Owning A Bed Frame Is Not An Accomplishment

Why do we give single men so much credit for very normal things?

It’s a standards thing, really. There’s setting the bar so low you can’t see daylight beneath it, and then there’s what we’re left with today. There is no bar. We are barless. The bar has been swallowed whole by the earth and left in its place is a conglomerate of women who will applaud a man for keeping a bottle of Windex in the house.

I’m speaking of course about our tendency to expect very little of single men in terms of domestic essentials. It is 2019, we have a potent female candidate for the Presidency, and yet we still treat adult single men like strays, fully forgiving their roll of paper towels perpetually on its last sheet.

We expect very little of straight, single men by way of domestic maturity, letting literally any void slide from curtain rods to refrigerator contents. And instead of demanding more, instead of shaming these men for perpetually living like emancipated 14-year-olds, we not only accept reality, we turn it into jokes.

I see it everywhere. We scroll through and double tap meme after meme because omg she’s so right, she totally gets it.

Does she get it, or is she giving digital real estate to the problem for the sake of being funny and making a joke of something that’s utterly pathetic and indicative of gender imbalace? We are living in a time of uneven expectations. A woman with a mattress on the ground and one corner covered by sheeting with little more than a thermal blanket from Target on top would be considered nothing short of ratchet. A man in the same scenario is probably just 28.

This shit isn’t funny, it’s sad. Why is a man who owns a duvet cover considered a catch while a woman needs a PhD to merit the title? Why are we forgiving of maturity shortcomings? I know it starts young, girls are perpetually “consoled” by the girls-mature-faster-than-boys excuse. It never once dawned on the adults around us to simply tell the boys to try and keep up.

So we’re still doing it. We’re still forgiving their failure to ripen. We’re still overlooking situations that make us uncomfortable like dirty linen and the complete absence of a trash can, gently placing our garbage inside the bag slouched against the pantry door. And heaven help us if we find one with an entryway console or a living room where we can’t see the Playstation. He’ll be claimed instantly, the victorious female surrounding his abode with traps and spikes to ward off intruders.

Why do we do this? Why do we applaud men for things we’ve been doing since we lived in the dorms? I think it’s because we’re starved. Those who are hungry will feed off scraps, and we’re settling for any morsel of maturity we can get. But in a way, that just perpetuates the problem. If we settle for less than what we expect of ourselves, we’re reiterating to the generation of men currently sleeping atop bare hardwood that it’s totally okay for them to live like their parents are out of town until they partner up. We’re telling them they don’t have to be as grown up as women, because we’ll be grown up enough for us both.

But I won’t be. I won’t be impressed by his throw pillow. His clean shower. His windowsill free of flies. I won’t applaud less than what I expect of myself, because when I am in a relationship one day, I don’t want to be the only one piloting the ship. I don’t want to be the only one ordering disinfecting wipes in bulk on Amazon, the only one grabbing the vacuum when the rug needs attention. I don’t want to live with a man who has coasted into adulthood on folding chairs and paper plates because then he’s going to expect me to elevate his lifestyle. I want a man who’s already on my level. Because imagine where we could both go together.

So keep your memes, your funny commentary on the times. You’re not helping. You’re giving positive attention to a reality that needs to be Cloroxed out of existence. By making light of the very least, we’re denying ourselves the very best. And while it’s perfectly lovely if a man has a bed frame, he’s going to need a lot more than that to also have me.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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