To All the Men I’ve Ever Known & to Those I Haven’t Met Yet: I Want You To Know 10 Things.

Via on Mar 2, 2012

{Manology}

One

You are good. If you ever question whether or not you are good, you are good. If you are tired, if you are trying, if you ever feel like you are a fish on a bicycle and just want to have legs and be on land—we understand. We feel that too. But you must understand this: You are good, and you deserve to be loved. I agree with Hafiz. I know: Your love has an eloquent tone. The sky and I want to hear it. So speak up.

Two

You are pretty. Not just handsome, not just strong, or burly, or hairy backed man-pretty but you are pretty.

Your eyes are the only shade of aquamarine I’ve ever seen. The red birthmark on your cheek makes you look like you’ve always just been kissed. Your smile is the perfect light to read by, and yes, your biceps do look great by that midnight Mac computer screen light.

Three

Never let a woman tell you you are too fat or too skinny or too weak or ugly or stupid or that you can’t dance. Never let a man tell you these things. Never, ever tell them to yourself.

And when you do (which you will), refer back to one and two, then go to the closest mirror, look yourself in the eye, and say, out loud, “Don’t you ever talk to me like that.” Speak up.

 

Four

Dance. Or write. Move, or sing or play. Offer to babysit your best friend’s child for a few hours just so you can play with Legos.

I bet you’ll build something cool.

Five

You have a right to talk about your feelings. We know you have feelings, and we want you to talk about them.

This does not mean that we will agree with all of your feelings.

Talk about your feelings, for god’s sake, with other men. Your lovers are not your teachers, we are not your mothers, we are not your sounding boards, your bosses, your therapists or your punching bags. Consider your relationship to blogging. Get your feelings out there, somewhere.

But come home to your lovers with the honey from your day, just the sweetness that’s been taken in, processed, and made into sticky stuff flavoured with deadlines, love notes, lavender, the unique sweat of fear, and whatever else comes home with you.

We want to hear it. Just not all of it.

Six

Get to know and love your body. Touch, with your hands, the parts of yourself that you hate, the love handles, the armpit hair, the double chin, the receding hairline, and touch them with your hands. Touch them the way you would want the love of your life to touch them, with affection and acceptance, and that little wing out of dizzy when you know you love someone because they are real, and they are here, and they have the most perfect receding hairline. Let this loving touch turn you on. Then touch whatever you want to touch.

Seven

Stop having sex with people you don’t want to have sex with. It is just as okay for you to say “no” as it is for women to say “no.” Speak up, man, and learn the word “no.” Treat your body like a gift you only give to lovers. Understand the difference between lovers and strangers.

Eight

Consider your relationship to body hair removal systems. Think about how much they hurt and how they make you feel. Consider that chest hair, soft on a cheek, is sweet and kind and warmer in winter. Consider that stubble is sharp, and you—as you are—are sweet, and soft on my cheek.

Nine

Stand up for your damn self. Believe in something. Want something. Women have no problem with nice guys, unless “nice” means having no opinion and doing everything we say. It is sexy when you stand up for yourself. It is sexy when you tell us what you want. It is sexy when you make decisions.

This does not mean that we will agree with all of your decisions.

Ten

I am sorry.

I am sorry for all the times I treated you like you were less than a gift. I am sorry for taking the feminist torch into a locked room and silencing you outside that door. I am sorry for all the times I said that “women are like this,” and “men are like that,” and for treating you and me as any less than a human and a human. That’s all we are, and we’ve always been good at it.

This world can get Lego-block better. This world can be softer on our cheeks, warmer in winter, and your smile can light our houses better. But we have to do this together. And we can’t until we both, you and me human, can burn lists like these outside our jailhouse doors, stand up on podiums, on writing desks, bar stools, dance floors, and in front of bathroom mirrors and speak up, not as men or as women or as strangers, but as lovers, as humans, good, and getting better all the time.

~

Editor: Kate Bartolotta.

About Julie JC Peters

Julie (JC) Peters has been practicing yoga on and off from the tender age of 12, and it has gotten her through everything from the horrors of teenagedom to a Master’s degree in Canadian Poetry. She is a yoga teacher, spoken word poet, and writer, and teaches workshops on yoga and writing called Creative Flow. Julie also owns East Side Yoga in Vancouver with her mom, Jane.

