Monday, 21 September 2009

Calling All Good Guys

I very much admire the Star columns and blog by Antonia Zerbisias. She's smart, funny, and fearless. She researches and thinks and gets things right. How many journalists can you say that about?

But the quality that most impresses me is her willingness to take on that sad and whiney bunch known as 'men's rights activists', or, The I-Blame-Feminism-for-My-Fucked-Up-Life Gang. (And no, I'm not linking to any of their sites. I do not want them tracking back here, because I am NOT willing to take them on. You can get a taste of their insanity in the comments to this recent AZ blogpost about violence against women.)

I am and have been lucky and/or wise in choosing the men I hang around with. They are Good Guys. Supporters of women and women's rights -- though some would probably cringe a bit if you called them feminists. Good and responsible fathers if they are fathers. Loving and supportive partners if they have partners -- and most do, because they are Good Guys.

So, an odd thing happened yesterday evening. A very old friend of my sweetie's came to visit. He has recently retired and moved to the country not very near by, but he lived here for most of his life and has a wide circle of friends. He doesn't get to town very often, so the jungle drums started beating and within about an hour of his arrival, there were five Good Guys sitting around drinking beer and catching up with each other.

And one woman -- me.

Very funny stories were being told in answer to questions like 'Have you seen So-and-So?' and 'Did you hear what happened to Somebody Else?'

Inevitably, they got into telling old stories about So-and-So and Somebody Else. (BTW, whoever said that men don't gossip had his/her head up ass.)

They got onto one guy whose life could be described as fraught, or maybe hapless is better. In addition to various other adventures, this guy is notorious for fathering children then refusing to support them. As is his brother. One of the guys said: 'Yeah, well, you can talk to Bro 2 about his failures as a father, but if you want to stay friends with Bro 1, you don't mention it.'

I hadn't been saying much, but I turned to the guy -- someone I've known a while and like a lot -- and said: 'Huh?'

He shrugged.

Moi: 'Jeebers, Jack, you've known this guy for decades, helped him through all kinds of shit, and you won't call him out on this inexcusable behaviour? You're a Good Guy. If you won't call him out, who will?'

Squirming ensued. Other Good Guys developed an avid interest in the ceiling.

Jack squirmed a bit more then said: 'You're right. If he won't do the right thing, he should get himself fixed so he can't father any more children. Next time I see him, I'm telling him that.'

Heads nodded in agreement and we returned to our regular programming.

So, will he? Dunno. Will it do any good? Unlikely.

But here's the thing: If the Good Guys won't brace their Not-So-Good brothers and pals on their bad behaviour, who will?

Us feminazis, I guess.

And take the blame for that too.


Mike said...

I've been know to chastise idiots like the bro you mention, mainly because I've been the victim-child of a lack of desire to support your kids.

I hope he follows through...

fern hill said...

Well, you would, Mike. You are a Known Good Guy. ;)

Scott in Montreal said...

Great story. I hope that wasn't lip service. I agree most men - even the "Good Guys" - don't feel comfortable with the term "feminist", perhaps because it is so often prefixed with "radical" by the breathless Right-wing Noise Machine. But ask them if they support equal rights and see if they still cringe.

deBeauxOs said...

That was awesome, fh. Interesting how women and men are brave and courageous in different ways, in confronting specific challenges and obstacles.

Greg said...

It could be a timing thing.

40 years ago if you tried to drive home drunk, people would frown but not say anything - it would be bad etiquette and you might offend a friend.

20 years ago, you couldn't tell guests to stop smoking in your own house.

And maybe, finally, we're getting around to the part where one guy can tell another he's a frakking idiot for irresponsibly creating human beings.

fern hill said...

Scott: About the feminist thing. Yes. Just as with many women who say they're not feminists. Ask them about equal pay, equal opportunities, and oh yes, they're all for them, but they are NOT feminists.

Greg: That's a good point. Maybe, finally, we are getting there.

Beijing York said...

Fab post, fern. There was a PSA that ran on television a few years ago that was spot on in addressing this very attitude. It was written in guy/buddy language were the gang is hanging out having beers. The camera cuts to a close-up of the host's wife bringing out drinks and although she is holding her head down, you can see a bruised eye. One guy followed by another, go to the BBQ were said host is jovially flipping steaks and say, more or less, "Dude, you don't do that". The tag line after the scene ends is something like "friends don't let other friends beat on women".

fern hill said...

Beijing York, yeah, I saw that. Maybe, as Greg says, the time has come to push this even more. There are a lot of Good Guys out there. We need to encourage them.

Antonia Z said...

Blush ...

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