You Can’t Change Men

“Men don’t change. They just learn to disguise the lack of change.” ~David Gemmell

Ladies, remember when you first started dating your man? You thought, “he’s a pretty good man, but he could be a pretty GREAT man if…” and then you thought of all the (subtle) ways you could change him to make him into your perfect representation of MAN. If you tweaked a little, nipped a little, and tucked a little, he could get there, and be worthy of you.

Then, like a miracle, like turning water into wine, it happened. Little by little you noticed the changes that you had set in motion. Bit by bit you saw the shining specimen of a man who had come through the fire, forged like newly burnished steel. And you danced the Macarena with your girlfriends, believing that the almighty had blessed you with what you’d always wanted in a man.

But you celebrated too soon. As time went on you realized that all the “changes” your man went through weren’t really changes, that he had simply learned to hide those “rough spots” from you, dressing them up like wolves in sheep’s clothing, so that you would stop harping on him to change. If he pretended to change enough you would believe he had, and leave him to his own devices.

And you fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. It’s not because you’re dumb, either. It’s because you wanted to believe in it more than kids want to believe in Santa Claus. It’s because you thought if your intentions were pure and true enough that positive things were bound to happen. That was your first mistake, because, ladies, despite the best of intentions, you can’t change men. Continue reading “You Can’t Change Men”

Living With Women

I’ve lived with women for 37 out of my 38 years of life, except for the two years of boarding school, and everybody knows that they don’t count. From the moment I could look up and recognize my surroundings my life has been filled with women, for better and for worse. Life would have been immeasurably different for me if I had been raised in the wild, by a gaggle of men. Of course is it possible to have only a group of men raise a child (outside of a popular 80s movie starring Ted Dansen, et. al)?

My mother and sister were the biggest influences in my life from day one, so my thoughts and actions can be measured through my myriad interactions with them, at least until the day I turned 21, and maybe beyond. They shaped me with their biases, with their fears, with their complications, and with their love. Each of them had a particular way of showing love that I never understood until later in my life, mistaking it instead for judgment way back then.

Then I got married, and I graciously passed on an X chromosome to each of my children, so the circle remains as complete as it can possibly be. Now I live every day amazed by what they do and say. It’s plain to see that they influence me in more ways than a few, these women who dominate my life. And that’s okay. That’s a blessing I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate 20 years ago, but it’s one I get down on my knees and praise god for now. It’s this life with women that I couldn’t have anticipated, but that I love more each day.

So what’s it like living with women? Yes, they can be moody. Yes, they can be imaginative, and forceful, and deliberate, and crazy at times. Yes, they are complicated, and frank, and they follow the beat of their own drummer. They can be so frustrating at times, but they’re individuals, and that’s more precious than gold. I could never regret living with women because all of the women I’ve lived with are the reason I’m the man I am today. I can’t even imagine living with men, of having more Y chromosomes around, because women have everything I’ve ever needed: a sense of compassion that can move mountains, but also a resolve that fortifies them.

Living with women has been all I’ve ever known, and it will be all I’ll ever know. And I am forever grateful.

Sam

When I Wore a Dress

black-matineeI wore a dress once, but only once. It was an exercise in feminist theory, the idea that walking a mile in someone else’s patent leather shoes can somehow help you to understand that person’s daily struggles and accomplishments. But I’ll start at the beginning. The year was 1995 and I was bald. Yes, that’s where I’ll begin.

So I wasn’t actually bald, I guess. I was in the head shaving phase back then, so my head gleamed more often than not. Luckily my head doesn’t have an awkward shape to it so it didn’t look too bad. It was the beginning of my third semester in college, but I hadn’t done much in the way of actually going to school those first two semesters, so you could say I was just starting my college career. Such an auspicious beginning would be guaranteed if I took two courses that screamed, “SURVIVE ME AND YOU’LL SURVIVE COLLEGE.” I think I wanted to challenge myself. Either that or I wanted an excuse to drop out before I had really even begun.

The first course I signed up for was “Geography of South and Southeast Asia,” and the second was accurately titled “Feminist Theory.” I knew one would be incredibly boring, so I hoped the other would rescue my semester, but I secretly thought both would kick my ass from here to New Jersey. My first Feminist Theory class was a revelation as I was one of only two males in a class of 25, and the only sophomore in a class full of seniors. The hill was definitely going to be steep, and I started worrying.

