Cassy Fiano has written a piece about the need, in her opinion, for men to “MAN UP”.
I respectfully disagree. Enough so that I think a full rebuttal is needed. While some of Cassy’s points are valid, her article makes what I see as mistakes in several areas, and these need to be addressed, if the gender behavior question is to be better understood and resolved.
The first thing to say in any gender discussion, is the obvious fact that men and women are different. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and in how Society treats the gender. Look at crime, for instance. In my book, an adult teacher who molests a student is a particularly slimy felon, one who should be put away for a very, very long time. Yet over and over, we see that female teachers who have sex with their students do not receive even half the length of sentence commonly issued to male teachers who do the same thing. Sexual harassment is supposed to apply to equally to men and women, but here again we see that women suing for sexual harassment are far more successful in court than men who do the same thing, as a proportion of damages awarded to cases filed. Granted, this is an offense where male perpetrators far outnumber female offenders, yet this also is skewed, because even in today’s world, a male employee who complains of unwanted sexual advances by a female superior will be mocked and ridiculed in the public, in a way no female complaintant in the United States needs to fear.
A significant portion of the article addresses the decision by women either to work outside the home or to stay at home. The article never mentions that in many families, the man stays home while the woman works, not in some hillbilly paradise where the guy slacks around, but because the woman may be better suited to working in a corporation while the man has better domestic skills. It may come as a shock, but some men are better at cooking, cleaning, and child care, and some women are better in monetary skills. If a couple or family finds themselves in the fortunate situation where one paycheck is sufficient, it’s nobody else’s business how they decide to sort out the various responsibilities of the house.
The article also appears to take a swipe at two-career parents, quoting Mellisa Clothier’s rather stupid asssertion that many men “no longer work as hard because they just don't have to. On the one hand, they don't have the financial pressure of their father's generation, but they also don't have the self-respect, work-ethic and noble purpose of their father's generation either.”
What utter bilge! No serious thought could possibly have produced that statement, which reflects some long-disproven assumptions about the modern generation and a more than slightly elitist arrogance. I will use my own experience to illustrate:
My father worked as the sole breadwinner for his family when he was young. This is because at 8 years old during the Depression, he still had an easier time finding a job than his mother or sister could, and so even before Middle School, my father was helping support his family. That mindset, to do what the family needed at any cost, became something of a lifelong mission for my father. In the performance of that mission, he worked long hours, took countless assignments in other countries because they paid more, and sacrificed an untold number of personal luxuries and goals for his wife and kids. He spent what little “free time” he had with us kids and with the church as a Bible Study teacher. The ‘payoff’ for his work? Four heart attacks, a stroke, he was laid off seven times during his career, his commitment to the job hurt his marriage, we had to move four times to find work that met the family’s needs, and the stress and wear from so much travel and effort left him a physical wreck, so that the last nine years of his life he could barely walk, leaving his bed only for minutes at a time. This was not doctor Clouthier’s mythical “self-respect”, “work-ethic”, or “noble purpose” – such terms lose their meaning when the man is destroyed just trying to take care of his family, and people like Clouthier do not begin to understand the forces at work which challenge a family to survive, let alone succeed.
Then there is my wife, Mikki. Her first husband was a big believer in the stay-at-home wife, he would have applauded Ms. Clouthier. He treated his wife like a possession, like a prize to be kept under lock and key and always under his control. Of course, his freedom to work while she stayed home also helped him have an affair, which destroyed the marriage as such things often do. Mikki was left alone to fend for herself, and she was grimly pleased to do see she could manage her affairs without some husband to do it for her. When she and I married, we both understood that she intended to work full time, for several reasons but which included the fact that she would never allow herself to be kept in a box, whether it be a house or apartment or assumption. If Ms. Clouthier and Ms. Fiano wish to stay at home and have the means to do so, good for them, but that in no way means anyone else is obliged to do the same, nor are they irresponsible if they choose that path. Further, I am no less a man for respecting my wife’s wishes and being aware of her history and needs, and if Ms. Clouthier and company cannot fathom that, it is their flaw, and not my own.
I also have to speak up about this “man up” command from on High. In the comments to Cassy’s article, reader Aries said ”Men have seen women in action. Whiners, complainers, misandric and endlessly focused on themselves only. Women threw men away.” Blunt but true, that. Many men are just sick and tired of women telling us half a hundred different things they expect us to do. Nothing is ever good enough, and while I agree with equality, my definition of that word never included my surrender to women and their countless chaos of neurotic demands. Women chase after drunks and liars, ignore and mock the nice guys, then complain because they can’t find a good man. Women demand equal pay and opportunity in the workplace, but also want special rules and preferential treatment from HR and the business practices. Women demand to be treated as equals and receive respect, but as a rule treat men either as the enemy or simply as not worthy of their regard, much less respect. Women despise being treated as sexual objects – rightfully – but see no hypocrisy in ranking men according to their physical attributes. I have personally known hundreds of men who put their wives first, who constantly try to find ways to show they love and appreciate their wives, but I have only found a handful of women who do the same for their husbands (Mikki is one). Oh, I am sure there are more out there, but the overwhelming fact is that men are dogs and women are cats. Men, like dogs, are sloppy and careless and spill and break things, but most are utterly dependable and full of love and fun. They are heroic and serious about family. Women, like cats, are full of themselves and tend to hate dogs as a group. If you take loving care of a dog for even a few minutes, you will have a friend for life, and a lot of men are the same way. If you take loving care of a cat for years, catering to its every need and whim, you will be rewarded with the privilege of cleaning out its litterbox, and the presentation of an occasional hairball or shredded shirt, and a lot of women are the same way.
In closing, I admit my posted opinions are a broad brush posting, and there are many good women out there, just as there are some men who are utterly useless. But the stereotypes presented by Ms. Fiano needed a counterweight. There is hope for gender relationships, if only for one great truth: Men love and need women, and women also love and need men.