As a woman in today’s world I often feel that there are certain principles I am supposed to embrace. One of those ideas I feel pressured to adopt is to say that fairy tales are ridiculous because the basis for most of the stories is that a woman NEEDS a man. When I was about nine years old I received a gift from my grandparents – the works of the Grimm Brothers. It was a behemoth volume of fairy tales of at least 600 pages. I adored this book. Over the following few years I read it several times, picking and choosing my favorite stories to read over and over again. There were poor men and poor women. There were fairies and witches. There were kings and queens, princes and princesses, royal courts and even talking animals. I loved the stories where a princess was rescued from an evil witch or a powerful curse. Never once do I remember thinking those stories demeaned my role as a young girl. I didn’t feel weak or helpless, nor did I believe those girls were weak or helpless. Rather, I felt connected to something greater, where good choices and helping others was rewarded, while poor choices and being selfish were punished. It was reinforced to me that being loved by a man was a positive, wonderful thing, and the opportunity for me as a woman to love a man was similarly a wonderful thing.
Unfortunately, I remember when that started changing. Somehow, in the public dialogue that I absorbed as a teen, needing the love of a man became weak and disgusting, somehow. The idea that “I don’t need a man to make me happy” became more prevalent and fairy tales became a laughing-stock. But I am thankful I grew up reading those stories. At some point in my life I rejected that false narrative and returned to my youth. I still believe that making good choices and helping people is its own reward, and I believe that poor choices and selfishness naturally lead to their own negative consequences. But I also believe that being loved by a man, being married, is a great blessing, and even more so the choice to love a man in return. It does not denigrate me in any way to admit that “I need a man,” nor does it diminish my husband’s manhood to say that he “needs his wife.” His natural instinct is “to have and to hold” and my natural instinct is to be held: we are the perfect equation.
I was thinking about this on Father’s Day, a day we adore and revere the men who raised and molded us in our lives. But on the other days are we as respectful? Do we understand the importance of husbands and fathers who tirelessly, often thanklessly, fulfill this honorable role, while watching women demean who they are and how they are born? Recently in the news I heard a politician self-deprecatingly proclaim that he was a “rich, white, male Republican” and therefore not worth listening to because of his “privileged” status. But he is a husband and father, honorable choices in our day, just as they would be for someone with different skin color or a different race or political background. Society is often so divided between us/them, black/white, male/female, with each class so defensively protecting its own that this simple lesson is lost: making good choices and helping others is honorable, no matter the person’s age, sex or race. There is only one voice that encourages discord and defensiveness and it is not God’s voice. His is one of unity and love. So I proudly declare today that “I need a man,” and that man is my husband, and I respect him for his strength, his protection, his dedication and his love. May more women everywhere recognize that choosing to love someone in no way diminishes their worth but actually fulfills their potential.