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54 Responses to “To All the Men I’ve Ever Known & to Those I Haven’t Met Yet: I Want You To Know 10 Things.”

  1. Velora says:

    This is beautiful. Thank you. There are a lot of stereotypes on here about men and women, so it's nice to read one that treats both as human beings. :)

  2. Jeremy says:

    I'm always so nonplussed by this sort of article. I got through number nine and was grumpily thinking to myself, "[everything you said in number ten]." Then I read number ten and was pleasantly surprised! All of this men and women stuff is so silly in the end. We are so much more alike than we are different. Thanks for honoring the fact in a small way.

    • Adam says:

      I started questioning .. 'we are more alike than we are different'.. glad to hear another man say this. I instinctive have always felt this in my heart. f… men and women come from different planets ! we all come from one earth.

  3. Lori says:

    Lovely. Sensitive and accurate–for all of us!

  4. I think I'm going to print out copies to give out to all the men I know. Or maybe recite it. Love.

  5. Deborah A. Smith says:

    It's a problem for sure. Men, relationships, you name it.

  6. Matthewm says:

    Thank you. You know, I was all prepared for this to be yet another article about how men “don’t get it” and will never understand. Instead, it’s a beautiful and thoughtful piece by a woman who totally gets it and is probably about to be flooded with marriage proposals. Thanks so very much for this. Made my day.

  7. randolphr says:

    thanks for this …. it was better than a phone call & better than a letter ….. better than most anything all today ….

    - thanks
    :)

  8. Tijger says:

    Love Love Love this…

  9. yogasamurai says:

    Wow, some pretty patronizing stuff here, I think. I am part of communities of men, and yes, we are totally cool dudes. The truth is, we don't need outside affirmation or validation of that. It sounds like you have had a lot less evolved and enlightened men in your life – but that's no doubt because you chose them? And that's your story – and where you are at, which is totally cool – but not as universal as you seem to think? You don't represent "Women" and readers are not "Men." In a sense, you're exhibiting the same syndrome that you are also contesting? What do you really have? Just your own experience///

    • guest says:

      I would disagree with you. great that you are one of the few man who either have figured it out or think they do. Are you offended that a woman tells you it's ok to be weak? Or that a woman tells you something she usually tells other woman? Are you actually TALKING to your cool dudes? Do they know they don't need "outside" affirmation? Or do they go home to their girlfriends and are happy if someone tells them they are good looking and it's ok to cry?

      • yogasamurai says:

        Of course, because I am part of a true spiritual brotherhood. This piece is the usual stick figure view of men. Find better partners — or work with your men who really need it? However, they'd probably get much better, more intelligent support in some key areas from other men.

        The thing that's really insulting – if not, flat out stupid – about this article, though, is that it misses the mutual engagement that occurs between men and women. That is, women have their own image and identity issues that they need to bring home and heal from, and it requires mature partnership – and something outside of themselves, or something within that they need help eliciting.

        The view here largely propagates the myth of the fully evolved and strong woman serving as the spiritual pole of attraction – and catalyst for her man.

        If it's actually this one-sided, or unidirectional, then it's a highly codependent relationship.

    • Adam says:

      As far as patronizing goes you need to check your reflection. Do you 'cool dudes' find yourselves being hairy bitches. Troubles me to think you proclaim to represent some 'good men'' out there. Also check the reflection of your experience. No one else can know. Sad to say man, by the look of your message .. alot shows. it must have been really ugly. Keep up the yoga dude. Ditch the sword dude it doesn't suit you. Who are you? Good luck in finding that in your mens group. Hey .. i feel tough being patronizing. I get it!?

  10. catnipkiss says:

    This is sweet acceptance :) Makes me want to take over some of your left-over men………. (JK) – Alexa M.

  11. Patrick says:

    You want to say this to men? Really? You think a man would benefit from hearing that you think he is pretty, he doesn't need to wax his chest, and that its ok for him to touch himself? What man needs to hear this? And how could he possibly benefit from being told?

