23 February 2007

Where have all the MEN gone?

I’ve come to the conclusion that there aren’t very many men in our society today. At some point, we stopped teaching our boys how to grow up and become men. At some point, the women decided they had to pick up the slack. At some point, the boys decided that, since the women were doing such a good job of taking care of themselves and everyone around them, it wasn’t worth the hassle of becoming a man.

I remember my brother coming home after a long day at the hospital, one day, and telling mom that a woman had gotten huffy with him because he opened a door for her. I will never forget my mother’s response to his question of why he should open a door for a woman who didn’t want him to and didn’t appreciate the gesture. She said, “You don’t open the door because she’s a lady, because she may not be, but because you are a gentleman.”

It seems as though guys are all too comfortable with their masculine role being “stolen” by feminists. It seems they’re not willing to step up and take the responsibility for their own actions, because they’re too afraid to “get in trouble” for their efforts. Guys are too willing to renege on their responsibilities and blame it on the feminist movement.

In the midst of World War II, the men were going off to war to give their lives for their country, and the women stepped up and went off to work so that the country would still be there upon the return of their men. Women answered the call to arms, the call to jobs, and the call to keep on at an unprecedented level. Unfortunately, when the men and women returned from war, many of the women decided to keep their jobs. It was easier to work a full-time job than to be a full-time wife and homemaker. So they stayed, and the jobs that the men had before going to serve their country were filled, so the men had fewer options. Some woman came up with the supposedly ingenious idea that women were being repressed by being the caregivers of the families, and the battle was on. For awhile, men fought the idea of the women encroaching on their roles, their jobs, their spaces. For awhile, the feminist movement fought the “glass ceiling” that inhibited the promotion and adequate compensation of female workers. Then the men realized that the women weren’t going to give up, that they were hard workers and capable of doing more than their fair share of the work, leaving the men fewer responsibilities, and that it was easier just to crumble.

The problem is that most of the women I know DON’T WANT the men’s roles we’re having to fill. Most of us don’t want to have to take care of the things that responsible men in a developed society should do. Most of us have figured out that, if we don’t protect ourselves from these guys that refuse to become men, no one is going to come to our aid. We have discovered that, not only are the guys we’re dating NOT going to protect us from danger, step between us and those bullies, open the doors for us, but they’re quite possibly going to put pressure on us in ways that no MAN would. Not only do we have to protect ourselves from what’s “out there”, but we also have to protect ourselves from the ones who should be our protectors.

It’s not right.

At what point did it become the woman’s job to make sure that not only did SHE do what’s right, but that the men in her sphere of influence and encounter did, too?

Have you ever wondered why women are attracted to military men and powerful corporate-executive types? It’s because they have a higher level of responsibility and accountability than the guy on the street. There is something about a man who is in control that is not just attractive, but almost mesmerizing. He, the man in the uniform, is able to meet a set standard. He has disciplined himself, mind and body, so that he can be more than just some guy. He, the CEO-VIP, has risen to that level of responsibility by maintaining disciplines in his life and not backing down. He has proven himself, time and time again, through competence and a willingness to BE the decision-maker, not just act like one. He, the MAN, attracts us, because he is a man. He is not a guy. He is not a dude. He is not a poor excuse for a momma’s boy. He has stepped up and taken responsibility for his life. How often do we meet men like that? Certainly not as often as we should.

It used to be that the family, and ultimately our society, could not function without responsible men. The family unit would crumble without the bread-winner. It was a shameful thing, when a man couldn’t provide for his family well enough to keep his wife at home. It was a shameful thing for a family to owe money or for a woman to have to go to work. Today, guys are all too secure in having their wives go off to work a 40-80 hour work week while they PAY a stranger to raise their children.

The fun thing is that there aren’t that many women who really WANT to have those jobs. Most women have resigned themselves to it because it’s common practice, these days, or because they HAVE to work outside their homes to provide for their families, or because there’s a dearth of MEN out there. Women are waiting longer and longer to get married, and more of us are exploring alternative ways to fulfill our desire for children, because there just aren’t that many MEN to be had. Sure, we could settle for the guys that expect us to pick up the check, the guys who expect us to defend our own honor and fight them off, tooth and nail, when they “lose control” of themselves. Sure, but what kind of life is that? What kind of existence is it to be both the man and the woman in a relationship? To be the nagging woman that he doesn’t want to come home to, because he can’t be trusted to do the basic things that comprise his role in the relationship? If we wanted to do that, we’d stay single. Oh, wait… We ARE staying single.

