Opinion: Being a guy

By Alex Dunkel

Women occasionally complain that men have it so much easier than they do. Under certain circumstances, they’re right. The glass ceiling does exist for women – I’ve seen women crash into it. Women also have it rough when it comes to their bodies, both from society’s expectations and their reproductive functions. Furthermore, young girls are often coddled and forced into living passive lives. Tomboys are teased and ridiculed. All in all, women have it pretty tough.

Guys, on the other hand, have it pretty easy. No glass ceiling, no once-a-month agony and no pressure to be a supermodel. They don’t even have to show off their butt cracks or act slutty to get a date – thank heavens!

Unfortunately, being a guy doesn’t unequivocally translate into a free ticket in life. Women don’t always realize it, but few men live that perfect life. The social structure for men is an unfriendly atmosphere. We’re not all “best of buddies” who occasionally get into fights when we’re drunk but otherwise conspire against the female gender in our spare time.

The way men are treated can best be experienced online. Personally, I play an online game called Final Fantasy XI. In it, I alternate between three characters: two females and one male. The way I’m treated depends partly on the gender of the character I’m playing. As a female, people talk to me more often, offer me gifts and encourage me to join their circle of friends. As a male, I’m completely on my own. No friendly chat, no help offered and little acceptance into existing social circles. The women I’ve met through this game often play female characters and see little difference between how they’re treated online and how they’re treated in real life. Those who have dared to play male characters have been shocked at the difference in how they’re treated.

Though the online environment can be extreme – often overpopulated with desperate, lonely men – it hints at the life that most men experience. When I came to the University in 1996, it took me two years to make my first friends. Why? Some would argue that it was my personality. Maybe. However, I’ve met many other people on campus who’ve shared my experience, and most of them were friendly, outgoing people. The most apparent commonality was our gender – male.

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Presently, my social circle is dwindling to nothing. Nearly all of my college buddies have graduated and left town. Finding new friends without an existing social circle is nearly impossible. If you’re not part of an existing “pack,” people don’t want to spend time with you. Even women avoid the loners. The sad fact is that, as a guy, you usually have to have friends to make friends. Though women can experience this too, it’s not as ubiquitous as it is for guys. A woman’s gender can buy her many opportunities.

As a guy, you are judged largely on your attitude and how you carry yourself. Looks also are important. When it comes to dating, who you are on the inside comes dead last to these “more important” traits. Does this sound familiar, ladies?

I guess my biggest complaint about the dating scene is that women talk about the importance of confidence in a male. Ironically, it’s the loners who dare to ask them out and aren’t afraid to live as individuals who are labeled as “lacking confidence.” Instead, girls love the “bad boy,” who’s typically a conformist, insecure outside his “pack” and indifferent about everything but his sex drive. Sadly, I don’t think most women can tell the difference between confidence and indifference, at least on the biological level.

As you can see, being a guy isn’t a free ride. Many of us live life alone, with few quality friends and few dates. If this is a free ride, I wish I had paid for a better seat.