Thursday, August 18, 2016

So David French, How Strong Do I Need To Be To Be A Man?

You fucking idiot.

But I digress.  I'm writing today, of course, in response to this whole diatribe of douchebaggery:

Go ahead, read it.  I'll wait.

Preface: I'm a liberal.  I used to be an apologetic liberal, because the rest of my family leans more conservative, but I'm done apologizing.  I'm a proud liberal, but I don't want to plant myself in an echo chamber, constantly listening to the soothing murmurs from NPR that tell me exactly what I want to hear about the world.  I did that for a while, appropriately enough when I was in grad school, and then I started disagreeing more and more with my dad, who is conservative and leaning farther and farther right the older he gets, and then I realized that his primary news source is FOX News, and I thought, "Well that's bullshit.  All he's gonna hear from them is the conservative view."  And it hit me that me listening to and reading NPR and not much else is no different.  So I started reading The Atlantic and National Review and The Wall Street Journal in an effort to better understand where the other side is coming from.

Most of the time, NR and David French are conservative viewpoints I can understand, if not occasionally respect.  But he lost me big time on this one.  There are many reasons that physical strength as a prerequisite for masculinity is such bullshit (how strong do I have to be to be a man?), but I want to get right to the point.  I think it's this kind of toxic masculinity that breeds "men" like Dylan Roof, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, etc.  There is no answer to the question of how strong a man needs to be.  There will always be a stronger man out there, so if you measure manliness by strength, you will always be found lacking.  To an insecure young man, that really fucking sucks.  Maybe you've got understanding parents who support you through this, but maybe you've got a big strong macho dad like David French who tells you if you're not strong you're not a man.  Maybe your dad is so macho he verbally or physically abuses you because he knows that's the best way to toughen you up so you can be a big strong man.  Maybe you get shoved in lockers or pissed on in the showers because you're not strong enough to physically defend yourself.  Maybe the girls laugh at you as you're walking through the halls at school because they found out the big strong macho men peed on you in the shower.  Or maybe none of this shit happens, but you still feel horrible and weak because you just can't figure out how to fit in.

What do you do?

Thankfully, most guys just get through it, somehow.  Positive friends, a hobby, burying their noses in books, listening to death metal while they scream into a pillow, whatever.  But maybe none of that works.

What do you do?

What's the most powerful tool easily accessed in America?  The tool that instantly equalizes all physical limitations, assuming you have use of at least one of your hands?  If you're an insecure you man, feeling like you don't have a place in the world because you're "weak," what do you do?

You get a gun.  Because nobody is weak if they've got a fucking gun.  What's the most powerful thing you can do with a gun?  You can take the life of another human being.  Call me weak now bitches!  BANG BANG!

Weakening grip strength is not what's killing masculinity in the US of A.  It's this toxic idea that you can't be a man if you're not strong.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


So much for my seemed-reasonable-at-the-time goal of posting something, anything, at least once a week.  Sigh...  Life and stuff.

But I was corresponding with an old friend of mine, a new mother herself, and she asked if I had any tips, since with my 10 months of experience, I must've figured something out by now, right?


The dearth of posts is due to one big thing and a billion small things.  First, things are really, really, really good right now.  The Baby sleeps great.  She wakes at 6:00 or 6:30 and stays happy until 7:00 or so when we get up.  Goes back down for an hour around 9:00 and takes a good long nap around 2:00.  The house is clean, meals are still mostly cooked by me in our kitchen, the yard and garden are in OK shape.  We're doing good.  No, Superman does good.  We're doing well.  Thank you Tracy Jordan.

Anyway, when things are good, I don't write.  I think I mentioned how there's no way to write about the joys of parenthood without sounding trite.  BUT LOOK HOW SMALL THEIR HANDS ARE!!! MY HEART FEELS SO FULL I'M AFRAID IT'S GOING TO BURST!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It's all true, but geez, let's try harder to express how wonderful it is, eh?  To that end, I'm not feeling particularly poignant or original this morning, so I got nothing.  Except when I look at The Baby and make her laugh, it really does feel like my heart is gonna explode.  Goddamn I hate being trite.

I really did try to think about what I might've figured out though, and I could only come up with two things.  The first is to do your best to live in the moment, because they all, good and bad, pass so quickly.  The bad ones don't last forever, so don't let them get you down too much, and the good ones don't either, so enjoy them when you can.  I've really been trying to appreciate how good we have it right now, because it's only gonna get harder, even if that too will pass.

The other is the idea of holistic familial health, which I've talked about elsewhere.  I can't blame my postnatal depression on being so focused on The Baby's health that I neglected my own, but there was a correlation there and I knew I couldn't be a good father or husband if I was angry and sad all the time.  I needed to focus on myself for a little while to figure my shit out so I could get to a better place mentally, at which point I was able to focus on being the father and husband I needed to be.  I can happily say I think I'm there, but it's like a marriage - every day I need to decide to be that husband and to be that father, and it doesn't happen automatically.  Wake up to find The Dog has peed on the bathroom rug again?  I need to decide to pause, check my emotions, think about what I'm feeling, think about how I want to react, and then think about how I should react.  And being pissy with The Wife is not how I should react.  Well that got a little rambly and tangential.  My point is, don't forget to take care of yourself if it's going to increase the wellbeing of the family as well.

That's it, in 10 months, that's all I've figured out.  Oh wait - also, check the diaper for poop before you undo the tabs, and if there's poop, lay out your wipes.  Because when you're trying to keep your little shit factory's hands out of their poopy privates, you don't want to be struggling to get a wipe out of the container.