This blog post is the second of a four-part series written by a young professional woman, featured at www.gsdouglas.com. The introduction to the series can be read here: http://gsdouglas.com/2011/getting-things-right-delving-into-black-relationships.html
Initially I planned to talk about the female-side of this discussion, however I had a change of heart. The change of heart came because I realized in this case starting at the end would be better.
Men break; many men are walking around broken. That is the end of my opinion. The beginning is to ask – how and why do men break?
Let’s take the easiest part first, though none of this is easy – how do men break?
Men break when their silent needs aren’t met, when their stated necessities are ignored, and when their character, as well as, self-worth is neglected and bruised – repeatedly. A broken man is an ugly man, no matter how fine he is in real life. There is nothing like meeting a man and, all too suddenly, seeing the potential in his life only to later discover the demons and hurts in his heart. For a woman, a broken man is frustrating, saddening and sickening. Sorry, but the truth owes no apology.
Now, the hard part – why do men break?
That answer is multi-faceted; it involves society at-large, family structures, dating experiences and life itself. No worries, I too recall this is just a blog post.
The meaning of manhood in our society dictates that we call our boys “little men” and teach them how to ignore/suppress their valid feelings. Family dysfunctions present images of mothers and fathers physically striking each other, and wives beating husbands down verbally to the point of submission. Dating. What can be said about the sport? Consider that we live in a culture where dating is done on national television; whereby, one person picks a partner from ten to twenty potentials. Popular television dating totally negates the importance of investing in one person with all you have, with the intention of you both working to become better – together. For the rest of us, not on VH-1, MTV, or ABC, we carry the baggage of failed attempts (or ignorance from no experience at all) while we wait for someone worth the physical energy and emotional risk. And finally, let’s talk about life. The life that happens while we are making plans for ourselves in elementary and high school. Men must make a living (to afford traditional chivalrous displays, among other things), bury loved ones, and avoid the obvious pitfalls we constantly reiterate– drug/alcohol addiction, STDs/STIs, and the “she tricked me” love child.
So much of why men break is out of any one person’s control – except dating. Dating requires two people, and for this purpose, a man and a woman. This means the breaking of a man in a relationship is greatly dependent upon the lady he selects. It would be wonderful if men were able to spot a controlling, manipulating, breaking woman. Yet for the most part, it’s not an easy thing to notice – especially if you aren’t trained to look for it.
Women who try to control, manipulate and break aren’t a special breed; they are regular people. Most are broken in some fashion themselves; or have been taught counter-intuitively by watching other women or through severe anemia of wise-counsel. Why women break is a whole post on it’s own, and that is coming.
I place greater importance on men breaking because well, it is more important. A broken man isn’t allowed to recover like a broken woman, and therefore may never recover. A man who never recovers is no longer fully productive – for himself, his loved ones, and his community. There is no socially acceptable Oprah couch for a man to sit on, neither are their rules for fixing him once broken. The fellas won’t hop on a conference call to let a brother heal; but the gym and strip club will welcome him as he silently becomes trapped inside himself.
We see these guys all the time. We don’t call them broken. We call these men playas, dogs or drug fiends; they are the ones that justify hurting others because of their experiences. On the opposite end of the spectrum however we, as women, may label some broken men as “too nice”, or “softies.” These men are the ones that overcompensate early in the game, with no balance. Regardless of the social labels we use, the majority of these men simply go by boyfriend, dad and boss to the us and the rest of the world. Scarier than any label is the idea that broken men breed sons to be “baby brokens”. The sons of broken men grow-up watching abnormality as normal, and they become the best performers of brokenness. Without the history to understand why we act the way we act, we run the risk of never addressing the source of the pain and therefore may never be able to fix ourselves.
The damage done by having millions of broken men walking this earth is everywhere.
As a single, 26-year old woman I’m over it. I’m tired of looking into the eyes of strangers and peeping into the lives of friends, and seeing the ravage and ruin. It is old to me.
I can’t control the way society beats a man down, nor can I control the historic actions of the woman who birthed and nurtured him (or didn’t), and most assuredly I have no influence on the path his life will take. Yet, I can control a man’s experience with me as a person, as a friend, as a woman. I can talk to my homegirls and share my opinions. I can make the effort to not be that manipulative, controlling, breaking woman. In the end, my decision benefits us all. He may never be my man, but I will be my sister’s keeper. See, when I leave him, he will be better and not bitter. From this day forward, “she” will never have to pick up the shattered glass I left behind.
Where are the “good”, single men you ask? Take a look around – you may have just stepped on one.