A good writer friend of mine said to me once, “I like you Raymond, you’re honest. I wish more people could be like that.” She was right too, I can’t remember the last time I told someone a lie to save my own skin. It’s all trust and honesty at my end, and if I fuck things up then you guys will be the first to know all about it.
What she said has stayed with me over the years and it has helped me change the focus of my writing as I have watched the western world’s talking points slowly change. I began my blogging journey way back in 2015 as a way to help men get in tune with their emotions. My work has been solely focused thus far on getting in touch with my emotions; something I’ve struggled my whole life to get to grips with, and I’ll admit, I still do sometimes struggle with the whole understanding what I’m feeling at a particular moment in time. Since 2015 I’ve seen a massive swathe of male and female writers enter the market that talk emotions, emotional positivity, and acceptance. I’m eternally grateful for this. But now it seems as if I’m at a way-point in my life where I continue to explore this journey or change my direction entirely. One thing that I had going for me back in 2015 is that my writing was very unique. Unique in the sense that men don’t talk about their emotions; a remnant societal dysfunction from the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Now they are beginning to though, and they are doing it in their droves. Large swathes of men joining the blogosphere to write about how they feel, and how they can get in touch with their emotional independence. This is amazing. Something I’m happy about.
We’re going head first from one extreme to another I’m finding, though. At one point men weren’t talking about anything at all online; we were just talking business and dating, but now men like me, (that enjoy a more modern lifestyle, rather than the primitive style go out, drink beer, and grab women’s asses that we used to incorporate in the 1980’s) we seem to be talking about feelings and respecting women all over the place. Not that I think this is bad of course, but again, we only have one side of the story. We have women that are annoyed by men, and men that are trying to help other men be better people. Where are the men that are enjoying being men? Where are the highly functional men? I know there are lots out there because I have met many!
Where’s the balance? Take today for example, I was overjoyed to see one of my articles trending in a popular magazine. I thought “hell yes! let’s see what this is all about then” and as I jogged on over to that website I was promptly let down by the sheer amount of articles that sat beside it that came off as talking down to men and being patronising rather than helpful. My article sat out like a sore thumb. I would hazard a guess that it feels like this to many other men too. Am I right, or wrong? I don’t get excited when I read articles that berate and condescend to me. This isn’t empowerment at all. I get that people are angry, and there’s a place for that, just not store-front for millions to see and passing off emotional rants as good solid advice.
I’m no misogynist but I’d prefer to treat people with respect. Respecting men and masculinity is not what we seem to be doing these days. How can we publish works that demean men and call it female empowerment? That would be like saying the school bully that talks down to the other kids is a form of empowerment too, no? No. I didn’t think so. And we don’t solve the situation by then turning it around and then bullying the bully.
If I’m going to attempt a complicated piece of writing and walk a fine line of controversial attitudes then I’d approach it with the most utmost care an respect. I wouldn’t title this post say, “why women should stop talking down to men, be better” or even worse, “If you want to get ahead women, you have to stop talking down to us and patronising us first” because immediately it would have the reader on the defensive — they might not even read the whole article and go down and angrily bash out a furious comment. My article would have the reverse effect on what it was intended to achieve. Educate the reader. I’m all for freedom of speech but condescending works shouldn’t be given the light of day.
So why aren’t we talking about men? Why aren’t we asking men what they really think? Grab a man that’s just changed your tyres, or served you a meal, or fixed your plumbing. Grab a man that doesn’t usually talk or engage with these things on the internet. Grab someone that doesn’t have a voice. Those are the men that we should be asking. I want to encourage attitudes with men that inspire opening up, and coming forward to tell their stories, and through that we get to educate each other and merge the gap between young and old. I think a lot of the disparity we have between genders is with changing attitudes versus unchanging attitudes. In my eyes we need to reach a respective middle ground before we can move forward. What will you eventually do with those that disagree with you no matter what you say? If you’re not interested in educating the masses then what will you do? How will you go about fighting change when there are people unwilling to change? I ask this of you.
I remember when I worked in the catering trade and my head chef was an ageing man. He was married with sons that were older than me. On typically stressful days he liked to mock this hypocrisy of, “a woman is strong until they need you to lift heavy stuff about.” We had written him off as an old angry man years beforehand and paid not much attention to him. I was raised by my mum and not only was she strong mentally but she did all the heavy lifting, so his statement didn’t hold true in my world. I now think back to those times and ask myself about the double standards that have been prevailing through time. In my chef’s prime it was strong women until they needed you to lift heavy objects around. In my time it was no decent men yet continued to date not very decent men. And now today it is men should be allowed to open up and talk about their feelings but not if it’s what I don’t want to hear.
Listen, I can write a book about the double standards we as men hold but my point is being that women are flawed as much as men are, and we should be working together to fight our battles rather than at each other’s throats. Men and women were designed to compliment each other.
Not work against one another.