Five Things I Took from 'What Men Want to Say to Women (But Can't)'
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Bestselling author and cultural commentator Denise McAllister's newest book, What Men Want to Say to Women (but Can't), gives many women living in today's modern feminist-driven war on men some hard truths about the beauty of the differences between masculinity and femininity without the scolding, harsh tone of many cultural commentaries. Instead, McAllister blends compassion, humor, a Christian spirit, classic literary and current pop culture references, and some very, very frank talk to help share how women can lift up, love and appreciate the men in their lives, all while maintaining their own value and dignity.
As a mother of two strong and independent daughters, I tackled this book with the intention of gathering ways for the women of my children's generations, and those after, to learn to grow as determined, confident individuals without falling in the trap that "strong women don't need men" in their lives. I also learned a few things about the men in my own life, from my octogenarian father to my Gen X husband of more than 25 years.
Here are five things in McAllister's book I found particularly compelling.
Narcissism, particularly when hidden behind the mask of "equal rights," can lead to a miserable and lonely life.
In her opening chapter, "Feminism Fatale," McAllister discusses how men have, despite what is often depicted in commentary and modern pop culture, for the most part been very welcoming of the powerful working women among them. Yet being able to have a equal playing field to strive for one's goal isn't enough for some. All masculinity must be wiped clean from the workplace in order for a woman to fully realize her goals (or what she has been told again and again what she feels her progressive goals towards equality should be).
This attitude is exceptionally self-centered and narcissistic, as it sells the ideas the natural born traits of others, of men, are nothing but a mere stumbling block for a woman's advancements. McAllister lets us know that "equality" doesn't necessarily mean "as good as." It means "the same as." Women and men are not equal in this latter sense. Wanting all traits of both sexes removed for the sake of "equality" is like forcing both an apple and orange lose their distinct flavors so they can be "equal." Take the differences between men and women away, or try to adhere equal amounts of both male and female traits to everyone, makes for some bland, lonely, disillusioned individuals.
We can't overlook the need for due process just because we think our intentions are good.
I remember recently when the #MeToo movement began storming the castle of social media, it was nice to see some Hollywood scumbags like Harvey Weinstein start to get their comeuppance. However, I feared this sudden flood of accusations and confessions could quickly mutate into a tool for vengeance and political gains. I was right, sadly, as although #MeToo was originally a valuable tool in letting women (and some men) speak up about their dealings with true sexual predators, it became the rally cry for humiliating every man who took someone on a bad date, or every regretful sexual encounter of one's past.
When #MeToo morphed with "Believe All Women" it grouped all men into these predatory, lecherous, monsters ready to pounce on all these honest, noble and upstanding women. Innocent until proven guilty was scoffed at rather than followed.
In her chapter "Believe Men," McAllister shares the common sense truth that there are some very bad men in this world, but also some very bad women. Evil is a plague of the human condition; all humans. It is not one that attaches itself to just one gender while the other remains forever innocent and honest.
"The truth is that some men lie, some men are immoral, some men are abusers. This truth, however, applies to the entire human race and not to one particular sex," McAllister writes. "Some women lie, some women are immoral, some women are abusers."
If we lose track of this simple truth, fair judgement goes out the door, and we create a self-fulfilling prophecy of men as perpetual predators and women as eternal victims.
The notion of a world with only one gender is horrifying.
As I mentioned, McAllister's first chapter made me take a look (at least in my interpretation) at how trying to eliminate the natural leadership abilities of men for some women to further their own ambitions is a form of narcissism. In the chapter, "Men—Yes, We Need Them," this idea of women wanting the world to evolve into a sort of Femme Utopia without needing men is smug and mean-spirited.
I have no problem with the notion of "Girl Power," and happily celebrate the strong women in my life, yet I find, as McAllister does, this idea of "The Future is Female" as nothing short of terrifying. Why on earth would anyone, women or men, want to live without the other sex? Yet, when the sneaky beast of intersectionality worms its way into some of the original, good goals of early feminism and suffrage, it becomes a race to see who can be the first to eliminate all men, or at least the value and usefulness of all men, from society. This is yet another way for humans to become more isolated, lonely, and miserable.
In a later chapter, McAllister shows several statistics of how fatherless homes are devastating to children. Even when there are plenty of examples of bad marriages, bad parenting, and successful single people, the general truth remains the sexes need each other. Men need women and, yes, women do need men.
"If women or men continue to be alone, they will never find healing," McAllister writes. "What we need most in our society is not more individualism in a nihilistic sense, but more unity as men and women live together as complements, not as distant adversaries."
Chivalry is not chauvinism.
The chapter "Men As Warriors (Women Aren’t Superheroes)" caught my attention, because I grew up in a comic-book reading and sci-fi loving culture, as well as sharing an equal love for both my slot car set and my dolls. I had plenty of heroic women growing up, from Wonder Woman to Storm to Batgirl, but that didn't mean I didn't have favorite male heroes like Batman and Han Solo. This also didn't mean my love of escapism and make believe (which I still enjoy) misled me to think all women in real life can match men pound for pound in physical strength and courage if we all just put our minds to it.
McAllister not only shared in this chapter her own experiences growing up as a tough and athletic kid, she also notes there are some women who do have the physical prowess to match any man. However, that doesn't mean women don't need their male knight in shining armor to protect them, love them, and defend them. Yes, the impulsive nature of men to be the aggressive defender of honor does sometimes need to be blanketed with politeness and self-control, but reconditioning men to be "less manly" and more touchy feelly isn't the answer. McAllister used several examples from action heroes like John Wick to classic novel protagonists like Atticus Finch, as well as her own mental and emotional battles to illustrate the need for men to always be ready to be the valiant protector, should the situation demand.
It is common that more and more women are venturing into the workforce, and men are picking up more duties at home (this is fine on both counts), but that doesn't mean men can't still be the heroes and guardians their family deserves and desires.
If we, both men and women, want to find ourselves, we should also seek to find God.
Although McAllister's Christian faith is evident throughout the book, her final chapter, "Crisis of Identity," really brings home the concept that men were created in God's image and God has a plan for them all. The chapter deals with the notion that we've been taught to take so much stock in our own "feelings," but feelings don't determine reality. She delves into the overreach of feelings-over-facts culture such as the "personal pronouns" and the corruptions of people's sexual natures. It all seems to be spiraling so fast into a crazy, irrational chaos, but McAllister ends the book with some hope.
She concludes her writings with the Christian ideal that Man is created in God's image, and God is love. We, as humans, are reflected in His love and both men and women are part of the complicated and beautiful web of the human experience.
"Masculinity, like femininity, is part of the matrix of humanity that cannot be recast by the individual," she writes. "We can’t take shears to ourselves in the name of autonomy without cutting ourselves to pieces, leaving us to be glued back together by someone with an agenda to make us into their image."
Through all of modern society's trying to bring autonomy to the genders by erasing the natural traits that make men and women their own beings, letting the God-given differences of men and women shine through is one thing that draw us all together in the end.
What Men Want to Say to Women (But Can't) is available at Amazon in both hardback and Kindle format.
Book cover © Publisher Bombardier Books.