A few months ago I was accused of being a man-hater, publicly, by someone I considered to be a friend.
The comment was made after I posted about how a man I matched with on a dating site had within 24 hours tracked down my place of work and wanted to know what hours I would be there, after sending me a stream of messages before I’d even woken up. Needless to say, this unnerved me, and also made me feel rather jaded since it’s not the first time something similar has happened.
My friend’s comment basically insinuated that I was giving him the run around and was in some way, responsible for his actions.
To say I was hurt by my friends comment was an understatement and my immediate reaction was ‘of course I don’t hate men, I love them!”.
As someone who engages in self-reflection I really wanted to examine whether my behaviour suggests this or not.
Take the first male figure in my life, my father. To be fair, I think I’d be forgiven for hating men after what he did so maybe, unconsciously, I do, I pondered to myself. Then I remembered that recently, I decided to go and see him in hospital as he lay dying – although so we were told – he has now made a miraculous recovery much to the confusion of his prey. I digress, did I feel any hatred towards him? No. Hatred requires energy and mine is better spent elsewhere.
I then examined my friendships through my life. I’ve always had lots of male friends – despite the appearance of being a high-maintenance princess (according to men on dating apps) – I’m actually more one of the lads than you might think. I like fun, staying out late – on the dance floor, not in the toilet doing my hair – I like adventures, I don’t like shopping, I like straight-talking, doing, a bit of risk-taking. I am strong-minded, opinionated and fiercely independent so have definitely never wanted or needed to date a man for money or protection. Does that make me a man-hater? Probably, in some men’s eyes!
I have an ex-husband that was awful to me through the whole of our marriage (and after) and again, even that could have made me a ‘man-hater’. Instead, I put all my feelings about him and how he treated me aside and spent A LOT of time and energy towards building a civil relationship for the sake of the children. Many others would have said ‘sod this’ and cut him out our lives – and if I’d have done so, I’d have been justified.
But I didn’t – not only for the children but also because I believed he could be better. I’m not sure of the result of my energies yet but if I hated men would I have done this? I doubt it.
Then I examined my current friendship group. I have a handful of close female friends that are sacred to me, my sisters, my soul sisters, my mum, my fabulous female friends that I have such love for. I have even more female friends I’ve never met in person through social media and we offer support and inspiration to each other every day. I have a sacred like respect for women; we are amazing and there is nothing I love more than the company of women
And then, and this came as quite a surprise to me!
As I worked through this process I realised my village – my practical support network – is filled with male friends. Maybe this is why I don’t feel the need for a relationship? I have a handful of strong male friends around me that I can call on at almost any time, whether that is for a hug or a huge night out!
As men, they often aren’t run ragged juggling work and children, like many of my female friends are, so they can be available at shorter notice than the military planning it takes to get mums together! They are good guys and we have great friendships – helping each other out in different ways. Yes, my role is usually that of listener because you men still don’t talk to each other properly! Come on boys, it’s 2019!
Finally, my examination of my ‘hatred’ towards men brings me to my son. My darling little boy whose health issues and sleeplessness pushed me to my absolute limits, The little boy that taught me that I have more strength and resilience than I ever thought possible. The little boy that has the most tender-heart, extreme empathy, compassion and love I’ve ever witnessed. The little boy that is so in tune with his emotions and can tell me if he’s sad or mad without any fear of shame. The little boy that is 100% masculine; fearless, dare-devil,rational, logical – while also ensuring everyone is treated equally, no-one is left out and a glimpse of an even slightly grumpy face hurts his heart.
The little boy that I hope and pray is never affected by the patriarchy. The little boy who I worry about how he’ll cope when he wakes up one day and realises that the world he lives in, views his mum and sister differently to him. I worry about what this will do to him and how it will confuse him when he sees the misogyny and inequality towards us. When he feels the pressure of suppressing his emotions, on him. I worry about how he’ll respond as the patriarchy sends subtle (and not so) messages to him that he has more rights, more body autonomy, more power than his beautiful sister. How he may subliminally absorb the messages dished out that tell him he has a right to own and possess women, and that somehow we are responsible for his behaviour.
And this is it.
This is what I hate.
I hate that.
The patriarchy is bad for both sexes.
It produces toxic masculinity in men.
That I hate.
I am proud to hate it.
So call me a patriarchy hater, call me a toxic masculinity hater but don’t call me a man-hater.