We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need. – “Fight Club” (20th Century Fox).
We’re a generation of men, raised by women, who are then supposed to enter into loving, lasting relationships with other women. I’m speaking heteronormatively, of course; non-heteronormative individuals face a different crisis altogether. But, in a clever and cruel twist, heteronormativity also harms men raised solely by women.
Many readers will undoubtedly protest that a woman is just as capable of teaching boys how to love as any man. That’s true. But a woman cannot teach a boy how to love women without – at least - the help of a man. First, women, like all people, barely understand themselves, much less how someone from the opposite sex should interact with them. Plus, women, like all people, will tell you they’re attracted to one type of man, when they’re actually attracted to another type of man and either don’t want to admit it or don’t even realize it.
Second, due to either nature, nurture or both, men and women want and expect different things out of love. When a single mother tells her son what he should want and expect out of love, she’s speaking from a female perspective – a perspective, I should add, of a bitter woman scorned by a past lover. Bitterness aside, women only know men through a feminine prism, so anything a woman understands about men is distorted.
It all boils down, yet again, to fatherlessness. If fathers are supposed to be the primary examples of manhood for their sons, then who does the fatherless son turn to for guidance? And since, in a heteronormative world, men love women and women love men, a boy-man or woman-man doesn’t know how to love a woman and, in turn, isn’t loved by women, because women are rarely socialized to love anyone other than man-men.
In a perfect world, there would be no heteronormativity, and men and women would behave and love the same, ensuring no difference between a man raised by a woman, a man raised by a man, and a man raised by both. But we don’t live in such a world, nor are we approaching one; therefore, boys must grow up to be men who can navigate, not a perfect world, but a sexist world.
Yet, there is hope for men raised by women. Love – or as the philosopher Bell Hooks so aptly terms it, “the practice of love” – is something that cannot be taught; a person can only be shown how to practice. Love is as inward as it is outward. Love is something you do, not something you know or feel. The practice of love is a road to self-discovery and understanding. Someone’s ability to love is never hindered by the past, only by their ability and willingness to refine their understanding of love.
Men and women, fatherless or motherless, must be taught to practice love.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.