What Do Men Want?

Are men shutting down in this age of feminist rage? Talk to me first.

If you ask any of the men I’ve dated they’re likely, at some point, to roll their eyes and say what an inveterate motormouth I can be. I’m not usually talking about myself. Rather, after the seduction and snogging, I’m more likely to pepper them with questions about what they find most frustrating about having relationships these days and how they feel about long-term love and its requirements.

Not only has this line of inquiry led to my more nuanced feelings about infidelity and monogamy, it has also made me think about how infrequently men’s raw feelings about love and sex are written or spoken about.

It’s very easy these days, as a woman, to express our feelings about What Women Want. Over the past century, that has given us Suffragettes, women’s rights and #MeToo. I’m a big fan of where our female collective efforts have landed us in the 21st Century. And though we do have more ground to cover, in the US especially where Trumpian attitudes have gained undeserved traction, I feel fairly comfortable being a woman in the modern world. (Don’t think I am naive to my privilege as an educated white woman. That is another topic altogether.)

However, there’s a whole lot of shouting going on and the rage I hear pouring out of some women at the moment might be hurting our cause. There’s a fine line between reasoned debate and a dressing down. When women scream about how awful men can be, I can’t help but think of Rush Limbaugh and his diatribe over young women wanting birth control. Just as I think his depiction of sexually active women as sluts and whores so utterly ridiculous, women who focus disproportionately on the men who have been colossal fuck ups are missing out on strengthening their ties with the good men of the world. As this article in Wired highlights, outrage begets outrage, and as the list of male abusers continues to grow, it almost feels irresponsible, as a woman, not to join in on the shaming.

I don’t want to go there. I want to listen to what men have to say. If I think they’re full of shit, I’ll tell them nicely. But until a person feels heard, we can’t possibly expect to understand their story.

I’ve had more than one man tell me that men are really very simple creatures. There’s no hidden agenda to their absent mindedness or preoccupation with sex. They often feel under pressure by women to ‘change’ and then confused when their female partners change without being requested to do so. There’s a gender gap of understanding that isn’t much straddled because we’re all too busy talking about what we want, not trying to understand what our partners want.

In this post #MeToo climate, I believe a lot of men are shutting down. They are scared and confused by the expectations of them as modern husbands and lovers. Their every gesture is scrutinized and possibly misinterpreted. Were I to be a man in 2018, I might decide to take a break from romance, grow out my hair and join a meditation drum circle.

Before you do so, take my survey about ‘What Men Want Women to Know’.

The survey is anonymous and is a guy’s opportunity to tell it like it is (for you). Shout all you want. No one needs to know it’s you. But I’ll be looking at your responses and writing a much larger piece to a much larger audience about what I’m hearing men say.

It’s not rocket science. Anything I write will be anecdotal, based on the survey responses. What I hope it will do is give my male respondents the mouthpiece they’re afraid to use right now, and hopefully connect with the women who love them so we can better fathom each other.

Non-defensive listening and engagement is key to cooperative change, especially when it comes to the relationships we care about most. In order to do that at home, and within the wider world as well, both men and women need to understand each other better. My aim, through the stories of men, is to assist with that conversation. I’ve got the female brain; you have the male one. Talk to me, sweetheart.

Love, Karin

To take this survey, please follow this link.

Write to me: relationships@ermagazine.org

Twitter me: @mskarinjones

Visit my website: Savvy-Love.com

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