Attendees at corporate and entertainment awards ceremonies have heard the familiar benediction: “…and last but not least, for my beautiful wife, who supports me through…” or some variance alluding to how without the support and encouragement of their significant other they wouldn’t have been able to accomplish a goal. Of all the adjectives I’ve heard bestowed upon a wife – beautiful, smart, supportive, etc. – I have never heard a husband refer to his wife as a “mentor”. Imagine that, a man being intimate with a woman whom he acknowledges that he learns from, seeks counsel from, and it is implied that in some capacity she is more advanced than he is at the present time.
I know within many Abramaic religions, the common interpretation is that women are seen as lesser or second class citizens in the “sacred” gender hierarchy. The biblical interpretation of male/female relations even posits that women came from the ribs of men alluding to a sort of divine order where men are vicegerents of God and should seek the Almighty divine source as their energy source and women should in turn venerate men in order to be joyously lifted up .
But during the time of writing these theologies, women’s role in society was much different than modern times. Taking into consideration the societal changes is it not time to view women differently and subsequently treat them differently?
Black women are not only the most educated demographic group but Black women are concurrently the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs and small business owners. With these statistical facts, it’s only logical that we as Black men should be seeking mentorship from women in a more overt fashion.
In corporate America, mentorship programs are routinely developed to season new hires and transfer tacit knowledge from veterans to rookies. Men, dominating the corporate leadership roles, are often paired with women mentees. Furthermore, women are encouraged to emulate male behavior in the workplace. Do we encourage men to emulate successful women?
In romantic relationships women often complain about not being heard or taken seriously by their partners. But what if men began to see women as mentors? Many times I have heard men say they will not be seriously involved with a woman unless she is “bringing something to the table”, or is an asset instead of liability. But if she is bringing something that you do not possess, teachable moments may present themselves where the man can be uplifted through learning a new skill or developing character while the woman will in turn be edified by knowing that she is being taken seriously by her partner.
Personally I wanted a woman “out of my league” and who brought more than her body to be the object of my love & affection. But with this dynamic woman I envisioned manifesting in my life, I also had to realize that if I was not grounded in my own masculinity, purpose, and worth, it is easy to fall into a state of intimidation and subsequently develop excuses for why I can’t be involved with a women of that caliber, to ultimately shield my pride.
Although I am single, I have met a woman who supports me, encourages me, is a beneficent critic, and is a mentor in my life. I value her opinion, actively seek her counsel and provide updates on my progress. Conversely she has expressed that she too views me in a mentor capacity for what I bring to the proverbial table.
All I’m saying is women have different things to offer that should be valued. And learning from a woman does not make you less than a man in fact it is one of the foundations of true manhood.