Saturday, February 4, 2012

These Men

There's an absolutely fantastic scene from Season One, Episode Five of The West Wing.  The episode is titled "Crackpots and These Women", and the scene comes toward the end of the episode.  The video is here (sorry, it won't let me embed it), and you should watch it.

I was thinking about this scene this past weekend as a friend and I were doing the typical girly thing of talking about guys - and wondering if there's an equivalent scene in a movie or TV show somewhere.  Given some specific circumstances, my friend and I started from a point of "boys are dumb: throw rocks at them".  But with old black-and-white movies on in the background, our discussion came 'round to how much we actually really like guys (frustrating though they may be at times).  We talked about how we missed the "good ol' days" of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra - back "when men were men".

When there were clearly defined gender roles, and it was okay to like them.  When women could (and did) appreciate what men "brought to the table" and like them just for being men, and vice versa.  Aah, who knows?  Maybe I'm over-romanticizing the past and there never was such a day.  But it just seems like in generations past, men and women behaved in a more civilized fashion towards one another, their interactions were bathed in respect (even if not "like" or "love") and propriety.

It seems to me that feminism - as the movement has played out - has destroyed much of this.  No one I know is against the "novel idea that women should be treated as equals" (or whatever that snarky quote is).  No one I know thinks that women should be denied the vote, or the right to own land/property, or the opportunity for education or a career.  But unfortunately, feminism has devolved into something that is not about lifting up women so much as it is about tearing down men.  And that's unhealthy, unhelpful, and unScriptural, and yes, we are reaping the consequences.

From what I can tell from my own interactions with men, many of them are awkwardly trying to suppress their natural instincts to care for/respect/protect/serve/sacrifice for women in general, because a door held open or a warm jacket offered or an inappropriate remark confronted would imply that a woman is not able to care for herself - that she "needs" a man, and "everybody knows" any woman would find that offensive.  I know many men who withhold making remarks in class or meetings because their contribution will be dismissed as "the white male perspective".  I know men - good, solid, honest, strong, faithful men - who are terrified of asking a woman out or even complimenting her, lest it be construed as an oppressive attempt at objectification.

And that's a darn shame.  Because men aren't all losers - in fact, most of them aren't.  Most men aren't so busy watching football that they miss the births of their own children, or so concerned about beer that they're too distracted to feed the kids vegetables at dinner, or so entranced by a hot woman in the store that they proceed to talk about her to their wives later that evening.  Most guys aren't objectifying every woman they meet or thinking that women are incapable of managing their own lives or interested in oppressing and subjugating the local womenfolk.  Most guys are great - because God made them after his own image, and it was "very good."

