13 Questions That I Never Have to Ask Myself

So, a while back I discovered 50 QUESTIONS FOR MEN WE WANT ANSWERED ASAP on the The Frisky and I thought one day this would be a fun project for the blog. And this morning, I thought, this would be fun. That’s was until I read the questions. Now, I love The Frisky and I adore Amelia McDonell-Parry, but these questions are just so basic.

Of the 50 questions, seventeen are about sex, eight are about dating, three are about balls and one is about love. If this list of questions truly represents what women want to know ASAP, then it is safe to say women care more about sex and balls than love.

Anyway, I moved on from this list of questions and in a random google search, I found a more recent article called 13 Questions That Men Never Have to Ask Themselves by Danica Johnson. In this article, Johnson states:

“From unrealistic beauty standards to slut shaming for promiscuity, there are a lot of things that women think about every day that men have never once had to consider. From the workplace to relationships, simply by being male, men experience privilege that makes their lives easier –and that they (usually) don’t even notice.

Johnson’s article is a calling out of this privilege and to do so, she poses thirteen questions that we as men never have to think about.

Now if you know me, you know the word “never” is what piqued the interest. I wanted to know the thirteen questions that I never have to ask myself because I am a man. Why haven’t I? What if I have? What if there is a man equivalent to the question? Completely interested, I decided to look at these thirteen questions and see if they are in fact, as Johnson states, “examples of questions men don’t need to ask themselves.”

1 - Why am I expected to spend exorbitant amounts of money and time on my looks? And why do I get condemned as vain and superficial for doing so?

This is a clear example of a posed question that has an implied meaning. The question itself is about the reason behind the expectation to do certain things. However, in her explanation, Johnson expounds on the expectation itself and not the reason behind it. It makes the question loaded and immediately makes me think the rest of the article is loaded.

As a man, I don’t ponder the reasoning behind the expectation but I do ponder the expectation daily. 

Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but as a man, I have almost always been expected to be fresh. Growing up, I learned how to wash, fold and iron my own clothes because my gear had to be tight. I stayed in the barbershop and I watched music videos to stay up on the latest trends.

Everyone had a hustle, from working to selling drugs, to have the “exorbitant amounts of money” to secure good looks. Guys stand in line for hours to get fresh kicks. If they can’t afford it, boosters and bootlegs were a substitute. I knew guys who wouldn’t come out of the house, because their gear wasn’t right or their outfits are old. The unfortunate reality is that every day at my job, some young man is caught stealing “fresh” gear because he can’t afford it but must have it to look that part.

I agree with Johnson that we aren’t condemned as being “vain and superficial” but we are condemned. We get clowned, teased and mistreated. I remember is seventh grade I got picked up and throw in a dumpster because I wore dollar store sneakers to school. I never wore cheap shoes again.

2 - If I smile at people, will they interpret my friendliness as a sexual invitation? If I don’t, will they tell me to lighten up?

This is an example of a question with a male equivalent and this one can probably be chalked up to the societal gender roles that take the weight in all discussions like this one.

I don’t ask myself daily “if I smile at people will, they interpret my friendliness as a sexual invitation.” Maybe because of privilege. Or maybe because, as we established with McDonell-Parry's questions, sex is more important to women. I think about the interpretation of me smiling daily but I ask myself "If I smile at people, will these guys take my friendliness for weakness.”

Again, maybe cultural, but smiling was a no-no. From ideas like “meaning mugging” and “practicing looking hard” many men put in a lot of work to keep that grill from signifying weakness. Smiles are reserved. Limited to the comfortable. I know guys that never smile in pictures and personally my wife is constantly telling me to smile more. You know why there’s a thing called bitchy resting face for women and not for men? Because bitch resting face is our everyday look. Every smile is pondered before given. And that’s on a daily basis

3 - If I wear something that shows skin, will I get harassed?

I don't ask myself this and this I can honestly say is a clear example of male privilege. I don't ever have to worried about being harassed if I expose skin. I wish how I knew to level this part of the playing field.

4 - If I wear sexy clothing and enjoy partying, will people accuse me of provoking sexual harassment and/or assault?

I don't ask myself this and this I can honestly say is another clear example of male privilege. It is a sad, sad reality that women are often held responsible for the sexual harassment and/or assault they experience. I wish I knew how to make this disappear.

5 - If I have sex with him, will everyone think I’m a slut?

