To start, I am a nineteen year old girl. Most of what I am going to write is based off of a book I read and a Tik Tok I saw, but please bear with me, at the very least this will make sense.
To start, men think differently. If you have ever wondered why a man is treating you a certain way, why he is acting a certain way, or why he does certain things - I've got your answer. Men have almost no real idea what they are doing whether they want to admit it or not. I know this for a fact because nobody really knows what they are doing. We are all just going with the flow. Some men are definitely selfish for assuming that they are alone and walking a lonely road, but even that narrative comes from a place of deep rooted insecurity, lack of awareness, and perhaps even a fear of intimacy. If you don't understand that man, chances are he doesn't understand himself and it's not your job to figure him out (if he can't, you can't either sweetie.) Much like women, men just want to be happy.
The truth is (whether it seems like it or not) most men are trying their best to do what they think they should be doing. That doesn't mean what they think they should be doing is always right, but if we're being honest, society has given men pretty low standards to meet. Think about it. Men like women. Men want women. Historically speaking, men try to meet the expectations women and society have set for them at the given time. In the 20's, being a romantic gentleman was just the status quo, hence the abundance of romantic gentlemen at the time (like in "The Great Gatsby"!) In the 50's, men were the cool douchebags with the hearts of gold, hence the abundance of old timey diner dates and the movie Grease. The modern age is the rise of the fuckboy, a term that honestly doesn't make any sense. My point is men have always tried to be what they think a man should be in order to get four main things: money, women, love, and happiness - it's just how they move. However, if you provide a man (or anyone for that matter) with any of these things without having any clear boundaries for yourself, they will likely continue the behavior that has secured them these things in the first place. Hey, why fix what ain't broke?
Now we can argue men should know better all we want, but the harsh reality is they don't and sometimes it's hard to. As a person who has been kind of a dick to a person they dated (If you see this Justin, I get it now, I apologize) I can tell you with 100% honesty that it can be difficult to grasp the severity of how you are treating someone, ESPECIALLY if that person is 100000% willing to be treated however you want to treat them, even if you care about them. I'm not saying this is right but think about it this way: if a stupid hot guy confessed his undying, unwavering, unconditional love for you and was willing to do whatever you wanted whenever you wanted, regardless of how you treated him, at the very least it would be WAYYYY easier to treat him however you felt like treating him, whenever you felt like treating him. And you may be like "Not me! I am a super nice, understanding, and kind individual who would never treat another living creature with anything but with love and respect!" but it's important to remember that this doesn't mean that stupid hot guy won't fuck up. Hot guys are not perfect. Hot guys may have loose boundaries. Hot guys may be completely codependent, relentlessly controlling, extremely manipulative, or be the definition of toxic and emotionally unavailable. Hot guys might royally piss you off. And just like it can be easy to get pissed at and disrespectful with a family member who is hurting you, it will be easy for you to get pissed at and disrespectful with that stupid hot guy since they both share an undying, unconditional, and unwavering love for you. (To be clear, you should not be disrespectful with someone who loves you, blood or no blood. If you both truly love each other, while the love remains unconditional, both of you should be able to communicate honestly while respecting each other's boundaries and neither of you should feel hurt, unseen, or compromised. Love is freeing and it shouldn't feel anything but.)
My point is while it would be totally fair and valid to blame someone for mistreating you, in a consensual relationship you would not be able to continue being mistreated unless you were willing to accept mistreatment. Being repeatedly mistreated by the same individuals is not only wrong and hurtful, but it can also be an accurate reflection of the boundaries we may have unknowingly set in place for ourselves. I know this may be a tough pill to swallow, but believe me this is coming from experience. Unfortunately, figuring out your boundaries usually takes a lot of trial and error (heartbreak), but that brings me back to the main point of this article which is how we can start to make this process just a little bit easier, especially in the modern age.
The answer isn't perfect, but it is real. We honestly just need to be nicer to men. I know what you're thinking, "DOWN WITH THE PATRIARCHY!!!" and girl, I am right there with you. But let's be real for a second. Consider how society has treated women. We have been called sluts, hoes, "females", and just about every other objectifying and degrading term you could think of for CENTURIES. However, one of the most beautiful things about the modern age is the increasing status quo of women owning themselves, living their lives, and taking back the power by finding their own truths and disregarding negatively perceived, arbitrary terms. Like, if you were to call me a slut, I would be forced to take it as a compliment. What I hear when you say that is that I am having lots of awesome sex with really hot people which I do not take as an insult. In fact, I'd probably assume you were jealous and just like that your credibility is out the door. In the same way this line of thinking has become increasingly more prevalent, we have to think about how the narrative "men are trash" might affect a young man's ego, thought process, and psyche. As women, we are already well aware of what society's perception of women can do to a young girl's confidence and perception of herself. Now just like I am totally willing to find my own comfort in being called a slut because I have found my own meaning and power within the word, we must think about how that young boy may gradually become more comfortable "being trash" as he might continue to find more comfort and strength in the status quo. Yes men started it and yes they're dicks for that, but in the words of the Dalai Lama "With an eye for an eye, we are all blind."
