I just reread this post, and it now seems to ramble a wee bit, but I am posting it unedited anyway. Sometimes it’s just better to let the thoughts spew out naturally, rather than trying to create a literary masterwork. For what it’s worth here it is.
I suspect this post will be viewed by some as sexist in nature. Or worse yet, anti-woman. Such is not my intent. But people will think what they will think, they always do, irregardless of any disclaimers I might offer up.
I lived through the gender wars of the 1970’s albeit as a man and not a woman. They were devastating. Now, today especially, we are still debating the role of gender in our lives. It is a confusing time, just like it was in the 70’s.
The enduring lesson for me is to: appreciate equality, not sameness. In many ways our world, our countries, our cultures, our psyche’s and even our genders are becoming more and more homogenous. I find this new collective hive-mentality disconcerting to say the least. I love differences. I celebrate difference, while lamenting sameness—sameness is boring.
In the 70’s equality meant sameness. It was incumbent upon the woman seeking equality to become more man-like. More’s the pity. The 70’s also put significant pressure on a man to become more woman-like—frankly, we didn’t know how to do that in the context of the times. Many traditional marriages didn’t survive the gender wars, and many more were irreparably damaged.
Today, there are many who see issues like Gay Rights and Same Sex Marriage as threats to traditional values. I for one don’t fall into that particular camp of thinking—there was a time that I might have, but not now, not today. I’ve witnessed too much damage inflicted in the name of sameness—if you’re not like us then you’re different, and if you’re different then you’re wrong. Far better, I think, that we focus on equality and not on sameness.
If I had to label myself these days I guess I would call myself a heterosexual male (probably too male in point of fact). I tend to lean towards the strong silent type of personality, I don’t talk a whole lot and I keep my emotions pretty well buttoned up. I am fiercely independent and have a real problem with authority. I probably would have been a pretty good cowboy or fur trapper back in the 19th century. I love my solitude and quiet time. I am often alone, but rarely lonely. And since the early 70’s I have been made to feel guilty for being this way—but no longer.
My previous post, The Haircut, talks about the simple male pleasure I derive from having my hair cut in a so-called traditional men’s barbershop. In the 70’s the men’s barbershop went the way of the dinosaur in an effort to appease the god of sameness. Unisex was born. Just like women, men also need a retreat from the opposite sex. The 70’s were all about knocking down the bastions of inequality, and those bastions were typically male-oriented.
As a healthy heterosexual male there is much that I love about women, but there are also many things that irritate the hell out of me. And I’ve certainly talked to enough women to know they have exactly the same feelings about men. That’s because although we are equal (or should be), we are also fundamentally different. When society stripped the male animal of his retreats, his caves, his respite, it created a confused hybrid-monster. Most of us, male and female alike, need our escapes—places where we can be true to our own natures.
Guys act like guys around other guys. Women act like women around other women. To expect a man to behave as a woman, and a woman to behave as a man, is biologically counterproductive. We can either appreciate our differences (celebrate them), or battle and rage against them. Some of my best times have occurred during male-only camping trips, poker parties (and I don’t even like poker) and similar activities. I return from such adventures refreshed and more ready to engage in a meaningful male/female relationship.
I now truly value my male relationships: the camaraderie, the laughs, the cigars, the whiskey and the opportunity to relax and downshift completely within a safe environment. It’s a wise woman indeed who understands this about men, and encourages her particular man to pursue this kind of relaxation and de-stressing (rather than hindering it with sighs, eye-rolls, grimaces, asking for a quid pro quo or just plain refusing outright) . She will get a much better man back in the process. And in the name of equality (not sameness) women should retreat periodically too—though I think they’re better at doing so than we men are. Contrary to the current myth: men and women cannot be everything for each other (even if they love each other dearly).
And for all of the “do-gooders” out there, will you please STOP trying to regulate all of society to conform to your narrow-minded view of things? Latin America has been so refreshing with its culture of personal responsibility. Smoking my cigars in public and private lounges, enjoying my whiskey in private clubs or public venues and getting my hair cut in non-Unisex men’s barbershops are all simple pleasures rarely enjoyed in USA these days. Celebrate equality, not sameness. Here endeth the sermon.