As a woman, being a part of a small subset of riders at a motorcycle event can give you interesting “fly on the wall” opportunities for observation. You overhear candid chatter about relationships between men and women when there are few women around. During the weekend that I did the Pine Barrens 500 in southern New Jersey, of the 200 or so riders that attended, it would be fair to say that maybe 5-10% of them were women.
I’m going to preface everything from here on out with the disclaimer that I may, in fact, be the worst wife in the world. I’m aloof and selfish so my perspective is skewed toward being self-serving.
As I milled around over the weekend and overheard conversations, there was an interesting gender divide on the time-away-from-home-front. I overheard a couple men makes sighing statements about their spouses or girlfriends and how there was some annoyance gauntlet that they had to run at home to attend.
Is that just the natural order of things? Is it societal? Are women really more needy, time-demanding and restrictive than men? Is everyone happy in these roles? Of course, I don’t know. What I do know is that if I were knowingly on the receiving end of some of these complaints that I wouldn’t be happy about it. But we all make our own beds, right?
The one that gets under my skin EVERY. DAMNED. TIME? “My wife wouldn’t let me…”, “my girlfriend wouldn’t let me come on Friday…”, “I had to do X so my wife would let me go away this weekend.”
What other people do in their relationships is obviously none of my business. But I still have thoughts about what I see and the comments I hear. I wonder – what is going on here? Why are we letting other adults do anything? It sounds so restrictive, controlling and like something akin to parental or pet-owner roles. The thought of having to ask my spouse permission and him letting me do anything makes my head want to explode.
As conscientious adults we, of course, make decisions in deference to our partners. We make compromises, we share responsibilities and sometimes we opt-out because of finances, time management or maybe because the needs of our partner are more important to us than whatever else comes along. The result may be disappointing that you can’t do two things at once. I understand that. But I still firmly believe that those choices are up to us alone and not a mommy or daddy telling us we’re not allowed. They are self-made decisions of respect. What I overheard sounded like it carried underlying resentment more so than we just couldn’t juggle the time/money to do both this time. It sounded more like -and I’ve seen this with several people I’ve known over the years- their spouses take the tack Well, if I can’t go out and have fun this weekend, you shouldn’t either.
On the flip side, the other women I talk to at events don’t seem to convey that same type of restriction. I’ve yet to hear anything like “my husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner let me come if I promise to paint the house next weekend,” from another woman. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – but I’ve not heard it. Often the other women I meet are attending with their partners. Or if they’re alone it sounds like they’ve got someone supportive back at home. Someone who is proud of them for riding and following their adventurous whims.
It could be that the type of women who show up solo to a 3-day dualsport may not be the type of girls who take no for an answer. Maybe the at-home dynamic is a little different? Maybe men are less inclined to give a shit about what their partners do with their free time? Maybe their dudes see the value in having alone time as a result of their lady being busy? Maybe it is an insecurity thing? Like if you don’t want to spend every free moment with me, you don’t love me anymore. I don’t know. Obviously, I don’t have scientific data. All of my thoughts are purely anecdotal.
One other thing that I’ve always found surprising is the way partners hide money or how much things cost from one another. “I told her I paid X for those parts/that motorcycle/that jacket – but if she really knew how much it cost, she’d be pissed!” I overheard that type of talk more than once over the weekend. What is going on there?!
I know you didn’t come here to talk about relationships. I just happened to overhear common themes at a weekend motorcycle event that left me scratching my head. More and more, I realize that I don’t understand anything.