13 March

On Living With Men (Even If You Are One)

by Jon Katz

The other day I wrote a post about The Loneliness Of Men, and I said many good and empathetic things about me. Of course, there was some blowback, although almost all of it was from men.

Kenn wrote “The much acclaimed movie “Roma”, has something in common with ‘Captain Marvel’.. in both, most of the male characters are portrayed as evil, ignorant oafs. Jon, your observation that the men at Stewarts are “hard-working, honest and proud” ….’they love to help people… , nobody hesitates to come running when people are in trouble” I assume this includes women. Your belief seems to be that women are, in general, saintly victims and men are “hell-bent on destroying the planet and the country”. (btw destroying the planet would include every country.) This childish and naive view is , I think, offensive to men in general.”

Several men called me a sissy and a “pussy” in addition – Kenn was huffy but civil. Curiously, I have learned in my life to take those words as compliments. They mean I am thinking. One women wrote to say I was being too hard on men, her husband is a good man doing the best he can

I told Kenn I rarely argue with people who tell me what I am thinking, or who like to argue online. He seems to be saying a number of contradictory things, but I get the drift. He is offended for men “in general,” and I presume, for himself.

I don’t know what all men think, a lot of them did write to agree with me and thank me.

Alfonso Cuaron, the director of Roma,  is obliged to make the best movie he can, and he did. He is not required to balance the characters in his movie to soothe the egos of one gender or another, and neither am I on my blog. “Balance”is for accountants, not writers or artists or filmmakers.

I’m not overly fond of men as a species, as is perhaps obvious in my writing. I rarely get too close to men, or get along with too many of them. I’ve made and lost a lot of male friends, I’ve hardly kept any of them. This is my fault as well as theirs, I am, after all, a man.

This friendship thing is not something I’m proud of, it’s just the truth.

I do respect and admire many men I know, unfortunately the men I like and respect are not holding elective office or interested in political power.

I hold men responsible for a staggering portion of the violence and wars and conquest and social brutality in  our world – just watch the news – as well as turning our precious democracy into a cesspool of confrontation and hatred.

I have written and believe quite sincerely that women are perhaps the last hope for our planet to survive, and maybe our government. The male corporate business model is ruining work and destroying the planet.

Without men, there would be little need for guns, armies or jails. Without men, political leaders might talk to one another and even surrender some of their pride.

I believe the survival of the planet – and the quality of my granddaughter’s life –  depends on women supplanting men in power, and in men taking responsibility for the awful havoc they have wreaked on the earth through wars and genocide, and now, the literal destruction of our world through greed and ignorance.

As it is, many men are clinging to power with all of their strength.

I know many women who are not saints – I know very few saints, come to think of it – but I believe they bring a very different sensibility to power and the idea of compassion, collaboration, compromise and empathy in their work and with the vulnerable. That is, I know, a generalization, but it fits my own life experience. I just believe it, I can’t prove it.

I am sorry if that offends Kenn, but not very much. He is probably not made of crystal, he can take it.

Honestly, I don’t really care.

I never worry about who I might offend when I write something, otherwise I would never get out of bed in the morning or write a word.

In America in 2019, somebody is offended by something a million times a  day. Argue with me all you want, but please don’t puff  yourself up like a pious preacher and get offended by my willingness to offer ideas.

That shouldn’t be a dangerous thing to do.

I feel the deepest and most sincere empathy for men, who seem lost and lonely to me more and more. They do not have a movement, rarely support each other away from combat or sports stadiums, and have been cut off from their families and children ever since the Industrial Revolution forced them out of their homes and lives to work elsewhere.

They are stunned and threatened by the Me Too uprising which is upending their view of how the world has always worked.

It’s a hard time for men, they are confused and under siege, and I feel that deeply, because I am one.

But it is not nearly as hard a time for them as it has been for the people they have slaughtered, abused, harassed, dominated, or impoverished.

The most offensive things to me are not ideas I disagree with, but the lies people tell themselves, and the lies people tell others, and the lies I have told to myself.

Salvation comes from never lying to myself, I believe.

Kenn, I hope this is helpful for you (you did ask.) You may not like what I say, but it is what I believe. It’s the best I can do.

5 Comments

  1. The day after DJT’s swearing in, I attended the Woman’s March. Michael Moore was one of the speakers and his message was, “You Want Change? Get Involved.” I think this has been the case over the last two years and shows itself in the current makeup of Congress. Change will be slow, but men SHOULD be worried, because women have a different view of power and on working together to solve problems. Of all the Woman’s Marches held that weekend, there was not one incident of violence or disturbance. That invites some pondering.

  2. Testosterone is a tricky thing! I remember hearing an NPR piece on a woman transitioning to a man talking about testosterone and the changes in her brain when she started taking it. Like all of a sudden caring about CARS and driving fast, something that mattered not at al to her before that.

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