If we wanted our daughters to grow up chronically suspicious of the opposite sex, this is the way to do it. The people who sowed in me such seeds of Mistrust Of The Other Gender did not do so intentionally - it was an unsophisticated, but perfectly well-meaning, method of planting enough fear in an impressionable young child so that when the big hairy stranger outside the school offered her some candy, balking would be by reflex. But such assertions, when left uncorrected, leave scars. And I don't mean that in some occult, acroamatic, even Freudian, capital-letter Scar, but a scar, a streak of suspicion running through all interactions with half the world's population, a psychological blister of doubt and insecurity and fear that must surely taint most potential relationships.
Men are people too, I've found, and not so different from myself. They can be passionate about Tim Walker's photography and nurture some very bloated ideas about government and social change, which, hey-ho, is just the way I am. They have their own conceptions about the spirit and people and work and love, the way I do. They're much more similar than they are dissimilar. And what a find! What revelation! How is it possible to have lived two decades in this world completely sold to the terrible generalisation that all men were less civilised, even barbaric, and hopelessly enslaved to their testosterone?
I don't want to sound like I'm including all women in this, so I speak only for those who find resonance with this article. Perhaps if 'we' are lucky, and if we meet enough people ('enough' is a tentative word), then it's possible that at some point it will no longer be a matter of exotic wonder or equal rights laudation when a man says that 'it's not about sex, it's really not just about sex' ('reeeaaally? is it reeeaaaalllyyy not about sex to you?'). Maybe one day when a boyfriend proffers such a line, the involuntary response to dismiss it as purely getting-in-your-pants strategy will wane. Maybe then we'd be able and more willing to reach out to these wonderful members of the same species in the faith that they mean well, that they don't stampede into the world with the sole aim of causing pain, and that if they do it's probably more to do with the relational exchange between two people, or even with their own insecurities, than it is a liability of spiteful hearts.
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