Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A Man Named Hope

Being gone from home for two weeks and largely gone from my internet information, too, I felt as though so much must have happened while I was away. As I reconnected with people I began to ask, "So what did I miss?" I had missed a few things - new recipes, new homes, lost wallets, broken relationships, the training of my dog into the perfect pet (apparently all he needed was to get out from under my thumb and do some male bonding) - but by and large I got wide sweeping answers. One thing, though, kept coming up. That one thing was Charlie Sheen.

If I'd been here I think I would have been on that bandwagon. I suspect I would have found it all funny at first, then a little tragic, then the NY Times article about how getting on the Win Wagon was taking a trip on the Misogyny Monorail would have come out and I'd have been embarrassed about finding him funny and outraged at the jokes that continued to swirl like magic and poetry from people's fingertips and then there would have been kittens with Sheenisms and I would be bored and blah. As it is I missed a bunch of those steps, caught up on them all at once and am mostly stuck in the, well, not really outraged but sad and sickened and dejected part. When you pair this Anne Hechian melting down with the attacks on reproductive rights and unions in America right now I just want to stick a sign on my (nonexistent) front lawn and be done with it: "I get it. I have a cunt. You hate me. Let's have quiet time now."

Through the jet lag fog an idea began to form. It formed last night but I held off until today. Today, as you may have heard, is International Women's Day (also Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, and Pancake Day) and Ten Things Tuesday. How about 10 men who don't hate women? That seems appropriately optimistic, does it not?

1. Kevin Smith. He makes funny, bathroom humor movies but he's also smart and thoughtful and knows the hell not only about his craft but also his business. He met a girl once and finally married her and now, in between tweets about fucking her ass, their relationship leaks out (sorry for the visual) onto the internet and here's the secret: They like each other. They support good things for their family and naked time together and talking to each other and staying healthy so they can do the other things longer before they die. You don't have to agree with him but I think he's worthy of admiration and, yeah, I don't know him personally, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't hate chicks.

2. My friend, MAB (photo at top, by me). He's a good, New England boy. Now, that doesn't mean he's automatically on the side of right and good but it's a step in the right direction in my book. I could regale you with anecdotes about his no-nonsense attitude toward life and equality and family and his wife but we've only got one day for this International Women thing and one month for the Women's History thing so let me direct you to two shining examples. 1. His song, Girl With The Frankenstein Hair which, if it's not available on the internet yet you can hear live (but it will be available on the internet soon, right? Right?!). 2. His obituary for Barbara Billingsley. Bonus: Today is the one month anniversary of his most recent blog post. Please go ask for more.

3. Craig Ferguson. I'm going to come out of the gate saying that he loses points automatically for continuing to use tired old stand up tropes about wives controlling husbands and marriages not having sex and blah blah blah. Your wedding ring does not have a GPS in it, you married a hot chick, you have a brand new baby, you're smarter than that, let's step it up, please. However, if you shove that aside as a slightly lazy tick from a busy comedian who's been doing this a while you get to watch him continue to showcase and interview women of all types from all careers and you can't deny what you'll see there. He compliments beauty but he lights up in the face of intelligence and a woman with a sense of humor makes him nearly explode out of his Bob Barker-reject suit. Watch him cook with Paula Deen, you will squeal with delight and you will know that when he sees her he doesn't see some woman in fuck me heels feeding him dessert, he sees some woman in fuck me heels, feeding him dessert with whom he really enjoys sparring.

4. Neil Gaiman has daughters. Not, again, a guarantee of the woman supporting, but in this case an example of the man's ease with woman as people, smart people. Gaiman, in fact, surrounds himself with women of the highest caliber. His daughters, Holly & Maddy, figure prominently in his blogging and writing, always treated with respect, generosity and intelligence. He recently married Amanda Palmer, one of the more kick ass female people to walk our planet. His assistants, The Fabulous Lorraine, and... the woman who created Neverwear (sorry, I'll look up the name [I did, still not sure, I believe she's Kitty]) are mentioned with only the deepest of admiration for not only what they do for him but what they do with the rest of their lives. I suppose we could see him as surrounding himself with women who serve him and yet, if you read what he's writing I don't believe that to be the case.

5. Now I don't know Joshua Jackson either and he doesn't tweet or have a blog or a talk show so of all these guys I'm probably stretching the most to say that he doesn't disrespect women. However, I've followed his career near-stalking closely and I think I can speak with some authority. He can fall into Ferguson's habit of talking about his long term relationship with model/actress Diane Kruger in cliches and generalities but, again, his actions tend to speak louder. He shows up at events to support her career, he doesn't hog the spotlight or spurn it. He speaks with admiration of his colleagues and he's worked with some of the finer actresses of his generation. In the end, though, I always come back to the way he talks about his mom. His dad left at some point and he and his sister remained with their mother and Jackson always speaks of her highly but not in a fawning way. I believe he gets it. If he doesn't then he's an even better actor than I suspected.

6. I base my opinion about John Scalzi's stance on woman mostly on what I know about his wife from his blog. It's a limited view finder but I like to think it's well-focused. I'm told that Kristine Scalzi is intelligent, tough, committed, kind and talented in a number of ways. I can see with my own eyes that she is gorgeous. She doesn't seem like the sort of person who would bother marrying a guy who didn't have a solid sense of equality. Moreover, she seems the sort of person who would terrify someone had any less than that sense. A good portion of Scalzi's writing life is concentrated on Sci-Fi fiction. He is active in that community. As with a lot of things it's one that is, I think, dominated by men but that boasts a number of stand out women in the field. When you hear him talk about his colleagues and their conferences you get the sense that the tables that John Scalzi sits at have equal numbers of men and women at them, not because all his buddies are bringing their spouses but because he is drawn to talent and to people, not to body parts.

