Feed on

As luck — bad luck —  would have it, I somehow managed to get two black eyes in less than four months. When the second one occurred, thanks to my overly aggressive approach to tree trimming, I ran inside the house to get an ice pack and then called my boyfriend, who heard my cries coming from the bathroom after my first shiner and helped me ice it.

“You won’t believe what I just did,” I said as I told him what had happened, laughing at my own clumsiness.

He was less than amused.

Not that he didn’t see the humor in the situation or feel bad for me — he did. It’s just that when my inner klutz comes out — causing questioning stares from passers-by — it doesn’t necessarily reflect as poorly on me as it does on him. Because the first thing people wonder is, did he smack her?

And that was the impetus for my latest HuffPo column, Are Men Society’s Scapegoats?

I hadn’t thought of it in those terms before, mostly because:

1. I’m clumsy but I never had a black eye before, and

2. I never had a man express to me clearly how awkward that situation is.

Now I get it.

And then I started to think of all the ways in which I’ve heard women talk about men — many seemed all too quick to assume a guy must have done something bad in any number of situations. But I knew that often wasn’t true; it made me question all our assumptions about men.

Why should that matter to me? Well, as a mom of two young men, as a daughter of a father, as the former wife of two men, as a friend to many men, and as the loving partner of a wonderful man, I can’t understand why women would categorically paint all men as “bad” or “jerks.” OK, maybe some of us have had bad relationships at some point with some men  — as I’m sure many men have had with women. But to lump all men (or women) into some category or another, usually the worst category, makes no sense to me. It doesn’t help us understand or have empathy for each other.

Few things bother me more than when I’m accused of being a misandrist as I was in my last HuffPo column, Hot or Not: Why Women Shouldn’t Pick Attractive Husbands, a tongue-in-cheek look at what women (wrongly) consider attractive in a man. I am not a misandrist; I don’t understand how a mom of sons could be.

Being the mom of boys has made many things clearer to me. Getting divorced at midlife and seeing the bitterness of many middle-aged divorced people has made many things clearer to me. Having back-to-back black eyes has made things clearer to me. And, sadly, reading the comments on many HuffPo columns has made things clearer to me, too — we still cling to gender stereotypes and talk in absolutes, “always” and “never,” about the other sex. And we still tend to divide the world into men vs. women, focusing on the differences as negatives instead of positives, and finding fault in those differences instead of embracing them as expanding perspectives.

I had hoped that the world would have been different by the time my boys turned to men. They’re just 17 and 20 — on the cusp – so perhaps there’s still time …

Oh, and if you see me out and about with a black eye, trust me  — I did it to myself!

Do you tend to assume the worst about the other gender? Why?


3 Responses to “Two black eyes, one worried man”

  1. d
    Twitter: VelveteenMama

    I think it is a stereotype profoundly ingrained in our culture (and supported financially by our government and reinforced in the media ad nauseaum). As the partner of a man who survived a VERY emotionally, and sometimes physically, abusive relationship, I’ve been re-educated and once you pull your ostrich head out of the sand, there’s no going back. This morning I was listening to a local radio show. They were doing their celebrity ‘news’ part and started talking about Mark Anthony and discussing whether or not his former partner beat him up. The male talk host mentioned that Lionel Richie’s wife definitely beat him up in the past, the female host responded with “he probably deserved it”. No one deserves violence directed at them. Period. (And they got an e-mail from me reminding me of that). Thank you for your articles – a topic that needs (desperately) to make it’s way into the mainstream media.

  2. OMGchronicles
    Twitter: OMGchronicles

    Thanks, VelveteenMama, and good for you for taking the time to stand up for what’s right by emailing your radio station. Too many of us don’t do that nowadays. I have a pretty good sense of humor, but joking about violence that way isn’t OK.

  3. Jim says:

    ” I don’t understand how a mom of sons could be.”

    It’s actually pretty common, if you are strict about what you call misandry.

    There are at least two levels of this one.

    One is Lilith – the plain old man-hater. She runs the kid’s father down in front of him, accuses him of being just like him, etc. Men are all sex-hungry pigs, they are all violent and all the wars in the world were only ever the fault of men, they abandon thier kids (never get run off by the family Court system – no,never) She may fancy herself a feminist, she may not – she may be as traditionalist as possible, because after all this meme is loaded into the culture like software. A lot of really virulently anti-feminist men are the sons of mothers like these.

    The there is Gorgo, the queen of Sparta who sent her husband the well-meaning woman who just buys into the culture’s roles it appoints for men. She has no malice at all that she is aware of, but she accepts that men are expendable or disposable. She raise her boys to protect women, regardless of any risk or cost to themselves, and to define their manhood in terms of how well they provide for a woman, whatever it may cost them in jobs they hate or that injure of sicken them, in lost time and relationships with their own children, and in lost relationsjhips with other men poisoned by competition needed to maintain the cash flow. She raises teaches them to fawn over every emotional display of their future wives, but to suck up their own pain and show a game face to the world. She probably models this to them in her own relationship with their father, and reinforces it with comments here or there. She praises men who punish other men for deviating from this norm, and for enforcing it. She truly loves her sons – just not very well. You will find her exact counterpart in Saudi Arabia, among men who see abayas and no-drive laws and all that as nothing more than caring concern for their daughters’ safety.

Leave a Reply