    • elephantjournal says:

      Me! I know it's okay to be a pretty boy, to have a hairy chest, and that it's alright to have sex with someone I love, as Woody Allen put it…but it's nice to hear all that once in awhile. Patrick…do you want a hug..? ~ Waylon

  12. Travis says:

    As a man, I can't tell you how demeaning this was to read. Can you imagine what this would have sounded like with genders reversed? An article telling women who they should be, because obviously they don't know what that is unless a man lays it out for them and gives them permission. That's what reading this felt like. This entire article seems to have been written on the assumption that men are confused lost souls who don't know how to be men anymore. While I appreciate the author's acknowledgement that masculinity is difficult thing these days, that we're affected by gender just as much as you, this kind of patronizing bullshit is not what we need. Next time, write some inspiring words for other women. We need more strong men in our lives, not patronizing mothers. This was deeply insulting.

    This entire article

    • Travis says:

      I had some of my draft in the text field when I hit enter. Please disregard the last incomplete sentence.

      • JC Peters says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Travis. My feeling is that there has been so much conversation about women and gender in our society and almost none about men and gender in society. I want to see more of it, and I'm glad this piece is getting a response, including if it's a negative one. If you feel patronized…well, speak up! As you did here. And I agree: "We need more strong men in our lives, not patronizing mothers." That's exactly how I feel. I refer you to #10…

        • elephantjournal says:

          As a man…I dig Travis' point…that we don't need patronizing anything. I didn't find this to be that. I found this to be loving and equalizing, in a way that we don't hear much sometimes. Cheers. ~ Way.

        • Travis says:

          Thanks for engaging with the comments JC. I just want to say for the record that I don’t disagree with the version of masculinity you’ve presented here and I don’t disagree that a lot of men could benefit from some of the wisdom you’ve laid out.

          My problem is where it’s coming from and the tone you’ve chosen. There’s a power dynamic going on in your writing where it appears that you’ve appointed yourself the “more balanced sex.”

          I think this framing neutralizes your good intentions and reinforces the very paradigm that feeds our insecurity. Once again, I don’t necessarily take issue with your opinions, but the way you’ve diagnosed and prescribed me tells me that I am a confused man who couldn’t possibly define masculinity on my own terms in a healthy way.

          I wonder then, if you agree that men need more strong men in our lives, that you’re sorry for the things you’ve described in point number 10, then why write this at all? I think the best form of apology would be to let men deal with these issues on our own terms. Your wisdom and support is greatly appreciated (and indispensable), but we’ll come to you when we need it.

          Thanks again for engaging in the dialogue.

  13. paul says:

    This list (which I enjoyed except for most of the "just"s) is almost all stuff women are telling each other to help deal with the endless never enoughs of sex-centric consumerism which is increasingly being turned at men (BOD body man bodyspray, Old Spice, Just For Men, shake weight for him, etc (just open a Maxim)) in addition to the status stuff men are used to. That some people are not effected- great, and that some are insulted or feel patronized when it is brought up is also great because it's an easy step from acceptance to awareness.

  14. yogasamurai says:

    Duh duh and triple duh. Thanks Travis.

  15. My question for all the men who said they know all this already—why don't you act like it? Why do you hate your belly, and play tough guy in front of your male friends? Why do you sleep with women just for the hell of it instead of waiting for someone you care about? If you know you are good—why put yourself down or call yourself an assh-le?

    I loved this piece because I know too many men who don't know this stuff or at least don't live it out. Too many men who don't realize what they are worth. If you do, hats off to you. But if it hit a nerve, ask yourself why.

    • I liked Travis' comment, because as much as I loved Julie's article, I wondered if it wasn't just a perspective of a woman….I can appreciate that many men might relate to it, but just as many won't. Actually, possibly more won't :) Regardless, it works, because he's commenting, isn't he? And it was beautifully written–from whichever side of the fence you stand–and worthy of being printed. It's another one of those things that won't actually "solve" anything, but y'know, life goes on and some nice things are written :)

      • Sas says:

        There is a fence with 2 sides? O.o. And there I was thinking it was an article about human-to-human contact, lovers, rather then gender to gender.

