Sunday, May 25, 2014

My Father Loved Women

When we had my father's memorial service back in 2009, one of the things that I heard more than one person say was that he loved women. The unspoken subtext, which everyone understood, was "not like that." Dad wasn't a womanizer and he never made advances on women. He just enjoyed their company, apparently more than that of other men.

Dad was a deep pool. I learned something new about him every time we talked about his life, even right up to the end, and he was much less transparent about himself and his feelings and thoughts than my mother (or me). I suppose it's also possible that he was simply what he appeared to be: good, quiet, calm, and kind. Maybe both.

But back to women. I'm a product of my own generation, and I have my own hangups about sex and women and the intersection thereof that I have been trying, over the last few years, to recognize and, where necessary, correct. I'm starting from a better place than some men. I never believed women owed me sex. I always knew that sex was important for me in a relationship, and if a romantic relationship didn't include sex, that was a problem for me, but that doesn't make it anyone's problem but mine. It certainly doesn't make it anyone's responsibility to provide it. My needs are my needs, but it's not all about me.

It's not all about me. Could that be a mantra that we instill into our young men? Could that be something we teach boys as they get old enough to realize that sex is a thing that they want (regardless of who they want it with)? I mean, it's a useful message for anyone, regardless of gender, but I don't see a lot of women gunning down men because they felt they were owed sex.

The link above, by the way, is a quick and incisive examination of what Elliot Rodger, the man who murdered six people the other night, is and isn't. I fully agree with the writer; calling him crazy or mentally ill assumes facts not in evidence, and is horribly dismissive and othering to people who do have mental illnesses (most people with mental illnesses are not predisposed to violence).

I don't pretend to have a firm enough grip on the human psyche to explain what drove Rodger to this, and I don't believe in "evil" as an outside concept. That is, I think evil is what we do, not what we are (if that's too fine a hair to split, I apologize). So what he did was evil.

What a lot of men are doing now, on social media, congratulating him, is also evil.

I don't have any solutions, except great big grandiose statements about changing the culture, and I don't know the best way to approach that. At this point, I'm just wishing for a little more of my father's insight, love, and patience in the world, coupled with a great big dose of it's not all about you.