My best friend in high school went through a period of time where her parents were warring with each other and filed for divorce due to infidelity and, what I believe was, mental illness. I remember this friend and I trying to help her mother get on her feet and gain some independence…learning to live alone, take care of the house alone, get all the bills in her own name, and even get a job after being a house wife for 20 years. I remember being so incredibly shocked at how dependent this woman was when she asked me “How am I going to get gas in my car?” I was probably too flippant when I responded, “Uhhh…go to the gas station and put it in there?” She looked at me terrified and said, “But I’m not a man! I don’t know how to pump gas!” And again, too flippantly (seeing a theme here?) I responded “Well, it doesn’t actually require…a penis.” I was so confused by her helplessness. Once I realized the severity of her circumstances, I took her out and taught her how to pump gas and buy groceries and what not. I remember feeling how tragic this situation was…how humiliating for her…how betrayed she felt…how small her world was…and I knew right then that I would never allow myself to go through that. I was my own woman…I wasn’t writing off men…but I wanted to not ever be completely dependent on one either.
Here is the thing though, I think that we, as women, have laid a trap for men where they just about can’t win. We have been untruthful about what we say we want: We want to be independent but want them to take care of us. We want to be empowered but we still want them to swoop in and save us. We want them to be tender but not weak or weepy. We want them to provide and be a provider but also not feel weird if we make more money than they do. We want them to be protective but never get jealous. We want them to basically be a knight in shining armor…but only when we want them to be and only in the way that we want them to be…poor men…no wonder so many of them want beer and a man cave…they are probably just trying to figure this nonsense out.
So, as per my usual…all of this got me thinking about the myths that we tell ourselves and the men in our lives and I thought I would clarify some things (at least from my perspective.) I don’t know a single woman who likes to have all of her problems solved for her by her man…this makes us feel helpless and powerless. I would much rather Stanton Billy challenge me to be better and stronger in my own right…but to handle that challenge in gentle ways so that I don’t turn my fury onto him instead. Also, I love that Stan is so committed to providing for our family…but it doesn’t mean that I can’t work or that I don’t contribute…he has empowered me to decide what would be the most fulfilling and healthy decision for me. He encourages me to do what is beneficial to myself and our family and is flexible and open-minded about how that might look. Then there is the jealousy thing…very few things are less attractive to me than a clingy and jealous man…but on the flip side, I don’t want him to not give a damn either…there is a balance to be achieved…invested but still independent is probably how I would word it. In my experience, women don’t want a man to swoop in on his white horse with sword raised and save them…they just want them to want to.
I think that what we tend to want from our men is to feel like we are on the same team and we are invested in but still acknowledge that we were independent, complete people before we met the love of our lives. So, please, put down the trashy romance novels and archaic thinking about roles of men and women and invest in each other…serve each other…empower each other…and love each other well. I know that today’s musing doesn’t apply to many of you today…it’s just what was tumbling around in my head. What are your thoughts on this? Does this apply to you? Are you wired differently? I am open to other perspectives…this is just mine.