RANGER AGAINST WAR: War Between the Sexes <

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

War Between the Sexes

--Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

Was he at hand with a word of good cheer?

To bring back a smile or banish a fear?

--The Measure of a Man
, Anon

In all of living have much fun and laughter.

Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured

--Gordon B. Hinckley

Grace is the absence of everything that indicates pain

or difficulty, hesitation or incongruity

--William Hazlitt

By “guts” I mean, "grace under pressure"

--Selected Letters, Ernest Hemingway

Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body

--A Painful Case
, James Joyce

What is the measure of a man?

That was the question posed by the recent post, Metrosexuals. It prompted the following off-site dialog, which seemed worthy of sharing. One could say the topic is a breather from more dire discussions, but maybe not. The philosopher Krishnamurti said
we carry war within us: War is the spectacular and bloody projection of our everyday living.

What if we could extinguish that antagonism and turmoil, within and between us? We not only need to fully inhabit ourselves, but also bridge the chasm between us. Ranger never weighed in on the topic, but I will.

A man is a joy to those whose lives he touches. He is helpful and straight. He does not whine or complain. A man does the right thing, and is not resentful in the doing.

I know two men exactly the same age (they are not young) but diametrically opposite in demeanor. One brings strife wherever he goes, and keeps the focus on himself. The other said recently, "I continue to grow and improve . . ."

His life is one of service, bringing happiness if he can to those with whom he comes into contact. He is productive and happy. He furthers himself and seeks pleasure, but does not seek it by wringing the joy from others. The world is a little better for his having been here. (If you are reading this, Captain, it is you. My hat is off.)

Now to my dialog with reader Jay. As always, interaction is welcome:

Dear Jay,

I hope this find you well. I wanted to say "thanks" for joining the recent chat. We needed a woman's perspective, and what you say is spot-on:

. . .

"A man fulfills his duty even when that duty is burdensome and unwanted. man has an understanding of personal honor (integrity or principle) and tries to keep his honor intact. A man tries to be rational and just and that usually is demonstrated as generosity in fact and in spirit.

"I must have led a very peculiar existence as I have never found "anger" to be a male characteristic."

Brava! Anger is most definitely not a good male (or female) characteristic. I would call foisting one's anger upon another -- whether by raised voice or gesticulation -- violence.

Some women demonstrate the drama queen/Barbie thing, and so some stupid men presume tantrums = true emotion (they do not). I have seen this, so can vouch for it. It is either in emulation of a former "baby doll", or it is of their own creation, born of hatred and disregard of the other, who is simply a receptacle for all of that ugliness. I notice the one who dishes it out feels much better afterward; the vessel, worse.

I have found the only solution is to walk away from it. Anger is living and seething, and it seems to burn out. Sad thing is, it's seeds remain, so it lives to rear its ugly head another day.

But no, if you have not seen angry men, then you have been blessed to see only "real men", which I think was the point of this exercise, as we all know what brutes look like.




As to defining men.... I think that most of the good qualities are shared by men and women but are sometimes expressed a bit differently by the sexes. A good/real woman fulfills her responsibilities, has integrity and honor, and tries to be rational, just, and generous but it sometimes looks a little different when done by a woman.

I really do think of simple, direct speech and action as a primarily male characteristic. Women are certainly capable of it but, in my opinion, it is a male characteristic. Male = Action. :)

My little story would be that if you have some difficulty in your life and tell a man, he immediately casts about for a way to act so as to resolve the problem. If he cannot take action on the problem, he will probably feel uneasy and would prefer not hear more about it. The same story/problem told to a woman will elicit sympathy and reassurance and she will not feel uneasy about not being able to correct the problem. Voila! The difference in men and women.

As for "good" or "real" men. I've certainly never known a perfect one and that's a good thing. Why would a perfect man even speak to such a flawed woman as I! Everyone has a flaw and a vice and usually more than one of each. The important thing, for me, is will the flaws and weaknesses undermine his character in such a way that he cannot be trusted at all? It is my belief that we can only be trusted in those areas where we are strong and it's a fool's game to trust a person where he has a known weakness.

