Wednesday, September 7, 2011

No, That Can't Be Right: In Defense of Men

I was browsing Pintrest like I do when I can't sleep. My favorite things to see are chunky knit caps and knee-high boots. Or fancy cupcakes. Or little cartoons that make me laugh.
My least favorite things to see on Pintrest are inspirational sayings that people write to inspire them to not eat their meals properly. "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." Really? I mean, that may be true. I wouldn't know--probably I never will but I do know another thing: Skinny doesn't feel as good as emaciation doesn't. But last night I was presented with something new to make me worry about humanity.
Sexism is like a frolic through wild flowers.
Man Hate disguised as inspiration.

Oh, it just breaks my heart and frustrates me.
It frustrates me on a number of different levels, too. So much so that I'm not sure I'll be able to put it all into the right kind of words.

First of all, why is it okay and sweet and inspirational to women to say "the main reason why a daughter needs a dad is to show her that not all the boys are like the ones who hurt her" (I won't even touch the subject of the many fathers who absolutely ruin their children). Would it not be wildly offensive to needlepoint something like, "the main reason why white people need Toofer on 30 Rock is to show them that not all black people are like the one who mugged them." I don't know. Maybe white people do need Toofer. Maybe that's not offensive. But it should be--you know, if it was framed and hanging in your study.

I know so many good men! I want to name all of them and tell you all about every single one of them but who has the time? I know so many good men who would never break anyone's heart without feeling it ten times over in their own. I know so many good men that are smart, talented, funny, gentle and genuinely kind people. And none of them are any more selfish, angry, or thoughtless than I am, myself.

She's never ignoring you. She's driving past your house
at night--planning a full-blown crazy attack.
That is not to say that I don't know any men who have ever done anything wrong. Because it's not true. I know men who have had affairs. I know men who have hit their children. I know men who have raped their girlfriends. I know men who have done terrible things.

I know women who have had affairs. I know women who have hit their children. I know women who have trapped their boyfriends with false-pregnancies and lies. I know women who have done terrible things.

That is to say that I know people who are people and the responsibility of their actions does not lie in their gender. I don't know a single person who has done any of these things without regretting it to a palatable degree.

We're brought up to believe things like, "you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince." And to that I have to call bullshit.
First of all, you don't have to kiss someone to know that they're not worth your attention. You know way before the kissing starts whether or not you'll regret this activity. And if you decide to go ahead and lock lips with a bullfrog--is it the bullfrog's fault? And if the bullfrog says that you're fat or doesn't like your mother or requests that you make him a sandwich, I would say that you're dealing with a bullfrog and they have less than lovely tastes. Also they have such tiny hands and it's hard to make a sandwich with hands like that.
So anyway, I guess we're just supposed to go around dating losers and mindless fools and hoping that one day a wonderful gentleman will see what a gem we really are and sweep us away and never let us go and suddenly we don't have to live such a disappointing existence any longer. Ah... what a delightful dream.

But... What if we eliminated the horrible middleman and just stopped acting in ways that disappointed us in the first place and then we wouldn't need a hero? You could be your hero, Baby. You can kiss away your pain. You would stand by you forever. You. Can. Take. Yourbreathaway.

We're raised to believe that boys only want one thing and it's a girl's job to tease them with it not let them have it. So, you see, there's another lie. Women think about, want, and enjoy sex just as much as the fellas do. But we don't talk about that, we just talk about what men do. When a man wants sex he's seen as a dog. When a woman wants sex, she's seen as strong and empowered (or a slut, depending on the circles). What if we saw each other as people? What if we acknowledged that some relationships have a sexual element and some do not? Instead of one person taking the brunt of the responsibility in managing it--we could look out for one another with mutual respect and admiration.

If men are not sex-maniacs who are on a mission for poon, then they're bumbling idiots. More often than not, they're both. In any instance, that's who they are and we, as women, are required to put up with it. That's the only way that we'll get swept off of our feet.

That can't be right.

Girls use this line of thinking (men are assholes, men only want me for my vagina, men will never get it right, and then men will make my dreams come true) and go about their lives as if this was truth and as though it's not completely absurd. It's completely absurd. And that's where the real trouble begins. Because it's one thing to leave an idea as an idea but when you put feet to it--reality ensues. And, boy, are we in trouble.

What does it look like when a woman treats this bizarre idea as truth? It looks like your friend who falls asleep heartbroken because another guy from a dating website stopped talking to her after three days. You see your friends who are happy and in love and you wonder what you have to change to get that, too. She's bitter at her husband because she's got the house and the kids and she'd finally be happy if he'd just do the dishes every now and again--probably. Do you see how this is unreasonable? Unnecessary heartache, my friends. People are people and even at his very best he can't heal everything that hurts in you.  Trust me, you don't want him to have that power, anyway.

Maybe I have only known unicorn men in my day. And if that's the case, then this is coming from an unreasonably biased perspective but I don't think so. I've known men in my life who are human beings. Men who have every right to be angry and hurt and confused to be stuck in this lose-lose female perspective. They're never going to win. Even this guy is going to leave his balled up socks in the living room.

I know that there are terrible men in the world, too. I know that there are horrible women. I know, though, that they are not the rules. But we're all just people. And we're all trying to live our lives--trying to become happy. I think that starts with being kind and surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good and don't make you feel angry or small or insignificant. And then treating the people in your life as though they are your dear friends--regardless of their gender. Help each other to become the kinds of people that you each want to become. There's love all over that.

1 comment:

Katie Hurl said...

Well now. Isn't that refreshing? :D

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