5/29/15

Don’t Assume I’m Broken



The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
Thomas Merton
Aristotle gave us a vast fountain of knowledge and wisdom. But within all those profound ideas, he had one concept which I can’t agree at all on. He, like so many men in Ancient Greece, viewed women as “defective by nature” and as incomplete or imperfect men. Women were viewed as having little control over their emotions, having a quick temper, void of shame or self-respect, and more prone to lying. His ideas were assimilated by many as society evolved as a way to justify not offering women the same opportunities as men.

Believe it or not, now we know better.

I want to take a moment to applaud the current trend of supporting the efforts of girls, one that promotes the notion that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to. They are taught to do this, not only for themselves, but as something that all other women can be proud of. We see how this empowerment, not only comes from moms, but from dads, who have become an integral part of these girls’ development. These men realize that their role as a father is that of raising a girl worthy of the spotlight that will shine on her. We see these girls growing up into strong women of character who prove that gender doesn’t hold anyone back, that girl power is powerful, and being a woman is something to be proud of…

And then we tell the boys and men that they are “defective by nature” and that men are basically the rough draft that was later polished into women. Men are viewed as having little control over their emotions, having a quick temper, void of shame or self-respect, and more prone to lying.

Sounds oddly familiar.

Have you ever stopped and thought about how we treat men, boys, and masculinity? You see it in the father who forces sports on his son, as he tries to live vicariously some kind of athletic glory, yet is angered by his child’s lack of interest. You see it in the mother who is constantly disciplining her son because he won’t follow strict instructions. You see it in the teacher who has to constantly punish a student because he refuses to sit down and be quiet in the classroom. You see it in the wife who constantly complains about her husband’s actions, or lack of.

At a grander scale you see it in comments like boys will be boys, because being a boy means that irresponsible behavior is to be expected because of their gender. We see it in the assumption that young men can’t control their sexual urges whenever we complain that a young lady’s clothing is a distraction. We see it in the assumption that every man needs a woman (be it a mother, a girlfriend, or a wife) to fix his life. We have become a society of people shaming men on everything they can’t do as we take any and every opportunity to let these men know everything they are doing wrong.

As a reaction to this attitude against manhood, instead of proving them wrong, some men have chosen to actually embody everything that society views wrong with men. They create a vicious cycle of men who behave badly because they are told that men behave badly.

So what has society’s warriors done as a reaction? They blame masculinity and the “man box” as being the toxic aspect that hurts men. There is a dangerous toxicity in the constant pissing contest, the almost universal idea that violence and confrontation will solve anything, the emotional distance as emotions are viewed as a sign of weakness, and the notion of an ever present unquenchable sexual desire. So the SJW have chosen fight these faults by condemning ALL things masculine and placing the absolute burden of fault on men, as apparently dealing with the specific negative elements is not as easy as a generalized condemnation of masculinity or realizing how we set men up to fail from the beginning as we view masculinity only from a negative lens.

What we end up is with half of society shaming men because they don’t measure up to the ideals of what a manly man is, and the other half shaming men because it’s the only way to keep them from falling into the trap of manly men. Did you notice how it’s all basically setting up men for a no win situation, where no matter what they do, they will fail in someone’s eyes? Then we wonder why boys and men have little aspirations and ambitions, or why so many become self-destructive.

Maybe it’s time that we look at what we are doing successfully with girls and do the same with the boys. Girls are outperforming boys in almost every field, and we already know that gender has nothing to do with it. It has to do with how we have chosen to empower women.

So what should we do? Stop treating men (and boys) as starting out as failures that need fixing! Instead of telling them how to live, give them proper examples by how you live. Let them learn by seeing. SHARE with them why you love something, and let them make up their mind. If they don’t like it, let them share with you what they love. Give them the space they need to fail or succeed on their own merit, instead of assuming they will fail if you don’t tell them how to do it.

Provide young men with men worthy of looking up too; heroes and role models they can emulate. Provide them with the support for them to fly on their own. Offer them the opportunity to be more, give them hope to be more. When we stop viewing someone as a problem to be fixed, they stop viewing themselves as a problem that needs fixing.