Up With Masculinity
by Maud Purcell
I feel blessed to be a woman in our post 60’s culture, where femininity and female strength, independence and success are touted. Unfortunately, however, our changed views of women seem to have occurred at the expense of how we perceive manhood. In short I believe that we’ve lost a real appreciation for men being men.
We women want our men to be breadwinners and rescuers (help us when the car breaks down or the sink sprouts a leak). We want our men to be strong, both emotionally and physically.
At the same time that we want our guys to be tough, we increasingly demand that they be romantic and have a “strongly developed feminine side”, e.g. remembering important dates with the right gifts, being both great communicators and listeners, and understanding our emotional needs (even when we don’t clearly convey them)!
Meanwhile countless movies, books and TV shows depict men as buffoons who can’t multi-task, are socially inept, and need the guidance of their women in order to make it in life.
Generally speaking men take these less-than-kind characterizations with more grace than should be expected, but why should they have to? Why should we women be trying to create guys in our own images while also expecting them to be everything traditionally male?
Most importantly, how’s this insistence on having it both ways with your man working out for you? Most women with whom I meet are more frustrated in their relationships then ever.
Here’s what my experience tells me: Your relationship with your guy will be easier, and you’ll be happier, if you begin to celebrate the best qualities men have to offer and stop trying to turn your man into your best girlfriend. In my opinion we women should celebrate, not denigrate, the following masculine qualities in our mates:
Less emotional generally equals less flappable: Aren’t you glad that your guy doesn’t fall apart every time things don’t go his way and that he’s able to bolster you when you are facing challenges of your own? Appreciate this fact the next time you wish he were “more sensitive”.
Less empathetic often means more solution-focused: Your man may not always seem to understand your feelings when things aren’t going your way. His way of caring is to help you find a solution to the problem at hand and what could be more loving than that?
Less creative sometimes means more practical and reliable: Although your guy may not be all that excited about the new color on the walls in the kitchen he may be a step ahead of you trying to get those switch plates back on the walls, or figuring out how much paint you’ll need to do the trim.
One thing’s for certain: If you look to your man to meet all of your emotional and social needs you will be disappointed and frustrated, and they will feel defeated and angry. Take responsibility for what they can’t give you by meeting those needs in more constructive ways, e.g. seeking them in friendships, career or the satisfaction of volunteering.
A note of caution: This approach doesn’t let you men off the hook: If you guys become the worst versions of yourselves by being bullyish, belittling, condescending or abusive, you’re on your own. On the other hand if you use your masculine qualities toward good ends you should never have to apologize for being a guy!