This is another man equivalent question. True, I rarely have to worry about being called a slut. But to say “Men can have promiscuous sex and be congratulated for it. Women who are sexually promiscuous are rarely viewed in a positive light” is like to most common generalization ever. And the safe word here is “can.” Yes, men CAN have promiscuous sex and be congratulated for it but every sex act does NOT get a high five. While the term “slut” was not be used, terms like “whore” “dirty MF” “nasty MF” “disgusting MF” “thirsty MF” “ole f—k anything MF” and “beast (meant as a diss)” have been used in my circle of male friends to brand a person after certain sex tales. All sex isn’t good sex and bad sex is not congratulated.  

6. If the condom breaks, will I get pregnant? If so, what then?

Wait? You ask yourself this every day? That’s one amazing sex life. J/K.

Seriously, I was completely ready to go in on Johnson when I read this one. I have experienced the broken condom thing and I can tell you that nothing dominated my mind more than “if she’s pregnant, what then?” Then Johnson wrote, “Before anyone gets up in arms, let me state: this is biology…” And I eased back. After a broken condom, I never ask myself about how it will affect my body, but I ask a lot of questions. A. Lot.

7 - If I reveal my gender, will I receive the same level of respect?

I am hardly ever in a situation where my gender doesn’t accompany the rest of the presentation so no, I don’t think about this. How is this even a question, though. I get the study sited by Johnson but that's a controlled situation. And among scientists. What normal, real world situation occurs where one's information reaches another without gender?

8 - If I become upset at work, will they blame it on PMS?

Is this a real question? I get it. PMS gets thrown around a lot as the default reason women get upset and it’s rude as hell. I have enough experience with women to know there are thousands of other reasons besides PMS that could be the cause of an upset woman. That said, I think this is another example of a posed question with an implied meaning. I could see, “I am upset and I won’t be able to hide it today at work. Am I going to hear about my menstrual cycle again today?” But seriously, do you honestly think about becoming upset at work every day? And on what that feeling will be blamed? This one is a stretch in my opinion.

Oh, and when I am upset at work, I am told to “get a grip” and “compose yourself.” Not being able to carry myself professionally at work while upset is viewed as a sign of weakness; not “strong” “dominant” or “alpha.”

9 - Will I have less of a chance of being hired or promoted because of my gender?

Wait? You ask yourself this every day? Or does this question represent the collective of women looking for employment?

I don’t ask myself this question. I did once. I applied for a job at a women’s bookstore and I still believe I didn’t get it because I was a man. But it was Berkeley, in the early ‘90’s. The place was called Womyn's Revolution. I never had a chance.

10 - If I don’t do well at my job, will people take it as a sign that people of my gender shouldn’t be doing this line of work?

I don’t ask this one either. I almost always think my work performance is only a reflection of me. I am not a crusader or representative for any particular and I rarely care what other people think. I do ask myself daily – as it relates to this question – “If I don’t do well at my job, will I still have a job?”
11 - If I do well in my company, will people say that I slept my way to the top?

I don’t think about this one.

12 - If I have kids, will people assume I don’t care about my career anymore?

This is the third question in a row where the thought was about what others may think and I am starting to think this has less to do about man’s privilege and more to do with Johnson’s concern about outside perception. I know men and women who don’t give a damn about what other people think and I doubt any of them think about #10, #11 and #12 daily.

And for the record, I have kids and so care about my career less. I don’t want to miss field trips, school concerts, basketball games and trips to amusement parks. Luckily, I work for men who respect work-life balance and encourage me to participate in the lives of my children

13 - If I don’t want a family, will people assume there’s something wrong with me? And another one. If I wanted to make the argument that women are more concerned about what other people think than men, then this article would be Exhibit A. Having just come out of a wedding season that included seven weddings including my own, I am a witness to the reality that many men ask themselves this question daily. I have conversations with guys all the time that are concerned about their image among family and friends because they haven’t settled down.

Johnson stated in her conclusion that “Yes, everyone has a different life experience, and some men may, at some point in their lives, ask themselves some version of these questions. But that does not negate their male privilege.”  She then went on to say that “Just by acknowledging their male privilege, men can start chipping away at it.”

So just to be clear, if men acknowledge their privilege, they chip away at their privilege but if they have asked themselves the questions that they don’t ask themselves because of privilege that doesn’t negate privilege. I can’t help but think that there is no hope for men according to Johnson.

I think this was a great article. It was thought provoking and insightful. I have recognized, as a result of this article, that I do benefit from some privilege because I am a male. This article also has me thinking about the many ways I can try to chip away at my privilege or at least not contribute to the abuse of it. I think that Johnson has some strong ideas about men and while I busy myself chipping away at male privilege, Johnson could benefit at chipping away at her presumptions about privileged males.

Some of us believe in equality and the fact that love is love too. You can’t see us if you don’t believe we exist.