cut on the bias

keeping an eye on the spins and weirdness of media, crime and everyday life

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Man, oh, man

A slim, neat woman cleans her sliding glass door. Her scruffy dazed husband wakes up from a nap (taken while his wife is cleaning house), runs into the door and is roundly mocked by two birds perched in a tree outside.


Oh, wait. Not funny. Not at all. Not even a little bit.

I like physical humor as well as the average woman, which is to say no where near as much as the average man (cf. The Three Stooges). But the physical humor isn't my concern here - it's the fact that this commercial is another example of men taking it on the chin in our society. It's reached high propaganda proportions, and is causing demonstrable harm.

Think of any comedic TV show. Can you name one where there is a ditzy woman but not a ditzy guy? Can you name one where the ditzier of the two main characters is a woman?

Think of the news media. How many times have you read about the "glass ceiling" for women, about how women earn less, about how women are the oppressed and men the oppressor?

The traditional family of a bread-winning husband and stay-at-home mom in a long-term first marriage raising children is now the minority family setting in our country. The value of having a true dad in the home helping to raise the children is often discounted. It is particularly bad in the black community, where there are more households headed by single mothers than there are traditional nuclear families. Efforts to point out how harmful that is to the father, the mother, the child, and the culture as a whole are again often dismissed or directly contested. But why should a man feel that he is more than a sperm donor if that is precisely how he's treated and perceived? If that's what he sees all around him from the time he's old enough to notice?

I have been increasingly upset about this cultural trend for a long time. I hear women say over and over, "Men are scum! Men are scum! Men are scum!" and then they wonder why no men will commit their futures to them. It is especially sad when a woman expects a man to nurture her, meet her needs, accommodate her dreams and career plans, but won't give him the same thing back. It is precisely that situation, reversed, that women have worked to change. The feminist camp counts the current situation as tremendous progress. It isn't. Instead, many women are conditioned to believe that they deserve traditional wooing and chivalry from a man as well as complete autonomy to pursue their own interests as if they were single. What's left for the man? Not much. But - and this is according to what I've heard from other women, from television, from fiction, from non-fiction, from magazines and newspapers - most men just want sex, food and 30 sports channels anyway, so why bother trying to go deeper?

It is a culture of women for whom men are mostly an accessory.

I'm fortunate that I've seen many wonderful marriages in my life - my grandparents, my parents, my siblings and their spouses, couples at church, others where the focus is partnership. Neither spouse is an accessory for the other. I find that men who have good marriages are very likely to treat all women respectfully and with appreciation for them as people. Unsurprisingly, they tend to raise sons who are successful in their careers, marriages, parenting and life in general. They raise sons who grow into whole men, with a sense of purpose, place and responsibility. And women who are happy in their marriages, truly honoring and appreciating their husbands, pass along to their daughters the foundations for true partnerships with the men in their lives. Girls learn to trust men because their fathers are trustworthy and value them. Boys learn to trust women because their mothers are trustworthy and value them.

What happens when a boy has no father in his home, just a man who has other children with different mothers, who drops in occasionally if at all and has to be forced by the court even to financially support him? What happens when he isn't trained to have different expectations of himself? What impact does it have when the majority of images of men he sees on television are either inept dullards, slick ladies' men, or violent criminals? I can tell you one thing that isn't happening - he isn't growing up respecting himself and his role as a man in this world.

What spurred me to climb on my soapbox was this article, an interview with Dr. Helen Smith. She is a forensic psychologist, and a clear-sighted woman. In the interview she discusses the impact of the feminist agenda playing out in our society today. It's not pretty. I encourage you to read it and send it along to others. One point that struck me particularly, which Dr. Smith quotes from another psychologist:

...most world rulers, presidents, prime ministers, most members of Congress and parliaments, most CEOs of major corporations, and so forth — these are mostly men. Seeing all this, the feminists thought, wow, men dominate everything, so society is set up to favor men. It must be great to be a man. The mistake in that way of thinking is to look only at the top. If one were to look downward to the bottom of society instead, one finds mostly men there too. Who’s in prison, all over the world, as criminals or political prisoners? The population on Death Row has never approached 51% female. Who’s homeless? Again, mostly men. Whom does society use for bad or dangerous jobs? US Department of Labor statistics report that 93% of the people killed on the job are men. Likewise, who gets killed in battle? Even in today’s American army, which has made much of integrating the sexes and putting women into combat, the risks aren’t equal. This year we passed the milestone of 3,000 deaths in Iraq, and of those, 2,938 were men, 62 were were women.
Being a male in America in 2008 is not easy. Being a real man is even harder. We need to make sure that we as women give as much as we get in our relationships with the men in our lives - and that we say out loud how much we appreciate what they do and who they are.

(But I draw the line at watching The Three Stooges. Hey, everyone has their limits.)

Dr. Helen has her own blog, and also posts columns on Pajamas Media. She is happily married to Glenn Reynolds, a UT-Knoxville law professor who is a major blogosphere celebrity for his Instapundit blog. From what I can see, they're a good example of a dual career marriage that works because they see themselves as partners in life, not battling to prove who is more important or whose work is more valuable. I don't agree with them all the time, but I do a lot, and I learn a lot from them. I recommend them both.


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