Tuesday, September 25, 2018

For All the Men I Love

I hate what's happening right now, because the men in my life aren't pigs.

That's what Michele Goldberg calls (some) men in an op-ed in today's NYT: Pigs All the Way Down

I have a husband that's a good man, who never did anything remotely like the actions being reviewed nightly on MSNBC, and I see the pain as he listens to the descriptions. I know he's thinking about his daughter, about me, and about the victims' accounts, but he's also suffering some trauma of his own. As a painfully shy, very thin, teenager who was viewed as a stoner in the eighties, and who was teased and even beat up by the very same entitled and arrogant jock types we've all seen or heard about, who are being featured in the Brett Kavanaugh accusations, I can only imagine he is reliving some of that humiliation. I know it still affects him. I'm just glad he doesn't go on Facebook and see all the accusatory posts from women saying, Where all all the passive men?

I have two adult sons. They are super respectful to me, and when they have been in relationships, to the women they are with. At least, as far as I know. I've done my best to show them a woman who is self-determined and who does not make her life around another person. I do see that the women they have chosen as partners have that quality. No doormats!

I have had lots of men friends. As a minister, there have been times when most of my good friends were other clergy, and almost all of them were men. Some of the kindest, most caring, loving, and thoughtful people I have ever encountered have been my clergy friends from other denominations and faiths. They've been there for me, and taught me, confronted me and guided me.

Some of my best teachers have been men.

I have had two Buddhist meditation teachers, several writing mentors in my MFA studies, as well as group leaders in recovery groups, family studies groups, my Spiritual Direction training, and preparation for ministry, all of whom are on my Jewel Tree. I count them with gratitude among my most beloved friends.

There have been men in the congregations I have served who have taught me so much, just by being vulnerable and by their willingness to grow and be changed and who've empowered and encouraged me. I've always been amazed that such highly educated and accomplished men (and women, but in my experience, men were better) were willing to take direction and to trust my leadership and skills.

So I'm writing this to say, yes, damnit, there are some really entitled, privileged, prigs as well as plain old pigs of men out there. Some aren't even privileged. There are other environments than prep school that lead to misogyny.

But the vast majority of men that I have met (and maybe this is because of the choices I have made and keep making) are not jerks. This is for you. I see you. I believe that all of this might be painful for you as well. Your sister, daughter, or mom or even you have been assaulted. You are angry but you don't know what to say or do. But what you are doing matters. My husband? He's been the dad to my sister's grandson, a 13 year old with Autism, for ten years. Some days it's a challenge. But I've never heard him complain. When I hear him say, "Son," as he teaches Seth the same thing for the 100th time, I am so impressed at his patience.

  It is each one of you who is making the men of tomorrow a new breed. Keep going.

Thank you.