Ladies, society has made us tough whether we wanted to be or not. And while we should rejoice in the power and strength it has given us, we also know how many times we've had to be hurt to get here. Men are people too and I can promise you they are just as delicate, just as hurt, and just as confused as us, if not more. They may have a fucking funny way of showing it, but it doesn't make it any less true. As women, it can be hard for us to want to be trusting, empathetic, understanding, nurturing, and kind, especially in a society that offers little to no reward for us trying our best. But we have to remember that these things are part of what makes us so divine. The ability to keep that energy without letting anyone DARE walk all over you is fucking powerful. It's probably why your mom can be the meanest, toughest teddy bear you know.
Let me be clear, men are not children. There are many instances in which a man should know better and should move differently, however doubling down on an entire gender by harshly criticizing their actions rarely does anything but hurt. If you fucked up and instead of anyone trying to forgive you, the entire world shouted at you that you were one giant fuck up, you would probably get super angry or cry. Hey, maybe both. As women we may think it's childish for men to feel this way since we go through oppression regularly, but we have to remember that men are totally new to being oppressed. In the same way you've probably wondered why thousands of years ago women weren't fighting against the patriarchy more aggressively, the answer is pretty simple: they didn't know any better.
Now more than ever, women have more of an opportunity to set the proper standards and expectations for men. If we keep calling men trash, they will likely continue to be trash and harbor resentment towards us for damaging their feelings and egos. However, if we all collectively pushed the narrative that men are sensitive, loving, kind gentlemen and settled for nothing less, I am almost 100% certain there would be an increase in the amount of willing gentlemen we see in society. Men move with us, not for us, and constantly insulting them in an effort to get them to change would likely do what something like that would do to you, piss you the fuck off.
I am not defending all men. I am well aware that there are just shitty people in the world who have no desire to change. However, this is not just about that one dude who completely fucked you over. It is not even about the multitude of dudes that may have completely fucked you over. This is about an entire people group struggling to understand how they should cope with an overwhelmingly new sense of oppression. It is not fair that women have always had to be oppressed and I totally understand wanting men to feel the way we do, however at the end of the day isn't all we really want change? Don't we just want society to give us a fucking break for once?
There is a big difference between being understanding and forgiving and letting someone walk all over you. I am not advocating for letting anyone walk all over you, fuck that noise!
However there is a lot of strength in setting boundaries for yourself that will still allow you to nurture, trust, and empathize with your fellow man. We are all people. We are all feeling things. We are all going through the same shit together. Rousseau reasoned that the two defining characteristics of man that keep life from being nasty, poor, brutish, and short are self-love (different from narcissism and arrogance) and pity. If you think about it, anyone who ever screwed you over probably lacked one or both of those qualities. If we can make those two qualities the minimum standard of men in society, we will probably find ourselves living much happier, much more freeing lives. And setting a standard for something typically starts with controlling the narrative in which that thing is perceived.
Nobody likes to be judged. Nobody likes to be criticized. And ladies, we have the unfortunate pleasure of knowing exactly how that feels AND the wisdom that comes with knowing better. Let's not double down. Let's not do the very thing we wished we didn't have to endure. Let's be better. Let's think differently. Let's fucking change! :)
Signed: An Empowered Equalist! (feminism and equalism are synonyms👏🏾)
(Again, it is important to keep in mind that what I am attempting to discuss is very different than allowing someone to repeatedly mistreat you after you have clearly communicated your boundaries and how their behavior has affected and hurt you. When your partner cannot take you or anything else seriously, they are likely having trouble understanding and valuing themselves which is an internal problem that can only be addressed by them. If you find yourself in a situation where your partner is apologizing for the same things without actually doing things differently, please understand your partner likely does not respect you or your boundaries and has made it very clear they are unwilling to change but would rather avoid conflict. An apology without change is just another word and that person, male or female, is better off figuring themselves out without you. No situation is worth your mental health and real love is stupid cheap.)
Book Inspo: "The Fall" by Albert Camus