As the summer comes to a close, I thought I would share a bit of what I learned from living with 11 women this summer. I was one of two males in our cohort, with Brandon being the other male and quite a bit older (he has a son around my age). For some men that may sound like a bit of a nightmare, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience just as much, if not more, than if I was in a more mixed group or an all-male group. So, at this point, I thought I would share a few lessons and insights that I learned along the way, and maybe impart some wisdom on my fellow men.
- Mansplaining is real. I’ll admit I am particularly guilty of this one. I didn’t actually realize how bad of a mansplainer I was until I started getting called out. A lot. Like a lot, a lot. I would like to think I improved at this, but I will leave it to my fellow Global Practice Bosnia friends to be the judge of that one. All I can say is I get it now, and I’m trying to knock it out. As for other men, you probably do it too and it’s annoying, so cut it out.
- Women can be just as potty-mouthed, crude, and inappropriate as a high-school boy’s locker room. This one speaks for itself. Suffice to say, I wasn’t lacking in the same kinds of colorful conversations I would have at home with my guy friends drinking at the local dive bar.
- There are just some conversations men do not need to chime in on. A lot of men (and just people in general) feel compelled to be a part of every conversation that is happening around them. Yet, there are some conversations that men, in particular, should not contribute to if you are privy to being there for. It’s not our place and we simply cannot relate or understand. Sometimes it’s just better to listen and observe with couth.
- Talking about feelings and venting is actually a good thing. I thoroughly dislike talking about feelings or even admitting I have them. Yet, talking about feelings and listening to other’s feelings and venting was a big part of the summer. It’s a healthy and perfectly normal thing to do. Although I am still a bit squeamish about it, I can appreciate that I should be more in touch and vocal about what I am feeling than I did when this all started. It was a good lesson to learn.
- Men can be creepy. The number of stories I heard over the course of the summer about the shitty, creepy things men do to women was shocking. I used to think that women may have blown this out of proportion, but not anymore. Men simply do not know how to act around women and it’s pathetic. It doesn’t take much to polite and respectful, but it seems to be more of a struggle for a lot of men than I was previously aware of. It made me a bit ashamed to be a guy actually. I’d like to think being raised by my mother I know better, but I cannot speak for the rest of my fellow men.
- We are all just people. That’s it. It doesn’t matter that I lived with mostly women this summer, we were all in the same boat. It wouldn’t make a difference who I lived with based on sex, gender, ethnicity, religion, or whatever. We are all humans coexisting in a foreign country together, pursuing new experiences, and trying to make the best of our time here. I have made some truly great friends on this trip and bonded much more than I thought I would.
I would like to thank my cohort for one hell of a summer and some good lessons learned. I think my future girlfriends will agree, you all made me a better man. Thanks for tolerating my mansplaining and not giving me too much grief along the way.