Why are we having this discussion? Because for the last few months (or years?) I’ve seen men attacked, demeaned, and belittled because they were born with, heaven forbid, a penis. And testosterone. Somehow, it’s believed, their inherent nature is to attack and hurt the women around them. I’ll also add that I’ve seen women attacked, demeaned, and belittled because they were born with, heaven forbid, a vagina. And estrogen. Glory be, these creatures have periods! I’m going off on a tangent here.
Point is, so much time has been spent tearing down the opposite sex and so little time has been spent actually looking for the positive qualities, that many men and women have never learned, have forgotten, or are forgetting how to value themselves for the glorious creation that they are. That, to me, is incredibly sad. How can we have a world of love and support if it’s not even acceptable to love ourselves for who we are?
The short answer: we can’t.
When the sexes are put against each other like boxers in a ring, love and support isn’t possible!
I think it’s time to put the boxing gloves down and look at things from a different perspective. So here are some lies and their truths.
Lie 1. All men are, by instinct, sexual creatures whose natural urges will inevitably cause them to hurt a woman. I.E. sex is more important than anything and women be damned if they happen to be in the room when the urge flares!
Ummmm… this is simply not the case. It’s true that men are sexual creatures, but they aren’t all selfish assholes controlled by their smaller member. Yes, some of them are. I wouldn’t refute that for a second. But the majority of them aren’t. In my experience, most men really just want a happy life. When they choose a wife, they do so in the hopes that she will love and respect them, and they can and will do the same for her. Are they desirous of sex? Absolutely! Is every single one willing to do anything to get it? Absolutely not.
Lie 2. Men are dominant and need to be in control.
Say what? Going back to the majority here, this isn’t the case! Again, men want to give respect and love, and be respected and loved. Their sole desire isn’t to dominate the women in their life. It’s to feel comfortable, safe, and respected by the women in their life. In my interactions with men, I find if they’re dominating it’s usually the result of a fear or insecurity, survival, or they’ve been taught that that’s how they have to be. You know, manly and tough. This is actually really interesting because for many that way of thinking goes against the core values of their being, but if they don’t operate that way than they aren’t ‘a man.’
A lot of this perceived domination comes from a societal or family expectation rather than an instinctual way of being. I’ve spoken to men who have struggled with the expectation that they have to be a certain way in order to be considered ‘masculine.’ I’ve also seen many of them shed that ideal, giving it up in favor of respect, love, and service to their significant other and the women in their life. The results are magical, I tell you. Magical! Suddenly a marriage becomes a partnership. Both spouses find this inexplicable little joy that wasn’t there before. Love seems to bubble up on its own. And intimacy takes on a whole new level in a whole lot of ways! Point is, men are choosing a different course of action now. They aren’t buying into that narrative, but they’re still being painted either as dominant assholes or subservient dicks. Choose one. Apparently there’s no middle ground.
Lie 3. Men are either stupid or incapable of actually leading a family.
Okay, seriously, this one chaps me on so many levels! It’s disgusting. Let’s take the nucleus of the family and tell it that it isn’t capable of running the family. That’s a really good experiment, isn’t it?
No it’s not! It’s a terrible idea!
I’ll admit, this one seems to be more of a society thing than an individual family thing, so I won’t claim that this is the case for every marriage out there. But it does seem to be the case with men as portrayed by society (I’m looking at you, sitcoms!), and I have seen this type of belief and behavior in some families. Going back to the whole ‘men just want to be respected’ thing, if we disrespect them as partners and leaders in a family where does that leave the family? In my opinion, it puts them on the path to being broken. Could men stand up and demand respect? They sure can, but then they’re painted as assholes. What if they sit back and accept their fate? Then they’re whipped. You see the point? The idea that men are stupid or incapable is damaging to all levels of the family, and to all levels of society. It creates a world where our sons are raised as dolts, and our daughters told they have to handle everything on their own. It undermines partnership, and ultimately creates a cycle where men become… wait for it… dominant! Dominance is often created by fear, insecurity, and a need for survival. Anyway, the point of this particular rant is to point out that if our base belief of a man was one that embraced all the qualities of masculinity, I believe by default much of the stuff we worry about so much would disappear.
There are a whole slew of lies running around about men that chip away at what we believe men to be, but since I don’t think this needs to be a book, I’ll look at some truths I’ve discovered in my interactions with men.
Truth 1. Respect really is a thing. I can’t stress this point enough. Men, on a base level, desire respect. Possibly more than love, and certainly more than sex. When a man has the experience of being respected, he becomes secure in who he is and what he’s capable of. I would also argue that a foundation of respect brings out a man’s natural instinct, which is actually to provide for and protect the women around him. This, I think, is one of the most beautiful aspects of masculinity. Instinctually, most men really want to serve their spouses and families, and will do anything to protect them. I think the majority of them want to protect all of the women in their lives. Again, I say this is instinctual because I know, depending on the type of society a man is raised in, this may not be the case. But if they aren’t driven to protect than their natural born instinct has been bred out of them somehow.
Truth 2. Men have a level headed, logical way of interacting with the world that keeps things from being muddled. Most are actually really great leaders because of this. The way men see the world isn’t necessarily black and white, but it’s simpler than women. Things make sense in a different way for a man than a woman, and this mode of thinking often creates the ability for clear leadership to shine through. When their role as the masculine leader in a family is respected and encouraged, beautiful things are often the result.
But what about women? What lies are they operating in?
