Thursday, February 26, 2009

Man Week

Remember how I told you all about Russian Man Day? Well, let me say a few words about men:

Men are a tricky bag of sticks. It's hard to be a man; you can be awesome or you can suck. Men can eat manly foods like many chilicheese dogs and Hungryman frozen dinners. In North and South, Mr. Thornton suggests that a man is much better than a gentleman, and his ideal is the "true man." The rest of the book mostly backs him up on that. Hellboy, ironically, is a good man superhero. He's got his foibles (men usually don't use words like "foibles"), but he's committed to helping other, weaker people; he likes to get things done and, of course, he like to smash things. Hellboy is the 40-year-old working class equivolent of Spiderman's geek-boy superhero.

Men go to war. Yes, some women also do this, but the vast majority of them are men, and, may I say, all of the worst jobs in war are done by men. Historically, with extremely few exceptions, all soldiers have been men. And wars suck. Especially historically, what with no painkillers or synthetic fabrics or precision firing or lawsuits against hazing or cruel C.O.s, and all this time men have been going off and doing it anyway. Orson Scott Card points out through one of his characters that the battlecry of most wars has been "protect the wombs!" Speaking as one with a womb (and don't worry: women will get their shout out in March), thank you.

Men also work. That's not to say that women don't, especially lower-class women of all time periods, and much of that work has been extremely difficult. Women were working more hours than men a hundred years ago, but men's work is often way more physically exhasting. Farming without machinery. Artificially blowing chaff. Digging ditches. No fun. In fact, so not fun that a lot of these men were dying, if not directly from exhastion, then at least from lowered immunies from the food-in/work-out balance being off-kilter. The movie Pursuit of Happyness, I think, did a pretty good job of demonstrating that desire men have to provide for their families--I think this is a real instinct that most men have.

Without denying that women lacked many of the advantages of men, in many situations, there are such been some pretty great men who have contributed to our society: Aristotle, Willberforce, George Washington, John Stuart Mill, Shakespeare, Bill Gates, Rembrant, W. W. Phelps, the Quaker Oats man. Thanks, men, for having done so much cool stuff!

Then again, I'd be amiss if I didn't also point out that men are pretty violent. There are only six countries in the world (all of them will limited freedom) where women make up more than even 10% of the prison population. I'm not saying ("Ruben Ruben, I've been thinking...") that if we got rid of men, we'd get rid of crime, but it seems like men are (and this is adjusting for cops not wanting to arrest women) more likely to commit crimes, especially violent crimes.

So men: be good, take care of your family, fight evil and eat a hotdog on me today!


Makayla said...

Mary. I think you're great. And I love this blog. And I LOVE this comment:

"Speaking as one with a womb (and don't worry: women will get their shout out in March), thank you."

I also think we should add one more man to your list of wonderful men: Orville Redenbacher. :)

mlh said...

Amen to Orville! I love his fluffy, warm, salty bag of goodness.

Lobbie said...

Newsweek had an interesting article on Abe Lincoln and his wife. It made me appreciate what a great man Lincoln was even more reading about how much love and respect he gave his "improper," intelligent wife when most people said she should be more lady-like and fit to the confining roles women had.

I admire anyone of either sex who can appreciate the strengths of the other, so good on you Mary.

xister said...

It seems that most of your compliments of men are compliments of pre-1900 men. I guess I'm ok with that. They were pretty cool back then.

Day said...
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mlh said...
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mlh said...

Yes, men do bad things, but men also have bad things happen to them. Like the case in war--yes men do the raping and the pillaging, but many men are raped and pillaged.

I'm not saying that all men are saints (re: more than 90% of prison inmates are male)--I'm just saying let's not assume men are the comfortable aggressors in every situation.