This is going to be short, and I’m not even sure I’ve got a point in all of this, but here goes. What’s with all the attempts at gender-bending men? As I’ve said before, Prof. Henry Higgins got it right when he said, “By and large, we are a marvelous sex!”
Recently, I’ve been reading Eggerichs’ book, Love and Respect, and have really been enjoying it. I can tell that there will probably be an blogpost or three inspired by it, somewhere down the road. In his introductory chapter to husbands on how to communicate love to their wives, there was one statement that Eggerichs made that made me put down my iPad and go, “Whoa!” In an aside, when telling husbands that they aren’t being called to become women, Eggerichs says,
“We make a huge mistake in the church, particularly among evangelicals. We tell men to “get in tune with their feminine side,” yet we don’t tell women to get in tune with their masculine side.” (p. 122, Kindle ed.)
My first observation? Hellz yeah! Okay folks, you tell me how many family/marriage conferences that you ever attended in which wives were told “Get in touch with your masculine side.” And yet, we think nothing of it when men are told that they need to get in touch with their feminine side.
When I read this to Wife, she responded with, “Well, they aren’t saying that men should be like women; they’re just saying that men should learn to be more sensitive.”
Okay, I can go with this. This makes sense. After all, I realize that as a card-carrying Coot, I can be somewhat prickly; I do tend to think that everyone is entitled to the benefit of my opinion and experience, whether they want it or not. After all, I’ve got ‘em, and it is incumbent upon me to set the world straight. And, yes, maybe I could be a mite gentler and, ahem, sensitive when offering enlightenment to the slower folk around me.
So, maybe there is something to this being more sensitive.
And Then I Remembered This
Years ago (1980?), I was in an MLS program in Chapel Hill, with several other librarians. I was the only man in this special program, and so had a kind of privileged status when we went in residency during the summers, in Carolina. I remember one morning when several of us were sitting around with our different texts, discussing library science, when one woman walked into the room and announced that she had opted to wear jeans that day. Her reason for this sartorial decision?
“Oh, I’m feeling boyish today.”
My jaw dropped at that statement and I made the simplest of inquiries as to what she meant. Eloquently, I blurted out, “HUH?”
She proceeded to try to explain what she meant, and to either my obtuseness or that fact that it sounded like gibberish, her explanation made no sense to me. But I was dumbfounded by the fact that every one of the women in the room knew exactly what she meant!
“Boyish?” What does a woman mean when she says she’s feeling “boyish?” I said it then, and I’ll say it today, “That makes no sense!”
You never see a man come tripping up to a group of guys and say, “I’m feeling a little girlish today, so I decided to wear my pumps skeet-shooting today.” No, it doesn’t compute, sorry. That dude will get voted off the island, pronto!
One Possible Explanation: Poor Word Choice
Instead of meaning “get in touch with your feminine side”, what these well-intentioned folk meant to say was, “Men, you need to learn to be more sensitive.” But doesn’t that open up another can of worms? After all, wouldn’t it be stereotyping to simply assume that men are, by and large, insensitive and women are the sensitive ones? And, as far as that goes, what if the slipper was placed on the princess’s foot instead? As in, “Well, why don’t you learn to toughen up, and stop being so sensitive?”
No, I guess I can’t see that duck flying. I guess we are going to have to accept the fact that, archetypically, women do seem to be more sensitive to others and to feelings, etc. I guess that won’t go.
Well, How ‘Bout ‘Feelings’, Not ‘Feminine Side’?
There might be something to this. We guys aren’t known for being too big on sharing our feelings. We are given the role of being the one who is supposed to be the pillar, the one whom the family can rely on. John Wayne is held up as the model of masculinity, and we are told to ‘man up.’
But it does seem to be a mantle that men, for the most part, are ready and willing to shoulder, and down through time immemorial, women have, on the whole, gotten on board the idea. After all, our definition of a real man is the guy who is there for the family; I know it’s my ideal and I’ve written about it.
But, then again, marriage is a melding of two people into one flesh. If I learned anything from the Colloquy series that Chris and I did this past summer, it’s that feelings are a valid part of any relationship, and if one of you needs feelings attended to, it is a valid need. But in my mind, I do see the dangers of becoming too focused on feelings. After all, we have the example of “Chicken Boy.”
So Is It All Just A Wash?
Well, maybe not. Guys, there might be something to this ‘sensitivity’ stuff, this ‘feelings’ stuff. And I’m going to cogitate on it for a bit. I’m going to finish Eggerichs’ Love and Respect. Then I’ll let you have the benefit of my experience. After all, you’re entitled to it. 🙂