The Bittersweet World of Male Objectification: A Response to 20 Things I Love About Men

This comment was in response to 20 Things I Love About Men. The comment was from DavidBryon to Jean Valjean. We welcome additional comments here, especially if they are about the bigger themes of male or female objectification, or examples of why this type of list is helpful or not. 

This article is kind of bittersweet for a lot of guys I think. On the one hand there’s this sincere and glowing appreciation of men by the author and some others in comments. On the other hand, we feel as if some of the things we’re being appreciated for are the kind of things were trying not to do because they are this stereotypical masculine way of doing things. So it’s like a beautiful rose but for some, it also has its thorns.

It’s a very positive article and I hate to see negative responses, and at the same time some of the negative responses are so important to hear, too. Is it possible to somehow split this thread into two pieces so we can get the best of both worlds? I wouldn’t want to offend anyone or censor anything here, and I don’t know if it would work very well, but I just wondered if it might.

One thing not discussed here is how this relates to women receiving compliments from men and how that can be a rose with a thorn too. Alice comments above that if it was men talking about what they love in women it would be “breasts, ass and legs”. She is able to identify that as “objectification”. That sort of complaint by women is something men often don’t understand because to a man being “objectified” would be terrific. Except here we have an example where some men at least are feeling “objectified” by this list. Not as a list of gorgeous body parts, but as a list of masculine protector role traits.


For those who haven’t read the post, here is an excerpt. Read the entire post here.

…I set out to create a list of things that I love about men. Pure and simple. No talk of feminism or slut shaming or gender depictions in the media or rape culture here—just an unadulterated tribute to men, a panegyric, a compilation of reasons to be thankful for the male species, in ways both big and small, superficial and profound, personal and professional.

  1. I love being Little Spoon.
  2. I love the way a man looks into his child’s eyes and loses himself.
  3. I love that men’s various discoveries throughout the ages (scientific, mathematical, medical, etc.) have made our lives easier.
  4. I love the way a man runs into the ocean like maniac.
  5. I love the shape of a man’s big, strong back when he leans over to pick up something heavy.
  6. I love when a man knows what to say and what not to say to make a woman happy.
  7. I love when a man tells a woman how lucky he is to have found her.
  8. I love the way a man takes a woman’s delicate hand, brings it to his lips, and kisses it gently, showing how much he adores her.
photo: sarahliberty / flickr
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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Lori. et al. Go to “ranger up” search for “holiday heroes”. The guys did not hug. They did not hug the women. You wouldn’t have, either.
    Anyway, if a man hugs another man after an issue, it’s “keep the faith, bro”. There’s no cigar and no false cigar. It is not identical to a cigar, aka act of sexual intimacy or whatever.
    Several years ago, not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, I chose to start heading for Traverse City, MI, from Flushing, MI. Bad idea, that year. Some place on M115 south of Cadillac, in a white out, a guy coming our way spun out. We hit him at about 25mph. I had no electric and he was down off the road. A couple of other guys stopped, in the white out, to mark our our location with their hazard flashers so that other people wouldn’t run into us.
    Due to the number of injury issues that evening, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when everybody is on the road, no matter what, we didn’t have any help for about three hours. in that time, my wife got into one of the cars which was working and I and the other guys stood in the blizzard chatting about one thing or another. From time to time, one of them would ask if I didn’t want to be in one of the vehicles still working. Since the implication was OLD GUY, I deferred. One guy was a Marine, another an EMT, and another a nutcase driver. Good guy but I wouldn’t have sold him auto insurance. Eventually, our Traverse City folks got to us about the time the cops and the wrecker did. So I offered a couple of bucks to the EMT coffee fund. The guy wouldn’t take it. The Marine was going to be deploying, so Uncle was going to take care of him. The nutcase had left at a high rate of speed….God protect him…and all we did was shake hands.
    Still a difference. Fake cigar. Women’s coin. Don’t get it.

  2. Joanna Schroeder says:

    Hey DavidByron,

    You rock.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Not sure I’m uncomfortable with it. Curious is more like it.

    • R.A., the same has happened to me when I’ve helped women in “automotive distress”. I think sweetsue hit upon part of it.I think part of it is emotional release. As several articles in this site have said, women are taught as a survival instinct, not to trust or get close to “strange men”. so when you ‘Do them a solid” there’s not only the relief of getting them out of a jam, but also the relief of showing yourself to be a “Good Man”. One thing I’ve noticed in my lifetime, the # 1 way a woman releases emotion is by hugging.

