Underneath my yellow skin

Friends of another gender flock together

In the weekend Ask A Manager, there was a question asked if a single woman and a married man could be friends.


Well! Glad that was an easy question to–oh, wait. What? Not everyone agrees with me? Oh dear. Do I really want to–


What year are we in again?

Checks calendar. 

2023. We’re in the year of our grumpiness 2023, and it’s still a question whether men and women can be friends*.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s tackle the thread and what was said. Remember, the site is overwhelmingly progressive women (in the commentariat). There were plenty of people saying why do you need different rules for differently-gendered friendships, and those are my people. But, there were sitll more than a small minority of people who had all these rules for a friendship of a single woman nda a married man. Funnily enough, most of them assumed you bcame friends after the man was married, not before.

In general, there was an undercurrent of ‘you can be friends, but not good friends’ for those on the ‘men are from mars and women are from venus’ crowd. There was even one who actually said something about that old saw about bisexuals…um, I may be old, but I’m not a saw! She tried to dance around it by saying that it was different culturalization, but not really. I gerw up in the same society she did–though I do have a Taiwanese background, which makes it doubly sexist. So you would think I would be more entrenched in sexist beliefs. But since my twenties, I have been questioning needless gender roles and tossing them aside.

That woman I just mentioned was a hot mess. She believed that every man wants to have sex with every woman, apparently, because she does not believe men and women can truly be friends. Which, fine for her (albeit very limiting), but she states it as if it were facts. Which it simply isn’t. It just is not. I have had many friends of different genders who have not wanted to bone me and/or vice-versa (including men!). Anectdote is not data, and my experience is just as valid as hers.

Honestly, I don’t give a shit if people want to believe in that outdated bullshit as long as they leave me out of it. If you want to run your marriage as if it needed to be encased in glass from everyone of the opposite gender (if we’re talking about hetero norms), then have at it. But don’t go telling me that I have to think the same.

There was one lesbian who at some point said that this was some straight people nonsense. I would not have phrased it that way, but she’s not wrong. Yes, people of all sexual identities get jealous, but this particular configuratian and the heavy emphasiss on marital status is uniquely het.

An anonymous someone quickly responded that Alison was so gracious in including LGBTQ+ questions so we should sit down and shut the fuck up when a straight question was asked. They went on to say that they were upset by the queer people who dared to intrude upon this thread. How dare we?! They ended by saying this was why we can’t have nice things and someone else agreed with them.

I am, obviously, paraphrasing and showing my own bias, but that was honestly how the comment read to me. Interestingly enough, several of the other queer people who commented were bi people, including me. Two of them were women, one was nonbinary, and me, the agender weirdo. That means at least three of us had to deal with men while being women/read as a woman in my case. I grew up with all the same toxic messages being shoved down my throat about femininity that women have received. The one woman I mentioned above, the ‘old saw’ woman, went on a rant how she had to be the Queen Bee in her husband’s life, blah, blah. Which, again, fine for her, but it reeks of insecurity to me.

Love is love is love. K has said that she loves her husband nad me equally. Not the same, mind you, but equally. She refuses to choose who she loves more. If I had a partner at this late phase in my life, there is no way I would automatically make them more important than my two best friends. K and I have been besties for over half our lives. Some upstart whom I meet now is going to be bump her down? Nah, son. Not gonna happen.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all the queer people in the thread were against rules for friendships or baffled by them. The norms of what men and women should and should not do don’t apply to us, so we can do something different. I’m not saying that queer relationships/friendships don’t have their own problems. They do. I’m also not saying that a certain subset of married men don’t trawl through scores of single women under the guise of friendship in order to get laid. But that’s a problem with that dude–not with men and women being friends in general.

In fact, all the problems people mentioned have more to do with that particular person being the problem, not MEN or WOMEN in general. And it’s, quite frankly, bizarre to me. I treat K and Ian the same in that there is nothing I would say to one I wouldn’t say to the other. That was another thing that bothered me about what people wrote. “You should not allow that person to vent to you about their marriage.” Why not? That’s what friends are for. Again, I think this is presuming that the marriage came first, but K and I talked about problems in her marriage without issue, and she was married when I met her. Plus, she was bi back then, so it wasn’t as if there wasn’t a theoretical chance we would be attracted to each other. And, she’s hot as hell! And one of the smartest, most thoughtful, positive women I know. I have joked that we will be terrorizing the other inmates in an old folks’ home when we’re in our 80s. We can not talk in months and then just pick up where we left off as if no time had passed.

I honestly don’t understand all the rules. I’m not being snarky. I also don’t get treating people differently because of their gender, but that’s always been an anathema for me. Again, I’m not saying I don’t understand that there is sexism and that people of different genders may think differently, but this whole NEVER THE TWAIN SHALL MEET mentality makes me both confused and sad. K was telling me that her teenage offspring, L, and their friends use different pronouns interchangeably within the same conversation for everyone. Now, I think that would be confusing, but at the same time, it shows atht it’s doable. And that gender isn’t set in stone. Again, if you identify as a certain gender, I support that. But it doesn’t mean that everybody does or that there’s only one acceptable standard for being that gender.

I had hoped that by this time, gender would be de-emphasized in general. Not what it means to people (their own gender), but the idea that there is a prescriptive way to be if you’re a certain gender. Honestly, it’s one of the  reasons I did not feel like I was a woman–because I got told repeatedly that I did not act like one.

I still don’t get it. For me, personally, any person I date now is definitely not going to suddenly jump to the top of my importance list just because I’m boning them. K and Ian have been with me through thick and thin–I cannot imagine my life without them.




*That was the specific question–not if people of different genders can be friends, but if single WOMEN and married MEN can be friends.

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