I have to talk to y’all about men.
I know, I know. Everybody’s talking about it and I’m late to the party, it’s old news. So what?
I’ve already made it clear that I’m not a hipster who knows “what’s next” before everybody else. But I’ve lived long enough to have some experiences and I somehow lucked myself into a column as my weekly platform to share those experiences with literally tens of people (hi Grandma!)
I’ve been working on a big project that focuses on women in a field that is predominantly male. I have met some incredible women. They are intelligent, kind, hard-working and fun. I’ve talked to them about how they’ve been received in their industry and who has supported and encouraged them. I’ve heard about their struggles and limitations.
Overall, it seems they have been welcomed and supported by the male leaders in the field. The ladies have certainly faced some obstacles, but they were up to the challenge. These women have connected with and supported each other to grow and succeed, and they are killing it.
In the course of this project, I’ve also met the men. They too are intelligent, kind, hard-working and fun. Unfortunately, I get the impression from the larger world that I’m supposed to be mad at them? For being dudes? And being successful at their jobs? I’m so confused.
In a meeting where I was one of two women and ten men, there was only one jerk, and everyone else was fantastic. I think those odds are about right among my generation.
I’m pretty serious about not liking jerks, male or female. Those are not my people. But I’m also against making a judgement about someone based on their demographic. Whether it’s age, race, gender, religion … I don’t care. Are you human? Great, let’s talk! Are you a jerk? Get out.
It’s so simple, but it’s not easy. Because it takes time to have an actual conversation or two and figure out if that person is a jerk. And here’s the thing: there are both nice people and jerks in every demographic! There’s no way to find out which is which if you are lazy. I know that’s really bad news for anyone out there who likes to make broad assumptions. Actually, that might make you a jerk? Think about it.
As a daughter, wife, sister and friend to some incredible men and a mother trying to raise one of the same, I am really worried about our new national obsession with man-bashing. How about let’s try some good old-fashioned common sense and switch to bigot bashing, sexist bashing … jerk bashing in general. Not all white people are racists, not all men are sexist assaulters. Good Lord, y’all. I feel like one of the last humans with an ability to use logic and find things out for myself.
I am sick for the great men I know who are terrified to exist because if they blink the wrong way they will get in trouble. I will never say that all men are great. The first time a male made an inappropriate comment to me that made me feel bad, I was eleven years old and I remember everything about it 26 years later. And that certainly wasn’t the last time. I get it. But that makes me more passionate about speaking up for the good guys.
I’ve had so many conversations with other women, specifically mothers of boys, who want desperately to teach our sons to be kind, brave, strong, respectful, generous men. We are also teaching our daughters how to recognize the same. It’s hard enough to do this without the blanket assumptions we are making about males today. Please, for the love, don’t be a jerk, don’t raise a jerk and don’t let anyone else decide for you who is a jerk.
Overheard at the salon: If I ever go to jail, it’ll be for cussing out a middle school teacher.