Questioning 10 Things Women Need to Know About Men

I spent a spare moment on twitter last Saturday afternoon. It had been a busy day, a long drive home in the morning, quiet time to myself in the car, then an explosion of small children, a beautiful summer day, a nice dinner in the garden.

And I discovered this:

Top 10 Things All Women Need To Know About Men. It caught my eye in twitter, I clicked, I read. I liked the intro. I’m not a church goer myself, at least not anymore, but the introduction, church or not, God or not, was pleasant enough and engaging. Thoughtful.

I even like the list. There’s something in the tone that makes me like the author. I browsed his blog, called Big is the New Small, and liked a lot of what I saw there. His name is Scott Williams.

But parts of it bother me. Maybe at 61, almost 40 years married, I’m getting tired of the stereotypes. For example, when Scott writes …

We are not mind readers, say what’s really on your mind.

… I can’t help thinking how different his view is from my world. My wife has never had any trouble speaking her mind, some of my daughters do automatically, others don’t. And I don’t always. I don’t think this is a gender thing, certainly no more female than male.

And on this one:

We need our time alone: guys night out, man cave…

My response to this is: “wow, no offense to guy friends, but no thanks.” What with business to do, kids, family, trying to have a life … I never understood the guys’ night out syndrome. I never wanted it. Is that really just me? Or is that a matter of life, family, and work, leading to precious little down time, and not wanting to spend it with guy friends.

It reminds me of the recurring thread, not from Scott in this case, of people taking vacations from family. As my wife and I had kids, we never wanted vacations separate from them. Vacations were about them.

Then again, maybe it is me, maybe I am different. I’ve liked a lot of so-called “chick flix” in my day (which contradicts another point on Scott’s list) and I usually remember dates (which contradicts yet another). But I do match a lot of his points.

So why take issue? Because stereotyping genders worries me. Not that I don’t like gender differences; I do, that’s the spice of life. I’m all in favor of gender differences as long as we’re not talking about jobs, or opportunities, or compensation or freedom. And identifying men traits and women traits can even be useful (the Mars/Venus thing opened my eyes to some things I hadn’t seen before). But it makes me uncomfortable too. When Scott says, in his list of things women should know about men,

We want to be the leader and the protector… let us lead.

It worries me a bit because it hints at heirarchy, a leader and a follower, based on gender, in marriage. I guess I naturally have the instinct of protector maybe, in a physical way, male; when we used to take the kids up to the high country above Yosemite Valley, I was the one awake at night worrying about bears, because the rest of them assumed Daddy would keep them safe. But then my wife has been the mother bear protector of children sometimes more than me. She can be really scary. And, getting to the point, I don’t think marriage is about a leader and a follower. Let’s hope you have some of both, on both sides.

Another of Scott’s ten points is …

When we say nothing is wrong, “Nothing is wrong” nothing means nothing!

Good luck with that. Let me know how it goes. But, really, only one gender has trouble with this? I think not.

We want to be respected and appreciated.

Weird. What’s that doing here? Who doesn’t? What does this have to do with men and women? Is there anybody anywhere, man or woman, who doesn’t want to be respected an appreciated?

This is endearing, but it also gets old. Reminders of how we’re different can be a useful, even if we run down the list and they’re not exactly right for any one of uys. But the idea that some of this — like respect and appreciation, or leadership — are gender specific — is not that good for anybody. In my opinion.


  • fred says:

    we are male and female, men and women…not gender neutral…man and masculinity go together, woman and femininity go together…be a man…be a woman…or we end up with our modern dis-ordered gender-blurred society

  • ckstevenson says:

    Stereotypes (which aren’t inherentally a bad thing, only when misused) can be helpful, but as you note don’t always apply. When I read “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” I was surprised about how much I really agreed with. That’s based mostly on who I am, and who my wife is. Might not apply as well to others, but fit for me in a lot of ways.

    Concur 100% about the leadership element, however that is a relationship specific thing as well based in no small part on the backgrounds and biases of the people involved. I want a marriage that is as close to 50/50 on shared responsibilities and “leadership”. My wife originally didn’t, but the longer we’ve been together the more she shares my view. My goal is to always make sure we both know what is going on. I may not actively make decisions on certain things (decorating our house) but I want to understand why we’ve done what we’ve done. And same for her (I handle most finances, but there is 100% transparency and I make sure she knows how things work and why).

    Stereotypes are only useful as a starting point if we’re willing to be open-minded about the individual. If one can’t be open-minded, then they are harmful.

  • Niyah says:

    Tim, I couldn’t agree more with what you have said about stereotyping genders. It is a bad thing. I know this little boy who likes dolls. His family is worried that he is going to turn out gay so they scold him for “acting like a girl.” This behavior (scolding from family members) can seriously screw with a child’s psyche. If I was his parent I’d tell him playing with dolls is great because one day he’ll be a father and will need to know how to be gentle with babies. And if he is gay, love him anyway. Stereotyping genders, as Tim said, is worrisome and the only thing we need to know about each sex is that “girls have a vagina and boys have a penis.” And yes it’s proper to use anatomical language.

    On a different note… I do think that it is important for men and women to spend time with friends, even if it’s a drink a at the Lava Lounge or a burrito at the Saturday Market. Having friends is important. On the other hand I do know as I get older and time becomes more precious I’d much rather hang with my babes or my family. My favorite thing to do on Sundays is hanging out at my parents’ house watching sports. I tell my friends they can hang out with me there, lol.

    I disagree with the men leading thing, maybe that’s why I’m divorced. He thought he should lead, but marriage isn’t about leading, controlling or protecting. Marriage is about loving, communicating and teamwork (but not limited to) equally from both sexes. Men and women are actually very similar and we should teach our children and grandchildren not to stereotype or discriminate based on gender, it’s only a label.

  • bernard b carman says:

    greetings! i just want to say that i’m 43, and i believe Scott is right on target with women being far more apt to not speak their minds than do men — FAR MORE! 😎

    … on the heels of that, when a woman says, “nothing is wrong,” in the words of the cartoon crows, Heckel & Jekyll, “Don’t Believe It!” 😉

  • Amy Bryant says:

    Easy to see why you’ve been married for 40 years. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *