Warning: strong language, enter at your own risk.
This last year I have been trying to stop using female associated words to describe negative things. I admit I swear, a lot. But lately I have been more uncomfortable with my own use of words like “pussy” and “bitch” to describe the behavior of (mostly) men in power. Because I am married to a woman, the father/step-father of girls, the son of my mother, friends with many women throughout my life I am trying to reshape my words to reflect that respect, because if one loves women why use terms for them or their anatomy as pejoratives? Habit.. it’s just a a habit and a bad one. As a person who loves language I believe that words have power for good or ill and I would rather use mine to raise up the ones I love rather than push them down.
When I say “I love women” it is easy to misunderstand, love and sex are so confused in our world and we often mistake one for the other. At least I have in the past and see many others do so. I feel the need to clarify. I love that every person you meet on earth is there because a woman risked so much to bear them, that she loved a person she did not know more than her own life. That she bore their weight inside her for nine months and the scars and damage the rest of her life willingly on her children’s behalf. That she fed them of her own body and often gave immensely of her own time and set aside her own goals for love. My children, the most precious things in this world were given to me by women, at great risk and pain, and together (my wife) or apart (my ex) I am eternally grateful for those gifts.
I love all the women who have been kind to me without expectation of return. Certainly there are men who have done this too, but when I look back on the last half century of my life it is most often women friends, teachers along with lovers who have been the most generous with their time and energy when I had nothing to return. From them I have learned kindness.
I love the way older women will own a room with composure not bluster. My Grandmother could end a quarrel (between men mostly) with a look. Older women have been through the shit (sorry Grandmother, I know you hated my swearing), and understand that the ship sails through calm and storm better with a steady hand on the helm. I love that the women seem to understand that love is not in the grand gestures of rings and flowers but in the smallest of tasks performed without comment. When you cook a meal, clean a kitchen you are showing love, and I do my best to show my love in ways small and useful even as I love showy gestures. From them I have learned to try and do the same. Of all the lessons I have learned in my life so many have come from women; giving, caring letting go (that one took a few tries), forgiveness and the empty vessel that anger really is, have come from the women in my life. My world without women would be a sad and dreary one. Women have made me a better person, a better man.
I can’t really talk about this without discussing the flip side, because really, honestly most of my life I was a pretty shitty boyfriend. I tried but I pretty much had zero relationship skills at eighteen a lot of anger and only learned through trial and error, mostly error. So if you dated or married me before 30 and even on occasion 40, I apologize. I really was a complete disaster, sorry. Where appropriate I have reached out, where I can’t I hope these women know I have taken the lessons learned to heart and try and be the kind of person worthy of their kindness. That I think of them when I talk to my sons and would spare other women the pain I have caused.
I love these women in my past enough I think often of them kindly. Of the women in my present, my wife and daughters, every day. I love my sons so much I want them to have the same connection with women I enjoy. When I see my adult son being a good boyfriend or being told by women I don’t even know that my son is “a good dude who always tips well” I immensely proud of him. When my teen is kind to his ex-girlfriend I see the gentleman he is becoming. When Jacob takes the time to read to his little sister, well that’s great on so many levels I could cry, seriously. I want them to have women friends, the respect of their female coworkers, women to feel safe around them because they will always the kind of men worthy of that respect. If words have meaning and power then using female-identified words as negatives is not the power I wish to wield.
So to that end I have tried to find a term that both adequately describes the actions of ill-informed and powerful men in a way that clearly describes the behavior I see, the best I have come up with so far is “giant man-baby” which isn’t quite concise enough to spit out in anger but hopefully creates a more accurate image in words. If anyone has a better term please share in the comments below.