"Don't you need a man to raise a man?"
"No, I don't think so."
I nearly stood up and cheered when Annette Bening's character Dorothea uttered this response during a scene in 20th Century Women.
The movie focuses on Dorothea and her relationship with her son, Jamie, as she tries to figure out how best to raise him on her own.
She comes to the conclusion that surrounding him with strong, intelligent women will make him into the best man possible, and enlists the help of friends Abbie and Julie to help.
It all hit home. Not just because of what's going on in our world socially and politically right now, but because of my own personal feminism, and strong beliefs about gender relations.
In one scene, when Dorothea instructs Jamie to accompany Abbie to a potentially stressful doctor's appointment, he asks her what he's supposed to do.
Dorothea tells him he doesn't have to do anything. He shouldn't try to fix it; he should just be there for her. "Just being there is enough," she tells him.
I couldn't agree with this more.
Too often, because of the way men are socialized, they think they are supposed to be "fixers". They're told they should have the answer, and use their knowledge and ability to support the women around them.
While it might be true to an extent, it's not always necessary. A man shouldn't know what's best for a woman. He shouldn't always try to put himself in her shoes, because sometimes it's not possible.
Sometimes all a man has to do is take a step back and listen to what a woman is actually saying.
And more often than not, it's literally all he needs to do. Just listen.