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Today in the United States, everything has a label and these labels cause a huge divide among us as a society. It’s getting harder to have personal conversations at work or school without conflict, especially after the recent Trump win. These labels immediately cause conflict...a man mentions hunting and suddenly he is racist, a woman down the hall is gay so she must love Hillary and disrespect the troops. These claims are simply not true! What ever happened to being judged by our individual merit, work ethic, and character? We seem to prejudge people so we can become pleasantly surprised when they don’t disappoint us, but are we so weak that we must protect ourselves in this way? There is a better solution: make friends with everyone, but lead by example.
When I say “lead by example,” I don’t mean that you can walk around thinking you’re better than everyone else. When you meet someone you perhaps may disagree with (say they’re wearing a cross and you’re an Atheist), be nice to them! What if you are the only Atheist that person has ever met? If you’re cold, that negativity shapes their entire views on Atheists as a whole because of how society judges based on labels (it shouldn’t be this way, but it unfortunately is). The same goes for the Christian; if he or she is cold towards the Atheist, the Atheist will believe all Christians are rude or maybe hypocritical.
We can’t always change what labels we have, but we are always in control of our actions! That being said, I’m going to share a scenario that happened to me at work the other day.
I am self-employed through a major financial services company, and my coworkers are all my peers; we are all our own bosses. I was outside having a cigarette (terrible, I know) with two men and we were making polite small talk. We aren’t required to be at the office daily so I’m understandably not very close with my coworkers there. Another woman walks past us towards her way into the building. She stops to compliment one of the men on his beard; it was more “clean cut” than usual. He thanked her and she continued on inside so our conversation continued but shifted. The bearded man mentions, “I really do love my beard but the ladies don’t always seem to like it. Women either love it or hate it.” He turns to me, “I mean, what do you like? You’re a girl.”
The other man laughed, walking inside because he was embarrassed for me! I am a very feminine woman, but I’m also very gay, and for some reason men seem to take this so personally. I hate "coming out,” but I’m also not ashamed of any part of myself.
So ten whole seconds go by, and I finally answer the bearded man with a laugh and say, “I hate facial hair, all hair except head hair really...I like them completely hairless, like women...more specifically, my wife!”
His face turned as white as his vape cloud and immediately had questions, I can literally see the wheels turning in his mind. He is so shocked, he says it all at once: “And you’re happy? Aren't you missing something? What is it about guys that you don’t like?”
I puffed my cigarette and thought carefully, in case I was the only gay person he’d ever met. I said, “Men and women are just so different...You know how you asked me for advice on your beard cause you just don’t really understand women? We’re confusing, yeah?” I’m shrugging and so is he, agreeing somewhat with the point I’m making so I continue. “Everyone has a different perspective, and from where I’m standing I feel like men will always have a small disrespect for women since they’ll never understand certain things. Not saying all men are terrible, just that I’d never enjoy to marry one.”
He didn’t hear me say “not all men,” so he blurts out, “That’s NOT true! I have always had self-control! Even in high school!”
It occurs to me he thinks I’ve been hurt by a man and that this is why I’m gay...so I said, “Dude, that’s not a brag...it just means you never raped someone.” I put my cigarette out and went inside, cell ringing just in time to end that uncomfortable conversation.
Obviously NOT all men are bad, but this particular one thought he was entitled to date women solely because he’s never pressured anyone into sex. Please have a much higher criteria when searching for a partner, ladies!
And men, please call out your bro by saying “Dude, that’s not a brag.”
It’s the perfect phrase because it doesn’t have a comeback and causes a laugh or a shift in conversation. Either way your friend has a minute to think. You don’t have to burn a bridge, cause if you do then you’re responsible for furthering the divide.