So to honor that, I've put together a list: 100 Things I Love About Men:
  1. when they roll their shirt sleeves up halfway between their elbow and wrist
  2. they know how to build a fire 
  3. watching them drive a manual transmission
  4. they get excited about a sporting event and start discussing it passionately
  5. they make fun of women for doing dumb woman things - peeing in groups, etc...
  6. when they take voting seriously
  7. when they volunteer to lead a prayer 
  8. making a special point to hold the door open for a woman - or another man
  9. that they know stuff about cars
  10. not needing to ask for directions
  11. being secure enough in their masculinity to recognize when it's time to ask for directions
  12. that they kill bugs and rodents - even at 3 am
  13. when they take their families to church
  14. holding a woman's coat to help her put it on
  15. being patient when women take a long time to get ready
  16. being manly and protective of all women, even ones they aren't married to
  17. when they don't add sugar or cream to coffee
  18. they will eat practically anything
  19. they love to play with babies
  20. they are a little bit afraid of babies
  21. when the elevator smells all manly after they've just been in it
  22. when they are not afraid to follow a woman's instructions to look in her purse to find _______
  23. when they refuse to look in a woman's purse out of respect (and a little bit of fear)
  24. that the good ones don't seem to know how good they are
  25. they are good at fixing things
  26. mocking - but secretly liking - chick flicks
  27. asking permission to kiss a girl
  28. not asking permission to kiss a girl and just doing it instead
  29. when their hand gets a little bit sweaty holding a girl's, because they're still a little nervous
  30. that they lend a girl their jacket when she is cold, even if it makes them cold
  31. patiently explaining the rules of a particular sport...again...
  32. when they play "football" with folded up pieces of paper and their thumbs
  33. playing actual sports with friends
  34. finding ways to be competitive about absolutely everything
  35. when they aren't afraid to admit that they can only focus on one thing at a time
  36. winking at me from across the room
  37. knowing that I need a hug and obliging for as long as necessary
  38. when they chop wood for a fireplace
  39. they know how I take my coffee - even if it's different from theirs
  40. when they offer to carry a woman's luggage
  41. they know how to pack the trunk of a car
  42. when I announce that chivalry is dead and they go out of their way to prove otherwise
  43. when they are really good at listening, especially when it's stuff that's hard to talk about
  44. that they are moved to tears more often than girls would expect
  45. they will sacrifice anything for their families
  46. when they can speak a second language
  47. they know when it is therapeutic to offer someone a beer
  48. when they can cook
  49. when they have dirt under their fingernails from working hard 
  50. watching them tie their ties
  51. watching them loosen their ties
  52. most of them are secretly really smart about at least one subject area
  53. when they are so proud to have a son
  54. when they are incredibly protective of their daughters
  55. when they take care of their pregnant wives
  56. when they teach their sons how to treat women
  57. when they teach their daughters to demand proper treatment from men
  58. they know how to grill meat
  59. when they are manly enough to cry
  60. when I haven't talked to them in a year and they still remember my birthday
  61. washing the car in the driveway on a summer afternoon
  62. they can change their own oil
  63. they can build stuff
  64. they stand up when a woman enters the room
  65. when they refuse to work on Sunday
  66. when they work on Sundays so their employees don't have to
  67. "Hey Lady!  How are you?" (said with a big smile as they walk into a room)
  68. shoveling snow
  69. when they change their plans just to be with you
  70. that they can be "crazy dumb boys" and still, I care about them
  71. when they can charm the socks off any woman from 3 months to 85 years old
  72. they try to make me laugh
  73. they are often more likely than women to simply say what needs to be said
  74. when they gently touch my shoulder in an anxious situation, as if to say, "it's okay, I got this"
  75. they're not afraid to make fun of themselves
  76. how little tolerance they have for female drama
  77. that they truly have no idea anything on this list makes them attractive
  78. when they ask "How are you?" and "How is your family?" and actually care about the answer
  79. when I discover that they have quietly adopted my opinion about something as their own
  80. when they are honest enough to admit that they simply don't care about something
  81. unexpected hugs
  82. when they turn me on to a new food or drink
  83. the lengths they will go to in order to solve a problem
  84. when they know how to pronounce my last name correctly - and do it
  85. shuffling cards
  86. first thing in the morning text messages
  87. when they tell me my geekiness is cute
  88. they want to see women use the gifts God has given them
  89. when they use my name a lot when they talk to me
  90. when they're willing to admit their weaknesses and confess their sins
  91. they stretch out their entire bodies so as to take up the maximum amount of space possible
  92. when they take responsibility for organizing activities/hanging out
  93. they ask a woman's father for permission to marry her
  94. firm handshakes
  95. when they respect my sex/violence comfort levels in the movies
  96. they take being manly seriously, and work to be seen as such
  97. they take care of their sick wives
  98. they "don't get sick"
  99. they like stuff that blows up
  100. they're made in the image of God - which must make God pretty awesome


Anonymous said...

Bravo! You have said something I have tried to say for several years but have not been able to pull off. Perhaps because I am a man and therefore lack legitimacy on the subject. Glad I stumbled upon your blog. Much in the way of faithful insight! Thank you.

Elizabeth of Hungary said...


Sorry I'm just now getting around to replying to this! But I'm glad you liked the list, and the blog. Drop by anytime!


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