This was a comment from Joanna Schroeder, in response to Neely Steinberg’s post “20 Things I Love About Men.” The comment was in reply to This Man.
Let’s say with my ideology and beliefs, I was actually a contributing editor and writer for the fictional Good Gals Project (I think there may be a Good Women Project, that’s why I say ‘gals”) with the same publishing guidelines. I would think critically about the piece.
Let’s look at Neely’s article point by point and reverse them. I’ve wanted to do this for a while, and I know a lot of people did it in comments, but I needed to see my own take. Let’s talk about it at the bottom.*
1. I love it when a woman puts her arm around my waist, as if to say, “I’m here for you”
2. I love it when a woman pushes the hair out of my eyes (I would say tears but I guess I’m trying to stereotype)
3. I love how millions of women care for children every day and then support men with their work when they come home.
4. I love how women contribute hundreds of millions of hours of volunteer time every year to charities in the U.S. and across the globe.
5. I love it when a woman makes me feel like a man.
6. I love when a woman waits for me to join the table before starting dinner.
7. I love how a woman would go to the ends of the earth for a man she loves.
8. I love how a woman will rub her partner’s feet at the end of the day even though she’s had a hard day at work too.
9. I love the women who so bravely and willingly risk their careers (and even lives in many parts of the world, even here) in order to give birth to a child.**
10. I love being Big Spoon.
11. I love the way a woman looks into her child’s eyes and loses herself.
12. I love that women’s various discoveries throughout the ages (scientific, mathematical, medical, etc.) have made our lives easier.
13. I love the way a woman runs steps demurely into the ocean.
15. I love when a woman knows what to say and what not to say to make a man happy.
16. I love when a woman tells a man how lucky she is to have found him.
17. I love the way a woman takes a man’s strong hand, brings it to her lips, and kisses it gently, showing how much she adores him.
18, I love when a woman chows down on her food when she really enjoys it, as if it were a precious gift.
19. I love how a woman in love thinks of her partner’s sexual pleasure before her own.
20. I love a woman who will do the jobs that most of us would never consider. Day Care Provider, anyone?
*So. Yes, of course most of this is not so great. But a lot of it is good. And upon further examination of it, I think the biggest problem is that it isn’t written about one man in particular, but rather categorizing “all men” into one. I think she’s learned that from this experience. It is one of the things I addressed in MY article (which is what we’re actually supposed to be talking about here, right?)… That no matter what, it all starts with “me”… Narratives, by nature, do.
**And I must say that a few of these were nearly impossible to find an equivalent to, military service for instance. The best I could come up with is childbirth but I FULLY recognize that this is not the same at all. It’s just not. If you comment below that I’m implying it is, I will know that you didn’t fully read my comment and it will be deleted.
Also, and this is something weird and complicated and full of shades of grey: There is a sort of sense of honor in chivalry. There is a double-standard to this. For instance, in my house growing up, kids and mom didn’t eat until dad was at the table. If mom wasn’t at the table yet, it was okay. That’s a woman’s chivalry, it showed respect for the fact that he was the “head of the household”… In our family , mom and dad both need to be at the table if it’s formal dinner.
So is there honor in mom waiting for dad? Yeah, there is. Is it dishonor that he didn’t give the same to her? Sure. And that’s why I’m not offended when a dude leaves the elevator before me. I don’t feel I have any right to exit before him. I smile and say “thank you” when someone does let me go in front of them, but that doesn’t make the guy a better man.
So I think in the long run, we should be very appreciative of Neely’s humbleness after having had this experience (she could have flipped out and gone completely defensive and jerkish about it, but she did NOT, she was very gracious). And we need to appreciate that we can all learn a little something from that about gender roles and why those prescribed scenarios aren’t that great for any of us.
Neely, I hope you know that I went into this with the intention to honor you as a person and give props to the work you’ve done after this piece. xo
photo: ideaablaze / flickr