      • Bobbt, this rings true to me. One time I was at a concert and it got very rowdy and I got knocked down. It was really terrifying. I seriously thought I was going to get trampled to death like at that Who concert. A very nice man had to physically push people back to clear space to reach me and get me up. I did hug him out of relief. Funny, I have not thought about that in so many years.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    You might. And it was not a cigar. But why is it exactly identical to a cigar?
    I was making a funny to a friend a week or so later, telling him I enjoyed the thanks because it was late spring and that attitude of gratitude was not hindered by heavy winter clothing.
    He snorted. “It’s a woman’s coin. Take all you can get. Costs them nothing.” Seemed kind of cynical to me, but in retrospect, it’s true. Unless they have a limited store of big hugs which have to be conserved….
    As I thought about it, there wasn’t any cost. I was not notably malformed, and I didn’t smell bad, as the adrenalin sweat had not begun to cure.
    All things considered, I figured they hadn’t had time to come down from their upset and so hadn’t thought about anything so it was automatic.
    A couple of years ago, my wife and I were driving through a winter storm and came upon a F350 which had rolled onto its side. There was a woman inside who wasn’t big enough to heave the upside door open. I got that taken care of and she sat in our car for three hours awaiting help. The weather was so bad that the cops and rescue folks were dealing with injury cases first. The only thing I did during that time was get out of the car and assure people who’d stopped that we needed no further help. My wife reminded me later that there are always morons who will drive full speed into the back of an ambulance with its lights flashing while pulled onto the shoulder and kill everybody. I hadn’t thought of that, but I guess it was a risk.
    Note to potential rescuers over fifty. Never miss a chance to use the restroom because you never know if you’ll be stuck helping somebody for three hours.
    Eventually, a wrecker showed up, and a cop, and she and I and the other guys stood around figuring ways and means. When we got contingencies covered, I said goodbye and headed for my car. She gave me a big hug. What…?
    Why is a cigar like a non-cigar? Is there room–as in the first case–for misunderstanding?
    What’s wrong with a handshake? If I bail out a guy, friend or not, I’m not going to get a hug. Right?
    And how come I get the schwag for tires and not more serious stuff?
    Fortunately, I’m married and these are all academic questions for me, but they do seem to have something to do with gender relations.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      It may have something to do with “coin” and it may have to do with the adrenaline of being in an intense situation and then perceiving a kind of intimacy with the person helping? That’s what I’d attribute it to, personally. When my son was in a terrible car accident, someone came to tell me (a stranger) and I wanted to hug him tightly, to cling to him because I wanted to cling to my son, who was not there. I didn’t feel sexual towards him. I didn’t know him.

      Also…let me see if I can say this…physical intimacy in our culture is mediated base on personal knowledge of each other, connection etc. Right? So I shake hands with a stranger, but will hug another actor friend. I might even wrestle play with them. I may have to kiss them passionately onstage, but wouldn’t do so offstage. I would allow a much longer hug to a grieving widower (that I didn’t know) than I would to a professor I did know. A handshake after a car crash rescue could appear cold given the intensity of connection shared in a short period of time.

      Physical language is saying something and it’s contextual.

      I will say though that I suspect any kind of physical arousal is well, arousing. Whether the arousal from the crash and rescue came from adrenaline, forced intimacy, and intensity of situation and thus was unconscious on her part or whether she felt like she was paying you in intimacy, I do not know. I’d guess the former. Though, there have been moments when people have sex after extreme situations (weddings, funerals, accidents, war) because it is a….joining during intensity.

      Dunno. I figure she felt attached to you in a way that didn’t make sense consciously and all she could do was hug you big.

    • Richard, I don’t really know. I’m sorry, but I just don’t. I usually ask people (both men and women) “Can I give you a hug?” because some people are uncomfortable with it and I don’t want to intrude on their space. I give handshakes plenty. Sometimes if I’m grateful or happy or touched, I want to give a hug, but only if it’s ok with the other person. That’s all I can think of.

    • Depends on the guy I have known guys that respond with a hug to another guy as thanks for assistance. Different personal styles – societal conditioning, nature vs nurture, however often people will hug a person who came to their rescue because the rescuer saw them and assisted them in an emotionally or other wise vulnerable position. The assistance was no strings attached, without taking advantage of the vulnerable state and ultimately made them feel safe, secure and comfortable by their actions. Hugs are a tad more personal than a handshake and for some a fitting response to a situation that impacted them on a personal level.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    You know, now that I think about it, something odd in the protector biz: I had left out one case where I knew the two women in a relationship which could be called “Congenial Colleague”. They were the only ones who actually thanked me. Big, tight hug and big mouth kiss. Nobody else said boo.
    I’ve helped with flat tires, too, over the years. From the tires I’ve scored a big plate of chocolate chip cookies, a beautiful wrought-iron lawn ornament, an elaborate seasonal bouquet, a couple of gracious notes and an offer of cash. And never less than sincere thanks.
    Go figure.
    I never figured my Congenial Colleagues were throwing an IOI supposed to lead to the nearest bedroom, nor one where they wanted to get to know me better in case it might lead to…wherever. But what they gave me was a real action, which in other cases might be considered an act of physical or sexual intimacy at some level. But they never meant that. So why did they do it? What’s the connection? When we next met at our project/program/work (details fudged to protect the reputations of the gullible and impressionable), they each thanked me again, more calmly but sincerely. End of story. Fine by me. My question is the big hug. What gives? They’d been under threat for some moments so they’d had time to be fully apprehensified, and so I expect the relief was profound. I get that. Still, what gives?

