Women Need to Get Their Acts Together
My title is meant to be satirical but I fully believe that my writing would gain more traction with folks if I did adopt messaging along the lines of the title. It seems to me that there is a decent-sized market for men who position themselves as experts on dating and other gendered phenomena, and whose expertise is primarily aimed at and consumed by women. The success of Steve Harvey’s literary contributions on relationships first comes to mind but I know of many other men with similar platforms built on giving advice to women on how to date, how to be good partners to men, how to approach sexual encounters, and how to otherwise carry themselves. Having been raised in the Baptist church, the experience of male leaders guiding female congregations is very familiar to me and I don’t find anything inherently wrong with this model as I don’t believe that human beings should limit themselves to growth that is only offered by some kinds of people. However, I must say that I do find the proliferation of men dropping knowledge on women to be somewhat problematic and at least strange.
I might feel differently if there was a reciprocal market of some kind but I can think of no example where primarily-male audiences flock to a woman to hear male-oriented advice on relationships, sex, or … well, anything (please correct me if you have one). For all of the talk that I hear of women having greater emotional intelligence than men, I see very few women teaching men about emotional intelligence. I only see reminders of the cultural notion that men are the primary gatekeepers of wisdom.
I might also feel differently if I believed that we were cultivating leaders capable of challenging male behavior with the same vigor that we lift up those who critique female behavior. So much of these leaders’ advice earns a sideways glance from me because I cannot help but wonder if some of these men lack the courage to be as bold in critiquing male behavior. As the gender imbalance concerns commentary on sexual violence, sexual harassment, and other related culture epidemics, the wealth of male guidance for women only reinforces the common belief that preventing these things is women’s business. Many men already see female provocateurs as the primary culprits of gendered violence and so many other social ills, and there is thus nothing for them to do themselves when it comes to enacting solutions. This is a shame because all men would find some work to be done if we look inwards. This is a lesson that I learned just as much from women as from men throughout my life so I think that we could stand to have a little more balance among the ranks of relationship experts.