Our world is becoming increasingly fractured.The ever-widening fault lines are distancing various factions: conservatives and liberals, rich and poor, elites and working-class regular folk. Although they’re growing, the separations between these kinds of groups are nothing new. There is one area of life where the polarization is both surprising and becoming increasingly worrisome. It’s not hyperbole to say that the future of humanity depends on two certain warring factions coming to the table together. If the battle between the sexes grows more vitriolic to the point where men and women refuse to have anything to do with each other, what’s to become of the human race?
I ask the question somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but only somewhat. Western birth rates keep dropping as the traditional family is attacked from all sides. Having children is viewed by some as an irresponsible decision for our overpopulated planet. Divorce rates continue to skyrocket. The #metoo movement presents women with the impression that all men are potential predators, and men in turn withdraw from women in the workplace through fear of false accusation.Women, through radical feminism, are taught to be (at the very least) suspicious of masculinity, and men, in response, turn increasingly to social movements like MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) where they eschew marriage or long-term relationships with women as too much of a risk.
I’m a forty-something, never-been-married “independent,” “modern” woman. (“Independent” only because I’ve had to be and “modern” only because I happened to be born when I was born.) But I’ve made a realization recently. I need men.
It’s not a new realization, exactly. Although I didn’t grow up with a dad from the time I was thirteen on, I never felt any male-deprivation because of my three older brothers, but I knew I’d be lost without their male input in my life. My mother was a strong, independent woman (she had to be), but she was heavily reliant on my adult brother who lived nearby. He was the go-to guy anytime she faced a fix-it challenge that was too much for her skill level.
Many women don’t like to admit even this much, but we, as women, are physically dependent on men. I don’t usually find a jar lid I can’t manage, but I’ve never paved a highway or built a house from the ground up. Men are the ones doing the predominant heavy-lifting. It’s simply inaccurate to claim that women can do anything men can do. We wouldn’t have separate men and women’s categories in the Olympics if this fact weren’t plain common sense.
The realization that I physically need men in my life is not new, but what is a new realization for me is the emotional or spiritual or inner need I have for the masculine in my life. Even without a husband or boyfriend, I still need men in my life to be a complete human being. My gender and I are only half the human equation. A world populated entirely by females (would not be populated at all, obviously, but for the sake of the argument, let me continue…) would be half a world. So would a world populated entirely by males. In ways I can’t quite put into words, we need the balance of the opposite. Both men and women, all on our own, are lacking.
The longer I live life, the more I see it: It’s not meant to be a battle. It’s meant to be a dance. Attempting to live life without the complementary other piece of the human race is like attempting a pair’s dance all on one’s own. Very quickly, something starts to look wrong.
But what does this mean for women like me who are single and likely to remain so? How can my need for men in my life be met if not by a mate? And what’s my role as a woman in the lives of the men in my life? How do I find my part in the partner dance that is the human race?
I’m working through that question these days, and I haven’t fully arrived at any answers. I think the first step has been the realization of this need. The second step for me, I believe, is not to focus on me and my needs. I am blessed with some great men in my life – friends and family members. I’ve become more aware of their emotional needs as men (yes, men have emotional needs), and my minuscule role in helping meet their needs. It’s strange for me to think that the men in my life could need me in any way when I’m accustomed to relying on them for so much. But the more I become aware of “the dance,” the more I see that they need me, too. I can affirm them in their masculinity. I can express my gratitude for all they do for me in their uniquely masculine ways. I can do my small part to defend them from a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to any kind of masculinity. I can let them know repeatedly that I appreciate them for the very good men they are.
I’m finding these small actions starting to fill up the hunger to have my own needs met. I’m starting to feel like I’ve precariously stumbled out onto the dance floor and am hesitatingly and clumsily but bravely beginning to learn the steps.