    • I don’t really know. Sounds a little like something I might do, though, so maybe it’s just how those women are, and is just a cigar?

    • Perhaps what you did the action you took doing something you did not have to do, i.e. personal investment that took time, energy and effort created a very real very human connection. In that moment with the person – and so the response i.e. the hug was the very real very human response. One human to another saying thank you. Uncut, unplanned – just a gut reaction.

  6. Ditto RA , I love being # 1 through 8, I’ll never stop being commited to my daughters . 2of them haveFound”Good Men” . I hopethe other does soon.

  7. Richard Aubrey says:

    If you’re talking about me, forget it. It’s what ordinary guys do. Problem is, they don’t usually talk about it.
    It’s part of the day/year for an ordinary guy.
    This ordinary guy is semi-retired so you hear about it. Most of us don’t have time to spend on blogs.
    If you could get your SO to figure it was worth his while to talk about ordinary things as if they are extraordinary, you’d hear the same stuff, corrected for the fact that he’s probably half my age and so has had only half the opportunities.
    Unless, of course, he’s auditioning for New Man status. In which case he wouldn’t be caught dead doing this stuff, or at least admitting it.

  8. Richard Aubrey says:

    Wouild I? I once enlisted, which has been compared to writing a check payable to the USA for any amount up to and including my life. But then, so have millions and nobody thinks anything of it, except them, of course. But they don’t talk to civilians about certain things.
    I have laid hands on guys assaulting women twice without knowing how it would turn out, although I had a pretty good idea. I’m big and I’ve put in my time in various training. Turned out they wouldn’t fight me. I’ve approached difficult situations involving others under threat from potential assailants half a dozen times and the situation has fizzled, although whether it was my approach is not knowable. But the implication was that I might have to fight. Didn’t.
    I spent two summers in Mississippi doing civil rights/education stuff. Turned out that nobody got killed doing that those years or thereafter but, as we agreed at a reunion, we didn’t know at the time that the most recent bad thing was the last bad thing.
    I helped out at an accident which was pretty messy. The EMT guys said I saved the guy’s life and the state trooper said I should get a test. Tests turned out negative for various diseases.
    So I’ve offered, but I’ve been lucky.
    Of the folks whom I helped in matters of threat, one was a classmate of the nod-and-smile-without-stopping when met on campus relationship. The others were strangers.
    I keep my eyes open. Recently, in a park during the summer, I saw four young men walking in a loose group yelling studly stuff at each other. From recalling a distant youth, I figured this was a kind of positive, self-reinforcing feedback of studliness which might lead to them thinking themselves ten feet tall and bulletproof and becoming an annoyance to the honest burghers of our little town. So I changed my course to walk between them. Sort of wet-blanketed the harmonics and, as i walked away, the noise was considerably reduced. Helps to be able to recall at least some of one’s youth. But I was prepared for one or two of them to object to having to get out of my way.
    I am not a hero. This is the sort of thing ordinary guys do as the situation presents itself .
    Anyway, you asked.

  9. Paul Elam has responded to Neelys list.

    He cuts deep into the objectification and narcissism of her list.

    h tt p://

  10. Richard Aubrey says:

    It’s one thing to protect loved ones, although some of the objections above seem as if they’d take a miss on that, too.
    How about protecting others? Strangers?

    • That’s a really interesting question. A lot of things are going through my mind. I know I would always protect a child that I saw in danger or getting hurt, regardless of the risk to me. I think maternal/parental instinct would make me do that. I like to think I’d do the same for strange adults, but if I’m being honest, I wonder if fear would take over? Or, if it would go through my mind that I did not want to leave my daughter without a mother…that kind of thing. And somehow that thought might not come to me if it were a child being hurt…hmmmm… I know I’d do a lot to protect anyone I saw in danger, but I don’t know if I’d give my life. Would you? How would you answer your own question? It’s really fascinating. I’d love to hear from others on this. I’ll need to think more about it!

  11. Serena Lorain says:

    I personally don’t find issue with wanting men (or any partner in a romantic relationship–regardless of gender or orientation) to be a protector–the issue I saw was that the examples of the “protector” role were very stereotypical and gender normative. While they were very nice characteristics, it felt too strongly to me of what women have been socialized to “hope for” in men; it was a little too “prince charming” for me. And I guess I just don’t think its fair to expect or hope that we can have only the “good” qualities in this man box.

    I believe that we need to protect the ones we love, but what that looks like in real life isn’t what it looks like in fairytales or romantic comedy. We need protection, strength and support from each other in so many different ways.

    I really, really do appreciate the author’s intention–I know if I were to write my own list, it would probably be scrutinized as well, so I do appreciate and acknowledge that Neely’s got guts. But I still can’t deny that it just left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth…

  12. I think that the OP of the 20 thing’s heart was in the right place … but most of it was about male utility, a list things that she loves that men do that she profits from in one way or another.

    • “…most of it was about male utility…”

      Totally. That was my reaction in a nutshell. What I reacted to most strongly wasn’t the physical objectification, like having a muscular back or being bigger than his partner, so much as the implication that a man is a social instrument – he’s good when he makes women feel good , based on what he says or does.

