Monday, December 12, 2011

Sissy Toronto Men

Christie Blatchford is a columnist for the National Post here in Toronto.  She wrote a piece recently to explain how awful it is that men in Toronto no longer believe that the solution to violence is more extreme violence and to deplore the fact that men hug each other.  She is careful to explain that she isn't anti gay, as long as the men in question act like repressed, savage, vengeful louts, can shoot a puck and fart on cue.  They must also not hug each other, that is for women and sissies.  (I am not making this up.)

At first I thought that Christie must be some sort of angry man with a penchant for football, vigilante justice and a feminine name but in fact Christie is a woman with a distinctly unusual outlook.  Not to say that the 'hugs are wrong' doctrine is better coming from one gender or the other but you sure don't see it as much from mainstream female writers!  The incident that touched off her rant was her seeing two sets of preteen boys come upon each other on the street and greet each other with a series of hugs.  Perhaps a routine of nipple twisting, hair pulling and chest beating would please Christie more, leaving her secure in the knowledge that young men are safely ensconced in the ideology of fear and domination.  She would evidently enjoy that men embrace the culture of refusing to show affection in any way other than "Hey baby that shirt looks great but it would be even better on my bedroom floor!"

The crux of her argument goes something like this:  No one should go to authorities with their problems.  If you are being bullied you should expect all the other kids around to catch the bully alone and beat them senseless for you.  In the movies we can expect that grievous wrongs will be righted when John Wayne rides into town and gives the bad guys some bare knuckle vengeance but in real life the biggest kid on the playground only gets stopped by the adults.  When a person is being bullied there are many things they can do themselves to try to deal with the situation but waiting for other kids to enact bloody payback is not one of them.  In a world where every man is expected to be capable and ready to physically attack a bully at a moment's notice you probably would expect men to greet each other with fists rather than hugs but I assure Ms. Blatchford that she does not want to live in such a world.  In the real world John Wayne is busy somewhere else and never shows up.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy watching violence in movies and television shows and I even have a fondness for professional wrestling.  An epic physical struggle between hero and villain is a marvelous thing to watch now and again but we must acknowledge that vengeful violence in narratives is satisfying in a way that real world violence is not.  In a story the hero wins and all is well, in real life things are more complicated and the person upon whom vengeance is visited is often completely innocent or was merely getting 'justice' in the first place.  One person's justice is another person's atrocity and the only way we escape from that cycle as a society is to let relatively neutral authorities take care of problems.  They aren't perfect but they are better than Angry Man Beatdown Squad.

Christie may like her men savage, unable to express positive emotions and constantly involved in violence but the rest of us hopefully are sensible enough to realize how much better the world is when that isn't the case.

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