Not a Man Hater

Crisp fall wind prickles the nose, awakens the face. Draw it into your chest, savor it, release it slowly. It soothes to the core. Welcome the invigorating sensation of clearing the air.

Not a man hater. In fact, my confrontation reflects the opposite. I’ll tell you why.

Yes, I’ve been disappointed by men in my life. They let me down. My history has a chapter marked by a sense of betrayal from every man in my life at the time. But now, I hold a majority subset of those same men in high regard. It was hard-fought and hard-won to end in this position. Hence, not the same as man-hating.

One bad apple spoils the bunch, they say. An infusion of too much ethylene that makes an apple ripe then makes it rot; what an erroneous saying. My attention is rather drawn toward the bounty of good apples in a barrel. And an outing ruined might persuade the day-tripper to prudently stay home. Yet, most excursions refresh and uplift. Likewise, most men care about kindness. Most interactions are innocent in intent.

Yes, I’ve been disappointed by men in my life. Men whose roles I am told time and again submission is due. I’ve assumed that as a moral cue to allow myself to be discouraged from speaking up, to accept being overlooked. I was misunderstood, and convinced it was wisest and kindest to let it go and let it stand. I encouraged myself that I had joyfully picked my lane and I was absolutely supposed to stay in it. Friends, this is not what submitting to one another means.

It has taken a good measure of self-revelation, not a small heap of trauma, and a forced push of courage again and again, to impel myself outward, to value myself enough to gently, kindly insist that I be heard. Before, I didn’t realize that my perspectives and skills were valuable to others. I didn’t think it was important enough to mention an issue that I thought was important only to me. It didn’t occur to me that others had no idea I wanted to say something during those times I felt like I couldn’t speak up without invitation. This process has been uncomfortable at best, and painful at times.

I have been unexpectedly rewarded for my anxious and risky efforts. You see, in the past, while rooted well in a community, especially a church, I have always felt that the women are an extension of family. I have usually had an extension of mothers and sisters at hand.

For the first time ever, I begin to feel like I have an extension of fathers and brothers, too.

So, I get an apple that is not good for me, every once in a while. So, on occasion, my excursion is ruined. I learn extra precautions after a bad example, but I’m still going to buy apples and plan day trips.

This is why confrontation doesn’t mean man hater. Rather, my goodwill for men measures up and calls higher. I have enough esteem to invest in communication. Enough respect to assume first that a man’s character is good even while prone to the human curse of error. Enough understanding to know men won’t know what life as a woman is like unless we describe it, and enough regard to recognize that most men care when we do. Enough faith to believe we can overcome these issues. Enough courage to speak up and value everyone being heard. Not a man hater. I care enough to engage with the men in my life and to do so to my best. Let us overcome together.

Photo Credit Maria Lindsey

Hope for survivors. Insight for professionals. Awareness for supporters. Click the image to purchase Audrey Opp-Waverick’s stunning debut memoir.

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