by Whyte Panther (Luigi Fiorino)
I was commenting on a piece by David Reinstein earlier today, “Things Men Can Know Of But Never Experience” and in the process planted a seed for this short commentary. The thoughts have been percolating for a while and I think they may after these short few hours may be worthy of sharing.
I can remember back in 1992 hearing quite a stir about John Gray’s “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” another attempt at explaining relationships. My wife had purchased a copy and soon after… the source of my then most recent lament sprung to life.
At first I laughed and then became quite irritated and how readily most people gobbled up this drivel as if it were gospel… chapter and verse. Frustration, a common underlying theme or at least inspiration in my writing, pushed me to the brink of forging a revolution. A revolution against the quick, easy fix to seemingly be found in the largest growing section in book stores… the self help section.
Hmmmm… a book on self help… a bit of an oxymoron wouldn’t you agree? You are reading a book on how to help yourself… that sounds to me like “help” and not “self help”. But do not let me digress from the topic at hand… the original article and my commentary that inspired this one.
The over romanticized analogy itself seemed backwards to me. Being more scientist than artist at that juncture in my life, I laughed just a little bit at the irony of it all. Women, the soft, sweet emotion driven creatures were allegedly from what has been show to be one of the most inhospitable environments in our solar system. The atmosphere is is more like a war zone or the final layer one must traverse in descending into hell itself. Mars, on the other hand, from where men… the coarse insensitive hunters and warriors originated was the single most likely candidate to have sprouted life… odd juxtaposition I thought.
I finally decided in my furor to combat this irony and oversimplification of the complex interactions between the sexes with what was then my most potent weapon… humor. I threw myself wholeheartedly into my new endeavor. My mission? I was to take the essence of what Mr. Gray was trying to convey, chapter by chapter, and transform it from a “how to” guide into more human revelation that our differences are not to be simply accommodated, but celebrated. I even came up with the perfect title… tongue FIRMLY in cheek.
“Men Don’t Wear Bras, Women Have No Penis… GET OVER IT”
I took this self assigned task just a little too seriously and a little too literally and soon found the initial spirit of my effort had completely faded and all but dissolved. The humor, my primary intention, seemed to be completely lost. I was simply writing another “self help” abomination, so I released the project back into the ether. I am sure that at some point my ex-wife may stumble upon my initial outlines, notes, and inane scribblings. I would hope that they found their rightful home if they have not already done so… the local land fill!
About a year or so later, my marriage began bashing itself upon the rocks like a small boat that had broken free of its mooring during a violent storm. My youngest brother, in an attempt to help us put some perspective on the myriad mini arguments, suggested that we go see an off Broadway production called “Defending The Caveman” which he and his wife had recently seen.
I had seen Rob Bartlett’s stand up comedy routine and was interested to see what light he might be able to shed on the whole relationship thing. I was very impressed with his simple but profound observations… extremely impressed.
His OPINION, presented in a ninety minute performance, more monologue than not was (over)simply that denying our true essence was the source of the conflict. That men not being men and women not being women had us resenting each other when it was completely unnecessary.
Because of financial necessity, more and more women were entering the work force and were being forced to “abandon their posts” as the homemakers. Before I encounter the wrath of the female readership, please allow me to complete my thoughts here. My making this statement is certainly not about a “woman’s place”, but about the unfortunate reality that they were simply not given the choice… “financial necessity”. Women, and it is every bit as true for men, should make their own life choices but with the full knowledge and understanding that with every choice we make, there is another we do not. Being successful in the workplace means that the “home”, the safe haven for men and women alike, will suffer.
On the flip side, men, because of the barrage of self help and relation ship guru publications were being all but surgically emasculated. We need to be in touch with our feelings. We need to be more sensitive. We need, in almost every way to change our very essence in order to better understand and get along with our spouses or parters. The very people who chose to be with us because of who we were are now requiring us not to be that person. This reminds me of another off Broadway production, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!” At least Joe Dipietro’s intention was to find the humor in that ridiculous statement.
Let me get back to Mr. Bartlett’s production. Men, as best we can determine, from the dawn of mankind have been the hunters… the providers.. the protectors. And here is probably the single most profound line I can recall from the show, and please forgive me for paraphrasing.
“It was the man’s responsibility to provide a comfortable and safe place for the woman to do her magic”
Wow… just wow.
In it’s sheer and utter simplicity it speaks volumes. It is not a sexist statement. It is not a misogynistic statement. It is a simple statement of the true nature of the relationship between the sexes at that time. Mr. Reinstein’s “Things Men Can Know Of But Never Experience” tickled that particular memory for me.
Men may, in GENERAL, be bigger and more physically adapted to be the warrior, the hunter, and the protector, but can absolutely acknowledge the true strength and power endowed upon “the weaker sex” and respectfully accept the duty of protecting and providing for the givers of life. It is not the dominant role we take on in being the “big strong man”, but in stark contrast.. a subservient role. We were not blessed with the “magic” that was given to women so in order to honor them… truly honor them and respect the nature of our relationship… we use the gifts we have been given so that they can devote their energies to their own gifts.
I used the word “homemaker” earlier in this article. Anyone, with the sweat of their brow and the strength of their back, can put up four walls, a ceiling and floor. Anyone can fill that space with “stuff”… those things we consider basic necessities. But without the “magic” of the love that only our partner can bring, that house can never be a home.
Am I sounding nostalgic for a time where a simpler life was the norm… where roles were more clearly “defined”… where we all worked to live and not lived to work? I certainly acknowledge that. Let us all not feel so high and mighty being the masters of technology that we are in this generation. Let us not forget how to live… let us make a point of honoring the simpler side of life… I am sure we will all be happier with our roles when we look at them as sacred endowments and not “jobs” and “positions” that are being forced upon us.
I have stated for years that the moment I found a way to simplify my life, that I would embrace it with every part of my being. Call me a modern day caveman if you will. I no longer struggle with our differences, but I celebrate them. I toss my pride aside and acknowledge that there is no stronger or weaker sex. I rejoice at the acknowledgement and acceptance of this marvelous partnership that elevates us all.
Mars? Venus? Why draw distinctive lines that each side must strive to cross? Be true to ourselves and honor each other. To my very last breath will I defend the caveman. Maybe the Geico commercials have it almost right… “So easy a caveman can do it”… maybe it should be “so much easier the way the cavemen did it”
So men… protect and honor the “possessors of the magic” in your life… provide them that safe place in which to enrich your lives by doing that very thing they were tasked with from birth… work their magic. We’ll all be happier and life can be simple again.
As I ended my comment on David’s article and will consequently end this one, “Men and Women are NOT the same, nor should they be… an no amount of intellect or rationalization will ever make it so. Celebrate the natural compliments between us…”