I consider myself a progressive young woman in many ways. I talk a big talk when it comes to equality in pay, treatment, and many other capacities. However, when it comes to breaking certain gender norms, I’m all talk and no action. One of these norms I struggle with is asking men out. Even though I believe women can make great CEOs and can generally do anything a man can do, I still struggle in this area.
I was raised to believe that women are the gatekeepers in male-female relationships. Thus, if I express romantic interest in a man, I worry he may take advantage of this privileged information and pursue me despite lacking interest in me long-term. Many girls I know have been hurt by this when men fail to call them back after intimacy. I was also raised not to eat in restrooms. By this, I mean I was raised to avoid mingling professional and romantic relationships. Despite my better judgment, I just asked out a coworker in the meekest way possible.
My heart was pounding in my throat, even through chat box. I was certain he’d say no, but I had to ask. And he said yes. I didn’t know how to respond once he said yes because I was so certain that I was putting my feelings on the line to get crushed. I didn’t immediately feel good about breaking norms… it’s taking a while to digest what I just did. We’re already friendly, and we don’t work at the same location… how bad could it be? Sometimes in life, you just have to take chances and seize opportunities before they pass you by. I also have a lot more sympathy for men now. Social conventions tend to put them in a spot to face the roller coaster of heart rates that accompany exposing oneself to potential awkwardness, ridicule, and rejection.
Even though I threw the lessons of my upbringing out the window, I still managed to listen to parental wisdom. My parents always say, “You miss all the shots you never take!” I just don’t think they meant for me to become a man-wrangling renegade!