Men, it’s time to step up and take responsibility for yourselves. It might not be easy. Many of us (women) have become used to fending for ourselves, and sometimes it’s difficult to relinquish control of something that’s long been our responsibility, but WE WANT you to take these things off our hands. WE WANT to not have to concern ourselves with walking down the street in broad daylight, entertaining company in our own homes, etc. We want you to open our doors and treat us like ladies, EVEN WHEN WE’RE NOT ACTING LIKE IT! We want to not HAVE to take a self-defense course. We’d much rather MEN step up and be MEN and stop being little whiny wussies who can’t control themselves.

Women, it’s time to step back and allow the guys to become men. It’s time to relinquish the roles of protector, provider, decision-maker. It’s time to resume our femininity. It’s time to stop being the heavy and learn to become the lady whose very softness commands the respect, desire, and love of a man who is TRULY a man.

I guess the question is: Who do you want to be? Do you want to be all that God created you to be? Men, do you want to command the respect, devotion, and adoration of women? Ladies, do you want to be loved, admired, and treated as an equal? Who do you want to be?? Is it who you are now?

20 February 2007

16 February 2007

Valentine's Day Syndrome

Valentine's Day is not a painful thing for me, anymore. It used to be. I used to HATE being single on Valentine's Day, and there's only been ONE that I wasn't. (That one, by the way, was fabulous... My boyfriend brought me flowers the day before because we weren't going to see each other on the day of, then he also brought me a HUGE bouquet of 5 dozen flowers and the movie "The Notebook" on V-day. Nice. Yeah, I'm a fan of the flowers thing. Must. Stop. Chasing. Bunnies. ) I would see all the hearts and flowers and fancy cards... the idea of being swooped up into a romance with some guy who would show up to pick me up for our fancy date in a stretch limo was just too much! I'd whine and moan about being single, and I'd get all sad and down when no mysterious gift from a secret admirer arrived.

The truth is that hearts and flowers and planned out scenes are not love. They're not even romance. They're the veneer of a contrived romance that we're supposed to accept as being the real thing, because Hollywood and the marketing industry can't replicate the real thing. This isn't one of those rants about the mass-marketing conspiracy theory of Valentine's Day, though. I think that hearts and flowers are sweet reminders of a romance-- they are not, however, the actual romance. I think that Valentine's Day is a good reminder to guys (who tend to be a little clueless in the romance department) that they might want to show their appreciation to the women in their lives, and an opportunity for women to feel a bit pampered, once a year. Ideally, relationships should have some romance in them without the reminder by Hallmark from mid-December through mid-February... (Seriously. I saw Valentine's stuff in one store BEFORE Christmas, this year!)

Beyond all that, I've finally gotten to the point in my life that I understand. All the misery I used to perpetuate on V-Day has been replaced with hope. Yes, ladies, I said hope. Not necessarily hope for romance, but hope for the future. I have finally begun to see the future as better than the past, and I'm looking expectantly into it. (Not LIVING in it, mind you, just looking into it.) So I hauled my cookies to the movie theater to watch a sweet little romantic comedy, and I left, not at all disillusioned or bitter over the on-screen romance. Maybe this is proof that I'm maturing. Who knows?

Much love.

A Pleasant Diversion

Instead of being a complete loser and staying home by myself on Valentine's Day, I went to a movie. By myself. I can't quite make up my mind which is worse, but I enjoyed the movie...

I went to see "Music & Lyrics", starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. I thought it was a sweet little movie. Not, by any stretch of the imagination, award-worthy, but very good, nonetheless. It was devoid of ickiness and foul language, which pleased me, and it was generally a nice story.

It's about this defunct popstar and his plant-watering-lady's-replacement writing a song together for the pop princess of the day. The song they write is called "Way Back to Love". The song is your basic pop song, simple and catchy with the schmaltzy lyrics that touch us all so deeply... (yeah, I know, it's blatantly obvious that I'm not the pop-music type), but it gets stuck in your head!! Particularly the first section of the first verse (which is repeated throughout the movie). It's been stuck in my head since I left the theater, which could get really annoying, but I actually do like the song.

So I ordered the soundtrack. :D

Much love.

06 February 2007

An Explanation for my Readers...

The Man of my Dreams post is about the man with whom I would like to be in a relationship. I thought this appropriate for the upcoming Valentine's Day. Someone once gave me some very good advice. She said that if I intend to be in a relationship with the man of my dreams, I need to know what he's like. She said that it's not enough to think "tall, dark, and handsome" or to imagine his physical characteristics, because physical beauty fades, but bad character lasts forever.

I think this is something that single women routinely do wrong. We don't set our standards highly, we don't become the type of woman who attracts the princes among men, and then we gripe about bad relationships or how stupid guys are or whatever. If you're trying to snag the first hapless guy who comes along, what do you really expect the outcome to be??

So, I have begun looking a little deeper. I've begun thinking about the way this man will make me feel. I think about the indicators of character that show you that someone is truly high-caliber, and I've begun thinking about how I can become the woman who attracts that kind of man.

I know that God has a plan for my life, and I know that if the desire for relationship that I have isn't of Him, that He'll replace it with something else. In the mean time, instead of wasting my time with the foolishness of so many relationships, I choose to focus my relational energy in other areas. When the desire to have a guy in my life gets to be too much, I imagine the man of my dreams, and I realize that the man God will provide will be so much more than a random guy on match.com.

The Man of My Dreams

On those lonely nights—the nights when the emptiness of my room was simply too much to bear, you were there. Well, not physically. In fact, you were somewhere else entirely, but in my dreams, in my imagination you were there. I would squeeze my eyes tightly shut, burrow up against my pillows and imagine it was you. I would dream that beautiful words were being whispered in my ear, that my lover was holding me close and with tender fingers stroking me to sleep against his chest.

I dreamed on countless nights that the fantasy was real: that we were married, in love, creating a family and a life. I would shut out the reality of loneliness, the reality that you were not, and might never be, mine. I would imagine my way into a world that did not exist, and then I would simply fall off to sleep in the idea of your arms and dream about you. When I woke, I’d imagine you getting out of bed with me in the morning, perhaps after making leisurely love to each other, and I’d picture your face in the mirror, brushing your teeth, or I’d put on my make-up with the image of you taking your morning shower. It was in those moments that I thought of all the mundane things that comprise love. The moments that don’t mean anything individually, but when you add them together, they become a life built together, intertwining, revolving around and throughout each other’s existence.

When I look at you, I see a man who has been through the wringer, but is stronger than it all. I see a man who provides well, and happily, for his family. I see a man who chooses his commitments carefully and honors them with not only his words, but his actions. I see a man who has struggled through things that he did not choose, and has come out on the other side of his struggles victoriously. I see a man who has earned the right to a happy life and a loving family. I see a man who has earned, in every way—through honor, battle, passion, and decision—my respect, adoration, and loyalty. I see a man. Not a boy or a guy or any other derivation of a masculine term… a MAN.

I dream now of a life I can share, and I never spent much time thinking about that, before you opened my eyes and my heart. I’ve been alone so long. I’ve had to be strong, be the decision-maker, be the authority, the bill-payer, the one who ultimately had to answer for the hours in my day. My successes and my struggles went equally un-shared, and I had not dwelt on that fact, because I didn’t know how to become unselfish enough to desire a life shared with another. I spend a lot of time thinking about it, now. I think about what it would be like to have my strengths and the strengths of another working together. I think of the moments of joy over something that’s gone right, and the arms into which I could rush when things didn’t go the way I’d choose. I think of the abilities that I have, and I dream of having those things recognized in an equitable relationship. I dream of the qualities that I admire and how I would show my appreciation for all that my man is. I dream of the physical relationship, but what I long for now, that I could never acknowledge—even to myself—is an intimacy that must be earned. I long for an intimacy that sees the faults, but overlooks them in favor of the good bits. Someone once said that love has eyes, but it also has eyelids. I long for the day when I can devote myself to that man who is able to share that relationship with me, because if he trusts me enough to be intimate with me on those levels, then I can completely submit to his desires and needs with total abandon, willingness and a desire of my own.

It was you who opened my heart to a something I’ve always desired. It was you who showed me that it was possible to have the great romance of which I dreamed… and it was in those lonely nights that I longed for the arms of a man, the one who had crept in so quietly and stolen my fascination. That man was you—the man of my dreams.