7. I have to set down my review of my first viewed Comstock film soon. I promise I will. Hopefully this week, jet lag willing. I've met Tony Comstock. I've corresponded with him. I've heard him speak publicly. Finally, I've seen at least one of his films. Dude likes chicks. He's not in awe of us, he's not objectifying us, but he likes us. He likes that we're people and we're different. I don't know if I can even explain it but Tony has a bit of a take-no-prisoners attitude toward life. It pairs well with the feeling that people are people and their pink parts have no bearing on the relative usefulness of their opinions or intelligence. Watch his films, I think his pictures are worth thousands of words.

8. Francis Crawford of Lymond is a fictional character written by a woman but, since it's my blog, I get to include him. He is the pivotal character in a closely historically accurate six book series set in the 1500s so you'd think there wouldn't be a lot of love for the vagina'd among us but there is. Dorothy Dunnett crafted a man chivalrous, swashbuckling, period-appropriate and still a chick lover extraordinaire. He is as quick to dismiss a stupid woman as a stupid man and equally quick to love an intelligent person no matter their gender. This creation of a brilliant Scottish senior citizen gives me hope, always.

9. Another friend, Clemo, for whom I could cite numerous examples of my conviction that my cunt doesn't compromise our standing with each other. Anything he ever writes about women is testimony enough for me. Check out the last paragraph about the day his mother died, though, that should be enough for you.

10. It's dangerous to start listing your friends on a topic like this. I should, I think, include Alex and Robert and Dion. There are, perhaps, others who think they ought to be included and are not. A subset of those actually should be included and I've simply been forgetful. I waffled about including Aaron Sorkin who, I think, has an inkling of his own respect for women but whose writing is so honest it includes his failings in that arena too freely to allow me to hand him this spot. I thought perhaps of closing with Ang Lee based solely on his casting of so many wonderful actresses but that seemed...thin at best. Perhaps Tom Hanks or John Travolta for being Hollywood insiders and still being married to the same women for decades but, as Mel Gibson and Arnold Schwarzenegger prove daily, that don't mean shit. Let's spare me the anguish, shall we? Let's make this a fill in the blank. Leave me a comment with a man you know who loves and respects women, please. I can use all the anti-Sheens I can get.

Thank you gentlemen, I know you're just being normal, intelligent human beings, but I need you to know, I appreciate it. I appreciate the hell out of it. Especially in times like these.


  1. Anonymous4:43 PM

    Delurking to comment on a wonderful post & subject close to my heart. Found you last year from the lovely WC.

    Must nominate my dad, Big Jim, a recent heart attack and 5-bypass surgery survivor. He, throughout my life and a succession of (his) 4 failed marriages, has shown me what it means to love, and to love well, even the most "difficult" of women. He has always treated me like an equal, and the capable, intelligent person he saw in me at such a young age has done more than I could ever imagine for my confidence and self-worth. Word to all the rest of the good dads out there.

    Lauren S. from Woodstock (Georgia)

  2. My husband is one of the good ones. It's a long story to tell in a comment, but I'm going to tell it, anyway. I had been a SAHM for about three years when he came home to find me crying one late November. After a lot of prodding, he extracted from me that I was upset that I was (and I'm quoting ME here) "buying HIS Christmas present with HIS money." He put a fucking stop to THAT thinking and explained to me that if he were to pay someone to do all the things I did at the time (there were titles like personal assistant, cook, housekeeper, chauffeur, and accountant bandied about), he'd be totally up the creek. He valued the work that I did way beyond the money, and I needed HIM to adjust the way I thought about that work. They don't come much better than that.

  3. my grandfather, god rest him, was one of the good ones...and my father's the spitting image of him. both are/were good men who respect women without worshiping us...who love women without controlling us...who fear our strength without belittling us.

    Pop was a butcher and handyman with the roughest hands ever who took the time to bake his wife one cupcake every year for her birthday after she could no longer bake...he never was much of a cake eater, so he'd bake cookies for himself and that one, solitary cupcake from scratch for her. he read to her from the bible every morning when she could no longer read. he'd go to her bedside at the hospital daily after her strokes forced her to live out her days there...even though the entirety of his visit was full of her curses at him for putting her there. he'd leave in tears, but he'd go every day. he never once let her stop him from going. had he stopped, no one would have faulted him...the man wasn't terribly ambulatory.

    anyway...i'm going to cut that short before i start crying. i miss the man immensely. he was a GOOD man. he's only been gone a year and a few months and while the wound isn't raw, it's still painful at times.

    my dad? he's just like Pop...in every way. i am so very, very lucky to have these two men in my family. they allowed me to know what i wanted in a partner, and i found it in my Chris. sure, he's a little misguided at times, but he's one of those guys who happily drops everything when his mother or grandmother need something from him, even if it's just a few words during the day at work.

  4. Great post, Kizz. I second all of these nominated men on your list!!

  5. Thanks for delurking and sharing everyone. You're making me tear up with all these great stories. As I sit in an office today with a bunch of guys closer to Sheen than to Ferguson I need this. Thanks!