Friday, 21 October 2011

Compassion

Some men are jerks; most men are not. Frankly, I do not think there is a better way of correcting the bitterness searching Single women so often feel that by upbraiding the little voice that tells them the "problem" is men.

I think it must be "Man" week on Seraphic Singles because I keep thinking about the ways in which society has shortchanged boys and men. The "hook up" culture of high school, college and clubbing is horrible for women (and the children they have or abort), but it is also horrible for men. Sex on tap is emasculating. Past generations of men knew this, from Homer--who portrayed Paris as a dumb pretty-boy--to George Bernard Shaw, who credits Napoleon with saying that "woman is the occupation of the idle man."

I do not think the deep rift between men and women can be healed until women are moved to compassion for men. And by this I mean a real, disinterested compassion, one that is not about binding a man to one's side, and not about being supported by a man or having children of a man.

Men, like women, want to be loved for themselves, their concrete selves. Women are terrified that they will have to support a man who just mooches off them; men have the same fear. Women are no longer so worried that men will see them as baby-machines; this is something that now terrifies men, and it should: occasionally I get emails from women who wonder if they should marry a man they don't love just so they can have babies. Imagine if that man was your brother or son or friend.

It is hard, as a woman, to feel compassion for men and see how weak and enslaved they are to so much, including their own sexual drives and expectations. Men are usually bigger than us and stronger; that can be scary. Men can be very dangerous, to us but also to themselves. Young women do not videotape each other being pulled on sleds along icy highways by cars; young men do and if the video makes it to TV, not-so-young men watch, absolutely rapt.

However, it is not very difficult to see how advertisers, in cahoots with the entertainment industry, are constantly stabbing through the weakest link in men's armour, their sexuality, to separate them from their money.

It's so base and yet so basic that it's part of the furniture of daily life. Every morning when I check my email I have to erase yet another invitation to increase the size of a body part I don't have. If I walk along Toronto's Yonge Street or Montreal's Rue Ste. Catharine or Edinburgh's Lothian Road, naked neon dames flash on and off, tempting men to walk inside the strip club. And the pop singer Rhianna squirms around in tiny outfits on TV, singing about "whips and chains" exciting her.

(Imagine if people forced you to read erotic passages every day while handsome men gently gave you back massages. Exactly.)

And it's not just the entertainment industry. In my local medical office, scowling, sexy, nearly-naked men glare from posters warning men with SSA that only condoms save. "Relationships can't protect you from HIV" says the poster, a blatant, brainless lie if you think for two minutes about what "relationship" actually means. And it makes me angry as a human being that the National Health Service thinks it needs to use soft porn to get its advice across to certain men.

And then there's the "progressive" double-standard, as I noted while studying for my "Living in the UK" exam: more women than men receive higher education, but nobody seems to think that this is a problem. The fact that men make more money (if they still do in the UK, which I doubt, given the benefits culture and post-industrial collapse) than women is seen to be a problem.

So yes, men sometimes hurt our feelings and sometimes disappoint us, especially by not matching up to the version of them we have in our imaginations. And they sometimes embarrass us by asking for that which a big, lying, pornographic, entertainment/psychiatric/ideological industry has led them to expect. But they are our fellow human beings, and they are in a terrible fix. I think that it is our job to help to save them from drowning--without, of course, being dragged under ourselves.

Compassion literally means "suffering with."


Update: Thanks to Healthily Sanguine in the combox for linking to this! A hilarious and touching example of How Men Think.

13 comments:

Kate said...

I saw this article a couple of weeks ago and shared it with everyone I know: http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/04/opinion/bennett-men-in-trouble/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I like men a lot, and they really REALLY get short shrift in our society. it drives me crazy that on television, the "good" men are all the wimps who allow themselves to get treated like crap by women and strong men are all depicted as jerks. Gah!

It's funny you should be writing about this. I just finished, but haven't posted yet, a big long blog post about how men are not the monsters and losers they are made out to be by the feminists and their evil minions in the media, and how women will never be happy being the ones in charge.

Meredith said...

The Crescat has been blogging about "shrews" this week: http://www.patheos.com/About-Patheos/Katrina-Fernandez.html

Jam said...

