If I was to write:

You're confusing women for men

What exactly am I saying?

  1. Reader can't tell men and women apart;
  2. Reader thinks that women are (or act like) men;
  3. Reader thinks that men are (or act like) women; or
  4. Reader thinks both 2 and 3 (i.e, reader has exchanged genders.)

I'm thinking that the most literal interpretation is 4 but that there's some connotation of either 2 or 3, but I'm not sure which.

I'm trying to suggest 2, that is, that the reader is clumping both men and women into the same behavioural expectations that would be true for men. Have I worded it correctly to suggest that?

  • 1
    It can mean any of those. Depends on the context. – Drew Dec 2 '17 at 16:05
  • 3
    5. You make women feel confused, and you do this for the benefit of men. – oerkelens Dec 8 '17 at 13:45
  • @oerkelens LMAO...That was one epic way of looking at it! – Soha Farhin Pine Jun 21 '18 at 17:23

The literal reading of this statement is

The reader thinks that women are men.

Which is your number 2. Of course, as you point out, this normally means

The reader thinks women behave/think/act like men.

However, almost anything you have said makes sense because if the reader thinks that women are men, then one interpretation is that there must only be one category the reader uses. in that case it would be logical to assume that the reader also thinks men are women.

The latter is not explicitly said, though. Grammatically it could be the case that the reader thinks that women are men but not the reverse. For example

You are confusing women for men and men for animals.


You are confusing women for men and men for women

In which case the reader has switched the genders, but still sees them as distinct.

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