I am utterly exhausted at reading how shit I am at love.

It’s everywhere. No matter how many positive quotes or cat videos I like on Instagram, somehow those pesky brokenhearted quotes always seem to find their way onto both my feed and explore page (damn you algorithm).

And more often than not they come at the hands of men. Quote after quote, graphic after graphic scribbled with some modern male writer’s advice on love floods my feed. Now, don’t get me wrong I absolutely adore men. Truly. They are wickedly delightful for intimate conversations, to share a passionate kiss with, and are excellent partners for lounging around in bed all day. But when it comes to advice on how to love as a woman in this day and age, when it comes to discovering how to harness the sensual power and divine female energy that is innate to us women, when it comes to teaching me, a woman, how to properly respond to a man’s advances I clearly and unapologetically say “I think the FUCK not.”

My male peers, I love you but I am utterly tired of your advice.

To this I look pointedly in the direction of r.h. Sin, a male poet who has acquired quite a loyal fan base, a feature in The New Yorker, and boasts an extensive catalog of work. His work features advice and short quid bits directed toward women on love and relationships telling the New Yorker “My words are what I would say to my sister, my mother, or the women I want to protect.”

Let’s be frank, I am thrilled to see a black man get paid and carve out his own lane (or empire). There are no buts to that statement. I truly am excited. Do I hope he sells endless books and continues to collect endless check? Absolutely yes. Do I agree with his words? No. Not at all. Occasionally I loathe them, though more or less I can’t stand them.

The journey of a woman discovering her most passionate self is a special one. The relationship she forms with who she was, who she is, and who she will be is sacred. It is a space that is often intruded with male opinion, male observation, and male judgment and more often than not it becomes a rite of passage for a woman to learn to tune them out in order to find herself negate of male influence. It is a space where women trade war stories, offer support, and delight in the passage of a fellow sister becoming one with her own self. How a woman comes to understand the way she loves and her relationship with love in terms of herself and in terms of others is a journey. And suddenly it’s become a journey male poets wish to serve as a tour guide.

But let’s retract, because male poets have always wrote of love, haven’t they? Of course they have. More often than not most writing stems from some theme of love and intimacy. And while male writers have always had their problematic track record of writing on the female experience, there was a generation of romanticism. A period where male poets were inquisitive of their own journey, and of love they wrote often of romance run afoul or desire left burning. They discussed the measure of a man before passion and his resurgence in the presence of his muse.

But the modern male poet discusses the current generation of hurt lovers with a distinctive focus on how women have accepted less, loved the wrong men, and channeled their energy in the wrong places. Embedded between lines there is this faint echo of the responsibility being directed toward women. “You are hurt because you accepted less than you deserve. You are hurt because you loved wrong.” (at this point the annoying line from Bryson’s Tiller’s ‘Don’t’ rings in my ears – ‘girl he only fucked you over cause you let him’ like … what in the male logic… I digress smh). But they offer a solution to our female woes! Here, read my words, listen to my sentiments and I will teach you how to love. I will teach you how to heal and be whole and love as a strong woman in this day in age. You may have been the problem before, but I can be your solution.

I don’t need you to tell me I deserve better. I really don’t. I don’t need you to tell me how to be  vulnerable, respectable, wiser, or more in-tune with my femininity. This idea of being a woman’s spiritual guide to femininity, of being their healers in a modern age of widespread, intimate hurt is so self-righteously entitled it’s almost laughable.

I can appreciate the intent. Because ultimately do I think these poets do it with ill will? No. Maybe they truly are trying to help. But just because the intent is good, doesn’t mean the delivery and the impact is as well.

If a male author wishes to be truly impactful in today’s literary landscape why not share insights on how men love, the way men think in terms of their own relationship in finding their most passionate selves? Why not direct their words towards young men who have been heartbroken and left raw at the hands of poorly led relationships? Tell them, guide them, teach them. But to fix your mouth to tell a woman how she should conduct her passion, protect her heart, and communicate in love according to what you, as a man, would want the women in your life to do is just honestly nonsensical.

Of course, as with all things in life, there are exceptions. I appreciate the men who write of love to both audiences, who share their failings in love and write of male emotions and their journey to becoming sensual men. Malanda Jean Claude immediately comes to mind - a beautiful artists whose work Because of a Woman is a brilliant exploration of the duality between men and women’s journeys in love.

The authoritative complex of the modern male poet has become a bit too much. I appreciate the sentiment, but honestly there is nothing you can offer me that will resonate like the words of Anis Nin, Sylvia Plath, Angela Davis, or more modernly Reyna Biddy.

My dear male peers I say all this with love. I don’t want to know how you think women should love, I want to know how you think men are loving. Please, tell me about your own journey instead of giving advice on mine.

Maybe then I can stop dodging the explore page.


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