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.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Walrus

    I’ll join you on that one. I appreciate my little Italian husband and my he-men sons (all bigger than their father). When my daughter was born, after all her brothers, one of the first things her oldest brother said was “The other boys in the neighbourhood better not try to bother HER.” I didn’t scold him. Tell the truth, I was proud of him. Not that he ever deployed his fists in her service, but I liked the idea that he was prepared to defend her very much.

    I think women would be better off if we encouraged this kind of thinking in our men, because, whatever radical feminists may think, men are still bigger and stronger than women and this should be celebrated and respected, just as a woman’s generally superior ability to voice her feelings should be celebrated and respected and seen as a contribution. It’s time we stopped beating each other over the heads with our differences and started appreciating them!

  • goddessoftheclassroom

    Absolutely, Walrus. I’m raising my sons to be gnetlemen. They stand when I come to the table; the elder holds my chair. They open doors. They watch their languages.

    I may be capable, but I want to be cherished. I have enough femininity for the whole family.

  • Sigmund Carl and Alfred

    “…a magnificent broadside of Celtic manflesh.”

    The post of course, is superb- as usual.

    That bit of writing is as good as anything Somerset Maugham ever wrote.

    No kidding.

  • Fausta

    eating scones, drinking Guinness and dancing with the lovely giant firefighters of the FDNY – in their kilts and knee socks!
    I’m actually envious!

  • RLC

    On behalf of smallish Jewish men — and fathers, sons, and brothers — I thank you. BTW, what did you see when those kilts were flying upwards?

  • Fausta

    I posted on this at but now it looks like this

    Bandwidth Limit Exceeded
    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.

    So I also posted it here

  • joeh

    The other day we had a debate that went on into the night over many drinks. What would the USA look like if the women did not have the right to vote? It was interesting that a woman brought up this discussion. She is sick and tired of the whining Democratic women in the Congress and how politics in general have changed with women voting. She also attributes changes in the press coverage to this issue and of course she believes that this country will never win another war because of this issue. Her argument is that women, while they have many skills that bring great value to our country, also bring too much emotion to the ballot box.

    The men in the group were almost afraid to offer an opionion. Of course she was attacked strongly by the two liberal women in the group. Without the vote, many of the gains women have made would never have occured. Our conservative answered with a question. How many women today live in peace and joy in their hearts? How many run around looking for something, but do not seem to know what? At this point, a few men spoke up almost trying to play both sides of the issue. I would love to see what reasonable sober people thought of this issue after some honest reflection. What would the USA look like today if women did not vote?

  • Peter

    “A magnificent broadside of celtic manflesh” – That’s one descriptive line. The Anchoress hits yet another grandslam homerun with this post.

    BTW, I think I’ve guessed what your secret project is: You are writing a romance novel.

  • TheAnchoress


    That’s an excellent guess…wrong, but fun and excellent!

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  • Donna

    Gee, Anchoress, I like those hefty Celtic lads meself,…,but I’m 5’8” and noticed a long time ago that the brawny boys always seem to go for the tiny girls who tip the scale at 95 pounds. Three of my petite girlfriends married men who are at least 6’2” – and I never once dated a guy taller than myself (which made heels problematic).
    You’d think big fellas would pair off with tall girls and shorter men would choose wee slips of girls, but, in my experience, it doesn’t happen like that. Maybe it’s the Lord’s way of mixing up the gene pool:-D
    Actually, I really don’t care how tall a man is as long as he’s fun and interesting. But,…,every now and then, I wonder what it would be like to slow dance with a boyfriend – and actually have to look up to him.

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  • Aitchmark

    It helps if you have the right woman to protect.

    About 5 years ago I brought the victim of a vicious assault into our house so we could care for her while waiting for the police and ambulance. While I was describing her assailant to the 911 dispatcher, the man showed up again on the sidewalk in front of our house.

    I gave my wife my keys and told her to deadbolt the door behind me; I went out to confront him.

    Some time later, a group of women asked my wife why she let me go out like that.

    “Let him?” she said, “What do you think men are for?”

    You kind of have to live up to a woman like that. Makes it easier to go do what must be done to know she’ll be proud, even if she ends up wearing black.

    Oh yeah– the guy is serving 80 years for aggrevated rape, 40 years for aggrevated kidnapping with special circumstances, and 20 years for aggrevated armed robbery.