I love men

By Shelley McKinney
web posted July 17, 2000

I love men.

The top five men on my list are my husband, my father, my brother, my nephew, and my Grandad, who turned eighty years old last week. There are lots of other nice men, too: the husbands of my friends, as well as silver screen types like George Clooney (I adore those brooding eyes) and the dashing Mel Gibson....Then there are the men who read my articles as they're scattered among different conservative journals on the Web -- I have greatly enjoyed corresponding with all the wise, witty gentlemen I have "met" via the Internet. Naturally, there are some men that I'm not so crazy about (Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and James Carville top that list) but on the whole, I find men pleasant company, whether I'm talking politics or playing euchre or having a backyard cookout -- sometimes all three at once. I love men.

And that's why it bothers me -- no, "infuriates" would be a better word -- when quasi-feminists like MSNBC online columnist Jill Nelson try to drag men en masse through the dirt. I don't know much about Ms. Nelson, other than what she wrote in her recent column titled "When Men Behave Like Monsters," but what little I gleaned from that article about her mode of thought was more than enough, thank you. You don't have to take more than one drink from a glass of soured milk to know that it is unpalatable.

In her column, Nelson writes "It's impossible not to be outraged by [the Central Park wilding], but I have yet to find another woman who's either shocked or surprised. Neither I nor any of the dozens of women I've talked to, ages 15 to 80, were surprised by what occurred in Central Park. Horrified, disgusted and enraged, yes. But not shocked."

It's too bad that I wasn't one of the dozens of women she talked to: I am 37 years old, so I fit into her demographic. If she had asked me, I could have told her that it shocked me immensely. As I read the different news stories about the attacks perpetrated against women by the roving gang of drunken and drugged-up young men, I thought in disgust, "What a bunch of vomitous cretins." I felt terribly sorry for the women who suffered at the hands of the mob. And as the men were arrested, I must admit that I entertained with relish some private notions of their being incarcerated with a 300-pound tattooed cell mate named "Baby" who would give them back a little of what they so blithely dished out in their mad spree around the park. It seemed to me that a little bit of completely unlubricated justice might go far in convincing these creeps to never, ever do such a vile thing again.

I was shocked. But I'm sorry to say that I was equally shocked by Nelson's next paragraph: "The sad truth that most women know is that those assailants in Central Park more likely than not aren't monsters, but simply average men." I nearly ruined by keyboard by spewing hot tea onto it. So these were simply average men?

It's difficult for me to express how much that statement angers me. I know a lot of "simply average men," and not one of them would ever contemplate doing anything like this. For one thing, I disagree violently with Nelson's premise that "simply average men" get themselves drugged- and liquored-up before heading out on the town. This is not "average" behavior: it is scummy behavior. So I'm not sure what kind of men Nelson typically befriends, but I think she needs to widen her circle of acquaintances if this is her perception of "average."

Nelson goes on to sigh, "[The assailants] are, after all, men raised in a culture that views women -- from the time we are girls -- as objects of men's sexual attention or pleasure, like it or not."

This makes me wonder, too: Is Nelson a bona fide man-hating feminist, or does she just have a dirty mind? I'm inclined to believe the latter statement is true, because she has absolutely nothing of the brash Gloria Steinem moxie about her. Nelson gives the impression of being a woman who hides behind closed curtains and doors; she's timid, frightened, and unsure of herself in the world of men. You get the feeling that if she stepped onto an elevator with a man who politely said, "What floor?" she'd shriek and wet her pants. "How many men are not guilty of ogling women?" she asks, and probably peered nervously over her shoulder as she typed to make sure there wasn't a gentleman appraising her and thinking, "Wow, Jill looks fi-i-ine today. Wonder if I could get her to go to the park with me?....."

On the day when men stop ogling women, I will renounce my citizenship and move to an uninhabited island. An ogle-free society will mean that political correctness has triumphed over logical thought and common sense, and it will also mean that liberal thinkers have completely feminized our men and turned them all into geldings fit only to pull a plow, with no fire in them at all. Rue the day!

Nelson also mentions that men -- big, bad, nasty men -- make "sexual and anatomical remarks" and "brush up against an attractive woman in a crowd." See what I mean? Heaven forbid that this woman should ever be accidentally prodded in the back by one of those collapsible umbrellas while making her way down a busy city street -- she might come unglued.

