In case you’ve grown tired of the national conversation about how the races can’t possibly get along, there’s plenty of other social consciousness raising material available to occupy your time. For just one example, you could read up on how men and women can’t possibly get along. Why? Because men are just awful, obviously. Damon Young, the founder of Very Smart Brothas, tunes in on this critical issue with an editorial at Huffpo this week. The title is really the lede here… Men Just Don’t Trust Women — And It’s A Huge Problem.
Damon goes to great lengths to establish his bona fides in this field, consisting of “five months of marriage, eight months of being engaged, and another year of whatever the hell we were doing before we got engaged.” (I know this is important, not because I say so, but because the author repeats it twice in the column.) And along this long trail that he’s traveled he’s noticed that he commits a regular series of microagressions against his beleaguered wife by not taking her concerns seriously enough. Whether they are talking about the Rolling Stone gang rape story debacle, Bill Cosby or just whatever it is that has her upset on any given day, he just doesn’t assign the same weight to her concerns or opinions as he would if he heard them from a man.
But you know what I don’t really trust? What I’ve never actually trusted with any women I’ve been with? Her feelings.
If she approaches me pissed about something, my first reaction is “What’s wrong?”
My typical second reaction? Before she even gets the opportunity to tell me what’s wrong? “She’s probably overreacting.”
My typical third reaction? After she expresses what’s wrong? “Ok. I hear what you’re saying, and I’ll help. But whatever you’re upset about probably really isn’t that serious.” […]
This is part of the reason why it took an entire high school football team full of women for some of us to finally just consider that Bill Cosby might not be Cliff Huxtable. It’s how, despite hearing complaints about it from girlfriends, homegirls, cousins, wives, and classmates, so many of us refused to believe how serious street harassment can be until we saw it with our own eyes. It’s why we needed to see actual video evidence before believing the things women had been saying for years about R. Kelly.
This may wind up being an informative case of two people looking at the same thing and reaching very different conclusions. And before we get too carried away here, I’ll say that I’ve noticed the exact same reactions in my own life when it comes to the fairer sex that Damon has, at least in some cases. In particular, when some troubling thing crops up, my male friends will approach me one way about it while my wife or other female friends and relatives come loaded with a different package of attitudes. The things that guys react strongly to and their actions in response tend to be markedly different than our female counterparts.
If both my wife and one of my male friends come up to me in a state of obvious alarm or excitation, it might turn out to be something truly important and in need of immediate attention in either case. When there is something important, whether in our own lives or part of some larger national discussion, I take my wife’s opinions seriously. We don’t always agree, but she’s a smart woman – smarter than me – and I know enough to listen when she expresses a concern about a truly serious topic.
But there are plenty of situations which don’t rise to the level of a health crisis or a major national disaster, and I see the genders respond differently. If it’s my buddy Mark coming up to me with his hair metaphorically on fire, it could be that he just turned on ESPN and found out that the Jets decided to go with Geno Smith again. If it’s my wife, it could be that the sink in the kitchen has sprung a leak and flooded the cabinet underneath. The difference here is obvious to any guy. The situation with the Jets is an actual disaster, while the sink is something that will require shutting off a valve, cleaning up a little water and conducting a few hours of repair work. It’s not the end of the world.
Knowing this and reacting accordingly is not some secret way I have of treating women as lesser creatures. But it can be taken as recognition of an important fact which our modern Guardians of Social and Moral Responsibility will deny vehemently. Men and women are different. We think differently. We react to different stress inducing situations differently. We become angry about different things. That doesn’t make one gender better or worse than the other, nor greater or lesser. We’re just… different.
One source of the problems we run into as we seek to even the scales against any perceived injustice is that it’s become trendy to try to pretend that there are no differences between men and women. There are. And those differences are wonderful and they make the world a singularly enjoyable place. (Or, at other times, a reason to lock yourself in your apartment and drink for a week straight.) The point is, it’s not a crime to react differently to emotional situations such as Damon describes above. It’s just nature and it’s not evil.
Vive la difference.