The bearable maleness of valour

For most of my life I’ve wrestled with a conflict. Sexism is probably my pet hate. Bring me a man who thinks he’s superior to me purely on the strength of his gender and I get so hot under the collar I could spit. And I have spat on occasions making me an unpopular choice for dinner parties and earning me a “bra-burner” label quite often. I’ve been told I hate men. I don’t suffer fools gladly and if the fool turns out to be a mysoginistic man I can’t help myself, I just see red. And there’s no looking back.

I have strong feminist resolve, where’s the conflict , you wonder? Well essentially I can’t possibly hate men. I am the world’s biggest daddy’s girl. My favourite person on earth is and always will be my dad. Aptly named Peter, he’s my rock. There’s no one I adore so completely, to me he has no flaws and has been a source of stability and comfort all my life. I don’t have a problem believing in a masculine God. If my heavenly Father is anything like my earthly one, then good for Him. When I am angry at a man, all I need do is think of my father and all the anger dissipates.

And I have a husband cut from the same cloth. While I can rant about his “typical male” deficiencies, his implicitly noble attributes, sincere kindness, principled honesty and innate decency, far outshine his flaws. To his children, Jan is and always will be their rock. He treats me with respect, compassion and kindness, really, the guy has no chauvinistic bone in his body. (And he’s really hot, in a rugged, rugby player kind of way: the perfect man!) In return I bake him lots of cake.

In a recent article on CNN, Aurora Heroes: Three men who gave their lives, former US secretary of education, William J. Bennett, wrote about three men who died in the horrific movie house massacre in Aurora, Colorado. The three, Jon Blunk, Alex Teves and Matt McQuinn, died because they used their bodies as shields to protect their girlfriends. The three women escaped unharmed. It is a story that cannot leave you untouched. How readily would you give your life for someone else?

The Aurora shooting has left me reeling. I’m not sure why. I’ve had nightmares about it. I think it is the act of inherent evil that shook me. Seeing an earlier photo of the shooter, James Holmes, who for some reason often remains “unnamed” in news reports, he looks like a decent chap. But alas, like Anders Breivik, he’s not a decent chap. All these horrific, mostly American massacres are perpetrated by men. Yes, we cannot deny these facts, testosterone can be deadly, but I think it is because they are psychopaths not because they are men, that they commit these unspeakable acts.

What I have decided to take from Aurora is that for every one psychopath male killer, there are at least three kind, decent men, who will give everything for those they love. I shall speak for myself when I say let us stop the incessant male-bashing. I’m tired of it. I’m sure, despite their hard exterior men are tired of it too. There are good men in this world, many of them. I see them all around me, fathers, husbands, brothers, sons. It is not men I hate, it is injustice; so for their sake I will say, men, when they are good, they are undeniably the best.

Annette Pfeiffer 29 July 2012

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