Gender roles seem very much still a thing. Even the most equal-minded of us can sometimes fall back on “what men and women do”. Things like … who initiates sex? Who asks who out on a date? Who drives the car?
Yes, men of a certain age may still be fighting that internal battle when they are sitting in the passenger seat of the family minivan, but deep down, I believe that we men do crave a strong equal. And we’d also like the fair opportunity to be sought for intimacy. To be asked out and made to feel wanted. Because we do want to feel important for things other than just what we were told we were supposed to be and do.
Let’s start by talking about ‘Male Egos’. Yes, many men still have the classic, testosterone-filled, “Me Man, Ugh” mentality. And the giant ego to go with it. But I believe that for most of us, an ego is just us hiding our insecurity. And repressing our desires. When I was growing up in the 1960’s, the basic message that boys were taught was that as men we would have two jobs: provide and protect. And that we were never allowed to fail at either.
NEVER fail. Period.
Skip to this century … that learning isn’t really appropriate anymore. And yet, it was imprinted upon us as wee lads. And so it sticks, regardless of whether we want it to or not. I’m not using that as an excuse, rather as a pre-explanation. Our roles as men were pretty heavily indoctrinated into us. And reinforced by society when were starting out as adults. Yes, we can change. But even when we do, there is this nagging noise somewhere in our brains that is telling us we’re failing at our primary jobs. It’s hard to quiet that noise sometimes. I know that I am not the man I was, nor who I will be. But please know that there is this parasite inside my head that is sometimes trying to convince me otherwise.
Here’s a real world example of what I feel is our wanting women to be bold and powerful. Men are supposed to suggest things, and women are supposed to decide. Like dating. Or initiating sex. And it’s hard. As the “asker”, we are putting ourselves out there, and we have no idea what the response will be. Which is how humans work, I get that. But … when it’s you that always asks and waits, it feels lopsided.
I believe that men really desire this to be a 50-50 thing. I personally want to be asked for sex. Not so I can lord over the woman and “decide if I will grace her with my penis”. But rather because it makes me feel wanted. To have concrete proof that someone desires me, and is willing to risk rejection to be with me. When I’m making love, it’s very much a two-way partnership of giving and receiving. So why shouldn’t the start of that be just as equal?
It doesn’t matter what the question is … would you like to go out? … would you marry me? … gender roles shouldn’t be the driving force. If one person desires an outcome, then they ask. To me, this is just basic fairness and equality, and in no way reduces my “masculinity”. And I truly believe that most men feel the same way.
Here’s a weird one that still graces my life, and I have yet to understand. Whenever Nikki and I go out … I drive. Not because I want to, I just do. And I don’t know why. Yea, it can be a tad strange sitting in the passenger seat sometimes, but at least for me, that’s because I like the act of driving. But I am comfortable in that right hand seat as well. And want to be there more often. But I’m not. I don’t know if this is a leftover manifestation of gender roles or not, but it’s a very perplexing thing.
Now I also don’t have knowledge if other men feel the same way. One rarely sees a couple with the woman behind the wheel. And I’ve not asked my peers what they think. It “feels” like something that men would be hesitant to give up. Perhaps because it comes back to that “protect your family” thing I mentioned earlier. If you’re not in control of the vehicle, you have no control over the outcome of a possible accident. I’m actually very curious about this one, and I intend to ask around and get some feedback.
I was once pretty old school, (I was raised in a southern, blue collar family), but I did manage to change. Not by myself, but because I was around strong women. Not women fighting for equality per se, but just being strong. In my second marriage, my wife made several times my salary. And took care of “the books”. Two roles that have been primarily male-dominated. And strangely, I didn’t have an issue with it. At least not based on “he-she” values. Most of our friends saw the women being either in a higher earning career, or in an equal one. And it was just a given that it was the person, not the chromosome, that got them there. So yes, for me, being around strong women allowed me to learn and grow. Allowed me to challenge whatever perceptions I may have been taught about who could and should do what. And I’m very grateful for that experience.
Now, I have no idea what might drive other men to the same conclusions, but I do think we’re all ripe for the opportunity. And this is a topic I’m very interested in exploring further as I continue to break the code of silence.
The bottom line is that we (and I’m speaking for all men here, hopefully that’s OK fellas) … we really do appreciate a strong and equal partner in our lives. (Heavy emphasis on equal). Not combative, because we men shouldn’t be doing that either. Strength isn’t conflict, after all. Strength is just being equal, fair, and self-confident. And I firmly believe that the sharing of all roles is a key component to making us all strong.
Ladies Ask Me Anything
Men are supposed to be cool, suave, collected, and strong. And sometimes we are. But usually … not so much. Yet the one thing we do reliably is keep things bottled inside. Well, I’m breaking the code of silence. Parting with the old boys network and answering your questions. Maybe I can’t speak for all men over a certain age, but I can speak based on what I know and what I’ve experienced. Let the games begin.