Nature or Nurture: Men

Although author Dorothy Allison's short story, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure is not even one hundred pages long, it gives a brief, but detailed look into her life and her experiences. We learn about the many women in her life as well as the men. Allison values her family and the lifelong lessons she has learned from them. Many of her childhood experiences were quite unpleasant, but she has found a way to reconcile herself to who she is by sharing her story with her reading audience. She has a close relationship with the women in her family and reminisces on them in a fond manner throughout the story. However, when she discusses the men in her family and her life, it is quite a different story. There is no hatred in the way she describes the men in her life, but the stories are straightforward and to the point. During her childhood and early adulthood she does not have pleasant experiences with men, nor does she have any positive male role models to know how men should behave. During her early years, the way men are viewed to her is as though their behavior is a part of their nature. But, as she is older and has a son of her own, she knows that men need to be nurtured in order to navigate society and life in general.

Early on, Allison did not have any idea of what most people consider a good man to be. Her biological father left her mother before she was born and she witnessed firsthand how much her mother wanted to be loved and in a relationship with a man, but always kept her guard up to protect herself from being placed in the same situation again (20). Even though Allison was young, this impacted her life whether she knew it or not because her may not have been a man basher or said negative things in the presence of her daughters, there was no doubt unspoken language about her absentee father and men in general. Surely she must have overhead conversations as a young child between her mother and her aunts about men in general, not just her biological father. Like many women who are unhappy in their relationships, these women may have made comments about men and chalked it up to the assumption that men will be men and their bad behavior, although not welcome, should be tolerated.

Allison not only has a negative image of her father, but also of the men in her family. She says that her "uncles went to jail like other boys went to high school (28). For a child to witness the male figures in her life constantly in prison or womanizing and acting out in other antisocial ways leaves an imprint on her brain that this is what all men are like. One of her aunts summed up their behavior as them being boys, and this goes back to their behavior being summed up as the nature of men. She accepted this at the time because this is all she knew and her lifestyle and that of her family did not allow her to be in the presence of men who were the exact opposite of her uncles.

Allison also ran into severe difficulties with her stepfather. He is the one man that probably did the most damage to her as a child that she would later carry into her adulthood. The effects of sexual, physical and mental abuse on a child can be tremendous. Allison comments that some people blamed the abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather as the reason she was a lesbian. They thought this was an outward display of her hatred of men. This is more than likely speculation on their part because she never says that she hated her uncles at all. Her dislike of her stepfather stemmed from the fact the he had been raping and abusing her since she was a little girl. She did not feel like this about all men and back in those days (not that it was so long ago), people did not understand or accept the concept of being gay. They thought that something must have happened to the person to make them the way that they were and did not…