My mum is a tough lady. She has survived some incredibly hard times that would have seen a weaker minded person declared certifiable, and she got through it all by virtue of her sheer, steely determination. Once she sets her mind to it, there is nothing she can or will not do. Unfortunately, it's a character trait that wasn't passed down to me; I inherited my dad's Cross-that-bridge-when-you-come-to-it/Don't-stress -until-you're-down-to-your-last-five-cents attitude to life, which is something I've always been ashamed of. But there is a point when determination becomes blind stubbornness, and when it comes to men, my mother reached that point years ago, crashed through the road block and kept on driving.
As with most women who've suffered a lot of heartbreak, Mum has major trust issues with the opposite sex, and I can understand why she's reluctant to ever enter into a relationship again, but the zeal with which she's adopted that old eighties 'All men are bastards' philosophy alarms me sometimes. She doesn't hate men in general; she just thinks that they metamorphosize into thieving, skirt chasing Mr Hydes once they get their own set of house keys, and has erected an Olympic swimming pool-sized moat around herself to keep them from getting too close. Mum told me not long ago that the reason she was so glad she had a daughter was because she'd envisioned us being more like sisters, and I know she's always been a little disappointed that she didn't get the kindred spirit she'd hoped for, but the fact is that despite my own similar experiences, I love men, don't believe they're all bastards and wouldn't mind having one share my life again some day.
As I've said before, my skill for character judgement is rather sketchy, but like any other skill, it needs to be honed, and I think everyday life is doing a decent job at that. It's taken until my fortieth year to finally begin to learn to trust my gut, and my gut says that not all men are bastards, any more than all women are bitches. Stereotypes are like cliches - they might roll off the tongue easily, but they're over-used, ugly and, ultimately, meaningless.