What Every Man Should Know About Feminist Issues

'Grief' by Rod Van Mechelen

Much has been said about male anger. Male guilt, too, is well documented. But in my experience, the one thing most women fear more than anything else, is male grief.

Women are not eager to hear about the grief many thousands of men feel over Vietnam. Better to call it fancy names and air it on TV, where it can become the subject of tomorrow's lunch-time conversation with the "girls," rather than confronting it in the lives of the men they say they love.

Nor do women want to hear about the grief they cause. Every time a woman complains about the "male fear of commitment," she's adding to the grief felt by those who would commit to her.

In Manhood Redux, C.H. Freedman writes of the "ultimate discrimination" in his chapter entitled "Arlington Cemetery: The Ultimate Male- Chauvinist Preserve." There, he relates men's horror stories of war, comparing them to women's "horror stories" of sexism. Essentially a comparison of male grief to female anger, he demonstrates well how much more value our society assigns to female anger.

For the indignity of being called "little girl," he notes, many courts "are wont to assume" it's "worth perhaps $50,000 in compensation." (Manhood Redux, C.H. Freedman, p 135) But how much, he asks, was it worth for frightened young draftees in Vietnam to be told they were going to be used as bait?

How much is it worth to be told your life is worth less than a can of worms or a dozen frozen bait herring? How much, to hear members of the opposite sex tell you your healthy sexual desires are bad because you're a heterosexual male? How much, to suffer hundreds of rejections by members of the opposite sex?

During the past 25 years, these have contributed to the grief men commonly feel: rejection, denigration, callous dismissal. How much are they worth?

Few women want to hear about this because then they'd have to confront that, contrary to the popular pop-feminist message that men deserve to be treated like inhuman, rapacious beasts, we bleed, we hurt, often women make us cry, and we die.

We hear how women can manipulate men by crying because men fear female emotionality. But the truth is, most women fear men's tears far more. Where men will jump to protect women from what makes them cry, women run away from the tears of men: "Only a secure man is appealing." (Why Men Are The Way They Are, Berkley edition/September 1988, Warren Farrell, Ph.D., p xxiii)

Most men quickly learn most women are turned off by their tears, so they suppress the emotions that make them cry. Sadly, no one can be truly intimate with someone for whom they must never cry. Hence, in the process of becoming the "tough guys" women indicate by their choices they want, men erect emotional barriers that, ultimately, prevent the intimacy women say they want. Barriers to hide their grief from the emotionally castrating American women.

Rod Van Mechelen