      I’ve heard from several women who say that they appreciate a man who doesn’t sugar-coat things, who knows his own mind, and who [quoting one woman] “doesn’t try to blow smoke up my ass.” These women appreciated many men’s propensity to be direct and not try to play guessing games about how to do what women want. They appreciated men’s sincerity and authenticity even when it was not what they wanted to hear. There are also women who appreciate male partners who happened challenge them just by being authentic, not just partners who simply conform to what they want and expect.

  13. Richard Aubrey says:

    Suggestion to guys who don’t like the protector role: Most women expect it. If you want to be honest, and who’s more honest than a Good Man ™, tell the woman up front so she won’t discover in a tough spot that she’s on her own. See how that goes.
    Women, considering the number of guys hereabouts who find the protector role all primitively hearty, vigorous and patriarchal, not to mention inconvenient when necessary, ought to ask every guy with whom they may even have a cup of coffee whether, if the stuff hits the fan, the guy is headed for the hills. Seems like a prudent thing to know about the guy in question, and the sooner the better.

    • Shouldn’t people who love each other try to protect each other, regardless of gender? I would give my life for my daughter or my husband. In all seriousness, it is easier for me to have the pain than watch someone else have it. I’d literally take a bullet so that my husband or daughter did not have to, and I think it would be an instinct. I know my husband feels that way about me.

      There are so many examples I could give of protecting. I suppose physical size comes into play sometimes. Whoever is bigger (usually but not always the man) might be better able to, say, fend off a mugger. Some men or women might be socialized to protect or be protected. But for me–and I’m speaking personally, so please do not label me as representing any group–there are all kinds of protection that are not gender-based. Lots of shades of gray–not all black and white.

      I don’t think it’s mostly about gender–I think it’s mostly about love.

      • Lori wrote”Shouldn’t people who love each other try to protect each other, regardless of gender? I would give my life for my daughter or my husband. In all seriousness, it is easier for me to have the pain than watch someone else have it. I’d literally take a bullet so that my husband or daughter did not have to, and I think it would be an instinct. I know my husband feels that way about me.”

        Lori awesome comment-you nailed it. Yes as a man I remember an old girlfriend that I lived with. Some neighbor a big dude was complaining about something and he wanted to start a fight with me. Well my girlfriend came outside and went off on him. She started screaming at him-he backed off. The point is women can protect men and men can protect women. The onus should not just be on the man. I remember speaking to a woman who told me she would kick the crap out of anyone that hurt her man.
        I also love it when a woman is a “rock” in a crisis and allows me to cry and fall apart at times. I love it when a woman is a “rock” in a crisis, I love when I can cry in front f a woman and show fear and weakness and she still loves me and accepts me as her man. I am saying this as a guy who is considered masculine. It’s all good.

  14. CajunMick says:

    Being a protector isn’t the only thing I am. I am an artist, I work with the developmentally disabled, a Buddhist, and a father who loves his son fiercely, amongst other things.
    I have been a soldier, but I’ve also been an Americorp volunteer who has worked on illiteracy and hunger issues.
    The way I am a protector isn’t merely matter of physical prowess. Sometimes, I am a protector because I have given shelter to the abused. Sometimes, I am a protector because I have been a good listener.
    But…would I die to protect women and children? Believe it.
    Again, the role of protector is an important aspect of how I identify myself as a man. I do not believe that makes me reactionary or a chauvanist. (Maybe, just a fool or romantic.)
    Being a protector, if not used as an excuse to smother or control, is a very good thing.
    Nothing insidious about it.

    • I like this comment a lot. You sound like a great guy. We are all many things. None of us can be reduced to a one-word description. Sounds like you’ve had a really interesting and diverse life, and this may sound weird, but by the way you write, you sound like a Buddhist, and I mean that in a good way!

      • CajunMick says:

        Thank you, Lori, for your kind words.
        Re. careers: Employment has been just another way to explore the world. I’ve tended to work jobs that are good for the soul, bad for the wallet. And sometimes, in the dating sphere, this has bitten me in the butt. Some women have rejected dating me b/c I don’t have a lot of money/don’t care to strive for wealth- just maintenance. I’ve been told this to my face. It was painful to hear but it’s ok. I’m good with those career choices and better to hear up front rather find out after an emotional investment has been made.
        I’m curious, how does a Buddhist sound. I ask the question in all sincerity.

        • You sound calm and like you have clarity of vision. You wrote “Be well” in a comment above, ending on a positive note. Your jobs reflect non-monetary values, which are often much higher values. You’ve been a soldier *and* an artist. Stuff like that.

          I do know a lot of women like you describe. I actually have recently done the opposite, choosing a husband who does not make a lot of money, but gives me much more important things. I met my first husband in college when we were 18 and did not even know what we wanted to do in life. I became an educational psychologist, and my husband became a lawyer. 25 years later he left me and our teenager daughter to be with a 23-year-old. I licked my wounds for a few years and eventually met the man who is my new husband. He is not into material things and is instead someone who really cares about the world and other people. He does a lot around climate activism and habitat restoration. I don’t have much money now but I’m way happier. If you are not married yet, I hope you find a woman who will love you for who you are, not what you can give her financially.