For instance, if a man is a womanizer it is entirely possible and even likely that you can trust him with your money, your valuables, your children, and your reputation - just don't trust him with women. Simple. If a man's weakness is money, he can probably be trusted with women but not your money. I'm sure you get my idea.

Perhaps because I am a woman, I usually find it easier to "read" men than women. Maybe I don't actually read men that well; it could be that I am just more forgiving toward men than I am toward women. By the way, I think that cuts both ways. I believe men are more forgiving toward women than they are toward other men.

Anger... Surely, surely not a "male" characteristic. There are far too many angry women for this to be foisted off as a male characteristic. *I'm not talking about being a little short-tempered. Anger is an abiding and corrosive thing if it is diffuse and a personality trait. Anger has its proper place as a reaction to gross injustice and cruelty.* I've heard for decades about "angry" men and always been a little nonplussed. Did this start with the women's lib activity in the late 60's and through the 70's? I really don't know.

However, it did seem to me that men were put in an impossible position and anything they might do was subjected to intense and withering criticism. I think there is continuing sniping at men that undermines their best intentions and best efforts. Of course, I'm really partial to men and they have always had my genuine sympathy because the burden of action falls on them. I could probably write a chapter on "anger" but I contend it is not a specifically male characteristic.

I confess that I view malice, whining, backbiting, etc. in men as "feminine" characteristics. :) I can hear the scream of protest from here! :) A nice autumn afternoon, a bottle of excellent Margaux, a pack of cigarettes for me, and I would tell a few of the experiences that brought me to this point of view. :)

I've known a few really excellent women. I've known many really excellent men. We've all heard "a good man is hard to find." Well, a "good woman" is damned rare!

Big grin... Had about enough of this, have you?

P.S. Brutal men are weak men who are careful to bully and brutalize those who are weaker than they and vulnerable - NOT good breeding stock.


I agree -- good men and women share most of the same qualities. The difference is in expression and coping mechanisms. I really like this:

"It is my belief that we can only be trusted in those areas where we are strong and it's a fool's game to trust a person where he has a known weakness." The proof's in the pudding. Your concept of being more forgiving of men is interesting. I believe we are raised to see men as flawed (for instance, my grandfather was a profligate womanizer, but mom says, "Well, he must've had the testosterone of 10 men!") So, it's their hormones, you see? This may be because we needed their protection. Humans are nothing if not resilient and ingenious with explanations/coping mechanisms (denial, anyone?!!)

And I guess we do the same for women, expecting them to be touchy, hysterical, whatever. However, in my fantasy, people respect each other enough to react with sensitivity to other's needs, or express their need directly.

"Anger is an abiding and corrosive thing if it is diffuse and a personality trait. Anger has its proper place as a reaction to gross injustice and cruelty" -- Amen, sister! No sex has sole ownership of this toxic emotion, most often set to wring the joy from a life when habitual.

"I confess that I view malice, whining, backbiting, etc. in men as "feminine" characteristics. :)" Again, brava! I cannot bear entitled drama queens of either sex. Oh, the Margaux could be supplied -- I'd love to hear your tales :)

The 3rd point we agree on: Good women are HARD to find! I have few, but they are gems. Sober and real people. I can't bear tittering and posturing...

My theory: About 70-80% of men are in the acceptable range, far as decent habits and morality; only 30-40% of women can pass muster, IMHO! Hormones are but a small part of it; socialization, designing behavior, nattering ... Just plain not interesting, how 'bout that! Okay, so the men on the tales of my bell curves might be a little dull, but they're sound, do-right men. Women often lack a core of integrity, and again, this may well be socialization: They are pragmatists, trading up when they can, improving their position by hook or by crook.

Women, due to their egos and silly vulnerability to flattery, will turn hither and thither, ruining many a good man in the process. Many of the bad men out there are the flotsam and jetsam of their process, and are left as buckets of fear and insecurity as a result. Now -- bad men can do the same to a women, but generally, I feel men favor the fairer sex. I have not met many unkind men, but I have met or heard of many unkind women.

