What in the world does it mean to “Act Like A Man?” That phrase has gone through my head over and over today. “Act Like A Man.” I suppose it derives from the traditional (and archaic) roles a man and a woman played within the family unit. The man was decisive; the woman subservient. The man was the protector; the woman needed to be protected. The man was the provider; the woman (and offspring) needed to be provided for. The man was the important ruler of the household. The woman was the kind, loving nurturer. Have these roles flip-flopped in many households? If they haven’t changed completely, the traditional lines of demarcation have certainly been blurred.
“Act Like A Man” is a phrase that I have thought of often over these past few months. I have watched, listened, and read the writings of certain men bellyaching about their situations in life as if they are powerless to implement a change. Everyone tells them what to do. Everyone does this or that and blames them, the poor helpless man. They lack drive and decisiveness. They lack accountability, responsibility, and integrity; traits of a REAL man. They want to be liked. These men are unable to take action in their own lives without the approval of practically everyone around them. They want to be Good Guys. Isn’t this approval-seeking traditionally a female trait? Of course, this fear of reapproval doesn’t stop them from doing whatever they want if they think that they won’t get caught. They please themselves when no one is looking.
As a woman in the business world, I feel like I must be strong, decisive, and beyond reproach or I won’t be taken seriously. I can’t falter. I can’t fail. I must believe in myself and not worry about the nay-sayers. There can’t be a chink in my armor. I don’t play golf. I’m not a jock. I’m not 6’2″. I can’t make a snide joke about the rack on the receptionist and get a jovial pat on my back. I don’t know the score of last night’s game. I don’t even care about last night’s game! I’m a tiny blonde woman and the mother of four kids. If I want to be taken seriously, I have to know my stuff. I must take myself and my career seriously. I don’t have the Good ‘Ol Boy’s Club to fall back on.
Just yesterday, a co-worker told me that he would not be attending a class with me later this month because his wife didn’t want him to be gone for three nights at the beginning of their children’s school year. WHAT? The timing is not good for me, either, but I feel that I don’t have a choice. If I want to attend this class (and I do need to attend) then I have to make it fit into my schedule. If I want to have a successful career, then there will be trade-offs. As a woman, I have to be extraordinarily careful not to let my personal life interfere with my duties at work (and sometimes, it about KILLS me!!!) Can you imagine a woman telling her boss that she couldn’t attend a class because her husband didn’t want her to go? Sure. It might happen, but she might as well kiss her career with that particular company goodbye. I felt like telling this guy to “Act Like A Man,” and to tell his wife that this class was important! Of course, I didn’t.
In my own home, T does most of the cooking and laundry. I work longer hours, and he picks up that slack. We often joke about it, and I tell him that he’s a great wife. I do all of the cleaning, though. I don’t think T has dusted or mopped a floor in his life! I pay the bills and balance the checkbook. He changes the oil in the cars. This summer, we stood on side by side ladders and painted the garage. We have an equitable balance of duties in our marriage. We have a good partnership. Not only is there a balance of the duties and responsibilities, there is a balance of respect. T expects me to Act Like A Man, and I expect the same from him. 🙂 Boy, does this ever cause problems from time to time! We have healthy and hearty disagreements, but we also listen to each other. We treat each other with the respect of equals.