          • CajunMick says:

            Thanks again for your post, Lori.
            I’m sorry for your failed first marriage,but it sounds like everything has worked out in the second. I’m glad for you.
            To be brief, when I look at the conflict between the sexes, all I see is the suffering. Not who is right or who is wrong, Each gender, each group, each individual suffers in their own particular way. Self-righteousness, on either side of the chasm, is useless. It does not promote healing. The best thing to do is to offer bodhicitta (compassion) to all sufferers. Even those who have/do hurt you.
            To many, this may sound, well, stupid or foolishly idealistic at best.
            It’s not. I have been angry myself. Very angry. Abused as a child, a terrible marriage, losing a fiance to an automobile accident, and all the bumps, bruises and broken bones that few of us get through this life without experiencing. I was carrying a terrible anger. Skipping anything that could sound like proslytyzing, I found a way to deal with it.
            So, no, it’s not pie-in-the-sky idealism. When those in conflict really want healing and peace more than they want anger and vengence, they will find their own paths.
            I do wish everyone well.

            • “When those in conflict really want healing and peace more than they want anger and vengence, they will find their own paths.”

              Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

              Your story is one of the most inspiring I have read on GMP, and your world view is even more inspiring. Would you be interested in writing something for us? If so, please contact Lisa Hickey at What you have to say is very, very important.

            • Look, you made comment of the day! Please go weigh in!

    • DavidByron says:

      You misunderstood me.
      But if you don’t see there’s any problem with being expected to take on that role I guess what I said wont make any sense to you.

      • CajunMick says:

        David, I understand your reservations.
        If I understand you correctly (and I may not), you find have having to act on ANY role being foisted on you is repugnant.
        But you are right about one thing. I’m ok with the protector role. By nature and by nuture, it is a part of who I am.
        Hope you are well.

  15. CajunMick says:

    I like being a protector.
    It’s an important aspect in how I identify as a man.
    I don’t think there’s one thing wrong with that.
    Be well.

    • DavidByron says:

      Right. That’s exactly what makes it all so insidious.
      In the same way don’t many women love being beautiful and pretty?

  16. Turn off the left side of your brain and let the compliments sink into the right side…

  17. It’s relatively easy to pick apart constraints – call them boxes, binaries, polar thinking etc

    That’s what lists do for a living – make boxes. One of the truths is that many people both enjoy and thrive within their box, most of the time, and the only ask that seems constant is that these boxes have doors to allow for easy in/out privileges.

    No box is also a box. If everything is possible, then by definition, some things must be impossible. No constraints mean a lack of human free will, even though the idea seems counterintuitive.

    I like the way men make a competition out of just about anything. They will make rules, bring food, provide ranking systems and scores, and forget about it all once it is done and over. But I can also understand how they can get tired of it all from time to time – but still enjoy doing it immensely.

  18. Is it privilege being seen as the protector? No, because of the culture that goes with it. First to step up and fight, your life is less valuable than others and you must protect the women and children. This is a view negative to both men and women.

    Is it a privilege to be seen as strong? No, not when it also comes with a culture that expects you to be so strong you are invulnerable, and failing that you fail as a man. To shed a tear, show emotion, show any form of weakness is highly discouraged.

    Is it a privilege to be seen as Heroic? Depends on if you see the “cowards” as a negative and setup a society to shame them.

    Objectifying men as the protector, the strong and heroic type has both positives and negatives, responsibility and harm do occur from those ideas. The physically weak guy or girl, who opens up emotionally and shows “weakness” isn’t weak, the people who don’t sign up to sacrifice themselves aren’t cowards but merely they’re humans. It’s nice to have heroes, self-sacrifice, etc but there’s nothing wrong with self-preservation, being smaller physically, being more open with your emotions. Are these the kind of men who are loved too?

    That said we can love any quality we want in another, just be sure that we don’t assume those who don’t live up to those qualities are somehow “failures”. Humans are diverse!

    • DavidByron says:

      Another aspect here is that as women go into the traditional male sphere and take on some of those protector roles, it does NOT have the effect of making it easier for men. It actually puts more pressure on men so that they have to redouble their own constraints and be even more “male” to attract women.

      The most obvious example is earning power of course. Men are expected to earn more money than women to fulfill their protector role. But as women are now 60% more likely to go to college than men they are earning more than men are. It becomes increasingly difficult for them to fulfill their gender role at the same time as more pressure is put on them to do so. This leads to — well the black community is the best example of this because its been happening there longer. A lot of broken families and single mothers and the feeling that there’s no good men.

      This is a powerful sense in which feminism has been a zero sum gain and every advance women made (to have the option of taking on protector roles) was at the expense further restrictions on men.

