How to Smell the Colour of the Number Seven

Men’s Guide to Understanding and Valuing our Female Counterparts

Author - Kevin Liverpool

As we celebrate International Men's Day on the 19th November, 2018, we take this opportunity to acknowledge the value and honour of our male counterparts and the positive value that they bring to the world, our families and our communities.

This week’s article was written by a member of The Fatherhood Resource Centre, one of our partner organisations in this initiative.

Can Men Really Understand Women?

A gentleman that I met sometime ago once said that “Understanding what a woman wants is like trying to figure out what colour, the letter seven, smells like.” Often times for us men it seems as though we are plagued with the task of trying to understand our female counterparts. Not just our spouses but our extended families and the various women that we meet in our varying professional capacities.

Let me state from the onset: if you are a man and you are trying to understand a woman, then my brother, you are trying to accomplish a near impossible task. French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir wrote in her revolutionary book, The Second Sex that “Women's mutual understanding comes from the fact that they identify themselves with each other; but for the same reason each is against the others.” By that very sentiment, for us men to truly understand women, we must first find ourselves identifying with them.

In my opinion, given our varying socialisations, to say that men must identify with women may be more difficult than it appears. Irish poet Oscar Wilde said “Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood” and I am inclined to agree as I believe that it is the nurturing of love and respect between the two parties that foster positive relationships.

In accomplishing this, the first thing that a man must do is understand himself. Self-knowledge is the beginning of self-improvement. It is the awareness of one’s needs, desires, strengths, weaknesses; the things that motivate as well as those that triggers anger. In other words, the more that a man knows about himself, the better he is at satisfying his own needs as well as the needs of others. This is the logical foundation of any healthy relationship.

Next, men everywhere - and our sons - must openly acknowledge that we are not superior to women. We must commit to and defend the absolute equality of men and women with respect to status, honour and dignity. As the famous scholar Matthew Henry penned, “Women were created from the rib of man to be beside him, not from his head to top him, nor from his feet to be trampled by him, but from under his arm to be protected by him, near to his heart to be loved by him.” Regardless of our varying belief systems, the sad reality is that many women are treated as inferior and not with the honour and dignity that they deserve as equals to their male counterparts.

This is especially true when we examine the state of events that are taking place across the globe. According to the United Nations, one in five women and girls, including 19 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49, have experienced physical and or sexual violence by an intimate partner within the last 12 months. In fact, right here in Trinidad and Tobago, it seems as though we have become too familiar with the epidemic of domestic violence. However, when we value women as equals, we accept the responsibility to treat them in the same manner that we would like to be treated, with the same level of respect, honour and dignity.

Finally, for men and women to co-exist in mutual respect, we must be prepared to listen. I think that the late US President Calvin Coolidge said it best when he said that “it takes a great man to be a good listener”. We must listen to what is said and to what is not being said. We must listen to the words and to what is behind the words – not what we think is behind the words. We must listen with curiosity. Many problems in communication arise when we only listen with the intent to reply. Have you ever noticed that the word ‘listen’ can be rearranged to ‘silent’? This is because it not only requires the silencing of the mouth but a silencing of the mind from the noise of your biases and pre-conceived conclusions. Listening is one of the deepest acts of caring and compassion that one can show. It is one of the easiest things that one can do. Nonetheless, it is by no means a simple act.

So, should men try to understand women? Yes! To successfully navigate in this world, both men and women need to find efficient ways of communicating with each other. This can only be done when we respect and understand each other. Will we ever understand them? Basically, no. However, understanding women means the understanding that we will never understand them. Nonetheless, our energies should be used for our own personal growth as men; to allow us to treat them with the respect, honour and dignity that we would like for ourselves and to generously listen to them. This is not an exhaustive to-do list, but it is a good starting point. Just as a house must be built on a solid foundation if it is to last, may our relationships be built on mutual respect, trust and love.

In Commemoration of International Men’s day, AFETT would like to invite you to join us for another instalment of our Tea and Conversation Series: “Women and Girls Celebrating our Men and Boys” on Thursday 15th November, 2018 at 5:30pm at the Training Room, Nipdec St. Vincent Street, Port of Spain. Join the Conversation. You may find out more by visiting www.afett.com.

AFETT is a not-for-profit organization formed in 2002 with the goal of bringing together professional women and engaging in networking opportunities, professional training and business ideas. ASK AFETT is a column meant to address issues and concerns of professionals seeking advice to assist in progressing in their careers. Today's response was written by Kevin Liverpool, Director of the Fatherhood Resource Centre. Learn more about AFETT at www.afett.com, search for AFETT Events on Facebook, follow us @AFETTEXECS on Twitter or contact us at 343-2160. Email us your career-related questions at admin.afett@gmail.com.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors, meant strictly as advice and guidance, based upon their experience and expertise. In no way are they meant to be legally binding upon AFETT and or its members, servants nor agents.

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