Dear Men, This is What We Really Want

ADDRESSED TO: 

Heterosexual Men

123 NotAllMen Lane

M4M 969

World, International

 

To whom it may concern,

Thanks for joining me here. It’s been a pleasure getting to know some of you over the past 19 years. We’ve had our ups and downs, to say the least!

I want to take you on a walk down memory lane. Remember that time in Grade Four when you said that I looked prettier with my hair down? Of course, you don’t. But I’ve been wearing it down ever since. Or that time in Grade Nine when you said you could see my nipples through my shirt? Every time I notice them now, I think of you… ew, not like that.

The point is, everything you’ve said to me, even if it was meant to be a compliment, has altered the way I see myself. Why? Because I’ve been taught since I could speak on my own that I should value a man’s opinion. I’ve been told that your voice and your every thought, contained the ability to shape my world. If you liked my butt, I’d make an extra 10 per cent on that bill. If I made you laugh, you’d brag about me to your friends. If I could keep up a conversation (without overshadowing you) you’d let me speak; maybe even in groups, if you really liked what I had to say.

That’s the root of it: the fact that you don’t understand the things you say and do are instantly validated and acknowledged by everyone listening, whereas I have to work twice as hard for it to happen. Otherwise, I need you to stick up for me for the rest of the world to even listen.

I wish I didn’t give you so much power. It’s not the fault of the fourth-grader in the school-yard. It’s the fault of the system that raised us, all of us, which puts men on a pedestal. To wait for your husband to speak, to take care of the kids all day, and sit back and watch them run to the door when “daddy’s home!”

That’s why it hurts when you say you aren’t a feminist; that you don’t believe that women should be valued more than men, because that isn’t what we want. All I’m asking for is a seat at the table. All I’m asking for is for you to see me as an equal, and to use your own power to raise me up. Don’t I deserve it?

I’m going to address the burgeoning question in your mind: why am I such a drama queen? A question that has plagued me since it was asked first by the boy I had a crush on in Grade Three.  I guess it could be that I’ve been raised with a heightened awareness of emotional vulnerability. It’s welcomed in my friendship circles to discuss my feelings, and I take that power into all of my relationships. So, I’m sorry that you never learned to open up, but I need you to accept that this is my strength, and I’m willing to teach it to you.

The importance of vulnerability might not be on your radar quite yet. Maybe your parents have had some success in helping you to open up, or maybe, they were the ones who shut it down. Maybe you used to cry, but someone told you that you shouldn’t. 

Maybe you aren’t equipped to handle my tears. Maybe they make you uncomfortable. Maybe you’re right: I must be on my period.

Or maybe, just maybe … I’m not a drama queen at all. I’m just a regular person, expressing regular emotions in the only way I know how. This is my way of communicating with you. It’s not a trick to make you feel guilty or upset. Maybe when I react to a situation and you downplay it, you’re gaslighting me. You’re making me feel like whatever feeling or instinct I had was stupid and childish; that I’m acting like a little girl. I guess I won’t speak up again. I’ll just get upset, you’ll be confused, and the cycle will go on.

Rinse and repeat.

Listen, men, what we really want you to know is that, in a lot of ways, we’re just like you. We pee in the shower. We cherish our time with our friends. We value alone time. We don’t always know how to control our anger. We’re hoping to be validated. We’ll put on a show for attention (don’t deny it!). We admire women’s bodies. We’re insecure, and we won’t show it. We don’t know exactly what we want, but we’ll work to get it. We love food. We love sleeping into the afternoon. We want great sex. We want love.

When I ask you what you’re thinking about, I don’t mean right this second, I mean about life. What do you want to achieve? What holds you back? What are your fears? What are your greatest strengths?

Many of us are thriving because we’ve acknowledged and answered these questions. 

While I’m on the topic of sensitivity, I want to remind you of something. The idea that women are patient, caring, and agreeable is a construct. We’ve been conditioned to take care of you, of our families, of everyone. We’re meant to handle the messy things, pick up the pieces, and put your feelings above our own. 

And we’re sick of it. 

How can you help? Well, you can start by understanding that we might not stand up for ourselves the same way you do. It can actually be extremely challenging to voice our opinions or let you know when something bothers us. We might not have the strength to say ‘no’ more than once–or even at all. So don’t coerce us, don’t prod and pry until we give you the response you want because you know deep down that if you just ask enough times, we’ll eventually give in. That’s not consent.

What I need from you is simple: treat me like a human being. When you see me, I want you to see a regular person, going through life without a damn clue as to how it all works. I want you to respect me for who I am. I want you to see my brain before my breasts. I want you to judge my heart before my ability to shotgun a beer. I want you to be honest with me about your feelings, even if you don’t know how to articulate them. I want you to know I’m an independent person, just looking for someone to share my utter humanness with. Someone to explore the world with. To have fun with. To respect. To understand.

Don’t you want that too?

Sincerely,

Me.