Well… how about that women are all bitches? Or that if a woman is dominant in any way, she’s a bitch? This one is seriously damaging to women, people! When a woman speaks up in a way that asserts her independence or strength, she’s owning something within herself. Too often it’s construed as bitchiness. Guys, I’ve lived this one. It’s ridiculous. Women are not all meek, submissive, and soft. Some of us have fire in our soul, and that fire burns!!! And those that appear soft have an inner strength that consumes everything. They’ll change the world in quiet words and loving actions. I’ve seen that too. There’s a helluva lot of strength in those calm women we all know and love. But the idea here is that if a woman takes a stand for herself, instead of that stand being respected it is often diminished, ignored, or attacked on the premise that she’s just ‘being a bitch.’ For real, people, it’s time to cut this one out.
Women are all emotional and volatile, and are run by both. First off, women have emotions, but we aren’t our emotions. Nor are we volatile by nature. If a woman is volatile you might want to look at why. Just like a man craves respect, women crave understanding. If a woman seems like a stick of dynamite waiting to explode, chances are she’s not being heard. Instead, I would assert that she feels like she’s screaming into a void and nobody’s listening to the words she’s speaking. Listening is a magical gift you can give, to both men and women. Everybody likes to be heard and understood. So yeah, we can get volatile but it’s not our natural way of being. We aren’t born that way.
Also, emotions. Yes women are emotional! You bet your butt we are. Are we controlled by our emotions? Nope. But we do use them to our advantage. Those emotions are what makes it possible for us to be mothers and wives and friends and confidants and everything else we are capable of being. Women feel deeply, love powerfully, and experience the world through a beautifully unique emotional filter. Personally, I think those emotions are a direct link to God, but maybe that’s just me. What I can say is that those emotions are the reasons I am able to empathize with and love people for who they are. I didn’t use to allow myself to feel them, but now that I’ve unlocked it I’ve unlocked a depth of compassion that wasn’t possible before. So yes, women are emotional, and those emotions are a source of love, grace, and compassion in this world. How about we embrace that piece of femininity instead of tearing it down?
This next one I think may be the source of the feminine movement: women are somehow less than men. We all know this isn’t the case, and society is pushing right now to have this particular narrative end, which I think is great. Women aren’t less than men. Of course they’re not! But they are different than men and that’s where I get concerned. Inside a lot of what I see happening today, the fundamental pieces of femininity are pushed aside for a more masculine world view, and the powerful aspects of masculinity are painted as chauvinistic and brutish. This concerns me. Femininity and masculinity are like yin and yang. They bring balance to each other and the world. When we choose not to embrace both pieces we cause an imbalance that, from what I’ve seen, can be destructive to both sexes. For the men and women out there who are embracing the beautiful aspects of each sex, I say thank you. For those that haven’t yet seen them, I ask you to look for them. You’ll find them. They are there.
Truth 1. Women value open communication and emotional intimacy. Women experiencing the world through that filter of emotions that I mentioned, and as a result they typically connect with the emotional aspects of their partner. Men are often told not to feel, but all this does is drive men away from women. Women want to empathize with and understand the emotional needs of their partner. This means that when a man is hurting, she hurts with him too. When he’s happy, she’s happy with him too. She’s able to sense when something is off emotionally, and will often go after it to bring a deeper level of understanding to herself and her partner. These types of conversations honor many aspects of her being while also offering a level of trust that she likely craves.
Truth 2. Women are strong and assertive, just like men. That bitchy attitude I mentioned above comes from their natural strengths, but if it’s coming across as nasty she’s probably being belittled somewhere. Feminine strength shows up in a lot of ways, many the opposite of a man’s. Those strengths are certainly there, though. That’s why men and women in partnership are such a powerful duo, because of the differences in their strengths. Women lead in a way that is unique to men, though it isn’t any less powerful. Personally, I believe a woman’s strengths comes largely from her emotional well of experience. That’s not to say women aren’t logical because they are. They just experience the world from a different view than a man does. Both sexes look through a different set of lenses.
Women are afraid. Guys, I wish I didn’t have to say it but this one is actually true. We are afraid. We’re afraid of being hurt by the men who’ve been hurt in their own lives. But just because we’re afraid doesn’t mean every man is bad. It means we live our lives on guard for what could potentially be a problem. Here’s where I feel things have gotten amiss: women are afraid, so every man becomes a potential attacker. I am truly sorry for those of you who really are just good, solid guys and have been lumped in with that ideal. I know you don’t deserve to be there.
I have a request. Those men who would protect women, keep being the heroes that come to our rescue. Be the two guys that chased away Brock Turner when he attacked his victim. Be the young man that followed a creep into an alley who was obviously stalking a young girl. Be the guy that listens to understand, that values her feminine spirit. Be these guys. Because not only do we need you, the world needs you. We need your strength, your spirit, and your tenacity.
Women, keep being loving, generous, and kind with your emotions. Bring the compassion and understanding you are so inherently capable of. Listen for people’s strengths, love them through their weaknesses. I know you can do it because it’s part of you.
To all men and women, love yourself, love the people around you, support and respect one another, and keep finding the positives in the other sex. Each gender truly is a miracle, and when the sexes come together in harmony, beautiful things happen.
I know there are a lot more lies we are operating inside of, both individually and as a society. So many things could be improved upon! And we keep fighting this fight hoping to change something, when instead it makes more sense to embrace the good that’s already there, and let the lies go.
Let’s take off the boxing gloves, shall we?