Affection for the protector lads and He-men

A while back I wrote this confession:

“…we all know that while I’m kind of helpless around the olive-skinned Italian and Jewish men…and well, basically all Mediterranean types…I’m also a pretty quick surrender to a Celt… (…one of the best afternoons of my life was spent eating scones, drinking Guinness and dancing with the lovely giant firefighters of the FDNY – in their kilts and knee socks! When a lad is secure enough about himself to kick up his heels in a skirt, I’m all appreciation!)”

Today I happened to find a picture from (egad) almost 25 years ago, when I was not only short but also tiny, and nary a grey hair on my head, and I am standing next to one of those giants – about 6’3″ and 230lbs – a magnificent broadside of Celtic manflesh. My nose barely reaches his sternum. Looking at the pic, I recall why it is I like the big guys: they’re gentle as only a big man who is completely aware of his stength and his capacity for mayhem can be gentle. Knowing his strength, a big guy doesn’t need to prove anything; gentleness does not threaten him.

Not all big men are teddy bears, of course – just as not all smaller men are despots – and I am always very happy when dancing a hora with a Jewish fellow or a tarantella with my handsome Italian hubby. But there is something about doing a jig and a reel with a beefy Celt that is like dancing on a dangerous ledge and knowing you won’t get hurt.

Of course, there is also something to be said for the smaller, clever Italian fellow who can protect you with nothing more than a raised eyebrow, too! ;-)

I’m bringing it up because this piece by Fausta has stayed with me, today. It really rang a bell with Buster, as I said earlier, and in thinking about this 25 year old picture, and men in general, I realized we don’t think of men as “protectors” any more. I guess the feminists have more or less trained society to think that women “don’t need protecting,” just as – apparently – women do not need to use some discretion in their alcohol consumption when they are (for example, at a frat party) surrounded by guys they do not know. While a girl drinking to excess is by no means an invitation to abuse and exploitation, by the same token, the world is not an innocent little arcade full of angels and fairies…a woman has to be smart about where she goes and with whom she surrounds herself. If something, God forbid, happens to her, the men are asked, “why didn’t you look out for her?”

But women have been telling men for some decades now not to condescend to the “weaker” sex. Don’t open the door for them, don’t look out for them (that implies the woman can’t do for herself…)

I’ve been hurt by men and helped by men, and spoiled unto brattiness by one good man in particular. Overall, I like men a lot, and I’m sorry that the world treats them so harshly. I’m sorry to recall that in the aftermath of 9/11, some feminists actually bitched that the horrific event “showcased” too much male heroism and selflessness, too many males being the sort of “men” that a post-modernist deplores.

It’s a shame that our society seems interested only in the softer, more feminine sides of a man, or in making a man into a buffoon. I’m raising up two young men who are interested in becoming volunteer firefighters and National Guardsmen. They’re both big fellas capable of raising havoc if havoc is required, and they’re both capable of breathtaking gentility. They can be hard and soft, devilish and responsible, sour and sweet. As capable as I might be, I am happy to be under their protection, and their father’s. It amuses and reassures me to know that – as once happened, here – a man with a wrong idea in his head can meet up with my big, affable, hairy Elder Son, or my big, somewhat-better-groomed-but-infinitely-more-dangerous Buster and understand that his wrong idea could get him seriously maimed, or worse.

I don’t mind knowing that. I kinda like it, actually. Living with men who are allowed to be men is like dancing with the big firefighters on that ledge. They won’t let you get hurt.

Tonight, I think I will spoil the men around me a little and let them know how much I like them bonny and braw and aye, manly to the core. Here’s to he-men, and God bless ’em, says I!

Related: Buster concurs with Fausta.
Dr. Melissa is thinking some more about this topic.

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About Elizabeth Scalia