in the sheets".
They remind us men don't marry the kind of girls who've had lots of sexual partners, sleep with someone on the first date, or dress revealingly. No, these women are the kind of women men just have a bit of fun with. They're good for a night, or a few months on the side, but definitely not worthy of taking home to mum.
We hear it too, in the way men speak about women when they don't think we're listening – in the pub and on the footy field – they talk about their sexual interactions in language that sounds like it belongs on a construction site, bonding over how they "bang", "nail" and "pound" us.
They're taught the more notches they acquire on their bedposts, the higher they'll ascend up the ladder of masculinity among their peers, but women who do the same lose our value incrementally.
A popular metaphor encapsulating this idea suggests, "A key that can open many locks is a master key! But a lock that's been opened by many different keys? That's a worthless lock."
Of course, all this propaganda does is condition men to see women as objects – things to be cracked open and conquered.
Which is why, dating advice suggesting we hold off sex, even when we're ready for it, so as to create the illusion we're chaste and untouched, is terrible, terrible advice.
Unless you're a woman seeking a partner who's only able to view you as a human being if you manipulate him into thinking you're a possession to be won over; that you're available to prop up his fragile sense of masculinity whenever he needs it with a soothing smile, this approach is not for you.
Unfortunately, because we indoctrinate men with the idea women are indeed things to be pursued and owned, and that their acceptance into the code of manhood is predicated on them doing so, most women have had the experience of being ghosted (that's millennial lingo for cutting off all contact with someone) after sex and wondering if maybe they "gave it away" too easily.
But if you're a woman who participated in consensual physical intimacy when you were ready – not when you felt obligated or like you'd waited out the appropriate time period – you've not given anything away too easily, whether you had sex on the first date or the tenth. Mainly because your body is not a commodity to be rationed out and awarded to the highest bidders.
The truth is, he lost interest because he's not as nice of a guy as you thought he was.
He's actually just a man scraping by on the bare minimum, expecting his negligible efforts to be acknowledged while barely masking the fact he doesn't see you as a fully dimensional human being.
If you need proof, head to Twitter – you'll find him screaming into the void at me.
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