I have been mulling over men for going on 30 years now. I don’t think I have made much headway. My idea of writing these men v. women posts is really to ultimately point out that it is not men VERSUS women at all. Life (speaking of a life together with another person of the opposite sex – not trying to leave anyone out here, but I have no same sex relationship experience to draw from) is a collaboration of two different kinds of people with two different sets of strengths and weaknesses coming together for their mutual benefit. And that that is best done by playing to each others strengths, even when those strengths are stereotypical. Also, I want to point out that saying that men (or women) are generally better at something does not mean women (or men) are incompetent, it just means men (or women) are more suited to that kind of thing – and we should work together, both doing what we are good at, to get the best out of our relationship and our life together.
The problem, at least from a woman’s point of view, is that we live in a patriarchal society where, up until recently (and not at all in some parts of the world), women were not respected or seen as competent without the guiding hand of a man. Here in the US that has changed a good deal. But a lack of respect and ability to be a self determining person can have repercussions far into the future. I see it all the time. And I feel it, too. This causes us to either belittle traditionally male strengths as unnecessary or refuse to admit that there are just some things that men are better at than women and be ok with it. When you are told for centuries that you cannot do something without a male’s permission or whatever and then you are free from that requirement, you don’t want to ever hear mention that any man anywhere is better than you or that you need him in any way.
Let me put it this way. When I caught my ex-husband Anthony Weiner -style cheating (there is a blog post about it, if you want the details), he told me that even if what he was doing could be considered cheating (which he did not believe), I would never leave him because he made enough money for me to be a stay at home mom and I would not want to (once again) be a single mother out alone having to support myself. Besides, I was in my late 30s with an infant and what man would ever want me? I would never find anyone who would take that on or want to have other kids with me, anyway. So I’d better just suck it up and count my blessings with him. And you know what? 50 (hell, 30) years ago he would have been right! I would not have been legally allowed to leave him not too long ago. [BTW, I am now happily remarried, that infant is 3 and a half and I am expecting a new baby with my wonderful husband. My ex? Yeah, he is still single – imagine that. Apparently, his appeal is not as impressive in person]
My husband and I are as different as a man and woman can be while also having similar temperments and world views. I love how manly he is. He is a no nonsense type who is affectionate without being gooshy; passionate about his work and in bed, but detached and unflappable about most everything else. He does not put his emotions out there and if his feelings were hurt or he was upset, it would be doubtful anyone else would know – even me (unless I caused it and part of the solution was to tell me about it). He is slow to anger but formidable once there. He has a smart and irreverent sense of humor and he makes me feel accepted, protected and desirable every day. With one look he can make me laugh until my belly aches or make my stomach drop, my knees weak and my face flush. A kiss takes my breath away – quite literally. Oh, and he kills all bugs, does all home/car repairs and maintenance, takes out the trash and does any other chore that can be considered nasty, physically challenging or requires any kind of power tool. I love him deeply.
A friend of mine came up with a perfect system for her marriage. She divides things up between Blue Jobs, Pink Jobs and Purple Jobs. Jobs requiring talents more naturally suited to her husband are Blue, those more along her lines are Pink and the Purple are jobs done by whomever can get to them first. Once she found out that, while she thought taking her 14 year old daughter shopping was a Purple job, she had not thought about the fact that some of the items to be purchased were underwear. When they got home, her husband informed her that going forward this was a PINK job forever and ever, amen.
I don’t know if as opposite sexes we can ever understand the other perspective. We can accept it and we can learn to live with it, but understand it? Probably not. The male ego will always baffle me, for example. But I can learn how to respect it and come to appreciate it as part of a whole that, maybe without that one mysterious ingredient I can never fully understand, I would not like quite as much. We read so often about how annoying those things are when maybe what we should be reading about is how good it is that we have those differences.