Saturday, March 26, 2005

EOTM: Man Hating and Man Bashing

Robert Heinlein, in his 1982 novel "Friday" makes the following statement:

"Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms... ( such as when the people of a country stop identifying themselves with the country and start identifying with a group. A racial group. Or a religion. Or a language. Anything as long as it isn't the country as a whole. A very bad sign, Particularism. And, before a revolution can take place, the population must lose faith in both the police and the courts.)...but a *dying* culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A general loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than a riot. This symptom is especially serious in that an individual showing it never thinks of it as ill health but as proof of his/her strength." ( he wrote this in 1982 )

Another wise person with whom I share much of my value system wrote in 1998: "That there is a war between men and women is surely indicative of a society in its death throes."

I have reached the point where the banal cliches about men; how they never ask for directions, what slobs they are; how they think with their "little" heads instead of their big one; are so annoying to me that I refuse to watch television or listen to the radio since they pour out of these public broadcast media in unrelenting streams. A week never goes by without receiving something via email like this list entitled ”More man bashing”.

Like the african-american fed up with "all black people got rhythm" jokes, I never let this sort of mindless hate-mongering go unchallenged. Most people who know me know better than to engage in this sort of infantile self-aggrandizement - elevating themselves by trying to show how far below them some other group is.

The saddest part of this list is how little creativity or real thought it actually shows. A statement such as: "What do you call a man with half a brain?...............Gifted" is completely devoid of the satire, irony, or absurdity which marks most humor and any laughter it provokes comes from nothing more than a sense of loathing. The fact that men themselves will appear to laugh at such jokes comes in part from self-loathing, but more from the fact that many men simply do not know how to fight them.

But the most insidious symptom of the cultural dry rot which allows this was illustrated by the comment of a woman with whom I have no more than a speaking acqaintance. I listened to this woman relate an incident regarding her male (platonic) roommate. He has many medical problems, including hepatitis ‘C’, and has been very sick for the past couple of years. She had purchased one of those pieces of mass market furniture of veneer over particle board which are incredibly dense and heavy. She and a couple of friends were attempting to wrestle this incredibly heavy object up a couple of flights of stairs. He got up off the couch to open the door and placed a hand on an unsupported corner to help steady it.

I was totally taken aback when she concluded her story with a disdainful sneer and said "Being a MA-YAN, he couldn’t just lie there and watch someone else work. He HAD to get up and help". The contempt she showed was so thick you could have cut it with a knife. I have long battled this tendency among women to bash men, often habitually and without thinking as many friends of mine have done until I repeatedly confront them and tell them I will not tolerate it in my presence. What took me by surprise about this particular incident was that, while the bashing is usually about some quality of men which is stereotyped and overstated but still has some basis in the reality of some men’s behavior, in this instance she was bashing him for a trait that I consider admirable.

It was then that I began to understand the true values conflict underlying the gender war, and realize how deep it runs. MEN have become contemptible for their generosity and willingness to help people out, even when it means getting off their asses and forgoing a bit of momentary comfort. John Gray was right, we are from 2 different planets. Like so many men are, I was too stunned to react immediately but later got a severe case of the "I shoulda saids".

I finally got hold of the elusive thing which I had seen at work for years but which had been too slippery to grasp. I understood that there is a certain subgroup of women who WANT to hate us and who LOVE hating us more than they love anything else. If they cannot find anything despicable about us to hate, if we manage to resist being categorized as homogeneous rapists, seducers, abandoners, molesters, incompetents, and so on ad nauseum, then they will find a way to hate us for the very qualities we value most in ourselves and in others: such as generosity and self-sacrifice. And they eschew such values for themselves, without realizing that it is precisely those values on which society is built because they are necessary to allow people to exist in close proximity and high concentrations without going to war over whose needs get met at the expense of the other. Without those values, people turn on each other rather than to each other and the measure of strength becomes not how much one can build, but rather how much one can tear down.

The inevitable outcome of this trend in social values is that when enough people become "strong" enough they will manifest that strength by ripping the culture to shreds.