This is sort of a follow-up to my last post (“In praise of good men”). As I said in that post, I have looked to men to show me who I am, inside and out. I know that probably sounds horribly out-of-date and anti-feminist. But it’s true. I learn things about myself from men that I don’t learn from women. Sometimes I have learned horrible, poisonous lies. But more often, thanks be to God, I have learned wonderful things. I’ve learned what I want, what I expect, what I am worth. And so I want to share some of these things.
Do you want to know what I want as a woman, especially from men? It’s really not complicated. I just want to be treated as a human being. A thinking, feeling, free-willed, dignified person. An esteemed partner, equal in dignity, although different in many important ways. Not an object. Not some thing to be used. Not only body or soul, but both together.
That shouldn’t be so much to ask. Actually, in the United States, in the 21st century, I’m surprised I must still ask it at all. But I must, now more than ever: Treat me as a human being, not as an object! Respect me. Be truthful to me. Be loyal to me. Give me a little of your time and attention–and not only when it serves your own purposes. Treat me justly. Until these demands are met, authentic feminism has far to go.
It’s not that I expect any man to be perfect. What sort of hypocrite would I be if I expected anybody–male or female–to be perfect, when I know full well that I am not? I don’t expect perfection. I only expect striving for perfection. I only expect people to try their best. To have the guts to apologize, to make amends, to accept responsibility, to get up and start again. And to be generous enough to give me a chance to make things right when I mess up. I don’t like to write other people off–and I really don’t like to be written off by them.
Another one of the most important things I have learned (partly from men) is to ask myself often: WWMD–What would Mary do? If I expect men to strive to be like Christ (and I do), then I also expect myself to strive to be like Mary. Humble, pure, faithful, trusting in God, self-giving, steadfast, gentle, nurturing. A virtuous, holy woman.
I know I’m not there yet. I know my weaknesses. My passions are still a bit wild and my appetites a bit untamed. But I have grown to the point where my anger is quickly overcome by love and compassion, and my baser impulses are soon cast into shadow by purity. And I am always striving to become a truer, more vivid image of her.
One way in which I feel I am most like the Blessed Mother is that I am the kind of woman to whom nobody should fear to entrust their heart. If there is one virtue in which I excel, it is absolute loyalty to those I love. In fact, this trait of mine has often led me into worlds of heartache whenever the loyalty and love have not been returned. But, also like the Blessed Mother, I am not afraid nor squeamish when it comes to pain. I am not afraid to risk myself for others. I am not afraid of having my heart pierced with swords. Pain can always be offered up for a greater good. Love gives me courage.
I want more, ever more, love and courage and virtue, both in myself and in others, particularly men. I want to never give up. I want never to be given up on. I want to admire, respect, support, and esteem, and I want to receive the same in return. I want to treasure men for who they are, and I want to be treasured as the woman I am.
Is that really too much to ask?