So many women, often after having been through a number of bad relationships, experiences, or divorce, have gotten to a point where they begin to see men as a single entity and as a magnet for all of their anger and hurt. I understand how this happens, and how hard it is not to fall into this pit. That anger is somewhat protective and natural, but I can’t see how it can make anyone happy. Hence, the two-month wait to see any decent therapist these days!
How often have you heard “men suck” from women who have been treated poorly or hurt? Even Frenchie in one of my all time favorite movies, Grease, consoles Sandy at one point, saying, “Men are rats, listen to me, they're fleas on rats, worse than that, they're amoebas on fleas on rats. I mean, they're too low for even the dogs to bite.”
For a minute, it’s understandable and it’s a way to make sense of the world and get back on track, but when that anger persists and moves into a more permanent state, is that still ok? It’s an easy out, and one of the few prejudices that is still somewhat accepted (ok, maybe lawyers too;). Women suck? Gays suck? Uh, I don’t think so. Not many negative stereotypes like this would fail to raise eyebrows, let alone ire, anymore in this day and age. And rightfully so!
And really, since men crosscut every sector of humanity, it is probably that “man hater” who will end up suffering. Unless she is sequestered in a convent, she will have to deal with at least some men fairly regularly. I would imagine that if someone has preconceived notions about men (any group really, but here, let’s stick to this one), it will make it many times harder to work with a man, date a man, do business with a man, worship with a man, be led by, or successfully lead, men. So the one at the real disadvantage is that person who has approached the world with a preconceived notion about this group.
A few nights ago I was reading a commentary online that had to do with how much childcare responsibility each parent should shoulder after a divorce or separation. Someone commented on the thread that she didn’t know many men who even wanted to take their kids more than every other weekend. Immediately someone jumped in and called her out for man bashing, starting a heated debate. I was surprised at the reaction and strongly disagreed. Was this statement of personal experience “man bashing”?
I felt protective of this person I’d never met, and wanted some support, so I showed it to Scott. He didn’t even get to the comments below the initial post before he was incensed. “What’s with the stereotyping?!”
What was he talking about? He saw this as stereotyping?? We then got into our own heated debate about what constitutes man bashing. If this is truly one woman’s experience, how could this be stereotyping an entire gender?
Then he said, “What if I said, all the Mexicans I know are lazy? I’d just be talking about the ones I know.” I didn’t have an immediate answer, because that statement obviously sounded prejudiced and got my back up. Can man bashing be open to interpretation, as statements towards other groups can’t?
This morning Wendy Williams was telling a story about how horrible it was as a young teenage girl to even walk down the street by herself, knowing that she would be subjected to sexist and sexual comments from men. “You know how men are,” and then she corrected herself: “Some men. Some men.” It’s hard not to categorize and stereotype, but if this was Wendy’s experience as a teenage girl, it’s understandable that she would have that feeling about all men. But if I asked her specifically about her husband or son, would she agree? I tend to doubt it.
Is it the same with women as a group? Women don’t want to keep hearing from men that “all women are crazy.” Can a man say, “Well, in my experience, all my exes have acted crazy”? Is that putting down women as a group?
I only know that we help ourselves, and find ourselves happier, if we go into the world with open hearts. Go into dating, marriage, new jobs, even the dentist’s office, with a fresh idea of who we are meeting, no preconceived notions, no hidden agenda trying to find fault with others and how they word things. Honestly, it’s those folks with the chips on their shoulders who will have hardest time. (I have been there many times myself!) We should be aware that it’s the negatives that stand out to all of us. It’s easy to misremember details, easy to generalize, and when we come across a situation that seems familiar, it’s easy to have our prejudices “proven right” yet again, and our negative feelings are reinforced.
As I write this I am beginning to understand all of these women who claim that men are just lying, sexist assholes who want one thing. That might be their experience. And it’s ok for them to state that that is their experience. This is not man bashing, in my opinion (sorry, Scott). Listening to their individual stories and validating their experiences are one way to prevent those experiences from becoming prejudices, in my opinion.
There are bad men-AND bad women-but there are also good men and good women. I’m going to look for the good! In my experience, you find what you are looking for. Not because it’s easy, but because if you are convinced that it is out there, you don’t give up until you do.