|Man at Work|
Most girls are brought up knowing this; it’s part of an international female psyche on all levels - not just when your boyfriend dumps you. It’s there on a political, social and emotional level. Its realisation is part of growing up.
But as a mother of boys I am beginning to reassess these assumptions and take a particular look especially on the relationship front.
I have the privilege to be surrounded by men; in fact the whole of my working life I has been dominated by men; firstly in the farming sphere as an agricultural student then farming reporter, then in the property world as corporate PR and features writer extraordinaire and finally working with a myriad of builders over the last decade turning a romantic wreck into a glorious home here in Suffolk.
I am comfortable with that but throughout it all, I held strongly to the tenet that: all men were bastards, and knowing this has kept me linked, however tenuously, to the sorority of females the world over.
However the stories and tales I have been told over the years in this rarefied male atmosphere has made me look again at this confusing species.
Perhaps they are not as bad as they are made out to be. Perhaps my boys are not going to grow up to be bastards who rip through a myriad of females in a quest to satisfy their baser natures. Perhaps instead of having to apologise to distraught young girls and assuage their grief because my sons’ have done a bunk, I will be needed to care for my boys’ broken hearts.
The female of the species seems far more hard-nosed, mercurial, warped even than I could ever give credit. In fact for every tale of a man doing something truly despicable I hear several of women doing considerably worse.
The thing I think that makes it harder for a man is that society is disinclined to allow a bloke to show his feelings especially when a girl dumps him/runs off with his best mate/plays emotional ping pong with him/or even physically attacks him.
They are not allowed to cry, grieve for a lost relationship/feel scared etc. they just have to stand there like a sacrificial ox and show nothing whatsoever.
I suppose I am now in that honoured position of not just being a mother to boys of my own, but also mother figure to all those who work for me thus I am safe to talk to – I am told it is a privilege of age. (I don’t like it but I am getting used to it)
I’ve seen starry eyed boys crushed learning of betrayal, of grown men reduced to sobbing in dark corners when dumped for no obvious reason. I’ve seen them rant and rave at the unfairness as a partner leaves taking everything from their home right down to the kitchen sink and curtains in a petty act of revenge. I’ve seen them quake in fear as they listen to deranged threats not just against them but against their children because a two week fling has come to an end.
I am privy to many secrets of the heart and am expected to dole out sage advice when necessary. I am getting it down to a fine art. Usually it’s along the lines of:
“It will all come out right in the wash.”
“She didn’t deserve you.”
“There are plenty of fish in the sea.”
And my own personal favourite after many, many years of listening: “Look for God’s sake don’t charge on in there, give yourself time to get over her. There’s nothing worse than a rebound relationship.”
Sometimes I even - and I feel this a betrayal of the sisterhood - advise: “Look just go for a one night stand; you need sex and fun not a full blown relationship right now.”
And in all of this I am learning - not all men are bastards…