It is often said that “it takes a village to raise a child”, which is kind of a lovely sentiment, conjuring up images of houses clustered around a town square and a group of likeminded adults pulling together to take care of each other and each other’s children.
That happy little scene is fractured by the modern interpretation of the aphorism to mean “let’s hire some random in the village to raise our children for us because we no longer give a shit about our own children, never mind the children of others.” Hillary Clinton herself wrote a book about it, and she would know, wouldn’t she, with her cookie-baking mom sneer?
Yeah, fuck you Hillary. My cookies are awesome!
Mr. JB and I are extremely fortunate to have a life filled with men who are friends to us and to our children, and in an odd way, it’s the idea of the village and of the ideology of feminism that makes it possible. Mr. JB works in an occupation that puts him in contact with lots of young adults, and over the years there has been a definite swing from mostly male colleagues to mostly female. Mr. JB has no objection to the women he manages and oversees, but he has a very healthy respect for the power they wield. The slightest hint of impropriety can destroy his reputation and career – he knows that, and so do the young women he works with.
And so he stays well away from them. He does not allow women in his office for more than a few moments. He will request they accompany him to some more public place in his workplace, and they hold their conversations in full view of other colleagues. He tries his best to match women to other women mentors, but few women are interested in mentoring their younger colleagues. Mr. JB takes a very active interest in promoting the careers and interests of the young people he works with, but because helping a woman could actually be taken as EVIDENCE FOR in the event of an accusation of sexual harassment or misconduct, he deliberately does NOTHING for the young women in his charge. So, hooray for insisting that ALL MEN everywhere are potential rapists and harassers, ladies. You’ve fucked yourselves nicely.
Mr. JB’s very rational decision to protect his family, income and reputation FIRST by avoiding, as much as possible, interactions with women colleagues inevitably means that we are surrounded by men. Much of the promoting of young men’s welfare comes in the form of socializing and informal conversations and just meeting with important people within their areas of interest. And since Mr.JB prefers to spend his time near his family, and I am an excellent hostess, a lot of this socializing occurs at our home. My children are growing up in a village filled with bright, hardworking, enthusiastic, educated, dedicated men.
A lot of those men have reached some very different conclusions about marriage and partnership and family, based on the time they spend in our home. Many of them have never seen a stay at home mother or a homemaker who makes her own bread (and cookies, too!) or a wife whose primary interest is in promoting her husband’s career, because that’s how she can “have it all”.
Being surrounded by men is a wonderful antidote to counter the pernicious messages LittleDude gets at school about boys and how they should behave (answer: like girls). There is an attitude in the world at large that men should feel ashamed of being men; that proper men behave like women and that men should feel GUILTY about being faster, stronger, smarter and more adventurous than women.
And my girls are growing up with plenty of loving attention from men. It seems natural for men to be kind, generous, protective, guiding, reassuring and present, because that is all they see around them in the village. I do not allow my children to watch commercial television, so I have protected them from some of the grosser caricatures of men as unthinking, unfeeling, stupid brutes, but sooner or later, they will encounter these ideas. And hopefully dismiss them out of hand, because that is not the world they live in.
Today is International Men’s Day, and I would like to take this moment to thank all the wonderful men in our own personal little village for their love, generosity, kindness and company. Our lives would be so much worse without you. We love you.
Lots of love,
PS: Check out A Voice for Men at http://www.avoiceformen.com/ if you’re interested in learning about some of the issues men face, and why an International Day to celebrate men is both necessary and kind.