HER: I don’t understand why this bothers you. I mean, why would I talk it over with you first? If I’d been unsure, I would’ve, but it wasn’t like that. I knew my position on it.
HIM: Well, it’s just that it was a major decision and I guess I’ve never been in a relationship where that wouldn’t even have be discussed first.
HER: OK, I get it, you’ve never been married, never even lived with anyone before, and probably made many decisions for yourself for years. Well, I’ve been making decisions for myself for quite a while now. Ever since I moved to this country. It never crossed my mind to check with you. It wasn’t meant to discredit you. I just knew what to do.
Try to see it from my point of view. Ever since I finished medical school I’ve been competing with men, qualified men, for every position I’ve earned. And I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s about things so many people can identify with. Women do have to do more and do it better if they want to succeed. It is a patriarchic society here. It’s kind of like the whole racial issue. Lots of progress and improvement to acknowledge but still not balanced. Still a ways to go.
You don’t understand why I turned it down. You think if we’d talked first, you could’ve convinced me of the opportunity. I’m fully aware of the opportunity. When I found out the previous man they fired was earning more than they offered me, even though it’s much more than I’m earning now, there’s no way I’m accepting. They fired him and after all the competitive interviews, they think I’m the one to do a better job, right? Then they have to pay me at least what he was making. Period. Talking it over with you never entered my mind.
HIM: I respect that. I really do. It’s impressive thinking and strong and right. I never would’ve seen it that way. I guess I just want to know my opinions are valued.
HER: They are. When I’m not sure about something. You know that. Think about it.
HIM: It’s kind of confusing though. That you’d be so strong about that and so sweet, vulnerable even, about other stuff. Remember, you probably don’t but it really made an impression on me. Shortly after we made the practical decision to live together, you said the commute was proving to be a problem, wanted me to sell and buy something closer to your clinic. I was blown away and said I love it here. You asked if I plan to live the rest of my life in the same house? Or was I open to changes? I said I couldn’t picture a better place. You offered the sweetest reply: “Well, we won’t move until you do.”
HER: And we didn’t until you did. I don’t see anything confusing in those situations. I’m not trying to make some tough-lady-feminine statement in the career issue. I’m just being fair and they’ll have to be, too, or they can hire their second choice. It’s not easy, but it’s clear. I do know that as a woman we don’t inherit as much money or property, are much more vulnerable regarding the necessity of birth control, don’t have anywhere near the access to opportunity and power, and on top of that we’re expected to spend lots of time and money to look good for you guys. I’ve seen you get ready to go out — and you do look great — in about five minutes. Did you know that 90 percent of anorexics are women? I’m kind of messing with you, but I’m kind of serious too. I accept all that as the price of admission for the opportunities. Being a man, you really don’t know much about being vulnerable.
HIM: Ouch. With a bit of truth though. You just made a pretty good case but…
HER: But what? OK, keep it fun. Describe being vulnerable. Not appearing weak is what you said one time. That’s it? I know you. You’re a pretty comfortably confident guy. You’re not macho acting and all that. C’mon, tell me something you could do or say that would make you feel vulnerable.
HIM: (after a pause): Be the first to say I Love You.