25 December 2009

Men, Actually

I am spending Christmas Day at my nanny's, but without my nanny (who is spending Christmas at a friend of hers - we're like a Christmas chain!). I was going to watch Love, Actually - a film I dislike but am willing to watch solely for the moment when Bill Nighy says, "Thank you, Ant or Dec" - but it turns out that it's on an inaccessible channel. So instead I thought I'd write an incidental post.

Maybe a month ago my FTT asked me in a tone of some astonishment why I preferred men. Girls, he said, were so much better: softer and...well, actually softer was the only specific attribute he picked out, but the general impression was just "better." In a vague way ever since then I have thought on and off about what it is I like about men, what it is that makes them appeal to me more than women (bearing in mind that I don't think sexual attraction is a matter of choice, and that I can't imagine ever being homosexual, or having homosexual desire - please note that I'm not saying this isn't possible for some people: just not for me. I'm very firmly heterosexual. So I guess what I've really thought about is what I like about men, not why I prefer them, since it's not really a matter of preference).

So... What I Like About Men

Perhaps funnily, one thing that I like about men is precisely that they're not soft. Men are hard, but both unexpectedly and in an unexpected way. When you're a woman, you don't notice that you're soft, although I suppose you are. You're just the way you are, but your areness becomes the norm. So what I like about men (this is the unexpected thing) is that they don't feel like me. Their bodies feel different, and they feel surprising because all that time of living with myself, and interacting with my own body (putting cream on it, putting my hands on its waist and hips, clasping its hands or rubbing them) has made my own body what's the norm for me. But men are so much less pliable than me! I don't mean they have big muscles - I actually don't like muscly men, but have always preferred slim ones or ones who aren't overly developed. I mean that they have more musculature - no matter how skinny or under-gymed they are, they just feel harder. And that difference is attractive to me. Plus, they don't have breasts. Now, when you carry breasts around all day they're not that interesting: you sort of forget about them, except as objects that fit into tops or as pieces of your body you need to worry about sometimes (cancer, sagging, size worries as mentioned). But I've danced with women, and embraced them, and to me breasts against me feel weird: they interfere with my breasts. Whereas a male chest, that I fit against; it accommodates me.

Also, men are bigger. Well, that one needs no explanation.

But also, I like it that men feel rougher. I don't mean they are physically rougher, but rather that they feel rougher. When I stroke the place where my neck turns into my shoulder, the skin feels like some kind of smooth fabric, but when I put my lips on a man in the same place it's a little more tacky, a little less refined. I love it when men don't shave, and even when they do shave it I love it that their features are rougher than mine, that men tend to be physically sharper than women (even the chubby ones).

And there are things I like about them mentally, or perhaps it might be better to say in terms of character. Men tend to be less likely to perseverate on emotion than women. Now, here I have to be careful, because I don't care for men who are solely practical, or who follow that tedious cliche line about how women are "complicated, and they, the man, just doesn't understand emotion. That's a kind of maleness I always suspect is posturing, really, and I know there are men who understand and experience emotional perturbation or complexity. But men seem to be much better than women at recognising when there's been enough emotional perturbation. So they do all the frowning, and the considering, but then at a certain point they also make a final pronouncement and move on. Women can sit there for hours going over meanings and possibilities and maybes - the time for this is infinite. With men, it's finite, and I like that.

But also, you know, they shave their faces with creamy white foam! And they have straight hips, so that when they wear their trousers slung low you can see their stomachs that are somehow different from ours! And they're damp in the neck! And they have tender neck napes, neck napes that are like an unexpectedy revealed secret: so different from the napes of women's necks. And they smell different! Not their aftershave, or their sweat, but just their natural smell: it's darker, and lower, and somehow...firmer.

And all of that is just...lovely. It's just right. So that's what I like about men.

No comments: