I spent a spare moment on twitter last Saturday afternoon. It had been a busy day, a long drive home in the morning, quiet time to myself in the car, then an explosion of small children, a beautiful summer day, a nice dinner in the garden.
And I discovered this:
Top 10 Things All Women Need To Know About Men. It caught my eye in twitter, I clicked, I read. I liked the intro. I’m not a church goer myself, at least not anymore, but the introduction, church or not, God or not, was pleasant enough and engaging. Thoughtful.
I even like the list. There’s something in the tone that makes me like the author. I browsed his blog, called Big is the New Small, and liked a lot of what I saw there. His name is Scott Williams.
But parts of it bother me. Maybe at 61, almost 40 years married, I’m getting tired of the stereotypes. For example, when Scott writes …
We are not mind readers, say what’s really on your mind.
… I can’t help thinking how different his view is from my world. My wife has never had any trouble speaking her mind, some of my daughters do automatically, others don’t. And I don’t always. I don’t think this is a gender thing, certainly no more female than male.
And on this one:
We need our time alone: guys night out, man cave…
My response to this is: “wow, no offense to guy friends, but no thanks.” What with business to do, kids, family, trying to have a life … I never understood the guys’ night out syndrome. I never wanted it. Is that really just me? Or is that a matter of life, family, and work, leading to precious little down time, and not wanting to spend it with guy friends.
It reminds me of the recurring thread, not from Scott in this case, of people taking vacations from family. As my wife and I had kids, we never wanted vacations separate from them. Vacations were about them.
Then again, maybe it is me, maybe I am different. I’ve liked a lot of so-called “chick flix” in my day (which contradicts another point on Scott’s list) and I usually remember dates (which contradicts yet another). But I do match a lot of his points.
So why take issue? Because stereotyping genders worries me. Not that I don’t like gender differences; I do, that’s the spice of life. I’m all in favor of gender differences as long as we’re not talking about jobs, or opportunities, or compensation or freedom. And identifying men traits and women traits can even be useful (the Mars/Venus thing opened my eyes to some things I hadn’t seen before). But it makes me uncomfortable too. When Scott says, in his list of things women should know about men,
We want to be the leader and the protector… let us lead.
It worries me a bit because it hints at heirarchy, a leader and a follower, based on gender, in marriage. I guess I naturally have the instinct of protector maybe, in a physical way, male; when we used to take the kids up to the high country above Yosemite Valley, I was the one awake at night worrying about bears, because the rest of them assumed Daddy would keep them safe. But then my wife has been the mother bear protector of children sometimes more than me. She can be really scary. And, getting to the point, I don’t think marriage is about a leader and a follower. Let’s hope you have some of both, on both sides.
Another of Scott’s ten points is …
When we say nothing is wrong, “Nothing is wrong” nothing means nothing!
Good luck with that. Let me know how it goes. But, really, only one gender has trouble with this? I think not.
We want to be respected and appreciated.
Weird. What’s that doing here? Who doesn’t? What does this have to do with men and women? Is there anybody anywhere, man or woman, who doesn’t want to be respected an appreciated?
This is endearing, but it also gets old. Reminders of how we’re different can be a useful, even if we run down the list and they’re not exactly right for any one of uys. But the idea that some of this — like respect and appreciation, or leadership — are gender specific — is not that good for anybody. In my opinion.