To the Lovely Young Gentlemen with whom I am delighted to be acquainted,
Listen up lads, there’s something we need to tell you:
Your mothers raised you right.
We girls often complain about how hard it is not to be a feminist and how we get made fun of or even pitied because we are unashamedly complementarian. But I realised the other day that it must be so much harder for you guys to stick by your values and regardless of what other people have said, I know they are your values because I’m cheeky enough to ask (and because you behave well towards all people, not just young women). Women have the right (though it is looked down on) to reject feminism. Men? Not so much.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we (who should be helping) make things difficult for you. I’m sorry that we treat your kindness with suspicion but please don’t give up, bear with us. Some of us at least are learning what men and women should be.
During the Summer, for example, I was at church. I’d picked up a tray full of tea and was about to take it out of the kitchen when a lovely young gentleman (I’ll call you LYGs from here, it’s easier) offered to take the tray for me. To him, I have no idea what the hesitation looked like. Inside though, it was a hard, split-second struggle between myself and my inner feminist. It went something like this:
IF: No! I can do it!
Me: He’s not saying you can’t. He’s saying you’re tired and you know it, you don’t need to.
IF: I’m stronger than he is, I don’t need his help!
Me: Shut up, that’s not the point. He wants to help.
Then I handed it over (probably blushed) and said thank you, knowing full well how happy it makes that particular LYG to be helpful.
There’s two points to that illustration. The first is, dear LYGs, please bear with us if we don’t appear to appreciate your manners. We do, but we need to learn to appreciate them more, especially those of us who because of state-schooling are struggling to overcome the mantra we were taught that we are strong, independent women what don’t need nobody and never will. I actually have a very strongly feminist friend who outright rebuked me saying ‘you don’t need his help.’
True. But I appreciate the kindness and the serving heart it displays.
Besides (and this is point two), we’re learning that just like all people, guys like to be needed. Humans just don’t exist as independent, self-reliant entities. We weren’t made that way. We were made to be communities.
So we understand that you like to help. So we let you carry stuff even when we can do it ourselves (thanks for that); we give you vegetables to chop even though it’d be quicker to do it ourselves (cooking is a social activity anyway huh?); we let you drive us home even though we’d rather walk (good chats to you); we try to finish the million cups of tea you make (I know, you wouldn’t think so would you?); some of us are even learning to take compliments even though we find it crawl-under-a-rock-awkward (thanks for showing you care).
I guess what I’m trying to say is hello, we know you’re out there and we (some of us girls) really appreciate you. We know it’s hard. We don’t care if the rest of the world calls you chauvinistic or patriarchal or outdated or whatever the latest buzzword is because we know you aren’t like that. You are young men, trying to be godly, trying to live by biblical principles in every area of your life, that’s why you are such lovely young gentlemen.
We need you. And we need more of you for sure.
Sod culture. You aren’t weird. You aren’t old fashioned. You’re trying to be who you should be in Christ and we’re trying too — so let’s work at this together. Keep going. Keep learning. And we’ll try and help you and build you up and encourage you all that we can. You are doing good guys. Honestly. Sibling to sibling, you’re doing just fine.
Hold the door. Help your mum. Make the tea. Advise your sister. Honour your dad. Mow the old lady’s lawn. Keep a grumpy old man company. Make that amazing rocky road (yes you! one of my favourite LYGs). Give up your seat.
Dumb things. Small things. Things that the rest of the world can pretty much do for itself or live without. But doing these things show what is in your heart.
We’re just learning too my dear LYGs. But thank you for all that you are teaching, for all that you don’t realise you are teaching. You are showing us what we, as women, should be and making it that little bit easier by your attitudes and actions. You aren’t saying that we are incapable or that you are somehow superior to us. You are leading by example by saying let me serve you.
The example you are setting is one I want to follow. One we can look up to. We need that.
Don’t give up my LYGs. We are thankful for you. We love you as our brothers. And no matter what anyone else says, we need you and we are not offended, but encouraged by you.