Making him “Feel Like a Man”… This is an issue….

[Revisions have been made since the original post, as some have pointed out my passion about this issue took forms that could be misconstrued to draw away from my actual point.  Additionally, a longer response to the author of the original post  (in response to her comment) is underway and will appear in the comments.  As I have said before, one of the reasons I have enjoyed blogging is the opportunity to engage in conversations with others, and I appreciate her taking the time to read and respond!]

As is often the case, when I start to think about a subject I begin to see it everywhere.  I began to think about Feminism, and why I now will claim the word for myself, as a movement for equality and justice, for all, and suddenly I can’t help but stumble upon things that get me riled up a bit.

I read a post (a guest post on that particular page — to clarify.  The article was written by Holistic Wayfarer, a lovely individual that I just happen to disagree with on some matters) that got the wheels turning and helped nudge me in writing my original feminism post.

My reading of the article is that it claims to tell women that they need to make their partner/potential partner (assuming a heterosexual relationship) feel “more like a man.”  Regardless of what the author of the post intended to be the “take away,” this is what I understood from what I read: as a (heterosexual) woman I am supposed to be more docile in the beginning of the relationship,  I need to let men chase and pursue me.  Rather than standing my ground, stating what I feel, and pursuing a relationship if it interests me, I am supposed to be passive and coy, play games in the relationship (like pretending to not be free for a date when I actually am).  If the guy isn’t making the first moves, then it clearly means he is not — and will never be — interested in me.  This not only challenges me as a woman, but also makes me feel bad for all the shy boys who aren’t sure how to approach a woman they like.

From skimming through some of the comments, I am also led to believe that my current relationship status is of importance in my ability to argue against this thesis.  Whether or not I am in a happily committed relationship, apparently, depends on if I was too dominant in my relationships.

Seriously?

First of all: Why does my relationship status matter?  I am very good friends with most of my exes, and a large part of the reason behind this being possible is because these relationships were partnership, we held equal investments.  We were friends, first and foremost.  My current relationship status is irrelevant to my ability to hold an opinion that I don’t need to play the part of a quiet .

Second of all: I feel like I want to share the fact that the one time I was in anything resembling a relationship where I was “being chased,” where I was not vocalizing my opinions from the get-go the relationship (if it can even be called that, I tend not to count it and it lasted a very short time when looked at in comparison to my other relationships) was one of imbalanced power, based on manipulation, and subtle abuse.  One of the reasons that I think it ended?  I began to heartily voice my opinion on things, taking more control of my own choices.  So, yes, I suppose you could argue that relationship did end because I was being more “bossy” and not letting him “feel like a man.”  Thank goodness for that.

The focus in relationship advice should be on equality, working together in relationship, give-and-take and, because I can’t say it enough, equality.  Not perpetuating this idea that somehow a certain coy behavior will lead to “getting a man”  (and life happiness).

The concept that somehow it is more in men’s nature to lead, and woman’s to follow just frightens me.  It is not true.

Yeah, let me repeat that.  NOT TRUE.

Each and every one of us has our own personality, and yes, there are men who want to lead more, who want to pursue,  and there are woman who want someone else to take the lead, to be chased — but there are also men who want to be chased, and women who want to do the chasing (and everything in-between).  We are all individuals. The genitals we are born with do not determine our character.  The gender(s) we identify with does not define what we like and don’t like, or how we interact with the world.

What I read in this article seemed like instructions to hand over your power to someone else.  It plays into an idea that biologically there is something “manly” about being in charge, and “womanly” about letting others take control.   I see news article, after news article about domestic violence, about murder-suicides, about attacks on women, and my mind flashes to the fact that somewhere along the line men have been taught these ideas of what is “manly,” have been given this power, and women have had their own power taken away and undermined.  In some cases this contributes to dangerous and deadly situations.

Please be aware that I’m not saying that all relationships where the man is more dominant are abusive.  I am simply saying that a piece of what often does contribute to abuse situations, and to people remaining within these situations, is a power imbalance and an idea that it is “manly” to behave in a certain way can contribute to this.  The issue of domestic violence and abuse is much more complex.