Oh, I've enjoyed this little jaunt into the behavior of the sexes -- thanks for indulging me. Looks like we're on the same page pretty much. Love your p.s., btw -- spoken like a true farmer!



[Just visiting our old correspondence here, and wondered if you would be opposed to my posting it to the site? IMHO, there is much here, and I'd love if anyone else got on board, an addition to our two level heads :) ]


It is my stripped down opinion that men are breeding males like all other mammalian breeding males and have the same basic instincts and behaviors. I really believe that most of what we are individually is less reason and more hard wiring than most of us like to think. We flatter ourselves that we decide and choose mindsets and behaviors and I suppose we do within fairly narrow limits. Hardwiring determines and defines the array of choices available to each person.

Yep, I come down hard on the nature side of the nature vs nurture argument - an opinion radically different than the one I held from teen years through my twenties.

I could talk about this for many long afternoons and evenings and enjoy myself thoroughly. :)

P.S. Be aware that my perspective on men and definition of a good man is modeled on my father, his close friends, my uncles, brothers, cousins, etc. It seems reasonable to me that I defined a "man" by my father at such an early age that such conscious thought was beyond my ability but the template was set nonetheless ???


I, too, am a staunch naturalist. It's not too p.c., but if one reads the studies it is obvious that one can only shift so much from one's genetic set-point.

We're an upright (though not always straight-up) chemical soup that runs about like squirrels after nuts, yet we fancy we're each quite unique. Now, I do believe we are strongly impacted by our programming (which alters our genes). So, one may exit the hamster wheel with GREAT effort; few do, I feel.

I am amazed at the brilliant and kind people I have met via this military boys site



Okay, so there are two women's points of view. (Sorry -- didn't mean to imply military boys were not thinkin' sorts.) What have we missed?

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Blogger FDChief said...


I think you two covered most of the bases, particularly the peculiar tendency those of us with a Y chromosome have regarding the "fixit" question. I have never met a man who was willing to respond to a problem with listening and sympathy. We're about fixin' stuff, and our response is always to suggest some sort of action or reaction. And the corollary of that is that if the one with the problem doesn't take the action(s) we tend to view subsequent discussion as whining.

Nasty trait, but its our own...

As for the rest of the issues, tho...I'm not so sure it's all nature. The things is that we're so surrounded in our own society, so soaked in it, that it's hard to see where it stops. I suspect that a good bit of the forthright, straight-talking, action-oriented man is a product of how we raise boys to be men and how we expect men to behave. Just to take an example, a hell of a lot of men lie their asses off. But it's a different sort of lying from the sort of lying I've seen a lot of women do. Our lying is often as straight-out as the rest of our speaking. We either brazen it out, or lie through boasting, or just refuse to be shamed. We tend to confront you, even when we're full of shit.

I still think that perhaps the biggest single factor in the current "manliness" arguments you hear is not really a change in men but a change in our surroundings. We've gone from a largely physical society, where a lot of men had to be tough to do the manual work to survive, to a largely intellectual and sedentary society. That's a big leap, and I think we haven't made it, emotionally.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 1:01:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Agreed: The shift from physical to more passive labor will have an effect.

Perhaps the more immediate effect upon men's behavior results from the one-two punch of Civil Rights and feminism. I think both men and women are de-centered as a result, and given their track record of expressing ourselves, this leaves a lot of people in their corner of the rink.

I am not hardcore on nature and chemicals. I will even go 60-40 (nature vs. nurture). While I do believe our genetic legacy is inescapable, early environment has an awful lot to do with who we ultimately become. Much of the work is in our hands, but the tools available to us do matter.

By tools I mean what has been given/modeled in terms of generosity, kindness, justice, etc. If one enters adulthood armed with good mental food, one has a much better chance of fully flowering.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 9:40:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

I know that the CW is that us hairy types have been un-manned by you gals getting all liberated an' stuff. But I just can't see "manhood" as a zero sum game. Just because a woman is allowed to work hard, sweat, cuss, have a job (or not) - basically, to have a wider range of choices of what to do with her life (which is what "feminism" is, when you get down to the nitty) - doesn't seem to diminish my man-stuff. It does take this kind of activity out of the he-man woman-hater's clubhouse and make it more difficult to define manhood in terms of how stinky and tough we can get. But, then, that's kind of a pretty weak standard; if that's your criteria an ox is twice as manly as the manliest man ever birthed.