But then, the most I ever let myself get walked on was when I wanted *so badly* to demonstrate that I wasn't some demanding shrew. That's not really apropos of anything, I just felt the need to throw it in.

healthily sanguine said...

Haha, or another, lighter take: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2011/10/202.html

Meredith said...

"But then, the most I ever let myself get walked on was when I wanted *so badly* to demonstrate that I wasn't some demanding shrew."

Oh yes, that's very true! That's how it went down in the comments, in fact. You say nice, sympathetic things about men and then a bunch of men show up and remind you why feminism was invented. Alas.

Us: "Feminism turned out to be pretty poisonous. Women are so mean to men these days, and that's wrong."

Bitter men: "Glad you figured that out, b*****! Hypergamy, alpha males, repeal women's suffrage, blah blah blah."

Us: *facepalm*

Seraphic said...

Facepalm here, too.

Happily those kinds of guys haven't discovered my blog.

Young Canadian RC Male said...

Hey Seraphic, Thank you plenty for doing this post. Us men are clearly getting the short stick nowadays, and much has happened thanks to a snowball of ideaologies and philosophies making up society today, including radical feminism. That 2nd wave was more like a typhoon.

Really, it takes guts, especially as a woman, to go against our pro-feminist, misandryist society and stick up for us remaning men who try to not be jerks and who vie for those classica masculine ideals (including marriage and valuing virtue within ourselves AND in women).

theobromophile said...

(Laughing) at Meredith's comment. I always say, there's a reason why feminism was invented, but that hardly means that every aspect of it is rational, good, or productive.

May I put in a small plug for us Men's Women (or Men's and Women's Women) out there, who have lots of male friends and appreciate men every day for the joy they bring to our lives?

Although it is a bit disconcerting when men are very blunt about the other sides of a male psyche, it is also good: it reminds me of what they work to put aside for the good of us, their families or potential families, and civilisation.

some guy on the street said...

Oh, those double-doors! So confusing! If you're fortunate, you find a pair that both open in the direction you are travelling, so you can ensure the lady is well through the first set, and leave that door to grab the next, but before she sneaks ahead of you. Of course, it's possible that she would like nothing better than to escape a walk with you, however brief: in such instances, I suspect chivalry would demand compliance, unless one has substantiated fears for her safety...

Meredith, wherever can you have been passing through to collect anecdotes of such vitriol? I mean, good heavens! (hmmm... I suppose any public place would be a dangerous spot for unrestrained vitriol, these days, wouldn't it? O tempora! O mores!)

Alisha said...

Indeed. The trouble is that for searching singles, it's very hard not to confuse compassion with other things...um, even for not searching singles, ahem :) We should suffer with them and pray for them, but really, we can't fix them. We can help - if they want to be helped.

"Men, like women, want to be loved for themselves, their concrete selves."

You know, I know this must be true if I trust that's how God designed us. But it's hard to believe when I see so little evidence of it, other than among a select few people. I'm afraid that as of late I've begun to doubt this quite a bit. I don't expect much from men at large (besides, as I said, some close good friends and family), and they live up to those expectations (I don't make those expectations known - in fact, I act as if I expect the opposite, hoping to encourage better behaviour. I've yet to see it work - maybe it does and I'm just not aware of it.) Most men seem to either be looking for sex or a wife (a role to be filled), rather than to give and receive authentic love. I have all the compassion in the world for them, I do, but I don't have a lot of hope it will make a difference :(

Seraphic said...

Well, I think men look for "a wife" in the same way women hope for "a husband"--a person to whom they can give and receive authentic love in safety for the rest of their lives.

some guy on the street said...

Alisha,

It's true that I am looking for a wife (at the moment, rather vaguely --- a profitable trade or career is also needful, and more pressing), and it's true that this means sometimes trying to guess at how well some real neighbor might fit in a particular role, it's at least as much the case at least as often that I'm trying to guess how well I'd be suited to a particular role alongside some real neighbor. Of course, this doesn't happen that often, but it's more likely to be the second side of things that counsels quiescence and heart guarding.

Nonetheless I'm grateful for your reminder to remember the personified dignity of all our neighbors. It does indeed bear remembrance!