      • Julie Gillis says:

        Is it at all possible that the roles aren’t set in stone? Why do you have to be the protector? Why can’t I protect my children? Why do I have to have you earn more money than me? These aren’t snark questions, DB. I really, really don’t understand why men have to be a full on protector in order to attract women, I don’t. I don’t recognize that.

        I’ve never expected men to “protect” me by earning more money. Anyway, I’d love to hear more if you’d offer it. Asking in good faith. I believe you, but I simply don’t recognize that those roles have to be set in stone.

  19. I thought the original post was kind of nice. Why adopt the flawed bitterness of the American feminist perspective in responding to it?

    Mark Twain said it best:

    “There is nothing you can say in answer to a compliment. I have been complimented myself a great many times, and they always embarrass me –I always feel that they have not said enough”. 🙂

  20. I thought about this issue some more today. Here’s my writeup:

    • DavidByron says:

      You say that you’d like to be appreciated as a man on,

      Truth be told, though, the compliment I was really hoping for was “Thanks for respecting our need for safe spaces and trying to dismantle your own privilege”

      Isn’t that just another protector-role trait? Isn’t that just another way that men can be the white knight?

      • Not exactly. I hesitated on writing that, but in the end it came down to the fact that my previous article was about my own privilege and it’s surprisingly hard just sitting down and trying to write out enough examples of your own privilege to fill a blog post. At least not without consulting other perspectives, that’s what made it challenging.

        As far as that being an example of a protector, I would be a pretty lousy protector. I wouldn’t consider myself much of a white knight if I said “Thank me for trying to not demean you”. If I wanted to go the protector route, I’d probably ask for a compliment for having defused arguments by bigots.

  21. Well she wrote “sewer inspector” as her final love item.

    That’s just begging for criticism.

    I love a women who inspects my sewers instead of asking me to do it?

    • DavidByron says:

      I read that as an appreciation for the way men will take on really shitty jobs without complaint sometimes. I read it as recognition. But it is another protector role again.

  22. This comment (on the original post) actually sparked a convo between me and my boyfriend (since I wasn’t raised as a boy) about how deep the man-as-protector objectification runs emotionally in his experience. So thank you for that: I love finding new ways to open up discussion and connect with my favorite man, and your comment helped. 🙂

  23. DavidByron says:

    Honestly I am not sure what sort of qualities or reasons I *would* like to be appreciated for. It’s a tough topic.

  24. @Lori
    I really want to agree with you, but you sound just like an MRA trying to explain to women that objectification isn’t that bad. This really is a matter of perspective. I find the idea of her writing the list to be charming, but the reality is that the list comes off offensively to men who are trying to be more than “a strong back with chivalrous intentions”.

    The comments definitely were overly negative, though. Despite being offended, I am happy that someone was at least trying to get through the negativity that’s been all over GMP lately.

    • as an infrequent reader/commenter, i thought the reason for doing the article was of good intentions and the list (like most on the internet) was subject to analysis.

      but i was shocked when i was called a man-hater with cats for dropping my two cents. the bitterness runs deep with many. application of stereotypes can be hurtful, but they also have their place. when used right.

      and at the end of the day, we all benefit if men and women can learn to appreciate and communicate better. this post how far apart we are (especially electronically).

      • “we all benefit if men and women can learn to appreciate and communicate better”
        Amen. I feel like I probably should’ve chilled on my statements a little more, but hopefully people in the future can try to be a little more respectful. I try to think of comments like that (“man-hater with cats”) as simply being evidence of an impassioned soul, and try to contemplate why they are so frustrated. Sometimes it changes my viewpoint, sometimes I think they’re just idiots, your mileage may vary.

    • DavidByron says:

      Well maybe objectification really isn’t that bad?
      I can see it both ways really.

      • Objectification doesn’t seem too bad until you consider the complaints with the compliments. By the way, that was slightly challenging to type. Anyways, the problem is that it’s demeaning to those of us who aren’t trying to be the protector-male that you’re concerned about. The point is to try to get out of the acting like a man box (thanks glickman for the term) and find something for ourselves. Then poor Neely posts about a bunch of in-the-box traits as labels them as compliments for us.

  25. When I read the original post, there were things I liked about the list and things I didn’t. But I mostly just felt that it was not appropriate to be critical or even to parse the list, because honestly, it was written with such good intentions, and given the tension on this site lately, I appreciated THAT more than anything. And I know what it’s like to do my best at something and put it out there for public scrutiny and have people tear into it. In this case, I felt the list was basically fine because it is the personal opinion of the author who really enjoys men and is trying to celebrate them. She deserves credit, not criticism, IMO.

    • But I mostly just felt that it was not appropriate to be critical or even to parse the list, because honestly, it was written with such good intentions, and given the tension on this site lately, I appreciated THAT more than anything
      cosigned. it was clearly written in the spirit of fellowship

    • Lori – I agree in many ways with you.

      When I first looked at the Piece “20 Things I Love About Men.” I had very mixed feelings. I read over it and over it, considering it from many angles. I had to consider it on it’s own merits, the merit of the writer, the merit of the subject and also the merit of where it was published.

