Dear men, get there faster

Nothing exists in isolation. Everything is an effect of something else, and so when I sit with the women in my life while we unanimously bemoan men and the current state of our love lives, I’m aware that something has happened, somewhere, to have an impact right here today.

It’s easy to fall into the narrative that all men are dogs, and they all cheat, and they’ve all got commitment issues, and whatever else you tell yourself to get through your latest heartbreak. But as comforting as those excuses are in you teary-eyed wailing as you dig through your third tub of ice cream, they’re not even remotely true. Because cheating, commitment issues and toying with someone’s heart are not genes that any one person can be born with, so our sweepstake generalization of men isn’t helpful here. So while I’m dissecting my latest car crash, (and by car crash I do mean my last relationship), I’m wondering what has happened to the man standing opposite me that he just couldn’t be with me.

Now you might be rolling your eyes and saying something like, ‘maybe you’re the problem,’ and trust me, I’ve gone down that route. I’m a woman, and therefore this society has automatically programmed me to first and foremost ask the age-old question, ‘what did I do wrong?’ TRUST ME, I’ve asked it a thousand times. But I also came to the realization that on this instance, it wasn’t me. You can’t assume everything that happens between two people is exclusive to that point in time. We’re all products of our environment, upbringing, society, our past experiences and a variety of economic and political implications that influence our behavior. There is a bigger conversation here that needs to be had outside the confines of, ‘he’s such a dick.’ (And believe me, I’ve said that phrase a lot recently, and while it offers temporary solace, it unfortunately doesn’t give you any of the answers you’re looking for).

The thing is, currently, masculinity is in transition and it’s affecting our relationships. And while this evolution is happening, the men around us, desperately flailing for some sense of stability and role in this world, turn into absolute pricks in an attempt to steady themselves on what they feel to be uncertain ground. And I get it, because trying to be a man to someone else when you don’t have a clue what being a man even is, is a terrifying thing.

Conversations about masculinity need to be happening and they need to be led by men. Women have been talking about feminism, womanhood and what being a woman means for so many years now and that’s not to say we’ve had any sense of gender equality, don’t be preposterous, but girl power and the fight for feminism has been actively going on for decades now. Whether you’re a part of it or not, you’re aware of its existence and have grappled with the idea of womanhood and what your femininity means to you at some point. This has mostly happened because our society is structured to ask women who they are from a young age. From liking pink and being a girly girl, to being a tomboy teenager or a promiscuous twenty-something, we’ve been continuously playing with notions of womanhood as society asked; what type of woman will you be? We couldn’t have ever avoided it.

Men on the other hand have never been asked to define their masculinity and mostly because they’ve never had to fight for their place. For the most part, they’ve been left pretty much to themselves as masculinity was passed down from father to son, and from his grandfather before him. The typical trappings of being a man revolved around a hunter/gatherer mentality and overall provider and protector of women. Of course, there are exceptions and men who don’t feel comfortable with the dominant definition of what being a man entails, but I’m not talking about the exception here.

So while traditional definitions of masculinity were being casually passed through generations, on the other side of the fence women were wrestling with their femininity and creating new meanings for themselves.

All that wrestling led me to realize that I don’t need a man. Not for a single damn thing. I am economically independent and I go out and slay my own deer in the proverbial forest every day. I hunt and gather for myself and pay my way. If I want to go somewhere I don’t need the protection of a man to do it.

So if I’m surviving all on my own just fine without a man, and he’s still holding onto ideas of protection and feeding me, it’s no wonder we can’t all get along and find healthy relationships with one another. I’ve lost count of the arguments I’ve had with men on dates as they insisted they pay for dinner every single time. Or even after a few conversations they start asking you to tell them you’ve arrived safely at every single destination, as if you were some small child navigating the world for the first time.

 Our ideas of our gender roles in this world are so far out of alignment with one another, that they can do nothing but jar and scratch uncomfortably alongside each other. It just doesn’t work.

I may not need a man, but I want one. I’d like a companion to share a life with. I’d like him to ask me about my achievements that day and what I accomplished instead of overbearingly telling me to text him when I get home as some show of dominant ‘I’m going to protect you’ masculinity. Like it’s cool, you can just tell me you care instead of making grand statements about my safety.

Until masculinity has evolved, we don’t have a hope in hell of sustaining anything close to a healthy relationship because they’re clinging on to a dead past and as long as they do, we don’t have a future. And I know it’s a process, and I know there’s some seriously panty wetting woke men out there, and I know these things take time and I know that it’s their journey, but please, I’m begging you, get there faster because the more you stumble slowly through your gender identity crisis, the worse off we all are.

Salma El-Wardany