        • What's wrong with "sides"? Or are we meant to be "all one." !! Julie's other article on ej yesterday addressed this point, about our individuality. I loved it. I can be as human and loving with you as I want to be, as much as you are open to, despite your being female, male, or anything else! But still, you're an individual, and some of your views may differ from mine, which means on some issues, you're on one side of the fence, I'm on the other. It doesn't mean "bad" or "wrong." It just means "different," "individual." I'd say that's pretty good :)

  16. Maya says:

    Again, most times when I like an article on here it by you, keep doing what you do!

  17. randolphr says:

    As a man, this article was just fine …. I could feel the breath across the illuminated divide …. This would have been something which, between myself & another, would have made for a further bit of communion …. perhaps the next day or the next week …. or as one of the many many things that get expressed, shared, and that add up in ways that aren't always verbalized nor need to be verbalized …. life is far more simple and far more mysterious than some of the commentaries here make it out to be ….

    Do you know what the difference between music & music theory is ?

  18. Allyson says:

    Very sweet. Thank you.

  19. [...] To All the Men I’ve Ever Known & to Those I Haven’t Met Yet: I Want You To Know 10 Things. [...]

  20. Graham says:

    I felt sad when I read number 5. Feelings are not something to agree or disagree with; they just are. They're also our deepest personal experience and the basis of our deepest connections with others. Yes, us men should share them with other men but if you only want to hear the light fluffy stuff from your partner you're both going to miss out on a deeper connection with them. Cheers, Graham

    • JC Peters says:

      Hi Graham! I totally hear you. When I wrote "This does not mean we will agree with all your feelings" I meant it as a joke–of course there is no such thing as agreeing with feelings! What I meant is that we've gotta work on conversations–men and women, and get better at being honest and truthful, rather than just dumping all our shit on our partner (Don't give me light fluffy stuff, give me the stuff you've thought about–see "the unique sweat of fear".) Again, it's meant as a call for better communication for both genders. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  21. robertwolf681 says:

    I'm surprised to see the negative comments from other men.

    While I wouldn't say that I necessarily agree with this list, or need to hear everything on it, it seems to me that it's clearly written with a sweet, loving intention.

    I can appreciate that, whatever I think of the individual items.

  22. Faith says:

    So nice to see a piece accepting men and asking them to accept themselves.

  23. I really enjoyed reading this and I’m also surprised by all the negative comments from men, although I can certainly respect their perspective as the intended recipients of the message. However, as a woman the sentiment, and the spirit in which I think it was intended, resonated with me as I recalled the men from my past (and perhaps my present!) who I did (do?) not appreciate appropriately. It is sometimes so difficult to understand what a man needs from his lady in terms of acknowledgement, reassurance and validation without emasculation.

  24. Ryan D says:

    I needed this so badly I can't even find the words. Thank you so much.

  25. Robin Turner says:

    T hat's sweet. I wish someone had said it to me in my twenties.

  26. Ben says:

    As someone who's done his share of work in developing his masculinity, I have somewhat conflicting feelings/thoughts on this.

    On one (the lesser) hand, receiving appreciation feels really, really awkward. In my masculinity, I'm just doing what needs to be done in the best way I know to get it done. This can have emotion or not, but when it's done, reflecting on it isn't as important as it is to move on to the next great mission.

    On the other hand, this a small, but very powerful part of me, that does appreciate the acknowledgement as though it's a small bit of nourishment or water on a long journey. I won't be drinking this pond dry, but I'm certainly allowing myself to enjoy for a moment along the way.

    Thank You

  27. hurt says:

    To someone who commented here earlier about how difficult it is to understand what a man needs from his lady… may I suggest listening to him when he does open up about his thoughts and feelings? Probably not a bad place to start.

  28. [...] I value men. I value my friendships with men, the contrast of masculinity to femininity. And yes, I know we all have both. And yes, we’re all equal. But I don’t pretend that being of equal value means that we are the same. We are different. And vive la différence! [...]

  29. H. Being says:

    I am human, like all of you that have read this article and are reading this comment.

    With an open mind, and trying how they made me feel, I thought over all of those 10 points. Sure, one is more applicable to me personally as another. But it made me think over some things and triggered my curiosity for more details, explanation.

