A female friend was bouncing her relationship troubles off me, and my response was not what she expected. Enough about him, I said. Let's start by working on you. And so we did, for several hours, me being alternately supportive and, as needed, gently critical. Finally the conversation led to an observation I've heard several times previously.
"You're such a chick, John."
I suppose it's meant to be a teasing affront to my masculinity, but truth be told, my masculinity's just fine. I actually consider the remark high praise. I've never really had much use for men, beyond pizza and football. I don't get them. They don't get me. With a few exceptions, the men I've known have been slugs who did the bare minimum necessary to keep my friend from leaving them.
Women, meanwhile, have been huge influences. I was raised to adulthood by a single mother and raised to manhood by a handful of girlfriends. It was the latter—not my dad, not my brother—who taught me how to be a man. From them, I learned what families should be. They taught me how to love, how to empathize, how to deal with life's triumphs and setbacks, how to control my temper, how to stow my shit-childhood away in the past where it belongs. Mom and the girls had help, too. Most of my bosses and professional partners have been women. All of my closest friends are women. My mentors and proteges are almost exclusively women. Even my heroes have been women.
"Such a chick?" So be it. Every redeeming quality I possess, I learned from a woman.