The problem with men being told to man/step up

Ok, so I need to preface this with the following: read to the end before you set fire to this post. I can see people already wanting to present high-fives or pulling out their pitchforks halfway through, but there is a twist at the end. So, do for me what I do for everyone: give me the benefit of a doubt.

I am tired of hearing men being to told to “man up” (such as a recent article by Mat Walsh) or “step up.” It has reached epic proportions of bashing and it really does nothing but develop a sense of resentment. There are a lot of men who do, there are a lot of men who put themselves out there and take a risk, but it feels increasingly like women do nothing wrong (because no one is chastising women for their contribution to the hell that is dating) and all the onus of dating is placed on men.

Case in point: in this past weeks, I started conversations with 5 women. ALL five, within the first 10 minutes of conversation immediately went straight to “I don’t want to date you,” “I’m not romantically interested,” “I am only looking for friends,” and various other forms of completely shutting me down for just starting a conversation. How often do you expect men to want to “step up” when they are consistently shot in the face? How can a man “step up” when he is told right from the get go that all a woman is looking for is friendship, so put it a cork in your emotions and interest.

If a man accepts the boundary because they like someone, they give the woman what they want. They give them friendship and won’t take it further because they want to be in that woman’s life, however, she already made it clear that there is nothing more to get. To make it more confusing, the new friend may start flirting, then shoot the guy down again if he takes it for a sign of interest. And now you have it: men being told to “step up” because they are giving women exactly what they declared wanting from the beginning, and reinforced during, – friendship.

And women wonder why men don’t “step up.”

Then, men who were able to find the unicorn of honesty in a relationship then pontificate about how men should be doing exactly what they did. Well, guess what buddy, we are TRYING to find those women, you just got lucky/blessed/attacked by the right woman. We all wish for that too, but for those of us in the real world, we are doing our darnedest to be respectful of what women claim they want, and respectful of the boundaries that they impose.

BUT… (and here is the twist.)

I totally understand why women build these “within 10 minute, 20ft tall, razor wired, mine prepped, and rabid dog monitored” walls. I understand, and it is a problem within the general male community. It has nothing to do with us stepping up and everything to do with the snarling, angry bear in the room – the men who put fear into women by their reactions to being rejected.

See, when I was a cop I was yelled at a lot. I was told I was being mean because I was stoic, hard, and demanding specific information before I would soften. EVERY cop, like EVERY woman has a good reason for this – safety. You may know you are a good person, but I don’t know you are. All I know is that you are a stranger, you could be dangerous, and, if you decide to be dangerous, I need people to know who you are so they can hunt you down if you do kill me.

The problem isn’t with men being unwilling to step up, the problem is with the dirt bag men who, when they step up and a woman says she wants more than a 5 minute conversation before she is willing to entertain any further contact, turn into really horrible people. There are men out there, and unfortunately they are the ones most likely to “step up,” who feel that just because they are showing interest, they are entitled to a date, a conversation, or a relationship.

Well, sir, you are wrong. And, I am comfortable in saying, are a complete louse in society and should be outed as the low life miscreant you are. Unfortunately, those men will most likely not be reading this post.

It is prior experience with angry, self-important, and entitlement minded men that make it hard for men like me (of whom I would like to believe sits comfortably in the good-guy category), to properly court and entreat a woman. It is these men of bad behavior that make it difficult for good men to get past the wall, and women to feel safe allowing men to try.

The problem isn’t any of the man-shaming articles that seem to drop like rain in Seattle, but the underlying problem of bad men making it hard for women to trust any man.

So what happens? Good men give up and stick to themselves in faith that the Lord will present someone, resulting in more bad men in the pool of potential mates. This perpetuates the cycle in a dispensation where it has been prophesied that righteous men would be as gold, good men are fewer, and when they are constantly hitting walls created out of reaction to bad men, most of them give up.

What to do about it

So, what do we do with this increasing cycle of dysfunction? I do have answers, as I am sure you are surprised:

  1. If you are someone that gets angry with a woman for putting up a wall or rejecting your entreatments, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. So just freaking stop it. No quality woman is going to be impressed with infantile temper tantrums of entitlement.
  2. If you are a good guy and you know a bad guy who is doing this, talk to him. If he won’t be talked to, help the ladies out because they don’t want to start conflict over these guys and often, these guys get away with it because the women aren’t taken seriously. THIS is where a good man can step up.
  3. If you are a good man, be patient and understanding. Be clear of your intentions. Honestly, I don’t want a relationship with someone I can’t be friends with first, but I am also clear in my intentions. My first intention is for them to feel genuinely and sincerely safe that I am not one of those bad guys. If I am still shut down, depart with grace. Women talk and they know who the bad guys are, typically, but even more – you are a priesthood holder and it is beneath your station to make women feel unsafe.
  4. This one is for women: instead of pounding men from the initiation of a conversation, wait until they actually ask you out on a date before casting men emotionally to the back. It is an emotional risk for us, we are being vulnerable, so being hit in the face with the shovel of friendship, even rejection, hurts. Like, a lot. Let the conversation go. You say you want to be friends, then act like a friend. If you genuinely do not want to take the time to include them in your life, say so directly.
  5. Women: If you don’t feel safe, if you feel you are being manipulated, and/or if you feel you have set reasonable boundaries (a reasonable boundary is not “I am not romantically interested” after a 10 minute conversation) and they are pushing them, then put down the brakes. Hard, fast, and clearly.
  6. If you put down the brakes and the guy shows his true colors of being abusive, mean spirited, or just an a-hole, let the good men know and we will handle it.

Until we can establish trust, until safety can be had for both, we are going to continue down this rabbit hole of blaming and shaming. Calling out men to step up only emboldens the bad men and makes the good men want to quit. Instead, let’s establish ground rules and boundaries, agree to those, and be patient to see what comes. Always with an ear to the Spirit.

1 Comment

  1. Excellent list Rick. Being willing to have the courage to be vulnerable to another person is crucial for our development. Walls weren’t already there when we were born and pain was the builder. We can all do better.

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