Sunday, May 3, 2015
I'm sometimes perplexed by glaring inconsistencies in culture that get overlooked. For example, why is it so commonly accepted that women are these complex and mysterious creatures that are so difficult to understand and make happy. I'm sure you've all seen the picture ^ of a huge chalkboard full of complicated equations, or the 5,000 page volume cheekily labeled "How to Make Women Happy: An Introduction." We all chuckle a bit, hit "share" because it's funny, and move on without thinking about it for more than a few seconds.
But what if you do think about it for more than a few seconds? Are women really that difficult to understand, or are we too self absorbed to realize how screwed up this notion is?
It seems like what it really comes down to is an inability to care deeply about the interests of others. We understand what makes "us" happy, because we're inside our own heads. We're instantly aware of sensations, cravings, feelings, or emotions that pop up. We don't need to have thirty minute conversations with ourselves to know what to do in order to satisfy these feelings. We just know.
But when it comes to our spouses, significant others, or prospective romantic partners--most of whom are of the opposite sex due a systemic cultural gender binary, which is a gripe for another time--it takes a little more effort to discern their immediate needs, wants, or feelings. We don't have an immediate connection with their conscious mind, so we have to use these awkward things called language and communication to figure them out.
We perceive this activity as difficult because the focus is no longer on ourselves. Beneath the surface, our egos are reminding us that what we're doing isn't going to benefit us directly. Our selfish selves are jealous of our momentary selfless endeavors. So we give up easily when we realize that the effort isn't going to do anything for us.
The truth that the selfish parts of our minds don't want to admit is that we are all deeply emotional, needy, complicated creatures that desperately want to be understood, but many of us are just too damn lazy to understand anyone outside our own heads.
Take the time to sit down with a person you care about (maybe even a woman, if you're "brave") and ask how she's doing. Ask her about her goals, her feelings, or just how her day's going. Then sit there and listen. Think about the things she's telling you. Try to see her as what she is: just another human being who wants to see her interests and feelings recognized and reflected in those she cares about. You'll be shocked by how beautifully simple these "complicated women" can be. Then you'll be delighted by how good it feels to stretch those empathy muscles, and how much personal satisfaction you can get out of simply making another person feel heard, understood, and cared about.
Maybe the next time you're scrolling through social media and see a tongue-in-cheek "women are complicated, am-i-right?" post, you won't laugh. You'll be a little sad with the realization that every one of those posts represents a spouse, significant other, or friend whose interests and feelings are being ignored because some neanderthal can't be bothered to sit and listen for a few minutes. Then maybe you can pass along this message. =)