I bloody love men. I love almost everything about them: the banter, the directness, the chivalry and the everyday interactions that draw us to one another. Not so much, the lack of emotional intelligence and that fart when you take a slash first thing in the morning. But hey, women have long given up expecting perfection so we’ve learned to live with those things. I’m lucky to have excellent men in my life, and like with most things, you get what you tolerate.
Tuesday was International Men’s Day — a day slated to thank the XYs for their contribution and raise awareness for men’s health issues. And I know the male currency has been in steady decline in recent years so I thought I would casually Tweet a thank you to all the gents out there doing the hard yakka and the heavy lifting. I didn’t think much of it until I received a barrage of thank yous in return — from all sorts of men, of all ages, just grateful that there was one woman in the world who didn’t think they were all evil. Happily, some women echoed my sentiments, most of whom were proud wives to, and mothers of, you guessed it, men. But I felt a real pang of sadness that in this modern world, full of innovations and improvements, that normal everyday blokes feel disenfranchised, maligned and unvalued. While we have taken to blaming men for pretty much everything that is wrong with the world, for some reason, I didn’t quite expect they took it so much to heart.
Do I think the majority believes men are bad? Of course not. Most women have men in their lives — I’m sure in some instances they’re arseholes, in many instances they are at least tolerable, but in most they are loved, respected and cherished. Since the beginning of time, the relationship between men and women has been critical to human evolution and progress –- a companionship that has helped human beings survive the often turbulent vicissitudes of life. But the last century, which is just a sliver in the context of time, has seen an unprecedented change in the relationship between the genders (yes, all two of them). And while we women have become more educated and independent, men seem to have been left behind: their sense of self receding and their purpose called into question.
So I wanted to write a piece dedicated to all the good men out there. You know who you are. Those guys who, by some miracle, manage to get through their day without patronising, manspreading, raping or belting up their wives. If you watch the ABC or read the Guardian, it’s not hard to reach the conclusion that white men are totally non grata and the only things they are permitted to do is pay tax and self-flagellate. If you’re not white, you get a bit more leeway, but don’t get too excited -– you’re still a bloke, and consequently, your apparent toxicity permeates and destroys this otherwise utopian world. You’d think good men were an endangered species, bordering on extinction. But you’re not. You’re everywhere — but you’ve just realised you’ve a target painted on your back and so you keep your head down while the bullets whizz past your ears.
And while the radicals will say I internalise the patriarchy or that I am their foot soldier -– the truth is I am a woman without a master, be it a man or the sisterhood. Ironically, I am a professional, financially independent single childless woman in her 30s. I am the antithesis of the average woman of a century ago; and I would be part of the problem if I didn’t genuinely believe that humans are fundamentally good, and the affection and alliance between the two genders (yes, there are still only two) were an imperative part of the function of our society. I do genuinely feel for modern men, and I despair for boys growing up in a world that is making them feel that they are the lesser. That there is no place for them. That they are the enemy.
There are so many issues which affect men that are sidelined because caring about, and for, men does not fall into any of the categories of social justice chic. We burn massive amounts of political capital on hand-wringing about a handful of detainees on Nauru but little attention is given to increasing levels of mental health issues and suicide among men, high rates of prostate cancer, homelessness, workplace injury and fatalities, men as victims of domestic abuse, and lower life expectancy — amongst other things.
If we were truly striving to be an equitable society — a society of humanists rather than feminists — these issues would be front and centre alongside any issue which predominantly affects women. But they are not because we don’t. And that is a shame on all of us.
So as a bloody loud Australian, I call on the other man-loving sensible women out there to give the men in their lives a big hug and remind them they are valued and loved. That they are the yin to your yang. They make the journey of life that bit more fun.
To all the men out there – don’t get a big head, we love you but you still annoy the sweet bejesus out of us.
Caroline Di Russo is a lawyer, businesswomen and unrepentant nerd.
Illustration: Paramount Pictures.
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