I read a series of columns lately about the various things that we do as men that bothers women. And it downright pissed me off. It seems male-bashing has become the rule, not the exception. Everything from a man’s emotional dishonesty to his supposed fear of feminist, progressive, and overachieving women, have been brought into question.
These columns even went so far as to say that there are no societal or cultural structures of accountability that require a man to acknowledge his inability to communicate, commit, be honest about his feelings or fix his flaws.
The women who write these columns are either downright stupid, or better yet, bitter. It amazes me whenever a woman tries to get into the head of a man, particularly a Black man. No book, television or radio show will ever give you what you need when it comes to figuring us out. If you want honest answers, please talk to your father, brother or good male friend, because we – men and women – are more alike than we are different.
The minute women start to realize this, the better off we’ll be. The mythology surrounding what makes “a man” still looms large – so much so that it is assumed that even men often experience this hidden battle with masculinity.
Should I let my girlfriend or wife know how much something is bothering me? Will it come across as soft? Do I speak my mind at work or do I run the risk being seen as too emotional? If I take a stand on a principle that challenges the thoughts of other men, will I lose status?
Women can be strong advocates for change by encouraging men to evolve and expand beyond the stereotypes. I have come up with what I feel are some of the biggest falsehoods about men that, when exposed, can lead you to understand the true nature of masculinity.
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1. Men Are Emotional: This may come as surprise to some, but men are more emotional than women. Have you ever seen a guy with his friends or watched him play a sport? Where femininity is about being outwardly emotional, masculinity just doesn’t work that way. If you give a man time, you will see the wall start to drop. Eventually, he will probably tell you more than you want to know about him. A man’s actions are always your best indicators. If you tell a man you love him and he doesn’t tell you back…unfortunately, he doesn’t love you. It’s just that simple.
2. Sex Is Not The Most Important Thing to Us: Sex is very, very important to a man. But it’s not what makes us fall in love with a woman. It’s very easy for a man to sleep with a woman, it’s not so easy for him to fall in love with her. And it shouldn’t be. When you call a man he says: “I’m alone”…we are actually alone. I know a plethora of successful men, who say they’re tired of being by themselves and wish they could find the right women to settle down with. It’s finding the right woman, who is patient, kind and willing to support his dreams. We too want unconditional love.
3. A Man’s Occupation Does Not Defines Who He Is: For men, working is what we do, not who we are. Society has deemed that we be providers, so if it overwhelms us…chalk it up to the way we were raised. Besides, I know women who are just as ambitious as men. Trust me, we would much rather be at home playing Play Station, at the gym or hanging out with the fellas. Culturally, men are more defined by their professions, which can keep their passions—what really identifies them—invisible. Get beyond the talk of work and find out what really makes us tick – I’m almost sure it will be not be what you imagined.
4. Men Are Not Limited Creatures: Men do not like to read. Men do not like the arts. Men do not like to shop. Men do not like to clean. All of these are totally ridiculous notions. If a man is on the fence about enjoying these things with you…he’s probably got something else planned. Think about it…when a man is trying to get a date with you, he will go above and beyond: flowers, plays, movies, concerts, book readings, etc.
5. Men Do Commit: Men love intimacy, therefore, they actually like commitment. Once a man realizes that you have his back, he will start to show you his true feelings. It may take us a little while, but it will come. Just like a woman, loyalty is everything to us. If a man is not committing to you after a certain amount of time…I suggest you move on.
6. Men Do Like to Communicate: Men like to talk—have you ever tried asking us the best way to get somewhere? Or seen us talking about a game with our friends? Or talking to our kids? Unfortunately, we have a tendency to hold our tongues because we often feel like we might hurt a woman’s feelings. As a result, we just don’t bother. Just listen to us…and we’ll tell you what we feel. And trust me, if we say it, we mean it.
7. A Woman’s Looks Are Not Everything: Don’t get me wrong, a woman’s beauty is definitely important, sometimes too important. However, any grown man of substance has been down that road before and knows the pitfalls that come with judging a woman by her looks. A woman with a laser-like intelligence, a sharp sense of humor, a compassionate soul and natural beauty goes very far these days.
8. Men Do Take Things Personally: Every man likes to think that he is more like his alter ego – his favorite superhero. However, more often than not, things do get to us. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men commit suicide four times as much as women and suicide currently ranks as the seventh leading cause of death for men. And for Black men, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes are still major causes of death.
9. Men Do Listen to Criticism: I know we have a hard time of showing it, because Black men can be rather hard-headed when it comes to constructive criticism, especially when it comes from our significant others. However, most men that I have talked to said that the criticism is rarely delivered in a way that they can understand or better yet, receive it. While he might say that you remind him of his mother, sometimes, the greatest act of love is taking someone seriously enough to risk offending them. Don’t worry, we hear you. Just remember to do it in a constructive and positive way.
10. Men Are Not Intimidated By a Woman’s Success: Most men want a woman that’s going to compliment him, whether it be with his homies, his co-workers or at a black tie affair. If a man is intimidated by your success – you don’t need him anyway.
11. His Friends Are Not More Important Than You: Finally, if a man really loves you…you are and will always be more important to him than his friends. He just likes to hang with the guys from time to time. Trust me…It’s not personal.