There will almost certainly be some hurricane force blowback from this War of the Sexes post, there always is. In fact, a post about male/female relations is the only post over which I’ve received threats of bodily harm – all from women. I’m not complaining about this. I’m not supposed to. I am male.
Jessica Bennett recently penned a Daily Beast article about Hanna Rosin’s new book, The End of Men. The crux of Rosin’s book, and to a degree Bennett’s review, is that men are becoming obsolete in the face of vastly superior female qualities. Bennett doesn’t completely agree, but gets in a dig at men anyway, “Perhaps it’s not the end of men at all – just the beginning of a newer, better version.” Jessica, with all due respect, thanks for implying I’m defective now.
If a man were to say that about a woman they would be branded as a bigot, as well they should be.
People recently ripped Congress for reproductive rights hearings that didn’t include a single women. Women – with many men at their side – howled, quite rightfully, that it was an unfair, gigantic blunder.
But many women feel abortion is exclusively “their” issue, one in which men can have no stake or input. Some believe men don’t even have a right to their own feelings and needs during extremely traumatic family planning decisions. Feelings, by the way, that many women constantly remind men they are completely devoid of.
However, I unequivocally agree women should have absolute, final control over their bodies – as men should have absolute, final control over theirs – but men aren’t completely superfluous either. Any family planning decision has consequences for men too and they deserve to be able to discuss them. To advocate men be totally shut out is just as lop-sided, short-sighted, and unfair as the Congressional hearings or Rosin and Bennett telling men what they should or shouldn’t be, feel, or say. Talk about it and then leave the final decision to those most effected.
Women on Men: A Chummy Patriarchal Club of Carefree Goobs
Many women feel, not completely without justification, that men dominated for centuries and now it is women’s time. Some also feel men are a chummy patriarchal club of carefree goobs who are unfairly awarded oppressive powers simply by virtue of external plumbing. If that were the case, I must have missed a number of meetings of The He-Man Women Haters’ Club. I didn’t get the paperwork certifying me as an absolute dictator.
No one gave me anything simply because I am male. The logic of automatic power, and fault, suggests that I be responsible for slavery 150 years ago, even though I wasn’t born yet and none of my relatives ever owned a slave. Just as I am not totally empowered because I’m male, I’ve never oppressed African Americans or women either. I freely accept the responsibility to help any disadvantaged group get legal and moral treatment equal to mine. If that means me giving up some of whatever advantage I have, that’s OK too.
That’s not to say society doesn’t give men a leg up sometimes. Many are better educated, though that is no longer true. Many make more money, though that’s changing (not quickly enough I might add). However, most men didn’t ask for or create those advantages and there is equal disparity among many groups of men. Even if women were in charge, which many seem to hold as their due birthright as women, the same would be true.
I’m Not Complaining About This, I’m Not Supposed to, I Am Male
But there is also a male downside, though I’m not equating them to women’s. Women almost exclusively get child custody and alimony in divorces largely because they are women and regardless of their suitability of income. Men overwhelmingly hold most dangerous, dirty, and menial jobs. Fighting wars, digging ditches, and working as garbage collectors come to mind. Though educational success has already swung toward women (higher grades and more and better degrees), there are hundreds of efforts to improve their lot. Male children, not so much. Even small things, like Take Your (Fill in the Blank) to Work Day, are issues. Some people apparently believe that daughters are the only ones who benefit from seeing, and being able to model, the success of their parents. “Girls rule, boys drool”.
There isn’t a day that goes by when most men aren’t reminded directly or implicitly that their emotions are defective or that they are sensitivity-challenged, incompetent oafs. They’re constantly reminded of how they make more money, benefit from male-only role models, oppress women, or aren’t subject to the same stresses of everyday life. Women have children fer chrissakes! Well, as a father, I’m here to tell you that being a prospective Dad ain’t no piece of cake either – especially when you’re treated as a mere sperm donor, if you’re recognized at all, during pregnancy and child rearing. Both jobs are incredibly hard.
Using some allegedly, arbitrarily defective male logic let me suggest that both men and women bring something to the table. Men can learn much from women’s superior ability to emote in many situations. Women could benefit from knowing that competitiveness or less emotive responses are not necessarily bad things sometimes. Men can, and many do, work hard to help women overcome truly unequal treatment inside and outside the home. Women might benefit from understanding that not every man is an evil oppressor and they shouldn’t treat all of us that way. But perhaps the most important thing women can teach men is an appreciation for their much vaunted nurturing and sense of fairness.
All I ask is that you practice what you preach.
Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks! More than politics, more than pop culture & humor