I also want to note that the author of the post I am responding to is a follower (or was at some point) of this blog.  This is actually one of the things that I love about the blogging-world I’ve found myself in.  I am getting to see different opinions and ideas, and being given the opportunity to respond to them.   I can enjoy the writings and reflections of someone even if I do not agree with all their views.  It is important for us to remember this in all of our interactions.

And I almost didn’t post this response, because of a fear that I would insult someone — but I feel strongly that I need to say this.  Because I read articles like the post on making men “feel like men,” (and I have seen plenty of the sort) and I can’t help thinking about what would have happened if I had been raised to think that was the way it was supposed to be?   What if I thought I was only going to find happiness in a relationship if I stifled my natural self in order to let a man feel like he was the one in charge?

Trying to play the part of a woman who needs to follow chips away at me, slowly breaking down who I am and turning me into a miserable and hollow shell of a person.   I think about how sad it would be if those strong-willed girls I known hit their teen years and suddenly believed that if they did not learn to reign in their out-going nature, or willingness to be the one to take the first steps in something, they will never find a happy relationship.

I hate the idea of anyone feeling that is what they are supposed to do, that their natural tendency to be more outgoing (for instance) is somehow wrong.

Let me just leave this here… a great little bit of feminist talk from Sir Patrick Stewart:

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24 thoughts on “Making him “Feel Like a Man”… This is an issue….”

  1. Hi there. It was my guest post on HR you largely misread. You’ve liked my posts Carry You in the Rain, The 10 Commandments of Blogging, How to Succeed as a Blogger But This May Not Work for You, and my poem I Would Gather All the Words.

    It seems you didn’t catch my byline and signature on the post. OM probably had followed you at one point if he still isn’t. I am not insulted, I am not out to insult =), and I was ready for this (duh, I should be, if I’m going to put out something like this).

    Reading your post through helped me understand your perspective, actually.

    Scrolling top to bottom:

    Be coy? Play games?? Uh, not sure which post you’re referring to. I explicitly addressed this in the post, reminded people not to waste anyone’s time like that.

    “I am also led to believe that my current relationship status is of importance in my ability to argue against this thesis.” Don’t know where you got this. “First of all: Why does my relationship status matter?” This was a deduction you chose to make. I never even thought this in the writing.

    Yes, it certainly sounds like that relationship that didn’t work out for you was imbalanced. We do need to be true to ourselves. I suspect, in all fairness to the topic (and to me), that page out of your book is a whole drama unto its own. It was precisely the view to honest, healthy relationships I wrote what I did, and there is a whole complex dynamic at play with two people come together and there are unhealthful control issues – in either direction.

    I’ve located two giveway words from you. “Frightens” me and “equality”. Fear has driven this post. Fear drives a lot of what I do. A good deal of your fear is warranted. As you say, the news alone justifies yours.

    We can actually sweep aside some of the points we’re in disagreement about because what they stem from at root is your fear that someone could have license to erase you with all your dynamic personality, gifts, and desires.

    My biggest issue with feminists is their confusion over the issue of equality (this really is a book, not something to squeeze into a comment box or a post). I am no feminist but I am front and center in my household, as vocal as they come, and know I am created equal by the very hands of God. It is His divinity which I bear that dignifies me. As fully as men. Different does not mean unequal or it need not refer to value – which is what feminists get defensive about. There is order, there is beauty, in differences. Roles are not synonymous w/ value.

    Your response was not only about my post. It was years and years of various (largely negative) experiences and fears and hopes you filtered as you read me – along with your worldview that shapes you and your relationships. I can understand that I sounded like I was saying we should stifle our true selves. (I wasn’t, not the way you were seeing it.) The views on the post in discussion actually evolved from years of struggle in light of my strong personality.