IMO the "civil rights/feminism" excuse is just that; it's a way of trying to wish away our unwillingness to examine our definition of "what is a man" by laying the blame not on ourselves but our stars, you vixens, and the uppity dark people.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 1:53:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I just can't see "manhood" as a zero sum game. Just because a woman is allowed to work hard, sweat, cuss, have a job (or not) - basically, to have a wider range of choices of what to do with her life (which is what "feminism" is, when you get down to the nitty) - doesn't seem to diminish my man-stuff. "

agreed on the non-zero sum game concept, but is this a good thing? IMO, what the world needs is more - not less - feminine energy (the good stuff like empathy, compassion, tenderness, etc).

But now everyone gets to cuss, sweat, stink and fight and kill to bring home some dinner (even if mostly only figuratively speaking).

There needs to be balance in the world; like that good old fashioned yin and yan and, since men are genetically predisposed towards the yan (stronger, testosterone filled, etc), then let them have that half. Let them develop themselves in that regard and let women develop themselves in the yin characteristics that are so direly needed in the world. That being said, let no one ever judge one aspect to be "better" than the other.

I think it really is that simple.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 5:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

avedis: Normally I'd be on this like leather on an Italian loafer, but...the problem with assuming that since us guys have all the t-stone that we're naturally suited to do all that stinky guy stuff.

Most of us probably are, but, like I said, the problem is disentangling that with the social pressure to conform to "male" and "female" ideals; men rough, tough, and active; women soft, intuitive, and compliant.

All well and good if your bent is that way. But what if it isn't?

And while you say that it would be good if we didn't decide that one was "better"...can you say that's the reality? Or is it truer to way that men - and American society in general - pretty much slags off on the "girly stuff"?

So being "feminine" IS usually considered less or worse than being masculine.

And there's the problem that changes in our society - specifically increased mechanization and industrialization - have gone a long way to making all that male roughness and toughness more of a liability than an asset. When you have a club or an axe being a hard man can be a good thing. When you have a BLU-118/B or a thermonuclear device? Not so much.

And specifically when you're a suburban guy with a wife and kiddos, well, how does it help you to get all testosteron-y when the kids act out, or when your wife has a problem? I see this a lot, these guys, ending up in the crime sheet parts of the paper because they reverted to their instincts at the wrong time.

Like I say, I don't think we've really figured this out yet.

Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 8:55:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I would never begrudge the necessity of universal civil rights (which included the feminist movement) but like all such things it was shoved through with some brutality in order to countervail its opposition.
So we have some wreckage.

Not only must we counter the underlying bias against the yin characteristics, but we must re-envision what it is to be a man or a woman. No doubt we are all human, and so should share in all the fine qualities which could accrue to a really excellent person.

But I feel we really are in transit, in flux. Some states recognize homosexual unions, then they don't. Then you have those vehemently against the whole idea. Are we really free, and do we respect our brothers and sisters in an "all men created equal" sort of way?

I feel we have roles we enjoy playing. Like the song says, "I Enjoy Being a Girl"; but everyone doesn't have to be a girl in the same way. I think the pendulum must always swing too far one way, then return. I see much strife between the sexes, and those who "manage well" often play a game in order to keep the peace. Probably authenticity has never been the norm.

avedis, I am with you in that a balance must be struck. Much pain occurs due to overcompensation (ego) and fear.

And to FDC, I would never suggest that a man could be "unmanned". One is what one is; however, aggression and the inability to communicate effectively (and even to know oneself) hampers the ability to simply be as one might wish to be. The inabilities I mention apply to both genders.

We now have tough girls and mean girls, grrrls, and the Aphrodite syndrome. We have Peter Pans and Cinderellas, and I'm not sure that any of it will really change. Our technology is pressing the neuroses, I feel <*sigh*>

The men and women who self-define will always manage to find each other, I feel.

Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 12:50:00 PM GMT-5  

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