“It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I don’t trust them.”
It’s a statement that most 21st century females who have ever had significant others have probably heard before. “Them,” being other guys in a club, bar or really any social setting, and in actuality this expressed mistrust in other men perpetuates something much more serious and concerning.
This year, my roommate and I were getting ready to go out on Halloween. I was primping in the bathroom and she was in the living room talking to her long-distance boyfriend about his Halloween plans.
Near the end of the conversation, she said, “If you end up going out tonight, just be careful babe ‘cause, I mean, I trust you – I just don’t trust other girls.”
She was joking, and they shared a laugh and a few smart remarks. In the few months I have watched their relationship grow, it seems healthy enough that this would never actually be said in a serious manner. I was taken aback though with how ridiculous it sounded to ever be seriously said from a woman to a man.
I have felt this insecurity before, but never actually said anything about it to my ex-boyfriend who, luckily, only said something like this once before figuring out it wasn’t going to slide with me. I never said anything to him because I knew if there was ever a situation with another woman he could and would say no. I mean, I trusted him from the beginning to end of our relationship.
In 2009, women self-reported 472,000 sexual assaults, according to Statistics Canada. This is not something to sweep under the rug, but our social structure when it comes to gender is so deeply rooted in our behaviour and conversation. We often don’t realize that what sounds like a man simply suggesting he is uncomfortable with another man finding his girlfriend attractive brings up a number of other social issues.
First, according to this thinking, a female is an object to possess. This is almost laughable, but the moment a guy feels like another guy is infringing on his territory, suddenly it becomes an argument similar to two children fighting over a toy.
We forget that a woman can have a conversation with a man without it ending in sex. A woman has an active mind and can make the decision to reject or accept a guy’s advances.
There have been two or three times I’ve witnessed bar fights because of a “misunderstanding” over a girlfriend. The kicker here is that usually nothing sexual happens between the woman and the other man. But I guess it was going to, right?
Aside from being objects for men to have, the “I trust you, I just don’t trust them” comment ignores the idea of consent. Why doesn’t he trust other males? Because they may approach, flirt or be sexually suggestive with his girlfriend. And once they do any of those three things it seems to be understood that the girlfriend’s choice doesn’t matter in what happens next.
“No.” “No thank-you.” “I’m sorry, I’m not interested.”
In an ideal world, these are three examples of all it should take to stop unwanted sexual advances. This, unfortunately, isn’t always enough, or sometimes the rejected man doesn’t take it so lightly.
There’s an assumption that men have control to dictate what a woman does at a club, bar or any social setting, that a woman can’t say no, and if they do say no, it doesn’t need to be valued. What I’m trying to say is that we continue to bury the sexually victimized with statements that suggest there is no option for women to have any control of what happens to them.
There are a lot of good guys out there who respect women, but I am not going to congratulate them on doing so. Respecting a woman should not mean you are above the men who don’t, it should mean that you’re a decent person. However, this also affects those good guys that are respectful because I have found myself often mistrusting the guys that come up to me at a bar when they could just be looking for friendly conversation. The rape culture that is very much alive causes many women to live in fear and distrust guys they don’t know.
“I trust you, I just don’t trust them.”
If this has ever been said to you, or if you have ever said it to someone else, consider why it was said. Unless it’s because you are afraid the “no” will actually be a “yes, okay” then maybe the relationship isn’t as healthy as it should be. If it’s being said for no reason, then stop saying it. Stop perpetuating a culture of patriarchy and find a better way to express your insecurities about the other men around your girlfriend.