It hasn’t been easy being a man lately. Men have been doing some pretty creepy things. When I walk the dog, women and children give me dirty looks. I dare not smile, or say a friendly, “hello.”
Last October a story broke that Green Bay Packer legend,Brett Favre, had sent a cell phone picture of his penis to a New York Jets female reporter. Of course, the stunned female reporter was not seduced. She turned him into the NFL. Favre, who was married, and was apparently smart enough to memorize the offensive game plans of his football team was not smart enough to see how offensive his behavior would be to a lady.
In February came the story that Republican congressman Christopher Lee was resigning after a shirtless picture of him surfaced. The congressman, also a married man, was apparently responding to a Craig’s List dating advertisement.
And right on the heels of the resigning congressman was a Michael Isikoff, NBC investigative report that had fourteen Army and Pentagon officials named in a lawsuit for covering up the rapes of women soldiers in the U. S. Army. The Pentagon ignored the women’s cries for justice. Even the respected Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, was named in the lawsuit.
We all have read the stories of the Serbian Army’s rape of the civilian women of Kosovar. And there was that famous rampage at the end of World War Two, when the Allies turned a blind eye at the Red Army’s rape of women on the Eastern Front. But only the United States can claim the hideous distinction of permitting the continuous rape of their very own uniformed soldiers in their very own ranks on their very own military bases.
To prove the point that this alpha male insanity it not exclusively an American problem, CBS reporter Lara Logan, sustained a repeated, brutal sexual assault in Tahrir Square, as she tried to cover the story of the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian men were in a frenzy, reportedly shouting, “Jew, Jew.” As if that would justify rape. Logan is not Jewish.
For a moment, forget about conservative and liberal, forget about right and left. These are examples of the stark difference between the sexes. And they have been revealed in glaring colors in recent months.
Psychologists point out that men are stimulated by sight. So men like Brett Favre, with little boy brains, make the assumption that women are the same as themselves. They have different plumbing, but they are otherwise similarly motivated. The congressman’s rather comical and embarrassing shirtless photo, where he flexes the few chest muscles he’s got, reveals the same ignorance.
If both men had paused for a few minutes, they might have considered that the magazine Playgirl with its photos of nude men, failed utterly. And the few subscribers it did manage to scrounge up were gay men anyway. They might have considered that the archives of lyrics for country-western songs, which must run into the tens of thousands of pages and cover every possiblethought a women may have ever had, cannot boast a single entry where a women falls helplessly in love from the sight of a man’s genitals. But, I guess when the testosterone is pumping through one’s veins, logic is not preeminent.
In fairness, if the news lately has shown how ignorant men can be of women, there have been some embarrassing moments for the women too. Unfortunately, even those have shown that while women are from indeed out of it, from Venus, men are definitely pigs.
Take, for example, the long, sad farewell of Elizabeth Edwards. Remember, her husband, the Senator who almost became president? Well, he had an affair with a media person assigned to his campaign. Hey, it is a tradition for Democrat candidates, who love to emulate their hero, John F. Kennedy.
As you may remember, Elizabeth was dying of cancer at the time. And as the medicines and the stress of leaving behind the man and the children she loved had its full impact, she began to gain weight. When her book came out she went on a national promotional tour and in her interviews she made an effort to reclaim a little of her womanly dignity. Elizabeth Edwards insisted that the other woman was much to blame. “There is no excuse for a woman to do this.” To hear Elizabeth Edwards pass on her husband’s explanation one would have thought that the Senator was practically dragged into bed. She claimed the woman said to him, “You’re so hot.”
Elizabeth wanted the country to know that her husband John adored her. That she had won the contest with the thinner, younger, more shapely competitor. Said Elizabeth about John, “He looks at me as if I am the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. It matters”
Most of the men in the television audiences had a tear in their eye but knew better. John was , of course, still lying to Elizabeth. It seems that if men deceive themselves into thinking that women, like themselves, are visually stimulated, women are fully capable of deceiving themselves into thinking that men are not.
An even more embarrassing moment happened when the wife of Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, decided it was time to resolved Anita Hill’s ridiculous claims.
The story about her long car ride with Thomas that had happened years before and how he had made crude and sophomoric advances, suggesting for example, that a hair on a soda can might be a pubic hair. Mrs. Thomas could not believe that her erudite, brilliant, devout Catholic and now powerful Supreme Court Justice, husband,could have been so crude. Even long ago. And Thomas probably assured her many times that it was all an ideological attack by his detractors. So she decided that time had probably brought Anita Hill to her senses and that she, Mrs. Thomas, would run this story down and put it to rest.
The problem was that Anita Hill would not cooperate. And no matter how sure Mrs. Thomas was of the truth, most men in the television audience knew that even brilliant intellectuals like Clarence Thomas can say and do awfully crude things when the testosterone is flowing. Men are pigs remember? But then women are from Venus and they can’t seem to understand what a pig really is. And so Mrs. Thomas retreated from the fight more puzzled and confused than ever.
What are we to make of this divide of the sexes? And what can we learn about these glaring differences that are more pronounced than Moslem and Jew in the Middle East, or Catholic and Protestant in Ireland, or Democrat and Republican in the United States?
We can celebrate those few educated men and women who are seeking to understand each other and respect the differences and not exploit them. The women who accept, however puzzling, that men are visually stimulated, it is the way they are made. The men who understand that women need wordsand relationship and security. And both need to be respected. Most important of all, we need to make sure that the ones who rule the office or the company or the school or the government department or the courtroom are not all men or all women. We need some of both or abuse is sure to follow.