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    1. Thank you for your response!
      Like I said, the post was a prompt for me, for a lot of thinking (and I have very much enjoyed some of the posts I’ve read on your page, as you noted), but my response is most certainly about something much larger than the original posting I am responding to…
      I will give a more thorough reply when I have more than a few minutes to do so!

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    2. Okay… a more thorough response! And..oh dear, one that is probably a full post-worth in itself…

      First off, I did catch the byline and knew you were the one who had written this piece (and have since revised my original post to reflect this better. I guess I was under the assumption that people would follow the link and note the author – an honest mistake). Really, if it had been written by someone who I hadn’t interacted with in some way I probably would have been far less nervous about posting my reply (and believe me, I was nervous and still am wondering if it was the right decision. However, I needed to say what I needed to say, and I am ultimately glad that I did). I was nervous because you are not some random poster that I have no real interactions with, but rather someone who has posted things that I enjoyed reading.
      At the same time, it was because of some of the other posts I had seen by you that I had any shred of hope that you would not be insulted (disagreeing with your ideas — or my perception and understanding of your ideas — does not mean I think any less of you or will appreciate many of your posts any less) and that my own response could serve to continue (and expand) the conversation. We have different understandings on some issues, sure, but my understanding of you (as a person) was as someone that can disagree and still appreciate learning about another’s perspective. And, can I say, I’m glad for your response which confirms this suspicion I had about you 🙂
      I’m glad that my post helped you to understand my perspective, that was my goal (not for you, personally to understand my perspective necessarily, but to voice it in a way that others in general could understand). I wanted to add my voice to the much larger conversation that I saw your post as being a piece of.
      I reread the post again today, after reading your comment, and I now see where you clearly state that you aren’t talking about playing games. But, because of how you introduce the segment I apparently was unable to see that mention in the first (and subsequent) times I had read it. I think this is because the way you introduce the entire post, setting the tone for how I read what followed (which, it has been pointed out to me in the comments is a mistake I made myself in this post, and have since revised). The scenario leading up to your comment “free when he’d rather you cost him something,” is what I am referring to in my comment of playing games. To me there is nothing wrong with reaching out to a guy who you are interested in, and the way you phrased things made it seem to me that, aside from this (apparent) initial error, that if he wasn’t free Saturday, but was on Sunday the woman is somehow in the wrong to respond that she is free on Sunday.
      This scenario, this idea that for some reason you shouldn’t be contacting the guy and then having the flexibility to work on their schedule, is what screams to me “playing games.” And therefore shades how I read everything that follows.
      My sense that one’s current relationship status was being used within argument came from some of the responses I saw to comments. I wrote this response not long after your post went up, and it may have been the earlier comments where this response came, but I know I would not have brought this in if I had not seen it in the comment responses.

      The relationship which I alluded to was a very short page in my life (honestly, don’t think it would even take a page), but yes, it does have an influence on how I interpret things. As do the other, much healthier (and much longer pages/chapters) relationships I have had. That one is a piece that I honestly don’t think much about, but came running into my mind as I read your post — hence bringing it up at all. It helped me to learn I needed to trust my gut more in relationships, and gave me a better understanding of how some people can end up in such situations.

      I’m not sure that it is fear that has driven my post — not a personal fear at least. That warranted fear that you speak of, though, most certainly. And I did not mean to imply that your post (or even that understanding of male and female roles) would necessarily lead to abusive situations — simply that I think it is far more useful to approach things looking at personality of people, not general statements about “male” and “female” roles, and that I see many things in every day (your post being just one small example) that seem to feed this potential idea that there are certain things that make one “manly” or “womanly”.
      My response was originally part of a much larger post (the first post I did on feminism being the first segment of it, with others in process) that I ended up having to break apart because it was just too long — so while your post was a prompt and a spark, it was not all that was driving my response, and I can understand that some of that larger arc gets lost in the fact that I didn’t want to post a 3,000+word blog-entry!
      Understanding what you were trying to say, or possibly even misunderstanding, your post caused me to want to respond (and take a risk to do so, putting myself out there like this is NOT something I commonly do), and took my thoughts beyond simply what you were saying in your post.

