If you’re a teenage girl, don’t you think it’s great when an old(er) guy like me whom you don’t even know starts giving you advice about life? Isn’t it just the best when that happens?
Do you know why we men are always giving out advice like we’re the Oracle of Mt. Potbelly? Because we think we know everything. And do you know why men think they know everything? Because men are entitled and spoiled. And the reason that’s true is because this, still, is a man’s world.
Back when a small contained fire was the height of luxury, and dressing up meant wearing your animal skin fur side out, men went out into the big dangerous world, killed dinner (usually in coordination with other men — which probably explains football, but that’s really another story), and brought it home to their women-folk, whose primary, most fundamental job was to have babies.
I know you know this. We all know things used to be real … barbaric like that. And, survival-wise, that whole system made sense: men are better at running around killing things; women are better at having babies.
But men being stronger and faster than women also meant that men could beat women up.
The whole world we know today — all of civilization that sprang in its infinite forms from the days when men killed for food and women needed to be protected and fed for months on end so that they could safely give birth to the next generation — is built upon the fact, and wholly reflects the reality, that men can beat women up.
Men have all the power in this world. And the core reason this is true is because men are bigger, stronger, and faster than women. Men aren’t smarter than women; men aren’t more resourceful than women; men aren’t more insightful than women. Men aren’t anything more than women.
Except that they can beat women up.
And that is one big exception. It is, in fact, what has most singularly defined the history and culture of the world.
If you’re born a man, you’re born extremely privileged. And whenever you’re born into a privileged class, it’s easy enough to wind up thinking that you personally are the bomb. That you’re special. That you’re gifted. That you deserve all the power you enjoy.
That you know things. That you’re wise.
And that is why men tend to pontificate and lecture and grandly dispense advice like Solomon the Tries. They think the world needs and wants all the hot air they blow into it.
So what does it mean to you, a young woman, to live in a world still basically owned and operated by men? Well, first and foremost, it means that you need to be smart. A great deal, everywhere around you and all the time, will conspire to keep you convinced that you’re not smart — that what should be most important to you is being pretty, cute, sexy, perky, and all that other sort of hyper-feminine stuff that’s supposed to make men want to protect and impregnate you.
Don’t you buy into any of that. Let other women assume the role of docile second-class citizen if for some sad reason they think that will work for them. Insist on something better for yourself. Be smart. Be alert. Don’t (as they say) buy the hype. Pay attention to all the ways in which society (and your family, and your friends, and your boyfriends, and your teachers, and your boss, and the media, and on and on and on) signals to you that you don’t deserve what men take for granted, that you’re not good enough, that you aren’t worth as much. Smack that crap back where it came from every time someone tries to serve it to you. Don’t take it. Don’t accept the message that being a woman makes you inferior when that message is delivered to you from any large institution — like, say, via Christianity. God doesn’t want women submitting to, or being subservient to, anyone; that’s just men trying to hang onto the power they’ve always had. And don’t take it when it’s delivered to you in a personal, private way — like, say, through a would-be boyfriend or husband.
Smack that nonsense back, every time. Don’t give in an inch. If someone, in any way, tries to put you down, call them on it. Make them own that mess. And if you doing that alienates them from you, wave good-bye to ‘em. Life’s too short to spend time with anyone who ever tries to diminish you, however subtly they might do it. (And people always deliver the “You’re a loser” message so subtly you barely feel that knife slipping in. So remain alert to even, shall we say, the slightest prick.)
Let any potential mate of yours know that coming anywhere near you means changing the rules they’re used to. This isn’t 10,000 B.C. It’s not even 1955. Donna Reed is dead. Nobody’s out hunting woolly mammoths for dinner; women don’t have to depend anymore on a big strong man to feed and protect them. We’re finally in a time where what really does matter, what really does run the world, is brains, character, and nerve. As any access to about any world news at all shows, men still have much more power in this world than, God knows, they should. But that’s rapidly changing. And, most importantly, things won’t ever go back to the way they were. We really are in a new time; this really is a new world. And in this world, women get to be whomever and however they want.
In your life, young woman, a lot of men who beneath their chest-pounding bravado are weak or scared will try to keep you down. Remember to always, always, always step over such men; to go around them; to ignore them; to outwork their retro-asses. Such men are part of the old. Their ideas about who you are or should be no more belong in your heart and mind than a hand grenade belongs in a child’s backpack.
This, finally, is your world.
And don’t you ever let anyone tell you differently.