I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but was having trouble finding the words. I wrote a few months ago about women and perfectionism, that post was written to women and since then I’ve been wanting to continue the topic, but write to men. I could write about how insane it is that millions of women all over the world are seen as disposable, worth nothing more than sex, or the fact that women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of its food and earn only 10% of its income (according to UN gender reports), but what I want to write about is the role men play in either empowering or devaluing women in our western society.
A few days ago, I was sitting at a park reading a book while my girls attended their dance class, when I couldn’t help but over hear a conversation between several young men. The conversation was about how stupid women are. Most of it I won’t repeat here, but one man was complaining loudly about how he hates it when his girlfriend tries to talk to him about life, all he wants from her is sex, he hates the sound of her voice etc… The other men were agreeing with him and telling stories about their own “stupid” girlfriends. I wish I’d had a bit more courage to confront them about their ignorance.
Where does this notion of women being stupid, annoying and worthless come from? I think it’s a matter of control and cowardice. Some men are intimidated by intelligent women, they only want women for one thing and it’s not their brain. Granted, there are a lot of silly and unintelligent women in our society. Why? Because they’ve been told that their only value is in their looks. The media says we have to look a certain way in order to be attractive to men. Instead of being valued for the miracles our bodies are capable of (including our brains), that beauty has been replaced with an unachievable standard. Instead of being praised for our unique characteristics, we’ve been told what the perfect body looks like, what the perfect face and hair looks like. The media created this standard and men have repeated it, boldly, loudly, to each other and without regard to the strong and beautiful women beside them.
Every time you look longingly at another woman, you’re telling your wife she’s less than adequate.
Every time you linger over the magazines of airbrushed women, your daughter believes that is the standard of beauty.
When you brag about sexual conquests, your female friends think less of you.
Guys, I’m not saying you should keep your head down and never look at a woman who’s not your wife, it’s okay to appreciate beauty, but there’s a difference between appreciation and lust. I understand you’re visually wired and that’s fine, I just think that media and our society has corrupted and manipulated your perception of women. There are a couple guys I know who are especially good at complimenting women. They’re obviously happily married to beautiful women, but they also extend praise to other women by telling them they’re talented, they look nice, have cool style etc. They give compliments without expecting anything in return. That’s the difference I’m talking about.
The difference is between giving a compliment for the sake of being kind and starting a conversation – or making a crass comment because you want something from her. (Side note: Guys, does making crass comments and whistling or grabbing butts really work? How many women actually respond well to that? Are you just trying to get a rise from us? It’s confusing to me.) Unmarried men should take note; if you want a woman to notice you, be selfless in your praise. It sounds contradictory, but if you acknowledge someone’s beauty and worth with no strings attached they’ll be more comfortable around you and respond in a positive way. It takes the pressure off.
There are so many good women in the world, truly beautiful women, if you can peel your eyes away from what the media is screaming for you to look at. Seriously, look up, look around at the women next to you. Your neighbors, sisters, mothers, friends, these are real women, the women that make the world turn. Where would you be without them? If you want more female attention stop whistling at strangers and start honoring the women around you.
I promise we will notice.
When I was first getting to know Josh, one of the things that drew me to him and confirmed he was a safe person was the way he treated his female friends and family members. He’s kind to his mother, he has three sisters who love him because he respects them and isn’t intimidated by their strong wills and personalities. Girls who are friends with him and had gone to high school with him told me what a great guy he is
The way Josh first caught my attention was by asking me about my interests.
He didn’t cat-call or whistle.
He didn’t grab my butt.
He listened to me talk.
And he wasn’t intimidated when he realized I love football more than he does.
Or upset by the fact I almost never wear high heels and that I love to go hiking and fishing, having adventures and traveling.
Men, please stop buying into this lie that women are disposable, only good for one thing. Stop preying on women who have believed in this lie themselves. Instead, be the stronger sex and protect women. Flex your mental and physical muscles by putting down the magazines, quit looking at porn, stop listening to the lies of the media and begin appreciating the beauty of the mind, body and soul of a woman.
Protect a woman’s intelligence by listening to her speak, you’ll probably learn something.
Protect her heart by validating her interests and desires.
Protect her body image by understanding what she is physically capable of. See the beauty in callused, hard working hands and stretch marks.
Evaluate the way you think about women. Do you empower or undermine? Look at male dominated societies and the effect it has on families and the economy. Read Half The Sky. Learn about recent events in India. What would happen if men led the charge against violence toward women? What would happen if everyone began to value women has humans, not objects?
I thank God for the empowering and protective men in my life. I’m keenly aware of the fact not all women know that type of man. Some women believe sex is the only thing men want from them. Men, now is your chance to prove them wrong and show your worth.