Recently I went on a travelling and walking trip in the country with 4 very close women friends for 6 days. We all got on very well and it was a great trip. However, I realised after a couple of days how unusual it was for me to be the only one of my gender in a group. What I noticed was how well they got on together in conversation without me being involved, even though they were from three different countries and were not friends themselves (they were all my friends).
I realised then what many women executives must feel (or have felt) in top management teams, when they are the only woman in a group, situations that I wouldn’t have been insightful about, as I would have been one of the many men involved and we would have had plenty to talk about as men (sport, business, politics, cars, building things etc).
I must admit I did feel a little lonely at times but was happy to see them all happy together. I also realised that I was probably a bit of an inhibitor for some of the conversations. I noticed sometimes when I came into the room or earshot that they all looked in my direction and the conversation either ended or changed topic abruptly. But I didn’t inhibit them too much. One very hot day, they all took their clothes off and jumped in for a swim…I was the embarrassed one left on the shore!
They were so happy with each other over the course of the trip that I began to wonder, what value do men have for such (competent) women. Two had lost their husbands to early deaths and one to a divorce. (The other was married to me…)
On the last night of our trip, we had a wonderful formal dinner and presents and wonderful compliments were exchanged. I thought this might be an appropriate time to ask them, the question, ‘What is the value of a man to a woman?’ (given that all were leading independent, happy lives without a man around, except for my poor wife)
The question actually stopped them all talking (a rare event!). They mumbled a few superficialities – quite unlike their normal insightful comments and conversations – and drifted back to other topics. I decided that I’d make a list of what I thought (and what they had mentioned) might be value that a man might bring a woman and circulated it to them. It elicited some more thoughtful additions and the final list is here.
Men can provide:
- Intimacy and love
- A partner for creating children
- Physical attraction (sensual, muscular bodies, hairy chests)
- Physical comfort (hugs, kisses, cuddles, a shoulder to cry on, massages etc)
- Physical protection and security
- Physical strength to perform tasks where strength is needed
- The ability to share thoughts
- The ability to share tasks
- Balance in life
- Big picture, long term, conceptual thinking
- Problem solving skills
- Single focus to task achievement (a desire to work, dig, chop and build)
- Self confidence and a focus on winning
- A different approach to life and humour
- MASCULINITY, whatever that is!!
- The ability to make a woman feel like a woman
But I did get the feeling that, what value a man might thing he would bring to a woman, a competent woman would probably have a shorter – and different – list. And I understood from the conversations over the past 6 days together that, nice though they thought I was, they could all live happily – and well – without me or any other man.
Which is a bit confronting, as a man. We are being replaced. We better lift our game if we want to be, or remain, attractive to a woman. On the other hand, there are many attractive qualities we can have.
What do you think of the list?