Dear Neil: What is wrong with men? Why are they so aloof and un-giving, so emotionally repressed and independent? No wonder I can’t find a good man to have a tender and passionate relationship with. There aren’t any good men.
Flustrated in Vancouver, British Columbia
Dear Flustrated: Twenty five years ago, few men were sensitive to orgasms and clitorises. Few fathers-to-be joined their wives in the delivery room in preparation for the birth of their child. But soon, men had changed in these ways, and those changes occurred without movements that blamed women, according to the book Why Men Are The Way They Are by Warren Farrell (McGraw-Hill, 1996).
Farrell addresses why we think of women as giving of themselves, while we think of men as only giving gifts or money. Women’s socialization teaches direct giving, such as being good listeners, nurturers or cooks. A man may give by working in a coal mine and contracting black lung disease so his child may attend college, but his giving is done at the mine—where we don’t see it. The result of his giving is a check.
With women’s giving, we see her cook the meal, serve it and usually clean it up. We don’t see him wading through water in a darkened damp mine shaft, or driving a truck at 2 a.m. keeping himself up with coffee. He may spend much of his life earning money to finance a home that his wife fell in love with, but we don’t think of him being as giving as when a woman draws him out in conversation and is a good listener.
A lot is made about men keeping their emotions under control. Although in a relationship, this tight lid can make him appear withdrawn and aloof, the flip side is our dependence on this male trait in crisis situations, such as the following head on collision. “Five cars crashed. There was glass and blood everywhere. Four of us guys ran from car to car, following the screams and preparing tourniquets. We stopped two cars to recruit passengers to redirect traffic, called the police, and removed a woman and her son from a car that burst into flames a minute later.”
The newspaper reported the accident. But no headline read “Men Control Their Emotions In Order To Save Lives Of Women And Children.” They ran a picture—not of four men standing next to the women and children they saved, but of the five cars that collided.
Women’s liberation has been defined as giving women the “right to choose”: the ability to choose the option of being at home or being at work. Men do not learn they have the right to choose to be at home. That would imply someone else would have to take care of him at home. He learns, instead “The world doesn’t owe you a living.” As a result of a man’s training to take care of himself and his family, millions of women have been freer to choose—than they would be if they had to support themselves, asserts Farrell.
I have a recommendation for you. Quit viewing men as if they are a different class or species, and start looking at how you might see them as individuals. I bet you’ll be happier.