Iraq War veteran Michael Anthony believes women should challenge men, not coddle them.
Across the web, there seems to be a growing trend of people claiming that women need to take it easier on men, that they should give us a break. And although I believe it shows great initiative, I believe it couldn’t be further from the truth. From what I’ve seen and know of men, we don’t need women to give us a break or take it easy on us. We need the exact opposite. We need women to call us out. To push us to be better. Greater. Demand us to be something more.
I’m reminded of an old story of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The story goes as such: One day young President Clinton and the First Lady were riding a limousine through Hillary’s hometown of Chicago. The driver of their car stopped for gas and the First Lady realized that the gas station was owned by an old boyfriend. Hearing this, the President responded, “Just imagine where you’d be if you’d stayed with that guy,” and without blinking an eye the First Lady replied back, “If I was with him … I’d still be married to the President of the United States.”
Granted, I understand that problems between the sexes can’t be ground into a brief quip or anecdote. But here’s my question. Do you think Hillary ever took it easy on Bill? Well … okay, maybe in a certain sticky situation, or two. But you get the point. Men and women can only become great if we’ve got people pushing us, not taking it easy on us. If a man isn’t communicating well, or is having problems in a relationship, then don’t just toss it up to a problem of the sexes. Tell him instead that you demand and expect more from him. That you know he’s capable of more, of better. We’re all different, yeah, but that doesn’t mean we should accept without question second-rate behavior.
Neither my girlfriend nor I are perfect, but we are constantly demanding more from each other. Not because we’re anal-retentive nut-jobs, but because we believe, and know, that the other is always capable of more. If I’m talking out of my ass (as I do from time to time) my girlfriend doesn’t count-to-ten, and then listen to my point of view. Instead, she’ll call me out. If I’m saying something stupid, or illogical, she might respond with, “You’re better than that reaction, Michael.” It’s not a stick or stab at my masculinity, it’s a challenge. She doesn’t look at me as a man who’s been wounded by society, she looks at me as a man who needs to be challenged. Men don’t need women that understand us—because we’re often talking out of our asses—we need women that challenge us, that demand more from us than we ever thought possible.
In the military there are several levels of training. You’ve got basic training, which all soldiers go through. The training is tough, but there’s only a fallout rate of about twenty percent. The level after basic training might be something like Ranger school, or Marine recon depending on your branch of service. Ranger training and Marine recon both have fallout rates of about eighty-five percent. Next up would be special ops like army Special Forces or Navy SEAL’s. These guys have a fallout rate of ninety-five percent or higher—and a lot of those are guys who’ve already been through Ranger training and Marine recon. These are the top level, badass, catch Bin Laden, type guys.
The reason I bring this up is because the military is all about challenge. The military challenges us to be better men, better soldiers. They challenge us to live on four hours of sleep a night, with only eight hundred calories a day. They challenge us because we need to be challenged. The current U.S. military is the greatest and most powerful military the world has ever known. This isn’t because we take it easy on one another, it’s because we demand more from one another. We know what we’re capable of and we push each other to reach those capabilities. Being in the military isn’t easy and that’s the point!
What do you think a Navy SEAL-level relationship would look like? What would it take to get to that point in a relationship?
The articles across the web on this issue seem to speak to something deeper than just a surface-level ‘battle of the sexes.’ They go into the culture of masculinity and the society of the sexes. And although I believe there are valid points to the argument that we should take it easy on one another, I disagree with the notion that it should be the norm. Instead, I believe that men simply aren’t challenged enough in healthy ways.
Women have two options when it comes to men, they can either be like Hillary (forget politics for a moment, and just use it as a cute anecdote) and challenge their man, or they can take it easy and pump gas alongside them. Demand more for us, challenge us, and you just might be surprised with what we deliver!
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