There was a slogan in the early days of the feminist movement that went something like, “A woman needs a man as much as a fish needs a bicycle.” I was part of that generation, that also said, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” among other things equally foolish. I seem to remember that whoever said that, about not trusting someone over 30, was a rock ‘n’ roll star that still tours, now in his 60’s. I wonder if he’s changed his mind? For my money, the only good thing that came out of the sixties was the music. I just wish more performers and Hollywood in general would just stick to their craft!
My former showbiz life coincided with the breaking of the so-called glass ceiling, which was quite real for a long time. Many women were now reaching the corporate and other hierarchies that had heretofore been denied them. However, instead of bringing their feminine instincts, skills, and traits to these newfound positions, many were adopting the worst of the existing masculine behaviors and habits. They were going to be just as tough, just as hard working, and just as ruthless.
Unfortunately for that generation of women, they woke up one day, past their childbearing years, and realized they’d been sold a bill-of-goods. They may have had a pretty full Rolodex, but many were lonely, unmarried, childless, while most of their male counterparts had families and personal lives.
Like all revolutions, this shift in women’s roles in society has recently begun a healthy move towards the center. I now think women actually have more choices than men. At the height of the feminist movement, a stay-at-home mom was disparaged. Thankfully, we’ve grown past that narrow-mindedness, to a better appreciation for those moms that do stay home. And, more appropriately society is respecting those that also work. Dare I say that this standard is not the same for men?
I know from personal experience that the single dad is tolerated, but not appreciated or much respected, despite all the rhetoric. When I joined my boys’ elementary school parent-teacher association, I was all but shunned. It took a while for me to realize the women were just not comfortable with a man in their midst. But, I have to confess it hurt at a vulnerable time in our lives.
So, I took my toys and went to play in my boy’s classrooms, where their teachers actually appreciated my contributions. I chose to give money directly to their needs rather than to the parent-teacher association, where I wasn’t welcomed. I loved this direct interaction so this proved to be a happy solution.
But, back to the subject of this column–do women need men? I assert an absolute YES. Just as men need women. We compliment each other and, as is well known, men actually live longer married than single. But, while there isn’t a counterpart for women, who usually outlive men and do better alone after a long marriage, I assert that in the formative, childbearing years, women need men as much as ever. We learn from one another; we grow; we are challenged. That makes both genders stronger.
The notion that women can procreate by other means and therefore truly don’t need a man is just selfish and foolish. Further, it irrevocably denies the children even the possibility of having a dad in their lives. I’ve been a Big Brother on and off over the years, and the single moms in Big Brothers know darn well the value of a man in their sons’ lives. Sadly, they rarely match girls with the Big Brothers– a fall-out from litigation, lawyers, and fear. This is so tragic, as the girls without fathers need the male adult figure just as much as the boys do.
Some gender facts are just not PC (politically correct) in spite of their historical and empirical truth. This notion of our respective need for the opposite sex (I still dislike the PC use of “gender”) is just bunk and destructive. Let’s recognize that men and women each have something quite valuable to bring to relationships, to children, to society, and to each other. And, let’s acknowledge and celebrate those differences.
I’m grateful that my wife is a woman and has female instincts and desires. It enriches our family and me. While I still would like to stay a slob, let my kids have messy rooms, occasionally allow a pile of dishes in the sink to accumulate, let my dogs sleep on the bed with me, and forgive similar sins of my boys, she keeps us in line. In turn, I bring some “fix-it” to her problems as well as practical get-it-done approaches to many things that I know benefit her.
I’m glad I’m a man; I’m glad she’s a woman. That’s the way God made us and that’s the way it should be.