      I was Irked that it was so Hetero-normative, but then again if you are writing a first person piece as a Heterosexual, what would you expect? It even invited all readers male and female to add to the list and express their views and experiences. Some will see one thing and others another.

      It would seem that some believe that the only Good Trait A Good Man has and should display is being a critic! It would seem they need GMP more than anyone else! P^)

      • MediaHound, what I keyed in on was that it was a first-person piece, and could not help but be a reflection to some degree of what the author, herself, loves about men. That is what she was writing–not some imaginary collection of what all women love about men. So I just took it as intended.

        “It would seem that some believe that the only Good Trait A Good Man has and should display is being a critic! It would seem they need GMP more than anyone else! P^)”

        You already know what I think of this. 🙂

        • Lori – wish you would write more – you are a very rare voice here.

          “It was a lone voice in the middle of the ocean, but it was heard at great depth and great distance.”
          Gabriel García Márquez

          You are are one of the few people who write about children, and what they mean for the future!

          You are in many ways a lone Voice as to what good men can be in the future, and the concerns that exist about that becoming!

          • Oh gosh, you have to go quoting from “Love in the Time of Cholera,” by one of my favorite authors??

            Thank you for such kind words. I’m going to take them at face value. I’m afraid I’ve become a tad cynical that people want me to write here so they have another female writer to bash. I do want to write more about kids. Here, I’d focus on boys more. I write about girls a lot elsewhere.

            Right now I’m busy packing–I move at the end of the month. I’ve given myself until then to think some more. I’m reading and commenting here and there, but I’m pretty busy between work and the upcoming move, and have less patience than usual because moving is stressful. I don’t have much time to write until the move is over. I’m doing some parenting and special ed pieces on other sites at the moment and enjoying a less gender-charged writing environment as I search for my thicker skin, or as you suggested, my middle-of-the-road skin…not too thick or too thin.

            You’re an interesting guy. Always full of surprises. Very well-read and literate. Funny, which is badly needed here! I do appreciate this comment and the sincerity behind it. You’ll probably hear more from me eventually. I do feel the pull to write here again, but it’s hard. My other venues are less aggravating…but also less rewarding! Hmmmm… 🙂

            • Lori

              I meant every word – especially about the need for young voices and the men to be! I would love to hear “real” voices, even if someone else has to write for them.

              .. and I know all about writing fatigue and many other net related diseases. I have learned over the years to take deep breaths and when necessary mediate.

              Have you ever tried “Fukitol” – a great medication which brings instant peace and wears of quickly with minimal side effects – so you can get back to work when your fingers itch!

              Also works wonder with the stress of moving house! P^)

              • I’ll have to try that medicine!

                • While I’m not well educated nor that well read, I also would like to see you continue writing articles for this site. You write from expierence and from your heart (Which is probably why the haters hurt you so much). Either way, you’re no idealouge with an agenda to push. Don’t let a couple of “Trolls” chase you away. If it ‘ll make you feel better, M.H. and I willwrite something nice to every article you post. (What about it M.H.? )

                  • Thank you so much. Like I said, I might write more about boys. People seem to want more of that. I’ve got this silly piece on online dating that I wrote a long time ago that may come out in a series soon–not sure. I don’t have any free time to write new material at the moment. But can I run something by you, given that you’re being supportive? I have this burning desire to write a piece about how I feel as a woman about the fact that men fight and die in wars, and that this is not expected of women. I had this sort of weird experience recently that gave me the idea, and as sometimes happens for me, the whole article just started knitting itself together in my mind, and it feels like it needs to come out. But I worry it would be like playing with fire, and I’d be writing on a topic that would lend itself to the usual flame war and feminist bashing in the comment thread, which would be the opposite of my intentions and desires with the piece. I want to stay away from writing about polarizing things and things that are going to get me lots of hate comments! I’ve proven myself incapable of dealing with that. So what do yo think would happen if I took on this topic? Please be honest and straightforward with me.

                    • If you don’t mind my input, if you have a goal then say it in the piece. If you feel this article is important, write it. Haters gonna hate, that’s just the nature of individual thought…some will love you, some will hate you.

                      If the article mentions sexism, yes it’ll start a flame war, the nature of one gender fighting and dying in war is always going to have people annoyed with it but the important thing I think men need to hear is women who support women going to war as well, pulling their weight n all that. Dismantle the view of women thinking of men as sacrificial and that the woman’s life is worth saving, etc.

                      I can add input in a comment when it’s done, I know a bit of why the strength barrier exists, eg it has to do with carrying heavy weights and the bone structure of women I believe the military study found. But there are more military roles than humping 60-80kg of gear.

                      Show appreciation for the fallen as that is always a help, privilege is probably a bombshell unless you will suggest it’s a female privilege but that’s a massive debate in itself. It’s a topic that usually gets dragged into how sexist it is against women whilst brushing over the sexism it has of men.

