It’s easy to fall into the narrative that all men are dogs, and they all cheat, and they’ve all got commitment issues, and whatever else you tell yourself to get through your latest heartbreak. But as comforting as those excuses are in your teary-eyed wailing as you dig through your third tub of ice cream, they’re not even remotely true.
Because cheating, commitment issues and toying with someone’s heart are not genes that any one person can be born with, so our generalization of men isn’t helpful.
Nothing exists in isolation.
We’re all products of our environment, upbringing, society, our past experiences and a variety of economic and political implications that influence our behavior. There is a bigger conversation here that needs to be had outside the confines of, “he’s such a dick.”
And believe me, I’ve said that phrase a lot recently. While it offers temporary solace, it, unfortunately, doesn’t give you any of the answers you’re looking for.
While I’m dissecting my latest relationship trainwreck, all I can think is “what happened to the man who said he just couldn’t be with me anymore?”
Now you might be rolling your eyes and saying something like, “maybe you’re the problem,” and trust me, I’ve gone down that road. I’m a woman, and society has programmed me to first and foremost ask the age-old question, “what did I do wrong?” I’ve asked it a thousand times.
But I also came to the realization that in this instance, it wasn’t me.
The thing is, currently, masculinity is in transition and it’s affecting our relationships. And while this evolution is happening, the men around us, desperately flailing for some sense of stability, turn into pricks in an attempt to steady themselves on what they feel to be uncertain ground. And I get it: trying to be a man to someone else when you don’t have a clue what being a man even is, is a terrifying thing.
Conversations about masculinity and what it means to be a man need to be happening, and they need to be led by men.
Women have been talking about feminism, womanhood and what being a woman means for so many years now. Whether you’re a part of it or not, you’re aware of its existence and have grappled with the idea of womanhood and what your femininity means to you at some point.
This has mostly happened because our society is structured to ask women who they are from a young age. From liking pink and being a girly girl, to being a tomboy teenager or a promiscuous twenty-something, we’ve been continuously playing with notions of womanhood as society asked; what type of woman will you be?
We couldn’t have ever avoided it.
Men, on the other hand, have never been asked to define their masculinity, mostly because they’ve never had to fight for their place. For the most part, they’ve been left pretty much to themselves as toxic masculinity was passed down from father to son, and from his grandfather before him.
Of course, there are exceptions and men who don’t feel comfortable with the dominant definition of masculinity, but I’m not talking about the exception.
My journey with what it means to be a woman has led me to realize that I don’t need a man. Not for a single damn thing. I am economically independent. I go out and metaphorically slay my own deer every day. I provide for myself and pay my way. If I want to go somewhere I don’t need the protection of a man to do it. And many women have come to the same conclusions.
So, if we women are surviving all on our own, just fine without a man, and men are still holding onto traditional masculine ideals – being a protector and provider – it’s no wonder we can’t all get along and find healthy relationships!
I’ve lost count of the arguments I’ve had with men on dates as they insisted they pay for dinner every single time.
Or even after a few conversations, they start asking you to tell them you’ve arrived safely at every single destination as if you were some small child navigating the world for the first time.
Our ideas of our gender roles in this world are so far out of alignment, that they can do nothing but jar and scratch uncomfortably alongside each other.
It just doesn’t work.
I may not need a man, but I want one.
I’d like a companion to share a life with. I’d like him to ask me about my achievements that day and what I accomplished instead of telling me to text him when I get home as some show of dominant ‘I’m going to protect you’ masculinity. Like it’s cool, you can just tell me you care instead of making grand statements about my safety.
Until masculinity has evolved, we don’t have a hope in hell of sustaining anything close to healthy relationships. They’re clinging on to a dead past and as long as they do, we don’t have a future.
And I know it’s a process, and I know these things take time and I know that it’s their journey, but I’m begging the men of our society to get there faster.
Because the more you stumble slowly through your gender identity crisis, the worse off we all are.