In Praise of Men

After the umpteenth “why black women ain’t shit” article hit the Internet today, I decided, once and for all, that I was done.  I’ve read the books and most of the articles.  Today, I realized I was committing spiritual suicide. 

Intellectually, I told myself the men writing these books and articles and blog posts are projecting their own insecurities and fears onto black women.

Emotionally, though, I wondered if should try luring a man by following their rules.  I would assume all men only wanted one thing, and I would keep it special by denying it.  I would stop cracking jokes and being funny.  I would tell them how smart they are and say nothing that could be construed as intimidating.  I would express no opinion that disagreed with theirs.  I wouldn’t ask them to buy me things (not that I ever did).  I would be adoring.  I would never complain.

I would write a blog post about it.

And then I said, oh, hell no.

There is a discussion about the schism between black men and black women that is worth having, but “why black women can’t find a good man” isn’t it.  The real issues are too complex and too deep to cover in 140 characters on Twitter or in an 800-word blog post.

So instead, I want to talk about how much I love men.

Truth be told, bitter brothers represent no one but themselves and their ilk.  Men who spill poison about women to mask their pain from failed relationships, men who start conversations with women only to belittle their every thought and idea, are not representative of the men I know and admire.

I count many men among my friends and casual acquaintances.  I wrote “Men Aren’t Simple” not to denigrate men, but to talk about frustratingly, fascinatingly, wonderfully complex they are.   

Shortly after my divorce judgment was final, a friend’s husband asked me what I had learned from my experience.  Without hesitation, I answered: “Choose better.”  I chose the wrong man for me.  He might be the right man for someone else.  I’m not bitter, either towards my ex or towards men in general. 

There was a time when I was guilty of loving men too much, of loving them more than myself.  I was teased for falling in love too easily.  I measured my value by the level of my attractiveness to men.  I collected them like trophies: the athlete, the musician, the banker, the engineer, the architect.  I preferred tall men with perfect or near-perfect bodies who accepted me with all my magnified flaws and imperfections.  I hurtled from one to the next, barely giving myself a chance to ask, “What is it that you want?  What are you getting out of this, other than some d**k?”

My 8-year relationship with my ex-husband cured me of that way of thinking, hopefully for good.

The five years since my divorce have been a long journey back to me.  For a couple of years, I immersed myself into single motherhood.  I made my kids my focus.  I didn’t want to be visible to the opposite sex.  I shrouded myself in excess weight and cat-hair-covered fleece.

I discovered that men noticed me anyway. 

And I discovered that I still liked being noticed.

I shed the weight and stopped hiding.  I threw away (most of) the fleece, and gave bags of too-big clothing to Goodwill.  And I rediscovered the beauty of men.

I love the way men look.  I love the way they smell.  I love being in a man’s arms.  I love that nervous, girly, silly feeling I get when I’m talking to the object of my latest crush, and he looks me in my eyes, and I feel all melty inside, just like I never stopped being 12.

I love that part of a man’s body where torso becomes hip becomes groin.

My love of men began with my love of a black man — my father — but it is not limited to black men.  I find beauty in men of all races.  I still crave beauty, but I’ve learned to find beauty beyond the physical.  I once only dated men of a certain height and body type.  I’m now much more interested in what lies inside.

Self-confidence and intelligence are sexy as hell.  Bitterness and insecurity are not.

I adore and appreciate the beauty and strength in men, even when we disagree. 

And I know good men feel the same way about us women.

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14 Responses to “In Praise of Men”

  1. Tweets that mention In Praise of Men « Carolyn A. Edgar -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by starfishncoffee and LoveMySkip, Carolyn Edgar. Carolyn Edgar said: In Praise of Men: http://wp.me/psOZx-9r […]

  2. KayRenee Says:

    I agree with the sentiment that this friction between black men and women really isn’t about why Black women can’t find men. I suspect it has much more to do with the gender role reversal taking place and the insecurity many men experience because they’re not really sure of where they fit in anymore. It’s definitely not an issue that can be condensed in a tweet, a post or an ABC special.

    I really like what you did here. Despite attacks and insults, it is important for us to refrain from getting too involved in a battle that has very little to do with the root of the problem. It’s so difficult to do that when the attacks seem constant and increasingly hurtful and hateful. But I do think it’s important for us to let men know, especially black men, that they are loved, valued, and respected. With all that’s being flung our way, it’s easy to forget to say that.

  3. return2thesource Says:

    Nice post. Thank you, Carolyn.

  4. Saida M Latigue Says:

    Carolyn, thank you for sharing this viewpoint ; hopefully soon, a collective healing will begin.

  5. aaw1976 Says:

    Beautiful post. It is quite good. As usual you are honest thoughtful and on time.

  6. Chanelle Schneider Says:

    That would be an interesting experiment, though. How many women have been everything a man wants and still can’t find happiness? I think an experiment and the resulting blog post would only show that what men think they want isn’t what they need.

  7. [fung'ke][blak][chik] Says:

    “I once only dated men of a certain height and body type. I’m now much more interested in what lies inside…”

    I am learning this as I type.

    Carolyn, you rock!

  8. Onika Pascal Says:

    I’ve been single for so long that I’m not even sure if I appeal to men anymore. After my heartbreak 2 years ago, I went into the same mode…minus the cat filled fleece. But, I did immerse into myself. School, my son, work, travels. But there are nights I long for those very arms & adult conversation that can help erase the pressure of the office stress. Despite my hurt back then, I don’t own a t-shirt that says “damn all men to hell”…I still love men…and like you, not just blacks. If he provides satisfaction to an attraction, comes equipped for companionship, respect, love, et al, I’m sold. I’m a sucker for love, but its not limited.

    now after reading this, I need to figure out how to get back into being a “love magnet”

  9. A.Smith Says:

    “I love that part of a man’s body where torso becomes hip becomes groin.”

    THIS!

    Ahhh… such a refreshing post. I loved this, Carolyn.

  10. Tarana Says:

    Ooooh Carolyn! This is a great post! I am often involved in conversations where I end up bemoaning what ails our community. But you have touched on what’s right! We have to ignore what this nagging group of pop culture psuedo intellectuals are spewing and white media is spinning and begin speaking directly to each other! Bravo.

    Oh and this line:
    “I love that part of a man’s body where torso becomes hip becomes groin.”

    My sentiments exactly!

  11. reverenddrdash Says:

    We are awesome.

  12. DD Says:

    Awesome post! I agree that the real issues are too complex and too deep, but I think you summarized it very well in that we should all appreciate the beauty and strength in one another even when we disagree.

  13. al3aab Says:

    I have to say I am impressed with your blog and I will save its RSS to be alerted whenever you make a new post. Keep up the good work.

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