As the semester went along, however, I found myself looking forward to Wednesdays, in a complicated way, because the class challenged me while at the same time inspiring me. Virginia Woolf taught me about a room of one’s own with her thick, layered prose that made me drag out the dusty dictionary in order to almost comprehend it. Simone de Beauvoir gave me a deeper perspective about the second sex, even in the translation, but she made me wish I could read it in French to get the fuller picture. Then there was Gloria Steinem, and Edith Wharton, and several others whose works I would have never read otherwise, in a staggered procession that left me breathless. Continue reading “When I Wore a Dress”

Understanding Women

talking with your woman“Women are like tricks by sleight of hand
Which, to admire, we should not understand.” ~William Congreve

I’ll never understand women, and I guess it’s supposed to be that way, what with God giving them a complexity that most men lack. Sure, women say men are tough to “get,” but when was the last time a man gave you more than surface? From birth men are taught to ignore their feelings and power through life. The few who don’t take this approach are seen as odd and get judged by others, by both other men and women, as weak. Those who skew towards the artistic or the representative are seen as more female than male.

Which is the really strange thing because most women fit along a wide spectrum when it comes to how they live their life, and as to the comforts they enjoy. Women aren’t seen as odd when they stray towards the artistic, or when they focus on the depth in life instead of merely dipping their feet in the shallow end. They can be emotional without being harshly judged by other women, and yet when they feel the need to be physically strong it is seen as a positive and they are congratulated for it. Being “feminine” has never been more of an oxymoron.

Don’t get me wrong, either. Women are individuals. I’m not lumping them all together by any means, but not a single woman I’ve ever met was not incredibly complex, and not a single woman I’ve everĀ  met do I completely understand. Maybe when you completely understand a woman she disappears like Rumpelstiltskin when you guess his name. They do have this magical quality about them, I like to think.

I’ve lived with women for the vast majority of my life. I’ve dealt with their mood swings, with their protective nature, with their ambition, with their constant love, and with their need to be understood. But no matter how long I’ve lived amongst them, I’ll never be one. And maybe that’s the larger issue. In order to truly understand a woman, her motivations, and her emotions, you have to BE A WOMAN.

And even then it’s no gimme.

Sam

Skinny Girls Can’t Win

“I like ’em round and big, and when I’m throwing a gig I just can’t help myself. I’m actin’ like an animal, now here’s my scandal.” -Sir Mix-A-Lot

Kate-Moss-on-Magazine-covers-kate-moss-1877633-358-500Fashion magazines show the “ideal” female as ridiculously skinny, and hordes of young girls growing up buy into this vision of what they need to look like. Look at the runway models and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Kate Moss was the epitome of this type of “beauty” in the ’90s, with her severe looks and her angular body. And don’t get me wrong, some women are born like that, concave instead of convex. There’s nothing wrong with looking that way when it’s natural, when you’re not starving yourself to make that a reality, robbing your body of much needed nutrients in order to look like that “ideal.” Let’s look deeper into why that image exists in the first place.

In the middle ages there was what I refer to as the Botticelli ideal, where images of women showed them to be voluptuous goddesses with curves to spare, and they looked natural, beautiful, content in themselves. That’s because while men may not have valued women for their brains in that time period, they did value a warm, full body to come to bed to every night. It was cold back then, and so many of the people lived without proper heat, so a full-sized woman helped out a lot. Seriously, though, both men and women realized then the ludicrous nature of the “starving woman.” If you were starving then you were probably homeless and didn’t have access to good food, and that wasn’t seen as desirable at all. So what changed?

WhatWomenSeeWhenTheyLookInTheMirrorHere’s why skinny girls can’t win in our society:

  • They never think they’re skinny enough
  • Most aren’t born with the body type so they do what it takes to get there
  • Those who are born with the body type are judged for it
  • People tear down others instead of lifting them up
  • While this “ideal” is still espoused by many women, more and more men want that Botticelli ideal Continue reading “Skinny Girls Can’t Win”

Friday Top 5: Myths About Women

5. Women are poor drivers.

Sure, you probably know a woman or two who has a lead foot when it comes to driving, who thinks of speed limits as suggestions rather than hard and fast rules. And you know you have a death grip on the door or on your seat the entire time you’re in the car, especially when she takes curves at 95 mph. In fact, any time you’re forced to take a ride with her, you always strongly hype your vehicle as the car to take just so you can drive instead of her. Then she laughs at you and calls you a wimp for going 70 in a 65. But, odds are that you also know guys who are just like that too, and women who would make your grandma look like a race car driver too.

4. Women are emotionally weaker than men.

Just because many women are in touch with their emotions or wear their emotions on their sleeves does not make them weaker. Continue reading “Friday Top 5: Myths About Women”

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