and for a while I felt comfortable keeping it that way. Sometimes you need a break from feeling.
But I really need a platform on which to speak and the rest of social media just isn’t doing it for me. I don’t know how many of you have read “50 things every women should realize about men” but if you haven’t avoid it at all costs.
I’m not often repulsed by these things. It’s lockerroom talk, I expect it, i can’t change it, and I let it be. But this one really got me peeved.
First off, I think it’s a safe to say you should never trust a listicle. Ever. It speaks for no one, by clamoring to speak for everyone. Under my conception of masculinity (and thanks to the pinkish hue of my skin), the last thing I need is for someone else to speak for me, let alone for someone to tell others what to think of me. These are 50 things I wouldn’t even dream of telling my girlfriend, or a girl, or a human being.
Second off, the institutionalized conception of masculinity, one to which I make every effort not to ascribe, is caustic and dangerous for either side of the gender binary. Women shouldn’t be held to these ridiculous standards and men shouldn’t either. There was one thing there that stood out to me more than the rest of the ridiculousness in the article, and consequently it was the last one.
"50. He’s Not As Complicated As You Are".
That one disgusted me more than the “you’ve got to watch your weight”, “don’t withhold sex” and “he wants to bang your friends”, which are all exceedingly reprehensible. And here’s my rationale:
Blatant misogyny can be picked apart very easily with a little bit of logic and compassion for the human race. Reducing people, and in this case women, to their sexual organs is vile but it’s an easier fix than this. Suggesting that men are not complicated, especially as compared to women, is a two pronged assault on human emotion.
On the one hand, it implies that women are excessively emotional and leave themselves vulnerable, how awful! On the other hand, it suggests that men cannot be that way, either. Unless of course, they’re girly.
This particular sentiment devalues genuine feeling and emotion both for men and women, as it suggests anything more than apathy is feminine and therefore complicated. And “complicated” a.k.a. emotive is bad. Though, in this writer’s defense complexities probably overwhelm him. Nevertheless, it teaches men it’s not okayto feel and to reject what they do feel. You want a reason for impulsive, sex hungry and violent men? Denial of genuine feeling. It perpetuates a stereotype that men must be rigid and cold, must be sexual and aggressive, must be simple and that they must conform.
Otherwise, you’re no better than a girl. And there’s no more egregious assault on the insecure male than to call him a girl. Because that implies that he’s not capable of being a man, of raising and protecting his family, of protecting himself. How piteous.
Now I could dig in to the other 49 absurd treatises of stupidity but they’re not worth my time, they’re just not complex enough. I mean shit, some of these can be applied to anyone, man or woman, straight or gay. Never criticize his mother? What, a girl can’t be protective of her mother? You have to let shit go? Isn’t that just life advice? Are women otherwise incapable of being emotionally mature?
Now you see my point, it’s not worth the effort. But that last bullet is. Because it’s that very sentiment that has caused me and many other men that I know years of unnecessary psychological stress, influenced us to make decisions we never should have, and forced us into situations in which we cannot respond adequately because we never learned how to. That is, overwhelming feelings of love, loss, or grief.
What is a man to do when he is in love? Court his lady and show her how masculine he is. What is he to do if he feels lost? Suck it up, swallow it down, and figure it out. What does he do if he’s lost someone? Suck it up, swallow it down, rinse and repeat.
I’m all for pragmatism, but that sentiment can derail even the strongest of men. I’ve done everything I can to abandon and refrain from taking part in the paradigm, but these lessons were an inextricable and indelible part of my upbringing. I even catch myself sometimes refusing to do simple things because in the back of my head I hear someone saying “that’s so girly” or “you’re being a bitch”. I hate to admit it, but many of my accomplishments have been motivated by that idea.
And it’s something I would never teach my son, I wouldn’t even dare mentioning it to him until I felt he was ready. I’ve learned that being a man has nothing to do with what’s in your pants or what’s in your heart. It’s about being a strong, stable, and dependable human being who embraces his emotions and uses them to color his life, instead of letting them run rampant or conversely pretending they don’t exist. It’s about taking responsibility for who you are while simultaneously being what you are, no matter the outcome.
On a final note, number 13 on that list said “You Should Learn to Play Pool”. I’m just gonna out and say it, that is the dumbest thing to expect of anyone. How petty can you be?
I’ll leave that one unanswered.