Fixing Things

Today I’m going to let you behind the curtain and deliver some unsolicited information about men and women. Buckle up. I’m going to mansplain some stuff.

For as long as I can remember, I have heard woman complain that men are always trying to fix things. If a woman has a problem, she doesn’t want a man to come swooping in to fix things. She just wants him to listen. This seems to be a universal complaint.

I’ve read books on the subject that talk about whenever someone puts themselves into a position of being a mentor/mentee or worse–a parent/child role–eventually when the student/mentee reaches that equilibrium of having their shit together, they will do what children/trainees/etc always do. They will assert their independence and bite their teacher/parent/mentor in the ass. Or at the very least put in a boundary that told the other person to back off, we’ve got this handled.

We’ve all done it at some point.

So, here’s the problem between the sexes. And I’m going to do my best to articulate this…men aren’t the fixers. Not really. Sure, in a traditional role, men fix things around the house, they fix cars, they change tires, etc. And probably upon request. Or multiple requests. It’s usually the periferal things (unless he’s a paramedic or a doctor or nurse) such as inanimate objects too. But if I go to one of my male friends and vent my problems and fears and whatnot, 9 times out of 10, he’s just going to listen. He might say something pithy or funny or sarcastic. But he isn’t going to fix anything. Not unless I say, “What do I do?” In which case, he’ll probably just say, “I dunno, man. I wish I knew.”

If (and I have) I were to talk to a female friend, relative, therapist, etc. about my problems, 9 times out of ten they are going to tell me how I should fix things.

Kinda weird, don’t you think?

So, this begs the question, why is it women think that men just want to fix everything? Well, maybe it’s the spirit of reciprocity, because women are always there to fix our problems (as men). Behind every strong man is a good woman…that kind of thing. Women are the ones who traditionally put band-aids on our boo-boos and kiss them to make them feel better. They are the ones who bust out the map or tell us to pull over and ask for directions if we get lost. They are the ones who will see a hole in our jeans and get out the needle and thread. I’ve heard more “This is what you oughta do” from women than I’ve ever heard from men. I’ve heard them say it to each other too.

Men probably just figure that if a woman is talking about a problem, in the spirit of reciprocity, he is obligated to give a solution. It gets called “mansplaining.”

Perfect example of this is something I saw on TikTok. A woman noticed that her boyfriend had put a solitary egg on top of her egg carton in the fridge. She posited the question to some male friends and they told her that the other carton was probably empty except for that one egg, but rather than leave it in the fridge, he decided to put that egg on top so it would get used before the newer eggs.

Her mind was BLOWN. She called it “positive mainspaining.” Hold on. I already know what you are thinking. It gets better.

In the comments she got dogpiled by her viewers (99% male) that it wasn’t mansplaining. It was just a man answering a question she had asked.

So, in giving her this information in her comments (and I’m talking HUNDREDS of interations of this) that was completely obvious…guess what. They were mansplaining.

So, my friends–my male friends especially–you don’t need to correct someone, you don’t need to offer solutions or unsolicitied advice. You don’t need to fix anything (unless YOU broke it). You just need to listen. Like really listen. And maybe offer her a snack.

And ladies. Same.

Advice/assistance/etc. requires consent. Always be sure to ask if someone needs help first and then ask them what anybody in retail can already tell you the first question you should ask anyone.

“How can I help you?”

That’s not falling into gender roles and stereotypes. That’s just being a good listener. Isn’t that just what we usually all want? Unless they say “Tell me how to fix this.”

Then work together to fix it. Because even if you “fix” someone’s problem, they might wind up resenting you for it.

2 thoughts on “Fixing Things

  1. I think every relationship is different, and there may also be cultural differences, like Americans doing things differently to e.g. New Zealanders.

    What work/s/ed for me is having some clarity on the Rules of Engagement: “Is this a “you want to vent” conversation, or is this a “you want suggestions on how to fix it” conversation?

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