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Fill In the Blank: All Men Are “________”

“Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”

“How would you finish this sentence? All men are ….?”

I was asked this question yesterday by, ironically, a man. I found it odd that a man would be asking me to pour out all the frustrations a woman might have towards man in general with just a simple sentence. “Yes,” he said, egging me on, “Just say it. All men are…” and he helpfully offered a few choice, colorful words.

Now, this is the sort of statement that jaded, frustrated women say to their fellow girlfriends. They chitter and chatter over coffee cups, throwing their hands in the air while they say in half-seriousness, “All men are so arrogant! All men are fools! All men are mama boys!” each choosing their phrase based on their personal experiences.

It was amusing to ponder over the potential words I could use. All men are selfish, all men are driven by their physical needs, all men grow up more slowly than women do… But I hate to use such blanket statements. The more I played around with possible words I might use with a clean conscience, I balked at the idea of using a singular statement to describe the other half of humankind. Words surfaced to my mind, oftentimes accompanied with a mental image of a certain boy who caused me to feel that way, but I found that all in all, I drew up short when thinking of a negative finish to that sentence.

“All men are…”

I am no stranger to the mistreatment of women. There have been instances that leave a lingering feeling of disappointment to outright disgust at the way I have personally been approached by men, whether on the street, at an event, or even in an office. I know what it feels like to be undressed and degraded with someone’s eyes and actions, and I wish it on nobody.

The thing is, I also know what it feels like to be respected. I do not mean with the undue respect some women might feel they deserve after being belittled and disregarded. I mean with the respect that comes with being simply a fellow human being. When I say with absolute honesty that I know decent, reputable gentlemen, with no pretense nor cynicism, there are those who tell me as they smoke their cigarettes and shake their heads at my naiveté, “Becky. You just don’t know men.”

I openly admit that there is plenty I do not know. There is more I do not know than what I do know. Yet, I cannot concede with the prevalent worldview that men are bad. I have seen too much good to surrender to the possibility that wrong is stronger than right. Perhaps it sounds dramatic to turn this into a case of good versus evil, but if I can’t uphold one end of the argument that involves quite literally, all people on this planet, then I might as well relinquish all my values and beliefs.

I believe that a true man is like a sharp blade. He has the capability for great violence or great help. Who holds the blade determines if it will be used to cut someone open and cause them to bleed to death (sometimes literally, sometimes emotionally,) or maneuver a complex surgery and save lives. The one holding the blade makes that decision. The choice makes the man.

Needless to say, as I tried to explain this to my male friend who first asked me to finish the sentence, the conversation was far longer than he had hoped. We agreed that I am not a good candidate for this black and white sort of question.

As I was walking home that night, thinking about how to finish that sentence in a simple way, the answer came to me, silently slipping into my mind. It was the feeling you get after you struggle over a difficult problem all night, then upon waking up the next morning, the solution lies unraveled before you.

“All men are never enough.”

I thought this to myself, the cold night quiet but for my shoes on the pavement. I guess in some part deep inside of me I realized that there will always be a lack if I expect anyone to fill me up. Maybe we don’t say it outright, but oftentimes we look for someone who can make us “whole” or happier in some way. He should be my best friend, my lover, my family, my support, whatever it is. This kind of pressure is unbelievable. Worse yet, with such high demands there is no wonder we feel intense disappointment in relationships. Who could fulfill all of our needs like that?  Failure is automatically written in the future of such romances.

So when I say, “All men are never enough,” this is a somewhat positive statement. It’s an acknowledge that I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on you. If we must use a blanket statement, I think this is the best I could come up. It goes without saying that this topic goes much farther than that I’m writing here; it’s complex and interesting, and can go all sorts of crazy directions. But you just wanted a straight answer from me, didn’t you? Well, here it is, whether it satisfies or not. I think no answer will ever be just right. I also think I know how my friend will respond – “Ah women.” he will say, looking superior and exasperated. “You never know what you want.”

How would you fill in the blank, then?

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December 23, 2018

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