In Defense of Men
I used to drive a deathtrap of a car, a bucket of bolts that always stalled out on me at precisely the wrong time. I don't know how many times I ended up paralyzed on the side of the road, staring helplessly at a stubborn collection of wires and motors and belts that refused to pull together and let me go home. Eventually the thing just caught fire one day and burned to the ground, leaving me stranded on the coldest day of the year on a forlorn strip of highway. That day, like many, many others in the life of my car, I was rescued by a a stranger who stopped to help, a person who saw a young woman in need and came to her aid. A man.
The man who stopped that day offered to let me sit in the back of his car and use his phone to call the police. Standing there, on an empty stretch of highway, freezing to death, I had second thoughts about getting into the backseat. But like every other man who ever stopped to help me, this man was a true gentleman, gracious and kind, interested only in helping a woman who could have been his sister, his daughter, his wife.
So why did I have second thoughts? Was it because some men are not so gracious and kind? Because men are dangerous and predatory? Or was it because our society has taught me to think they are?
Men have the dubious distinction of being the most hated, the most suspected, the most mistrusted creature on the planet. The actions of a very small number of men have painted the entire sex with the brush of suspicion and loathing, have labeled the entire gender as brutish, arrogant, violent and depraved. Men are constantly being criticized and corrected, admonished to change, to be better, softer, sweeter, to think more of others, to think less of themselves, to recreate their very natures in order to please the women they share the world with. And it doesn't matter how hard they try to improve, or to give into the demands placed on them; there will always be some new attack to fend off.
Men are in dire need of defense. They suffer in silence, most of the time, taking every blow, suffering every insult and accusation, holding up bravely under the constant barrage of animosity our society throws at them. We put them down for liking sex, for liking to look at pretty women, for wanting to work and get somewhere in life, for wanting to make money, for letting off steam with the boys. Whatever it is we hate about them, our society gives us carte blanche to vocalize that hatred.
Some women at an American university, for example, had the gall to post the names of every male student on campus under the heading "Potential Rapist", willfully ignoring the fact that 99% of those men would likely risk life and limb to protect a woman from a real rapist if the situation ever arose. Women at another college formed a group called W.H.A.M, Women Hating All Men, a slap in the face to their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons, or any other man who has loved and cared for them.
These groups do this not only with full legal protection, but also with the quiet sanction of society, who honors their self-styled role of victim and allows them to vent their sexist agenda with impunity. We don't care how vicious they are, it seems, or how unapologetic they are in their hatred of men for being men; on some level society agrees with them. Men are bastards, go ahead and hate them.
It is not in men's nature to complain, or defend themselves against their numerous critics, and so very often we assume that they aren't bothered by all the bad press and unfair attacks leveled at them. Yet how could a person not be? How can young men growing up today feel good about themselves, when all we ever hear about is the small percentage of men who are criminal or cruel? There ought to be at least one woman out there willing to sing their praises, to extol the virtues of men, to thank them for their gallantry, their chivalry, their bravery and their love. That woman will be me.
I love men. I admire them greatly, and respect their rationality, their dedication to values. I find them charming, romantic, kind-hearted and generous. I love their lustiness, their love of life and the good things it brings. I love how willing they are to spend their lives working to care for a woman and children they love. I love how unquestioningly they take on the role of bathroom spider-killer, burglar-chaser, tire changer, bump-in-the-night investigator, lover, companion, friend.
It's generally thought that women are the more romantic of the two sexes, given their penchant for fancy weddings and Valentine's Day flowers and tokens of affection. But men are far more romantic than women, in the truest sense of the word. Men value love very highly, and don't mistake candy hearts and candlelit dinners for genuine, lasting love. They fall in love carefully because they want love to mean something, and they want it to last. When they do allow themselves to love someone completely, their wives will find no more stalwart supporter, no greater friend, no more loyal or devoted lover. They are romantic and tender, not to get love but to give it, and often display gallantry and chivalry with no hope of "getting anything " in return.
Unfortunately, most men don't necessarily equate love with marriage, and consequently are afraid of entering into something they believe will kill romance. Yet most of them still do it anyway. Most of them swallow their fears and walk down the aisle, for one reason only: they love her. They're willing to face their fears in order to make her happy. In many couples, marriage results because she wants to get married, but he just wants her. It's hard to say a man isn't romantic when he puts his heart on the line for the woman he loves.
When it comes to sex, most men are careful about overstepping bounds because they don't want to offend their partners; most men, even husbands and long time lovers, make absolutely sure their advances are welcome and that their lovemaking is a pleasant experience for both. As much as the media would like to portray men as perverted sex fiends who will have sex with anyone, anywhere, this simply isn't true for the vast majority of men. Most men are happily monogamous, and want to be in love with the woman they go to bed with. All they really want when it comes to sex is to admire a sexy, wonderful woman who delights their mind, body and soul, and to see that kind of admiration reflected in her eyes.
Many men have to search for years to find their dream woman, and in the meantime, they hold onto their quest by dreaming about the beautiful women in Playboy, or the gorgeous girl on the bus shelter ad, or the cute and charming lady who works in the office next to theirs. They are drawn to images of beauty and strength, character and personality, sexiness and self-esteem. Anyone who thinks men can't be monogamous ought to consider the number of men who keep the same centerfold on their garage wall for fifteen years, immune to the array of new faces and new bodies that come and go, content to look in admiration at the loveliness of that one special lady who touched their heart.
Some women call this misogyny, or objectifying women. They couldn't be more wrong. These men are elevating women, building pedestals for them, idolizing an image that best reflects the glory they see in women all around them. They cherish their image of woman, carry it with them their whole lives, and look, with hope and anticipation for the woman who will make their ideals become real. This isn't misogyny, it is pure, unabashed adoration, and genuine, heartwarming love.
Not all men are wonderful. Neither are all women. And while it is true that some men (and women) have historically persecuted women by denying them their individual rights, we must give our modern men credit for rising above the attitudes and prejudices of their grandfathers. Today's man gamely takes the women's movement in stride, encourages his wife to pursue her dreams, treats the women in his life with respect and grace, and struggles the best he can to keep his head above water in the turbulent sea of change.
I have always loved men but I never fully appreciated what a wonderful, inspiring, uplifting thing a good man is until I met the finest example of masculinity there is. My husband Dwayne is a constant joy to me, not only for the delight he brings to our marriage and to our life, but for the million, tiny, quiet ways he has of being moral, of being visionary, of smiling at the stars and proving that life is good, for the nobility he sees in the beauty around him and his intense desire to paint the world as he knows it can and ought to be. There is no finer man than my husband, and I am privileged he calls me wife.
Love the men who so generously deserve it. Ignore those who don't. Find your shining knight and reward him with the only desire he has quietly harbored his whole life; genuine, lasting love.