    Like any internet text however, this article is a monologue, and so is my reply to it.
    While reading it, I felt the urge to really talk to the writer, in a dialogue.
    The urge to question her about the experiences that made her write certain points.
    The urge to question her about her own 'score' on those 10 points.
    Also made me want to chat over some of those issues with ex-partners actually :)

    Somehow I had the feeling that such a talk/dialogue/debate/discussion would be very possible in an open way, where both parties involved would take a little step further. Into?
    Into a better understanding of how to love another human being in a balanced way, I m hoping. For that is what I seek.

    Thank you for your article, it may not be Glory Glory Hallelujah, but it did have an impact on me.

  30. (R)Evoluzione says:

    JC,

    These are some of the contemporary issues of our time–grappling what it means to be men and women in this constantly changing world, coming to some understanding of the Other sex. Your apology is noted and accepted.

    It seems that some women in the yoga community are waking up to the larger social subjugation of men in our culture. It's not a surprise, if any group of women ought to be more open, turned on, and aware, it should be the yoginis. Yoginis have further had to contend with a lack of men in their sphere, much more so than in western culture at large, though this issue is spreading ubiquitously. So thanks for writing this piece. It's a needed exploration by women into the male realm, something that's been lacking for centuries overall.

    Still, I do see some aspects of this article as being patronizing and even somewhat ridiculous. Got a problem with stubble? That's ironic, for unless you've been waxing or lasering your legs and hoo-ha, you've likely got some stubble to contend with yourself. So–your man has stubble from man-scaping? Deal with it.

    The big irony of course, is when you encourage men to stand up for themselves, to take a stand & be heard. This is the diametric opposite of the submissive introspection in men that feminism has so long clamored for. Nor is it without notice that you subtly rebuke feminism in the penultimate paragraph. That ship has sailed, and it's not going to be easy to repair the damage, to reel in the distance created by feminism's relenteless attacks on both men and traditional femininity.

    I have news for both you and the feminists–it's man's nature, the essence of yang energy, to stand in the world, even if it means Occupying his mother's spare bedroom and conquering the next eight versions of Halo. That in itself is a political statement by a man to women in general. It is a denial of energy. It is a refutation of men needing women's attention or validation. It is a man standing solemnly, stating, I am enough, and pound sand if you don't think so. I don't condone that response by some men, but I understand it.

    I personally choose to cultivate my body, mind, spirit, career, and environment, because it makes me happy. I do what I do because it makes me feel good, and it has nothing to do with women. I don't have much room in my life to seek that validation, nor for this conversation, because for so many years, it was discounted, discredited. Now you want it back. Well…

    You opened with Hafiz. I'll close with Rumi, Center of the Fire:

    "In the blackness those two friends keep arguing.
    Like a wanderer with no face.
    Like the most powerful bird in existence
    sitting on its perch, refusing to move."

    Read the rest of the poem, and you may understand something more about the true nature of gender relations.

  31. Mignon Whitt says:

    Hmm. Mine looks OK. What do you think Karen? Have a good one..-= Gines is hoping you stop by and read Raise the Roof and Win Free Stuff =-.

  32. wandering_dervish says:

    Loved it!

  33. Jordan says:

    Gratitude.

  34. Natalie Baginski says:

    this is the best thing I've read in weeks.

  35. This is beautiful. You are one voice trying that is breaking down societally built, negative, gender roles. Thank you.

  36. GabeFromMaui says:

    Your article spoke deeply to me, as an emotionally in-touch man. I agree with two of your points, but let me give them a masculine spin…

    #5. Men often dump too much emotional garbage on their woman. However, women often ask for this and encourage it. I've had women who don't give space and let me be by myself when I'm in a bad mood. The trick is to take the space, and spread your emotional garbage (and goodness) amongst other people in your life, regardless of what tantrum your woman might throw. It's not healthy to be too claustrophobic with your woman

    #9. Men: stand up for yourself, your viewpoint, your actions, your reasoning, your emotions. Our reality is valid, no matter what "reality" a woman may try to paint. Stand up, and just say no to emotional blackmail or manipulation. They usually don't do it with ill intention, and usually don't do it consciously, but they do it expertly. Stay strong in how you see the situation, and avoid feeling guilty for a reality that isn't yours.

    As men, it's up to us to build the relationship the way we want it. Women want us to be strong and need us to set boundaries, so they can fill the interior of those boundaries with awesomeness.

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