11 October 2017

About Men: Dominance And Privilege

Dominance And Privilege

I wrote last night about the Harvey Weinstein tragedy, and also about my conversations with a late friend about what it means to be a man, and how to be a better one.

I feel it's an important story and it sparked a widespread and thoughtful conversation online. Because it is not quite yet a left-right thing – it will be soon – there is still time to think about it and talk about it.

One comment caught my attention, it was from Lisa, she said she thought that the crisis of identity for men is defined as anything that does not approach being perceived as feminine.

"How would your idealized definition of what it means for you to be a good man be any different from a definition of a good strong woman? Forgive me,"she wrote,  'but the penis casts a great shadow over planet earth. Male dominance and privilege is not surrendered easily and perhaps never."

Lisa does not need forgiveness, it was an interesting and thoughtful message. I can handle it.

I will admit I had to laugh at the last line. My penis doesn't cast a great shadow over anything much these days, not even my toes, let alone the world. I can't speak for women, or even for men, only for me.

My ideas of being a good man do not seem grandiose or unattainable to me, they are certainly idealized, as are most admirable goals. I can't say whether we will all reach them, or even if I will. That's not a reason not to try, at least for me.

I balk at terms like "dominance" and "privilege" to me, they seem too much like cant and official dogma and they make me twitchy.

I have given up a great deal of male privilege in my life, and it was very conscious.

In my first marriage, I choose to work at home for years and take care of my daughter. I left a big deal producer's job at a major television network to care for my daughter, and have never regretted it.

I shopped, cooked and drive her to school, play dates and lessons. One reason I chose to be a writer was so that I could be home with Emma and help her grow up.

My wife is a lifelong feminist, chose to work and I supported her in this at every turn, not that she needed my permission. I was happy to help support her work.

In my new marriage, my wife is not domestic, she is a hard-working and ambitious artist and devotes her self to that work full-time and beyond. I do the shopping, the cooking, we hired someone to help with the cleaning. I am not in charge. We make all decisions (except our personal creative ones) together, and each has full veto power.

I no longer believe (I had to work at this) that I am responsible for her safety and welfare. She can take care of herself. She has her own car, and insists on paying her own bills, even during those hard artist months when there is little money coming in. She deals with repair people, carpenters, plumbers and all matters relating to the house. She climbs ladders, drills, hammers and makes minor repairs.

We have altered many gender stereotypes. Our goal is to support and encourage the other, in all things. Most of the time, we do.

She has her own bank account, and manages her own business finances.

There is no sense that I am the head of the household, that I need to be deferred to, that I am the boss,  or that she needs to please me or get my approval for her decisions. She has her own friends, sees them whenever she wishes, and is free to make her own plans, although we often prefer to be together.

She never asks me my opinion or approval for her work, and she has no fear of me in any way for any reason whatsoever.

When I talk about dominance and privilege, I am not speaking as globally as Lisa, I don't know what will happen to the world, or whether or not men will destroy the planet before women finally get to rise up to power. My revolution is personal, it begins at home.

I want to be a better man. I want to support my wife, and no dominate her, I want to encourage her and not diminish here. I don't wish to ever be confused with a man like Harvey Weinstein, or our President, if I am being honest.

Does this make me like a good woman? I don't know, you'll have to ask women. I hope it makes me a better man. One man at a time.

I have no desire for my penis to cast a shadow over the world, although I do sometimes miss the shadow he did cast, not that it was especially large. I recall a female doctor examining me who said kindly that men with large penises do not necessarily make the best lovers.

It gave me hope.

Posted in General