Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I understand men of my generation very well. I've lived with them, worked with them and socialized with them my entire life. They consider me one of them, even though I possess aspects they don't see. I won't claim to understand younger men because they were raised a little different and I have less interaction with them.

I was surprised reading an article last week that talks about men my age. The female author gets a lot right. She notes truths that women often don't understand about men. I part company with her, however, in her eager acceptance of traditional masculinity. She advocates servility, an attitude that shortchanges women. While some women do choose to pander to men, obsequious subservience makes me queasy. And it's unlikely to lead to a successful relationship.

Here are some of the author's observations:

She opens with this advice: "Men are wonderful but they aren't women. They don't think like women nor do they communicate like women. So don't expect a man to act like a woman or you're guaranteed to be disappointed."

Then, speaking of older men, she notes that they were raised to be very masculine and they feel most comfortable when women play to that. She advises women to "bring this trait out in them" as a way to placate men. (I'm not giving this advice, just repeating what she wrote.)

She says "men show you love with their actions," which may be true but sounds like an excuse for failing to communicate affection in ways women care about. I believe if you're in a relationship with someone, it's your duty to make them happy in ways that matter to them.

She observes that "men want to give to you," so she advises women to let men open the door and perform other courtesies. "It makes them happy to please you. All they want in return is to be appreciated and thanked." But, accurately, she adds that you'll piss men off if you criticize "the job a man is doing for you. He's doing his best and, yes, you may be able to do it better or faster than he can but don't. It makes him feel emasculated. If he has offered to do something for you, allow him to do it his way. Otherwise, the next time you ask for help, he'll tell you to hire a handyman."

This is the ugly flipside of sexism. I frequently see men get angry at women for pointing out deficiencies in their work. Men of my generation can't handle criticism from women because it gnaws at their world-view: they believe men and women are supposed to stay in their places, with men in control. Men might not openly express their anger but they fume when being challenged by women. They consider any criticism to be ungrateful challenge to their natural dominance.

The author tells women who want to be happy in relationships with older men not to place demands on them. She says men don't like demands from women and resent meeting them.

While this observation on male psychology may be true, I disagree that women shouldn't ask men to contribute equally to shared life. Tolerating inequality in a relationship isn't fair. Plus, it implicitly supports and perpetuates a social structure that hurts women.

The author concludes her article with the advice not to try to change a man because such effort is futile: "Either accept him for who he is or let him go and move on." This may or may not be good advice; I won't opine on it.

There is diversity among men so some don't conform to the traditional gender-role. It's useful, however, to discuss how most men act as a way to understand male minds. What's been your experience with men of my generation?


  1. ha!
    the description of men of your generation is right - but i think (like you) we don´t should take that as carved in stone. in the end the women raise the boys so they can change their way to see the world. changing grown up "boys" is impossible as long as they do not want to change themselves :-)

    1. We all have the capacity to grow and be better people. So why don't we? I encourage everyone to understand how sexism works, learn why it's harmful, and overcome it. In both men and women.

  2. That is some very old-school advice isn't it?

    However, I think the author may be right on many points.
    I share your feelings. That she understands the psychology of men your generation, but why does that mean that we as women have to pander to that? It's 2014. Women have fought for equality. (wasn't I just talking briefly about my personal acceptance of feminism on my blog last week? lol) Unless a woman wants to go that route and work to please her man in every way to make him happy. In which case I say: the feminists also fought for our right to choose.

    Wouldn't be my choice though.


    1. Exactly. I don't know but I suspect the author is older, meaning she was raised with more traditional female values of acquiescence and docility. For her to be so eager to placate men reflects a world-view; she believes that response is preferable to standing up for herself. I doubt many younger women share that attitude.

    2. Lisa, everything you said was spot on -- I couldn't have said it better myself!

  3. I think the advice about not criticizing the job someone is doing for you even if you could do it better/faster is true regardless of gender or sex. There is also some truth to showing love by action rather than word. We've been having rough nights around here and while we take turns being up with the little one at night, the minute Scott's alarm goes off, I'm 100% on baby duty. But this morning, Scott shut off his alarm before it rang and did the first diaper change before settling C in beside me in bed. A completely wordless act that spoke volumes to me.
    That being said, I am not at all comfortable with traditional acts of chivalry. I dated a wonderfully chivalrous guy for a summer who not only opened doors for me, but always stayed on the curb side of the sidewalk (a tradition I was unfamiliar with, derived from the days of protecting women from carriages which may be out of control or splashing through puddles). A physical behemoth, it didn't take any acting for me to bring out the "strong male" in him. But while it was fascinating to be that protected, it was also the scariest feeling to be so vulnerable.

    1. Thank you for contributing, Cara. You make good points. And kudos to Scott for being such a supportive partner. I'm happy for both of you.

  4. I agree with some of her thoughts IF you didn't assign gender to them. Such as, don't try to change one another, accept each other for who they are, both good and bad. And, dont' expect the other person to know what you want or how you feel, rather communicate it to them, and let them know how they can help. That's about where I stop agreeing, though!!!

  5. As I read this, I think of how different Dan, my husband, from the older men she describes. I love it that he's an avowed feminist in the best way ... much of that attitude is his by choice. He was raised to fall into the 1950s status quo, but has a self-raised consciousness!
    Don't we all hate our best work to be picked apart?
    Don't we all wish to make life good for our mates and loved ones, no matter our gender.
    Placate? We switch off, depending on which of us needs placating at the time.
    I'm always surprised when I hear contemporary women discussing subservience as a life-management ploy. Not in my house, either one of us!

  6. sounds like she has traditional values. while i agree that older men like to "provide" for women and like to feel needed and appreciated, i've never met one who didn't welcome my ideas or contributions on what i like, how things might be done differently or better, etc. if they ultimately want to make you happy, they'll want to know HOW?!
    of course these views can be the exception or the norm.

  7. Interesting article and I think I agree with it to some extent, although the situation certainly isn't as cut and dried as the author makes it. #5, don't criticize the job a man is doing for you, is interesting. As the article states, all most men want in return for doing something for you is to be appreciated and thanked. I think this is true for most people, whether they be under 50, over 50, male, female, or other. When we reach that stage in a relationship where a partner is NOT thanked or appreciated, or even worse, criticized, there is trouble. What I've noticed in the men I know over 50 is that, when criticized, they don't speak out but seem to compartmentalize (or, like you said, "fume"). If it happens often enough, they lose interest in their partner and emotionally "move on." Whether this happens or, like you've more commonly seen, they get angry and perhaps verbally lash out, it's abusive to the relationship. We can't place blame, though. Even though this can be a destructive behavior, so is criticism. I've experienced many, MANY women treating their husbands as if they were less than human, with criticism coming in the form of yelling, with statements like, "Ugh, your'e so dumb!" or "Can you do ANYTHING right?" being the norm.

    I also think the point the author makes about men not wanting to compete with women in a relationship is interesting. I do think this is true to varying degrees in most all men. As an Alpha Female, this could be a problem for me!

  8. Interesting article and there are a lot of things which work for both sexes. For example criticizing the work done for partner or being to change someone. However even if your partner is older there should be no way for sorts of sexism. Why? probably because if you have kids (or plan to have them) kids would do exactly like it was in their family after. If you are disagree in general in women living in men world like some sort of objective with shortage of rights but feeling ok with your partner doing so because (list of reasons you might have) that's just would last longer and longer. That's just what I think and you know, I'm too young to actually be wise in any matter.

    1. Don't be so modest, buddy; your words are indeed wise. Thank you for contributing to the discussion.