      Yes, I fear the idea of someone erasing a personality and identity (mine or anyone elses), and I have seen this in action with people I know and have worked with. This is not one of my major personal fears however – I am pretty solid in “me” that I have a very hard time seeing myself allowing a relationship to continue that took such root. But when I was much younger this wasn’t the case, and it is often the younger people I have in mind when thinking on topics like this. I think of the number of younger girls that I have worked with who are being taught through media that their lives should be defined in relation to who they are in a relationship, changing to fit the needs/desires of their partner. I have seen them fall into as an understanding of how they are supposed to be in relationships – which is part of why anything I read that seems to feed into this idea scares me. It scares me that I see the idea played out in media, in tv-shows and movies, in literature, everywhere. Some of these girls are who I am thinking of when I talk about being stifled. It is heartbreaking to see a headstrong, brave, and intelligent girl play stupid and submissive because she has learned that, if she wants to find a partner for life, that is what she must do. She can’t make the first move, she can’t be too available, she can’t be smarter than him, etc. These are messages they are given, and it hurts to watch the process unfold. Again, this is where I am stepping beyond your post and to larger issues. As adults we can understand that every relationship is nuanced and complex (at least, many adults can. There are, unfortunately, some who do not grasp this or, for whatever reasons still find themselves hiding their true selves for their relationships).

      Feminism is such a big, unwieldy and generally misunderstood/differently understood concept (by many on all sides). I do wonder, as is the case with many things, if when we dig down to the root of things, past a lot of semantic baggage, we are not in more agreement than disagreement. I believe in equality, meaning all have equal rights, equal say in matters that concern them. That we all (should) come from a place of respect in our interactions with one another. Different does not mean unequal, certainly – but when broad-brush-strokes are used in understanding anyone based on a piece of their identity (in this case, gender) it lends itself to understandings that can help feed existing inequalities.
      One of the largest issues I had sparked from your post was the sense I got that there is some sort of biologically based roles we should play. When, really, a relationship works or doesn’t work based on the individual personalities – regardless of their gender.

      Indeed, my response — this post — was not simply about your post. Your post was the prompt that started the wheels turning and got me to decide to write this. But, I feel the need to clarify that my experiences have not been largely negative. The vast majority of my relationship experiences have been overwhelmingly positive, helping me to form my understanding of what the balances should look like. Though that one experience figures strongly in this post, it is a miniscule piece of my experiences and those relationships I have had that started and ended in friendship have had far more of an impact in my life. Our lives are the lenses through which we understand the world. As your post was formed through your years of struggle, mine was shaped by my experiences, which give a clear understanding, to me, of how important it is to stand my ground and to pursue when I am interested in someone.
      Thank you, again, for your thoughtful response and continuation of this conversation!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your original wording did not sound to me or OM like you knew I had written this, and I am entirely open to congenial arguments as bloggers but your tone in some places (“seriously?”) was a bit rude. I think it’s wonderful for bloggers to step out of their comfort zone and to engage their differences. It was just plain in some parts that you hadn’t read my post through thoroughly before opening debate. There is no reason (or time on my end) to be going around in circles on these two points. I’ve read every word of your explanation – and I am not upset, by the way. Just reporting perceptions.

        “free when he’d rather you cost him something,”
        This had nothing to do with games. I slid into metaphor right there, with the play on the “free” as being available to being up for grabs too easily. I was making a weighty, broader statement than any point about which days either party is available and whether the girl has the liberty to pursue open days. The example I used w/ Saturday and her pursuing optional days was simply to paint a picture of a girl who refused to take the hint from a guy who just wasn’t into her. Of course it’s lovely when the attraction is mutual and I imagine (not being a guy myself) how pleased a guy would be for the encouragement.

        If he were interested in the first place.

        I was talking about women who try too hard when there really is nothing in the cards for them with the guy they’re hopeful about.

