I AM WRITING this column because of the kind of man I am. I can't help being the kind of man I am. I ama certain kind of man and that's all there is to it. Women ought to know it. Men already do. A man like me has to do certain things.
I realized this after seeing the movie "Urban Cowboy" and listening to a whole lot of country-western songs. Inthe movie, there is a mean, awful character named Wes, who when he is notsimply staring silently and rippling his muscles, beats up the women he is with. Once he does it after his girlfriend finds him, as they say, with another woman. She is shocked and he is shocked that she is shocked, explaining matters thusly: "You cain't expect a man like me to be faithful to any woman."
The obvious retort -- why not? -- is never asked. Instead, what you get in the movies and in songs is a repetition and variation of this theme. The message is that a man, like a rose is what he is and there is no changing him or even holding him accountable for what he does.He is like a force of nature, a storm, and when he cheats on his woman or loses his temper or gambles or sleeps with an ostrich or something, he does it because he is a man and can't help himself.
This, of course, is the hillbilly or middle-America version of what so-called sophisticaed people would call "a passage" or "male menopause" or something like that. Whatever it is called, the notion remains the same. It is that a man, either because he is a man or because he is a man of a certain age, is not responsible for whathe does and cannot be held accountable. c
The truth of course is that these arecanards and dated ones at that. Most men, or at least the ones I know and know about, do not see themselves this way anymore -- if they ever did. They are, in fact, concerned with matters such as morality and integrity and do not find themselves compulsively drawn to other women, barroom fights and fast pickup trucks. All of that is caricature. It is contradicted by, among other things, life itself.
But the interesting thing is that it is also contradicted by the other, primary male myth. This is the one where men are thought to be the most rational of God's creatures, totally incharge of everything, including, of course, themselves. The one thing theyare not is emotional and the one thing they would never do is be governed by their emotions. It is not, to say the the least, manly.
It is women, after all, who are supposed to be the emotional creatures of this planet. It is women who simply are what they are and act accordingly. They are the ones, governed by a sex-linked irrationality and their own, weird but dominant hormones, who do whatthey do for reasons they could not possibly explain. If you forced them to, they would cry.
However much that stereoptype hangs on in the culture, you don't see it much anymore in print or on the screen. It is considered to be -- and is -- sexist. Even in the world of country music, where cheating has reached epidemic proportions, women "take their love to town" for a reason. They are either scorned or ignored or unloved or frustrated or whatever, but they do not do what they do simply because they are women. No women on the screen ever said, "A woman's got to do what a woman's got to do."
But men say it all the time. They are forever cheating and brawling and going into town to get drunk. And whenthey do what they do and the next morning breaks for the reckoning with their wives or girlfriends or even their mothers, they go infantile, saying they did what they did because they are -- knock on wood -- a man. It is somehow explanation enough.
But it ain't. If it's sexist to treat a woman like a girl, it's just as sexist to treat a man like a boy, It makes men look like fools, like jerks -- like women used to look when they were likened to -- and even called -- girls.
The fact of the matter is that men are not, like trees or water buffalo, controlled by some sort of tropism or overriding instinct. No man gets up in the middle of the night to walk somnolently to the local tavern, there to drink, gamble and wench. It is not ordained -- pre, post or otherwise. It is done when it is done when it is done because this is what the man wants to do. To suggest otherwise is demeaning and reduces him to a boy when he is, as he will always tell you, a man. If that's what he is then that's way he should act. If it seems I feel strongly about it, I'm sorry but I can't help myself. I'm a man.