Man Kind

Men. We women have all sorts of opinions about men. Our opinions are often driven by stereotypes. Stereotypes provide a shorthand that is sometimes confirmed by experience but, as we all know, stereotypes are lazy and  dangerous. Still, we think we know these general characteristics of men:

  • they can’t find anything, especially if it requires moving objects
  • they don’t pay attention to details
  • personal hygiene is elective, especially on weekends
  • they find bodily functions hilarious (ok, they’re right about that)
  • they can’t watch TV without their hands down their pants
  • they are not self aware
  • they think an empath is something from Star Trek
  • they don’t like to talk about feelings

I admit that’s a caricature of men, but you know what I mean. And this is not disparage men – I love ’em. But they have a certain closed-off way. Or so I thought.

When I published my post, Now You Know, about my divorce, I expected that there would be comments from women. I sort of expected (though not in the powerful way it was) to be engulfed in the loving arms of my sisterhood. I expected that women would relate to my experience. What I didn’t expect? The overwhelming response from men.

I was as wrong as a fart in an elevator. As the days passed after I published the post, I was flooded with messages from men. They were supportive, insightful, and tremendously kind. These men took time to share their own heartaches and triumphs. They told me how my words resonated with them. They wished me peace and happiness. They called me brave as often as my female friends.

One old friend from college said simply that I was awesome and he thought he should tell me so. Another offered me his time and phone number in case I wanted to talk it out or just cry. Another told me of his own divorce and how after the pain of it, he emerged happier as did his family. Another told me that I was a “kick ass woman” and an eloquent writer. These kinds of messages came for weeks.

I was gobsmacked and profoundly moved. All the posts and messages I received after I shared the news made my heart swell (and made me cry like a baby), but I was affected slightly more by the men who reached to me because it was such a surprise. Shame on me for not expecting any of it. Shame on me for underestimating the ability of men to feel just as deeply, to care just as much, to offer support in the same degree as my sisters.

Perhaps they were responsive because I didn’t begin my post with “We need to talk,” four words guaranteed to induce a male coma. But seriously, I believe it’s something deeper. Behind those hands-down-their-pants-while-watching-TV postures and the inability to notice a new outfit are tender souls. My words resonated with them because their hearts get broken too. They recognize need, they’re empathic, and they love their friends.

Most significantly, they wanted to tell their stories. They were eager to share. We women don’t corner the market on pain, loss, sensitivity, or even talking about it as much as we’d like to think.

It’s been a profound set of lessons for me. Assume the best of everyone. Don’t fall victim to preconceived notions. Don’t lump people into categories. Offer kindness. Listen closely – everyone wants to be heard.

So here’s to men. Thank you for proving me wrong and for lifting me up in my hour of need. Most of all, thank you for your kindness. And maybe keep your hands out of your pants when you watch TV – I’m pretty sure the remote isn’t in there.

About lynettea1

I write. I connect. I travel. I make bad puns.
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2 Responses to Man Kind

  1. scoutandhuck says:

    I have had the same experience. I published an article in the New York Times about my miscarriages and got many many letters. Most were from men, which caught me completely off-guard too, and most of those were about the pain they had suffered when their wives and girlfriends had miscarried, and how they didn’t know what to say, but still they mourned. I love your post above because what it’s really about is how we allow ourselves to assume that “others” don’t feel as deeply as we do, when the opposite may be true. They may just not know how to admit or express it. xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynettea1 says:

      Before my experience, I would have been surprised that you got so many responses from men but not now! It’s lovely they reached out to you. The men I heard from absolutely knew how to express themselves well. Maybe we all just need the right trigger or environment? Whatever it is, I’m so grateful because I think about assumptions more. Thanks for reading, as always. xoxo

      Like

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