                      Those are just some of the big debate topics I see on gender and war, but to be quite honest…write whatever YOU want to write, do not let others silence you because the hate from them isn’t worth you losing sleep over, we can’t be loved by everyone and at least the haters have read what you have to say and that can help. Just remember for all the haters, many of us actually like reading your work even if we disagree on some parts, what you have to say is important and I am extremely curious to know what women think of war and male sacrifice for instance.

                      If you can get haters, it means you’re not ignored and someone has read your work. If you can get supporters and haters, it means you have something important to say and you have supporters :).

            • From what I’ve seen of stuff written on children, most seems to be about girls, and most of the stuff on boys was about disciplinary issues. Some good, positive and uplifting content for the boys is needed. Maybe an article on how some teachers will call out the boys bad behaviour more than the girls, possibly because boys bad behaviour is more visible? That’s the one theme I remember from my school was the boys were called out more but it seemed mostly negative, disruptions in class, etc. My experience had the girls called upon for answering questions more and they seemed more willing to learn.

              But I guess growing up in a class/grade that the boys were mostly hands on type people (A lot became tradies), the girls were more the academic, it did appear there was a major clash in learning styles. I do wonder if that changes depending on the area, I grew up in a rural area with a lot of tradies and hands-on type jobs and I guess that influenced the males more. Come to think of it I think more of the girls went to uni…

              • Thanks. I’ll give it some thought. Much I could say on these topics…

                • Would love to hear it, I’m quite worried about the current education system here in Australia, not sure if it’s similar to America but there are issues with both of the genders I worry about. Education is a neccessity, I learned more last year in safety with the right treatment for ADHD and freedom from bullying for instance, access to google and self learning than I did in my final years of Highschool. That’s sad in the respect of schooling.

                  A safe child without the struggles of bias, who is given a chance I think will blossom nicely but as you say there are soooo many issues to deal with. Thank-you for writing about them! By the time I have children I hope education has become a much more productive environment for intelligence and creativity, empathy, and other character attributes that aren’t given the respect they deserve.

      • “I was Irked that it was so Hetero-normative, but then again if you are writing a first person piece as a Heterosexual, what would you expect?”

        Oh yes, it definitely reads more like a list of why she loves being heterosexual than why she loves men. But then I had to realize that most people wouldn’t even be able to parse the difference (read: straight privilege – yeah, I went there). If I were to write a list about things I appreciate in people that I see more in men verses the other genders, it’s that men seem to have more confidence. They also tend to be more egocentric in general, but since I’d only date a single man and not the entire group (as though men were a monolith anyway), I can chose one with a balance that suits my personality. But as a pansexual person, what can I say about my love of men that I couldn’t say about my love of anyone else? I can’t. My love is my love, and it simply refuses to operate on that plane.

        I give that background information to explain that when I take her up on her offer and join in the celebration of things I love about men, I cannot express it in any way contradictory to my nature, which is to say I must write a list of what I love about people (of all genders). Unfortunately, writing such a list as true to myself makes it look like I’m in opposition to her list, and I’m not against her self-expressions of love, or anyone’s for that matter.

        tl;dr: heterosexuality is confusing

        • “But then I had to realize that most people wouldn’t even be able to parse the difference (read: straight privilege – yeah, I went there).”

          Female Heterosexual Privilege – should we even go there? P^)

          Able bodied Privilege gets even better! “What do you mean you can’t get in here, it’s only six steps – see I can do it” – said to a wheelchair user in my presence only last month! P^)

          “I love a man when he plays mute and won’t talk, when the cashier ignores me in my wheelchair with my pocket book in my hand ready to pay, so I can wind the cashier up by telling them how he lost his tongue and I’m really his carer.” – love that lady so much, and she is a great friend. Her husband then routinely says “Cheerio” to the cashier after the transactions is over and the embarrassment played out!

          Parsing does take some doing at times – it’s more often like having to run a set of Virtual Machines with different operating systems side by side – with hand built code to allow text from from to be parsed and operate on another. First Person Virtual Machines are fine – but the do need to be subordinate to the Master Operating System and Programming .

          “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
          Atticus Finch – To Kill A Mocking Bird

  26. I think what is important to remember is that lists of this nature are personal things. This is why the author wanted us to create our own items to add to it. This list isn’t saying these are things all men should be, need to be, etc. It’s a list of what the participants love about men and that is why the range of items was/is so vast. It is important to note that some of the items objectify men- this is a discourse that should always be explored for all genders, orientations, groups of people- however many of the negative comments were unnecessarily vulgar.

  27. My first thought reading this list was bristling at the objectification of it. When I first read it, I felt like a donkey being complimented by it’s owner. I thought to myself, “I’ll show them! I’ll write a list of things I like about women that would be more appropriate!”

    Fate intervened, however. As it turns out, trying to write a list of traits that really describes how I feel about women in general tends to boil down to aesthetic objectification, really very similar to the list Neely wrote. Further consideration reveals to me that that’s ultimately the fate of any of these kinds of lists, as a list specifically about one gender or the other will inevitably focus on the differences between those genders. The things that I love the most about women are, in general, also the things I love most about men. So I guess I don’t find the list very helpful, but the conclusions that the list led to were certainly interesting to contemplate.


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