To support her insulting and bogus "average man" premise, Nelson quotes domestic violence consultant Misumbo Byrd in her article. Ms. Byrd "specializes in batterer's intervention work in New York," according to Nelson, and I must say that she seems to have found her metier, considering some of the opinions she offers.

"I can remember being in elementary and junior high school, where uninvited groping went on under the guise of a game...little boys were sexually attacking little girls. Early on, it became obvious to us as that while boys aren't educated to make the distinction between being attracted to and touching, little girls weren't allowed to respond to boys in a sexually physical way. It goes on today. This type of activity sets up gender roles and expectations that encourage violence towards women, and sexual crimes."

I found this statement to be completely surreal. If all this is indeed true -- and my eyebrows are raised as I cynically speculate on the veracity of Ms. Byrd's remarks -- why weren't the little girls asserting themselves by saying "NO!" My goodness gracious sakes, are we all such passive little dimwitted chickadees that we can't stand up for ourselves? Do all women unconsciously set themselves up for abuse? Is my husband going to get up from his seat (where he is furthering male stereotypes by watching baseball on TV) and backhand me right off this desk chair? He's a calm and agreeable man, and he's certainly never done anything like that before, but according to Byrd, I am married to a latent wife-beater. I guess all I can do is just sit here dithering and patiently wait for him to punch me.

A news flash, ladies: not all men abuse women, particularly the "simply average men" out there. Any man who hits a woman is a thug and a brute and deserves to spend more than a few long, hot nights in that aforementioned cell with Baby. A "simply average" man might enjoy taking a long look at "the swing on a woman's back porch," in the parlance of my region of the country, and since men are testosterone machines, he might even make some kind of comment to his friends. If he's not afraid of getting a haughty, withering glance sent in his direction, he might even...whistle at her. An innate attraction to the opposite sex does not automatically lead a man to spousal or sexual abuse, which is perhaps what Nelson wants us to conclude from Byrd's remarks. And I can also emphatically state that I have spent several years of my life in daily contact with elementary school aged children, and I have never seen little boys "sexually attacking" little girls. Ever. Period.

You'll be relieved to know that Nelson isn't content to just wither the men with her contempt; later in her article she turns the guns on all us silly women. "How many of us haven't thought or bothered to correct the boys and men in our lives when they make inappropriate or invasive comments about women? And these are the good guys -- at least until they go off."

I don't have a son, but I learned a lot from my mother -- and my father -- who raised my brother to be a good and decent man. My mother-in-law -- and my father-in-law -- raised my husband to be a man of honor and integrity as well. I feel quite sure that if either of these two ladies had heard their sons making a vulgarly disrespectful remark about a woman or a girl, they would have cheerfully taken the boys' heads off. What is Nelson doing wrong? What did her family do wrong? What are her friends doing wrong, that so much male contempt for women is going on right under their very noses, unimpeded and unchecked? There's a problem here, but it sure doesn't lie with any of the women I know, all of whom are "simply average," which is well above Nelson's standard.

Nelson finishes up her commentary under the weak and quivering header "Change is Possible." In these final two paragraphs, Nelson tells us that most of the men who were involved in the Central Park wilding did not have police records and "appear[ed] to be considered nice guys by family and friends": this is just another false way to make every man into a cad, at best, and a potential rapist, at the worst. I don't believe it. Men are men in that they are unlike women. They don't act like women, and they shouldn't be expected to. But the "simply average" guys out there do not deserve to be tarred with the same brush as the human vermin in Central Park. That is an image that I believe is absolutely immoral to portray, because if this classification is bad for our sons, what on earth will it do to our daughters? Will they grow up to be as illogically dismissive of an entire gender as Nelson herself?

I pity Jill Nelson as I would pity any powerless person. It must be a frightening, intimidating thing to live in her world, peopled as it is with great lurking beasts whose only desire is to prey upon her in order to satisfy their wanton lusts. So I'm thinking of lending her my world atlas. Since our society hasn't yet succeeded in "changing" men, I don't believe I'll have to give up my United States citizenship just now, and I believe Nelson could find the peace that is so obviously eluding her if she lived by herself on an island in the sea.

Works for me. What do all of you "simply average" guys think?

Shelley McKinney is a staff writer at Ether Zone and freelance writer and can be reached at ecaillie@earthlink.net.

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