AJ Ericksen's Blog World

Sunday, February 15

About Women

I was thinking today about the man-woman dynamic and trying to figure a few things out. In the process, I recalled something I read a while ago. I share the following passage from Garrison Keillor, The Book of Guys (Viking 1993) at 11-13 (especially note the beginning of the last paragraph):
Years ago, manhood was an opportunity for achievement, and now it is a problem to be overcome. Plato, St. Francis, Michelangelo, Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, Vince Lombardi, Van Gogh - you don't find guys of that caliber today, and if there are any, they are not painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or composing Don Giovanni. They are trying to be Mr. O.K. All-Rite, the man who can bake a cherry pie, go play basketball, come home, make melon balls and whip up a great soufflé, converse easily about intimate matters, participate in recreational weeping, laugh, hug, be vulnerable, be passionate in a skillful way, and the next day go off and lift them bales into that barge and tote it. A guy who women consider Acceptable.

Being all-rite is a dismal way to spend your life, and guys are not equipped for it anyway. We are lovers and artists and adventurers, meant to be noble, free-ranging, and foolish, like dogs, not competing for a stamp of approval, Friend of Womanhood.

Back when our gender was running on all eight cylinders, women died for the love of us (e.g. Carmen stabbed to death, Butterfly self-stabbed, Tosca self-hurled from parapet, Brunnhilde self-burned, Aïda self-buried, Ophelia swam after mealtime) - those days are over. Now women watch us and monitor our conversation for signs of bad attitude, they grade us daily, and, boys, we are in the wrong class. Men can never be feminists. Millions have tried and nobody did better than C+.

Here's what they won't tell you in class--

Girls had it better from the beginning, don't kid yourself. They were allowed to play in the house, where the books were and the adults, and boys were sent outdoors like livestock. Boys were noisy and rough, and girls were nice, so they got to stay and we had to go. Boys ran around in the yard with toy guns going kkshh-kkshh, fighting wars for made-up reasons and arguing about who was dead, while girls stayed inside and played with dolls, creating complex family groups and learning to solve problems through negotiation and role-playing. Which gender is better equipped, on the whole, to live an adult life, would you guess? (Applause, shouts) Is there any doubt about this? Is it even close?

Adolescence hits boys harder than it does girls. Girls bleed a little and their breasts pop out, big deal, but adolescence lands on a guy with both feet, a bad hormone experience. You are crazed with madness. Your body is engulfed by chemcals of rage and despair, you pound, you shriek, you batter your head against the trees. You come away wounded, feeling that life is unknowable, can never be understood, only endured and sometimes cheated.

. . .

Men adore women. Our mothers taught us to. Women do not adore men; women are amused by men, we are a source of chuckles. That's because women are the makers of life, and we aren't. We will never be able to carry life within our bodies, never breast-feed. We get more than our share of loot and we are, for some reason, incredibly brave and funny and inventive, and yet our role in procreation basically is to get crazy and howl and spray our seed in all directions.

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