I won’t hate men, the way you want me to.
I have coached men who have broken down in tears from the way they were ridiculed by women.
I have coached men who have remembered abuse for the first time.
I have coached men who have had such horrific childhoods that they find solace in incel Internet forums.
I have coached Christian, Trump-loving men who feel lost and sad that their wives don’t want to touch them any longer.
I have coached liberal men who have been told their anger is wrong and dangerous for so long that they have no ability to set boundaries in their lives.
I have watched my partner sob about his suicide attempt and the bullying he experienced as a child. I have held space for this while he struggles to allow himself to go into it fully because he is watching me to make sure his tears aren’t dissolving my attraction for him by the second.
I have read threads online from the MGTOW community – “men going their own way.” Men who have resolved to give up women entirely forever. There are lots of sexist memes and comments, sure… and there is also a surprising amount of self-awareness. Men who remember being told they could not cry as children. Men who have been told by women that they want them to be emotional, and then when they’ve opened they were told that’s not masculine and it’s disgusting. Men who were not cared for in childhood. Men who have lost their children in divorces. Men whose hearts have been so broken by the women they’ve adored that they want to turn off to all love for the rest of their lives.
Women are an oppressed group in society, yes. Women have been treated as second-class citizens and not given voting rights or rights to our own bodies. The anger we feel around this is valid and necessary.
But it’s not like men are thriving in the meantime.
Men have more money, more successful careers. Do you think that’s where happiness lies? In the money and political rights and success?
Men are abusers. Men are mass shooters. Men are rapists. Men are the faces of the patriarchy.
And men are in pain.
Men are taught that they are not allowed to feel.
Being told that you are not allowed to feel makes life fucking difficult. It becomes very hard to process pain, to process grief, anger, sadness. It becomes very hard to open to love.
Men often feel like they are just a wallet, that women don’t really love them, they just love their money and their status. They learn that their success and career directly equates to their worth. They meet women who claim they want men who feel but who actually can’t hold space for their feelings. Men can’t win, because in the eyes of women, they’re often either strong, powerful, “toxic” men without emotions, or they’re bumbling, stupid husbands who can’t pick up after themselves or do anything right.
Women are a part of this. Women have so much unprocessed anger around men that we don’t even realize we are desperately needing to see the men around us through this lens so that we can feel that our anger is righteous. We constantly emasculate men. We don’t notice when they provide for us; we expect it. We ask them to do something and then criticize the way they do it. We get angry when they don’t automatically know how we like to be touched or what we need. We order them around and resent them when they don’t stand up for themselves. We post internet memes about how they can’t find our clitorises and we laugh about how dumb they are about sex. We “take away” sex as their punishment, since we often aren’t empowered around our own sexuality. We make fun of them and complain about them to our friends. Worse, we make fun of them in front of their friends or family.
When I hear a woman criticize her husband in a joking way in front of both of us (an unfortunately common experience), I cringe. He always laughs it off, but in his eyes I can feel his ego bruising, his heart sinking.
It hurts. And that’s not because men are fragile. It’s because it hurts to be put down by the person you love the most.
The criticism comes from holding onto anger. It comes from not expressing our needs. It comes from not having boundaries.
Women are often so committed to their resentment that they stomp all over their partners’ egos and worth.
Yes, there are awful men in the world. And also, what I see in much of the world is good men who want to serve their partners deeply… and their best intentions are unseen, criticized, or outright rejected.
We’ve become so wrapped up in our feminist pain that we’ve completely missed that men are hurting, too.
I used to feel like I hated most men. This meant that I constantly saw the world through that lens.
It meant that when a man would ask me if he could carry something for me, I assumed he was implying that I couldn’t do it myself. It meant that when a man commented on my beauty, I stiffened and assumed he was sexualizing me. It meant that when a partner didn’t please me sexually, I assumed he didn’t care about my pleasure. It meant that I resented my father. It meant that I could count on one hand the amount of men I actually respected.
When I examined and shifted my beliefs around men, my entire world changed. When I learned to set boundaries for myself, my entire world changed. When I learned how people with masculine-dominant energy interact differently than me, my entire world changed.
When I processed (and still regularly process!) the anger I feel around the patriarchy and sexism, my entire world changed.
I realized the ways that I’ve been contributing to this pattern. I realized the ways that I create what I see around me.
Today, if a man asks me if he can carry something for me, I graciously accept his help. I know I can do it myself, and I am happy he is offering to help me. I know it makes him feel great when he does.
If a man comments on my beauty (and it is a polite comment that respects my boundaries), I open and say thank you. I know I’m beautiful, and I appreciate him for the compliment.
If a man doesn’t please me sexually, I tell him more about my body and how I experience pleasure.
I’ve learned about my father’s childhood, about his emotions and why he acted in ways that he did. I have so much compassion for it, and it’s allowed me to let go of a lot of my own pain.
I could make an unending list for you of men I admire and respect. I see them in my partner, I see them in his men’s group, I see them in my friends’ partners, I see them in the men I meet on public transit, I see them in my clients, I see them behind cash registers and bars and at coffee shops.
I see the good in men. And because of that, I find myself surrounded by good men.
But I will not hate men.
No, I will not hate men.