A few years ago a man was hiking and camping in (I think) the canyon-lands of Southern Utah. He found himself pinned by his own perilous machismo. His arm or hand trapped under a rock too large for him to move. The reason this story got big headlines, was his cutting off of his trapped limb to free himself. I remember at the time thinking that his “heroism” should really have been called “stupidity,” and the story would have been about what not to do in the wilderness, instead of deifying this reckless man. Mostly male reporters and pundits told this story with slavish admiration for such a manly man. I feel far more sympathy for the wolves and coyotes who gnaw off their legs to free themselves from traps set by cattlemen and ranchers on mostly forest service lands leased out for chicken feed. But that’s another story.
I have, over the past couple of years, heard Tucker Carlson whine on TV about his fear that we, the America people, would see ourselves as “unmanly” if we leave Iraq before we’ve finished “the job.” And the first thing out of my mouth as I sit there listening to him say this crap, is “Jesus Christ Tucker, are you so insecure in your manhood, your manliness that you would continue this stupid slaughter just to protect your notion of yourself as virile? “ Tucker, your fear and loathing of the feminine is showing. Wouldn’t we be better served in the world, and in our own eyes, if we were seen as smart and careful with our awesome might, not just reckless and blundering as we have been in our nearly eight years of macho politics and policy, led by the “manly” “cowboy” “from Texas?” I put those last three in quotations because they are inventions, designed to make a rich boy from Connecticut, sent to the best schools money buy can buy, (and who claims to be proud of his gentleman’s C’s or B’s and his inability to speak the English language with anything amounting to grace or intelligence), who was reckless and foolish in youth, avoided real military service during The Vietnam War, a man who never succeeded at anything without the connections his family and his class provided to keep him from being a total embarrassment to them and their peers, steal an election and put him in office as the PRESIDENT OF THESE UNITED STATES! !?? Where the hell is the manliness in any of that. That looks like cronies making sure cronies get richer and stay that way.
Tucker, I’m not picking on you. I just happen to prefer MSNBC over CNN, but other than Keith Olbermann, you have all become unwatchable. Chris Matthews can’t ask a question of one of his guests or panelists without interrupting or talking over the guest and answering the question himself. He is so damned rude and dismissive of anyone who doesn’t share his own prejudices that he has become a joke. I got so sick of having him describe our only female candidate running for President as “strident” and her laugh as a “cackle” that I had to stop watching him. Do either of those things have anything to do with her fitness to be President? Are we really that shallow? His manliness is showing a little too much, and it’s embarrassing to look at. Ditto Lou Dobbs on CNN with his rabid hatred of “illegal immigrants.” Is Lou Dobbs descended from Native Americans? I am. And I look at all you white guys as Illegal Immigrants. A pox on all your immigrant ancestors and their manliness behind a gun, spreading “Democracy” and calling it Manifest Destiny (just a code word for pillage and plunder, as far as I can see) in their quest to rape the world of all it’s gifts. Take your manliness and shove it.
I’ve been married three times and when I wasn’t married I usually had a lover. I can speak with some experience about men and their strength. Let’s take illness and the way we cope with it as an example. Every man I lived with and/or loved has taken ill at one time or another. Their illnesses have, for the most part, been minor—colds and flues. But my last husband had serious illnesses throughout our relationship. But in all the relationships there is a common thread when it comes to nurturance. When my loved one is sick, I provide the comfort and care. I get the pail for my love to puke in and put it beside the bed for him. I get the cool damp cloth to soothe his fevered brow. If he needs and wants bathing, I run the bath, wash his back and shampoo his hair and whatever else needs washing. I provide the clean bed clothes. I change the sheets that I washed. I fix the broth or chicken soup. I serve it to him in bed. I do these things out of love and simple human kindness. But God forbid that I get sick and need care and comfort. If I’m sick enough to need that pail beside my bed, you can bet your ass I’m the one who gets it. I have never been nurtured by a man. Not one.
This is not to say I haven’t been treated with kindness or generosity by a man. There’s a difference. I have observed that, in illness and pain, women are far manlier than men. Women take care of themselves, and their family members, and their friends. Women seem to see themselves vitally, profoundly connected to a larger world outside themselves in a caring, careful way. Men seem to see the world as an extension of their egos. Are they manly enough to control it, shape it to fit their image of themselves? Conquest and acquisition seem to be the male model for manliness. Capitalism is the perfect model of a manly economic system. It is brutal, has little regard for any value other than the acquisition of wealth, and it requires an underclass to do the work. It also relies on Family Values (code words for unpaid labor by women, and control of women’s bodies). Capitalism would come to a screeching halt if we gave a monetary value to the slave-labor of women in families. And now that it takes two or three incomes for the working poor to survive in this brutal system, most of these women (so cherished by the right-wing fundamentalist white males who have been our ruling class) now get to work for nothing at home, and for minimum wages in the work place, usually without health care, unless their husbands are lucky enough to have some kind of benefits package that covers family members. That is, if their husbands have not abandoned them and moved on to their trophy-wife phase. Think of the fine example set by Rudy. Think Newt. Think Fred (Law and Order) Thompson. Think McCain. These are manly men. Yeah, right.
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