I'm often told that I'm "like a guy,"and I'm expected to receive it as a compliment. Why?
I've been told I'm like a guy by coworkers, by male friends, by boyfriends, and by random dudes who were trying to flirt. They all seem to mean for it to be complimentary, but when I hear "you're like a guy," from a man, I hear a subtext of "Women are not as good as men and you are not like women, so congratulations! Here is my admiration!"
I don't present myself as physically masculine; I wear my hair long and have a closet full of dresses and could probably run a 5K in heels if the situation arose. Granted, I like some "man" things; for example, my love of organized professional sports and my affinity for foul language and sex jokes are well documented, but in this day and age, are those behaviors really masculine or all that unique? One need only to peruse the comments on this very website to glean that women enjoy sports, swearing, and raunch in large numbers and yet have managed to avoid spontaneously sprouting penises.
Other times that my suffocating dudeishness has been pointed out has been when I've managed to somehow use logic to argue something and a man has reacted with awe, as though I am literally the only woman in the entire world who has ever been right about anything. Bro, many of the best arguers I know are women. I'd go as far as to say that of the really great debaters that I know, about half of them are men and about half of them are women, just like the rough split between men and women in the population. Imagine that!
The disturbing implication of considering logic, being fun, and having a sense of humor to be in the realm of dude-dom is that what's left for ladies is the dreary opposite. If men are logical, then women must be illogical. If men are carefree and exciting, then women must be boring. If men are hilarious, then women must be perennial wet blankets who hate laughing and fun. If having masculine qualities is a positive, then is possessing feminine qualities a negative, and is anyone who is acting wack therefore performing ladyhood? One need only to walk down the hallway of a middle school or listen to men put each other down or listen to like five Madonna songs from around when she began commercializing feminism to realize that feminine words are insults with much greater frequency than masculine words. And yet, women still view their being "like a dude" as a great personal attribute, without protest.
To make matters worse, I know more than one woman who wears her "I'm not like those other girls; I'm just like one of the guys!" badge with pride, who agrees with the public consensus that girls are just terrible and they're ideal. They're special and superior, like a man. They use the "I'm a dude" excuse to exempt themselves from any number of standards to which women are subjected- they use their guy-ness to avoid being slut-shamed, to explain why they aren't overdramatic or overemotional. They add their voices to the chorus of misogyny that non-lady hating women have to encounter every fucking day in order to satisfy their own chronic need for male validation. It's so tediously transparent to hang out with a woman who insists she hates women that it feels like watching an episode of a show called True Life: I Have Daddy Issues.
A male acquaintance pointed out that "you're like a guy" doesn't always have to be about male superiority, and I agree with him to a point. Some men say "you're like a guy" to smooth over the fact that a particular man may not be interested in a woman romantically, because she's all dudely and stuff, but using "but you're like a dude" to smooth over the disappointment of unrequited love is another way to imply that a woman should feel uplifted by being told she's guyish. Another possibility is that a man telling a woman that she's like a guy could be the man reflecting on his level of comfort around that particular woman. Maybe the dudeplimenter is happy he can unwind and relax and be himself around a particular lady, but if this is the case, why is it noteworthy? Why can't men relax around most women? What makes women so intolerable? Why must matching gender be a prerequisite for social companionship?
I'm fully aware that I'm not the first to point out that it's probably about time that this "Dudes are so chill and bitches be cray-zay!" stereotype be put to rest; logical people of every stripe have been calling for the retirement of rigid gender stereotypes for a long time. There are subsets of every population that are insufferable. Women aren't insufferable as a population and neither are men; people are across-the-board flawed and collectively a pain in the ass. Bitches aren't crazy; human beings are crazy.
"You're like a dude" as a compliment is kind of bullshit, and I'm over it. Being called a man should not be a compliment, and if what a man looks for in a romantic companion is someone who is just like him, but with breasts, then maybe he would be better off just fucking himself.