I was talking to a female co-worker today who cautioned me against making friends with men. She said she has had many male friends whom, in the past, had assumed their friendship would lead into a romantic relationship and were then shocked and outraged when she wanted to remain faithful to her boyfriend. She told me they always felt lead on.
Those men assumed a certain availability regardless of her mentions of her boyfriend because they desired her and that, in their minds, was all that was needed to convince them they should be able to have her. What did I tell her? Simply that it was not her fault, and that if they had not been willing to entertain the goal of simple friendship then she had never really been considered an equal in their minds.
The notion that men and women cannot be friends is often repeated but rarely understood. Rarely is it noted that this expectation comes not from any threat or fear of sexuality imposing upon the friendship, but from the belief that women cannot be equal to the challenge of engaging a man’s mind without promise of said sexuality. I am fully confident that we as women and as a society can move beyond such ridiculous notions.