I was providing sane human companionship to an SMF when she mentioned that the thing that was giving her real anxiety at this juncture so close to her wedding was failing her history midterm. This is not terribly surprising; she got seriously exciting when I asked if she’d like framed 8x10s of epithelial tissue for her living room. She complains that people ask her random questions about physics because they like to see her eyes light up as she outlines the explanation. During dead time on the train, she enjoys flipping through photos of her slides from bio lab, which she stores on her digital camera. (I know! Where do I find these people?) I must have commented on how conscientious she is, because she retorted, “Let’s call a spade a spade – I’m crazy.”
“Not crazy – just an ambitious overachiever,” I tried to frame it in more euphemistic terms. Apparently I failed. “Not ambitious,” she corrected. “You should never use that on a girl – it’s the kind of word that only sounds good on men.”
Oops. And to think I’ve unblushingly confessed to having the same disease that killed Caesar. No wonder I’m not married. Sometimes my own naïveté astounds me.
She then reeled off a string of other terms that Must Not Be Applied to Women – “serious” is good for a guy, but not a girl. A serious guy is obviously the strong and silent type, while a serious girl must be mildly depressed. “Career-driven” is like ambitious. Only men are allowed careers (when they’re allowed a job at all); women are supposed to put family first; “career” doesn’t jive with that 1950s housewife charade. No career. Career is bad.
Talkative is bad, she says, because everyone assumes girls are chatty to begin with, so if you specify talkative, it means they’re a chatterbox and don’t shut up. Whereas men are not known, as a breed, for verbal skills, so talkative means he can carry on a conversation.
She had many, many more, but thinking about all the terms that Must Not Be Applied to me made my head hurt, so I went to spend some serious (though quiet) time reviewing my supply and demand charts because my ambition is to succeed and maybe even have a career down the line.
If I’m going to be undesirable, I might as well overachieve at it.