        You know, some things we will just have to agree to disagree on =) :

        not general statements about “male” and “female” roles, and that I see many things in every day (your post being just one small example) that seem to feed this potential idea that there are certain things that make one “manly” or “womanly”.

        This really is where we draw the lines between the camps on the feminist question. I will not apologize for feeling or stating that I believe there ARe things and roles we take up that help us feel more manly or womanly. I am a woman. I would really rather not go around talking, looking like a man. Here’s the million-dollar question: WHY are some women so opposed to this? What’s WRonG with enjoying the benefits, privilege, responsibilities, perks of being a woman? Because society is not perfect and womanhood comes with liability at times. Well, so does being a man. And we all have our gifts, and the dark side of our gifts. That’s life.

        I can understand your concern over the impact of messages from media. I never encouraged women to play stupid or submissive. It’s stupid to play stupid. I have never played dumb in my relationships, which is why I intimidated many guys. It takes strength, self-control – even maturity – and a sense of self-worth to see a guy really isn’t into you and you don’t have to beg in words or by action. And if you disagree, you disagree. Very simple.

        You read me right on the biology and that’s another point on which we differ.

        I’m glad you got to think things through.

        HW

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        1. Most certainly some points of “agree to disagree.” Which is great, life would be pretty darn boring if we all agreed on everything.
          I do apologize for my tone, I understand how it came across as rude — but there are some points where I also have to be true to how I was feeling and that point (which I realize was not part of the original post, but rather comment responses) hit me rather strongly. And, as I thought I had been rather clear on in my own post, I did note that this was my own reaction, the understanding I came away with, regardless of what your intent was. Because, as you well know, that’s the reality of writing — what we mean when we write something and what/how others read that writing is not always going to be the same.

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  2. Hmm, I think playing hard to get WILL help you land a guy… the kind of guy who likes women who play hard to get. I prefer my men more upfront, minus the mind games. As a happily married (feminist) woman, I would say my strategy of “be yourself at all costs” worked pretty A-OK.

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    1. And I was not referring to you as the author. I see I was not explicit enough in stating the author was doing a guest post, I appologize and have corrected it. I have read the whole post (thank you very much) and am working on my more thorough response to the author.

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      1. Your original post doesn’t mention the author once so I highly doubt you did recognize I didn’t write it, but whatever. It is water off my back… just like feminism. Good day and thanks for linking to me… GUEST POST…

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  3. I understand that this is a very passionate subject for you, Alli, but I feel your post could have been handled with significantly more care. Unless you were trying to start a fight, of course. But starting off with “I only link to this post because it’s good scholarship” (and not, you know, common courtesy to a fellow human being, allowing their words to stand on their own rather than your judgement of them) sets a combative and exclusionary tone that works to undermine everything you go on to say and claim to represent. I recognize that passion is often at the forefront of change, but it can also lead us away from productive discourse and into… something much more unfortunate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your feedback on this. You’re right, it was a moment of snark that is misplaced and not useful – a fight was certainly not my intention. I think my encounter with a lot of people who are simply trying to get traffic to their site at any cost is where that hesitation was coming from in the first place. Revisions underway.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I appreciate this, Elick.

      “I think my encounter with a lot of people who are simply trying to get traffic to their site at any cost is where that hesitation was coming from in the first place.”

      This was just one point that told me she hadn’t read my original post carefully. She was referring to OM, the host. The title on Harsh Reality even has GUEST POST in it.

      Thanks for taking a moment on my behalf, Elick.
      HW

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      1. HW… you misunderstood and misread my own understanding of the situation. I am sorry for my error, as I said, I assure you I knew it was a guest post on the site (I originally found the post through your own promotion on your own site). However, the post was hosted on OM’s site.

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    1. I do not censor material on my site unless it is flat out rude and unproductive (such as spam or obvious trolling). However, I also am unable to dedicate ever second to monitoring replies and comments, so sometimes it does take a little bit of time for such things to go through.

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