Men. I love them. A lot.
Perhaps that is why I dated over 40 men in the short time after my divorce and before I married again. I wanted an education in men. You can learn more about that from my TEDx talk but today I'm exploring the subject of men more deeply.
It likely all started with my Dad. He is strong, kind, and funny in the sick way that I enjoy. He is a steady force in my life, and his ability to be a man who cares for his family never went unnoticed. My Dad worked offshore in the oil fields and would disappear in a boat or helicopter for 7 long days. Then for 7 days, he was ours! Not like the other dads I heard about coming home late from work, distracted and uninterested in their family. He was there, committed, picking me up from school, kissing my Mom and splitting my sides with laughter.
My love of men continues now with my husband who is witty, steady and paradoxically distant and available simultaneously. He seems to possess an unaffected disinterest until you realize he is overwhelmed by the stimuli that affects a brain which records everything. He can fix computers and sinks and people. He is strong when I am weak. He also lets me catch him when he falls.
I cannot resist the way he cares for my daughter or fixes problems for our family. I've heard that many women just want to be heard, that they don't want a man to fix their problems. I could never relate to this: just fix my problem, please! And after it is fixed, let's celebrate and move on. His ability to fix things turns me on. Is this what makes him a man?
I'm more eager than ever to explore the way my grey matter tries to categorize people and understand what to expect based on their gender, race, age, income, religion, geography . . . Our brains naturally look at other people searching for similarities, differences, past experiences with someone new in an attempt to relate. No human is immune to making judgments and gathering information about the people around them.
It has me questioning what a man is. The qualities I admire in my favorite men don’t fit the typical stereotypes. My husband likes to help me shop for clothes. My Dad enjoys sitting with the women talking at parties because ladies dig him, and he doesn't like sports. I love both of these "unmanly" qualities.
When I think about myself as a woman, the truth is that most of the qualities I am proud of are far from the traditional view of feminine. I'm loud, strong, bold, irreverent, and risk-loving. I'd bet my husband would list these among my best attributes - the ones that helped land him.
So, the truth is. I don't just love men. I also love women. I love people. I enjoy learning the makeup of a person and discovering the characteristics I would have expected and the ones I never would have guessed. After all, isn't it the unexpected discoveries in a person that truly delight our soul and endear us to this unique creature?
I'm a feminist who loves men. I'm a person who loves people. I'll continue to push the boundaries around my expectations of people and stoke my flames of appreciation for the qualities that fit the mold and those that don't. How do you open your mind to allow the unexpected beauty of the human race?