Mens' Rights, With No Punchline
A friend of mine from college, a woman, is a tireless worker for an international group that supports the rights of people who have been imprisoned across the world for intellectual crimes. She believes deeply in her work. At home, she earnestly and without provocation shares her opinion, among her friends, that all men are pigs. She is married with two sons.
Another female friend of mind-you didn't think I had two, did you?- is avid on the subject of human rights abuses, and can hold forth on the subjects of civil rights for gay and trans-gendered Americans with all the eloquence of Churchill during World War II. She addresses her husband as "loser," and not in an endearing way. And not privately.
Talking the talk of civil rights is one thing, and walking the walk is another entirely. If women talked about Americans with special needs the way that they generally talk about men, there would be an outcry that would probably get picked up by the increasingly Gabor-accented Arianna Huffington. If any group used such derogatory terms to describe African-Americans and/or Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transexual Americans, it would be, well, Thursday. But to discuss fifty percent of the country's population using the words "stupid", "useless", and "loser" is only embarrassing for the group doing the talking.
Why are we, as women, seemingly unable to verbally treat men as anything but the enemy? Many of my closest friends are men, and far from being puzzled or hurt by this treatment by women, they seem to accept it as the natural order. "Well, I guess I am sort of a pig," allowed my friend Dan* from college, in reference to his wife's allegations. I have known Dan pretty well for about three decades and asked for proof of this swinishness, which I had never noticed. He wasn't sure of the details, but this hardworking husband , father, and sole provider for a family of six,not to mention Talbots and the Clark Building ,has been convinced that he is both worthless and easily replaceable.
Many of my female friends, even those with sons, were delighted by a tee shirt that was popular about five years ago and featured on it the logo "Girls rule, Boys drool". If the nouns in that shirt had been reversed, the screaming of angry parents would have drowned out the clanging of the cash registers in the stored selling the shirts. But as it was, the mothers of girls were delighted. And if they had sons as well? Oh, well, the reasoning went. Society will take care of my son, because he's part of the elite. I have to take care of my daughter myself. The idea of " taking care of our daughters," which used to consist of teaching them the ideals of honor, truth, respect, and a wicked Half- and Full-Nelson Hold, has now morphed into teaching them the same dislike snd disrespect for the opposite sex that used to be drilled into boys.
My male friends are surprised to hear that they are considered by women to be America's elite class. A few have gone through painful divorces; depending upon which states they live in, they've often automatically lost even partial custody of their children, since in divorce cases some states automatically favor the woman to raise the children. Some of my male friends support families by being self employed, which is a far from elite situation; other scrabble by in jobs in which they do the best work they can and still get castigated daily by bosses who believe that, in an economy like the current one, a terrified employee will work harder. They have families whom they love, parents whom, in some cases, they are beginning to care for, kids heading for college, and mortgages to pay.
And these male friends of mine are generally treated one of two ways. They are treated like underpaid fools who don't have the brains to make a decent living by their wives, and they are treated like overpaid, overbearing lowbrows by women who don't know them.
I know you can't legislate what I'm about to suggest, and I don't think that we even ought to. You can't legislate civility. But how about, just in general, a return to manners? To giving people, even the people that you love, the benefit of the doubt?
Why don't we all just try and accept that, if only for one day this week, that the ones among us who have penises are, just like the rest of us, doing their best?