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?