Don’t Give me that Bull shit about Women being too Complex to Understand! A friend sent a picture the other day to an exclusively male whatsApp group I belong to. It had two piles of books. The smaller pile was labeled “Men” and the sky-high pile was titled ‘Women: Part I’.
It got me thinking about how somehow society has succeeded in describing female complexity as a defect that makes them too complicated, pedantic, untenably emotional and illogical, trivial and too serious, over thinking and mostly impractical. This view is in large part because the definition of what are the accepted levels of human complexity have somehow been defined mostly by men.
As a boy, I attended a single-sex boarding school and that shaped the early stages of my manhood. The type of manhood in which you had to somehow increasingly prove how much of a man you were by meeting a set standard of manliness–boys don’t cry, boys must play or love football or basketball, you must not be too expressive of your feelings of hurt or betrayal, you must not duel in conflict, you have to talk about girls and sex in graphic ways, depict yourself as having aggressive control over girls and how they are longing and lusting for you.
Somehow, in all of this, I never got one story of any friend who had experienced pain and heartbreak or who was struggling with those feelings. Everybody was a hard man!
Well, I later learned that some of the stories were made up to feed into the stereotype. Most of us were afraid of talking to girls; talk less of asking them out. But we imprisoned those feelings in this cage of pretence and hardness because we never wanted to be depicted as female-like. Somehow being female-like was a bad thing because you will be too deep in your thinking, prudish about crime and immorality, emotional and too soft, vulnerable to hurt and pain etc. This was the rule and I later learned that most boys had been brought up in similar ways.
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In the university I had a friend who cooked better than his girlfriend and loved doing it but was always shy about people knowing his love for cooking because it would make him look feminine.
I had been told a story of a friend who had broken down into tears when his girlfriend had jilted him and another who had attempted suicide by drinking bleach because his girl cheated on him. In these stories, the boys had been depicted as weak and feminine. They were supposed to just move on, put up a brave face, get another girl and remain hard men!
Vulnerability was not an option. In fact, the one who had attempted suicide had later tried wooing a girl, and we warned the girl to tread carefully because she might one day be handling his corpse if she dares to leave him.
In that sense, then you can understand why men will seem less complex because we have been given this strict guideline on what we must not do to make us look sensitive, vulnerable, and deep. We see women as some sort of aesthetically gratifying gender with very ornamental roles– with sex, domestic work and reproduction being foremost. So when they do not act within this stereotype, they become this complex equation that we can’t seem to crack.
My best friend is female. She is perhaps the most perceptive human I know and she has provided me with so much access to understanding women but also to understanding how less of a man I was by trying so hard to fulfill the stereotypes of a hard man. So since I grew to know her, she has been my sounding board on a whole lot of my emotional issues which ideally I had to bottle up to appear hard.
I began seeing that we were essentially alike. She made me understand how manly it is to accept my vulnerabilities and weaknesses, fears and complications and to see my complexities as clearly as they are. Not just as a man but as a human being. The first time I ever broke down in front of a female, we became closer, she felt she had finally gained access and she appreciated me more because I showed I had several shades.
These shades are what females show which we now give the epithets — too complex, too emotional, too sensitive, difficult to understand, nagging and for the men who have weaned themselves from the slavery of being a hard man, we call them feminine. That’s bullshit!
By Kwoh Elonge