By Robert Cribb, Toronto Star, October 1, 2010
As a gender, the modern man has been socialized into bumbling submission.
Doting, indecisive and generally wimpy, too many of us have lost the ancient protocols of manhood.
Consider the basic proposition posed by Toronto writer Elliott Katz in his self-help guide for the whipped male called Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants: Our fathers, bewildered by the feminist revolution, have failed to hand down the kind of testosterone-laced wisdom that defined our gender throughout history.
That breaking of the chain has blurred the male social code beyond recognition.
What remains is a kind of wishy-washy modern malehood that has left men puzzled and women frustrated, says Katz.
“We mean well. But boys have grown up without strong role models. We think we’re being nice. But we’re shirking our responsibility.”
I applaud Elliott Katz for writing a self-help guide for men. It may actually reach some men, whose female partners purchase a copy for under the Christmas tree. Self-help and men do not usually go together in the same sentence, unless it is to ridicule their women friends and partners rush to that aisle in the book stores.
This theme of emasculated men is one this scribe has been writing about for the past decade plus. I first noticed the utter capitulation by the male leaders to the female clergy in both the Anglican and Episcopal churches in Canada and the U.S. And their fear of being dubbed "sexist" for disagreeing with their female colleagues was even more appalling.
Feminism as a political, social, cultural and religious movement may have had some benefits. However, I personally know women whose training for the practice of active ministry can be linked directly to their need and demand for a bully pulpit, which the church afforded both them and their feminism, upon graduation, as a sign that the church was keeping up with the mood and spirit of the times. Contemporary, timely and current and relevant are all words used to describe the move of the church to welcome female clergy ( a good move in itself).
Nevertheless, it is the hierarchy of the Anglican/Episcopal churches who first provided the canary in the coal mine, in my experience, that there was no oxygen and no spine left in the male gender. These formerly robust and vital and vibrant leaders grew pale and weak and obsequious in the face of the angry woman archetype that so characterized the feminist movement.
And these men were not stupid, uneducated, nor without a thick file of valuable experience. They could and should have been able to provide ballast and counter-influence to the vicious feminism that was raging around them.
When I actually confronted a bishop about a female priest, in 1995, who had demonstrated utter contempt for the male gender, other male clergy and male members of the congregations with the question: "What would you say to the notion that this women hates men?"
His reply: "I have never seen that from her." (And the subject was dropped from the conversation.)
Of course, he had never seen that from her; she was far too circumspect to disclose such venom to her boss.And in the process of vilifying men, she also made some women so dependent on her that they became her clones, surrogates and cloying adherents to her marvellous ministry! (Italics for irony!)
No it is now long past time for men to start to speak to one another about how we have been negligent in our homes, to our spouses, and to our children of both genders. To our daughters, we have neglected to bring our "A" game to the discussions with their mothers. In our negligent attempt to "please" in what we actually believed was the "right" approach to marriage, (based on our fathers' modelling) we sold ourselves, our hopes and our dreams out to the insecurities of our female partners. And our daughters did not benefit from our complicity in our own emasculation.
Such emasculation did not, obviously, provide effective and challenging role models for our sons, either.
And for at least two or three generations now, men in North America have been wandering around in the wilderness of our own fog about how to relate to each other, how to relate to our female partners, and to our children and grandchildren.
I was once told by a anglican female priest (not the one above), "You are far too intense for me!"
To which I responded, without missing a breath, "And I am also too bald; deal with it!"
I make no apologies then or now, some two decades later for such a rebuttal.