Monday, April 26, 2010

Teach Me How To Love...

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What does it mean for a man to be a protector and a provider? What does it mean for a woman to be a nurturer? Who are the men protecting and providing for and who are the women nurturing? If supposedly our stereotyped role as a nurturer forces us to be emotional and therefore open to the idea of monogamy and his nature forces him to stray, then can we ever really be compatible in relationships? I mean it wouldn't be possible, unless that is, one always has to give up something. Sadly, to some extent we have been taught that a man can never act naturally in order to have a compatible relationship. That it is somehow unnatural and irregular for a man to want to settle down because it's not his nature. What Does It Profit A Man to Gain A Woman, But Lose His Freedom?

Gendered roles relegate a man to be a protector of his property, which chauvinistically include his woman, but what does he protect us from exactly? So often when we think of the man, we think of his duties in terms of physicality or finances. We tend to think of the woman in terms of emotional availability. The problem in many cases is not that a man isn't a protector and provider via material assets but that he often fails to protect the most important asset of all: his woman's heart. If a man expects his woman's greatest job is to nurture and be there for him emotionally then why wouldn't it make sense for his job to be the compliment to hers? This is the hope of reciprocity.

Onto the woman. If we are nurturers, who are we supposed to be nurturers of exactly? After all the word nurture means "to care for and encourage the growth and development of" and is often contrasted with our nature. Is it our maternal instinct that allows us to be nurturers? Is that reserved for our children? What happens when grown men expect that nurturing gene to work in their favor? I mean if nurturing is caring for and encouraging the growth and development, what exactly would we be trying to develop in a man that supposedly already sees himself as grown?

This is a real question, especially within our Black community where we have the misconception of the "emasculating Black woman," the asexual, non-nurturing Black woman who isn't sensitive enough and therefore makes the man feel as though he isn't needed. When manhood is forever juxtaposed to womanhood and womanhood becomes demonized, how does that leave men to react? A woman who supposedly wants monogamy but is typecast as someone who is untrustworthy will yield a man who doesn't want to be in a monogamous relationship. So instead of writing all of these books trying to get black women to change the way they act in order to get a man, perhaps our focus should be on breaking down gender stereotypes instead of reinforcing them.

Monogamy is responsibility. It's a joint commitment to care for someone other than yourself. I mean I have heard many men say they didn't become a man until they learned to love and be loved in return. For the man that CHOOSES to settle down into the monogamous relationship, maybe that is the benefit. The benefit of understanding that the nurture of the woman, the nurture that he expects, is the nurture that is necessary for him to complete his role as a protector and provider. After all, if a man never allows himself to care for someone in that way, then he will never get to the point where he feels it necessary to be her protector or provider.
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