January 21, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
From the paper that brought us “Why Can’t We Hate Men?” comes this (Washington Post, 1/18/19). It’s written by former New York Times journalist Andrew Yarrow and verges on the excellent. It’s not excellent for reasons I’ll go into later, but it gets close. Yarrow gets close to “getting it.”
Unsurprisingly, Yarrow calls himself a liberal, but he means that in the classic sense.
Helping all people in physical, socioeconomic and psychological distress should be a defining characteristic of a humane, caring and democratic society.
Like any true liberal, Yarrow extends his morality, his sense of right and wrong, his empathy, not just to currently politically correct groups, but to everyone. And when that demands that he care about the issues men – even white ones – face, he accedes. That also means that he criticizes progressives for their “wokeness” that coincidentally excludes half the population.
What’s the matter with this sentence in a recent advice column? “A father leaving the family is a tremendous loss, even if his character didn’t lend itself to being the best husband or father (neither of which I know).”
This is an extraordinarily unthinkingly bigoted piece of writing. To assume that the father’s “character didn’t lend itself to being the best husband or father”–and then acknowledge that “neither or which I know”–bespeaks biases based on easy cliches. While some husbands and father may show poor character and be derelict in their responsibilities toward their children, a mother also can be. Substitute “African American” or “Jew” or “woman” for “father,” and substitute “worker” or “citizen” for “husband or father,” and such statements would be rightly denounced as racist, anti-Semitic, or sexist.
Sadly, such bigoted and disparaging assumptions about men are all too common, and those expressing them rarely realize that what they say is prejudicial. It would be easy to blame this on “feminism,” but a true feminist would believe in gender equality not only in the workplace but also in parenting, and not blithely make the generalization that one gender/sex is more likely to have bad character.
#MeToo has done much good for women who have suffered in silence for far too long, but it also has left many men fearful of being accused of innocent acts, casting a pall on relations between the sexes. While initially aimed at exposing individual men and raising awareness of a critical problem, some #MeToo proponents have moved on to see men, in general, as evil – a simplistic and totalizing way of thinking all too much like racism, anti-Semitism, and – for that matter – sexism.