If you’re afraid of your plumber you’ve got a real problem.
Now I’m assuming your plumber is the regular sort, somewhat taciturn and law abiding. The plumbers I know, and I know many, really don’t care too much about the politics of their customers. They just show up and do what they’re paid to do and leave.
Apparently some liberals are waking up to the truth that the men they rely upon for the basic necessities of modern life are completely alien to them. Here’s a snippet from something published in USA Today to show what I mean:
Ned Resnikoff, a “senior editor” at the liberal website ThinkProgress, wrote on Facebook that he’d called a plumber to fix a clogged drain. The plumber showed up, did the job and left, but Resnikoff was left shaken, though with a functioning drain. Wrote Resnikoff, “He was a perfectly nice guy and a consummate professional. But he was also a middle-aged white man with a Southern accent who seemed unperturbed by this week’s news.”
This created fear: “While I had him in the apartment, I couldn’t stop thinking about whether he had voted for Trump, whether he knew my last name is Jewish, and how that knowledge might change the interaction we were having inside my own home.”
When it was all over, Resnikoff reported that he was “rattled” at the thought that a Trump supporter might have been in his home. “I couldn’t shake the sense of potential danger.”
What is androphobia?
The writer at USA Today is addressing something Roger Scruton termed Oikophobia. It is a real condition, I’ve seen it. But I think this condition is often accompanied by another one closely associated with it: Androphobia–the fear of masculine men.
If this guy Resnikoff knew how to unclog his own drains I can tell you two things would follow: he wouldn’t need to call a scary plumber, and he’d be less likely to be afraid of his plumber in the first place.
I’ve never called a plumber for a clogged drain. The reason? 90% of the time its just your wife’s hair in the J-trap. Remove the trap, and remove the gob of hair. 9% of the time the clog it is past the J-trap and for that all you need is a snake and a drill. The remaining 1% calls for special equipment and knowledge. And the remaining 1% really is the percentage of the time you really do need to bring in a plumber.
How did I come to possess this esoteric knowledge? By getting comfortable with tools and actually looking into how things are put together. While I was in seminary I worked as a framer, and growing up I was around men who worked with their hands. From my exposure to these things I learned a lot.
Professionals (including pastors) and androphobia
And by my observations I have come to see that I belong to a shrinking class of educated people who are comfortable with masculine men.
Here’s a little anecdote of my own that I posted on my Facebook wall. (It resulted in a flurry of comments.)
Yesterday I was with about 20 guys for a wild-game feast.*
As far as I can tell, in the circles I circulate in–places like Patheos for instance–I am the only minister who gives men like these much thought.
They’re men who live on the periphery–but most people depend on them for the basic conveniences of modern life.
There were welders, farmers, public utility employees, auto mechanics, et al. As far as the academics, writers, and ministers/SJWs I know, these men don’t even exist. (Or if they are aware of them, they’re scared silly by them.)These men hunt and fish, they fix things, they largely live by their skills and their wits and they really don’t need any of the people who look down on them or fear them. (Except as paying customers.)
I only knew a couple of them, and by my appearance and way of speaking, I am easy to identify as a member of the professional class. (And I am a member of it.) But I like being with men like these and I identify with them and respect them.
It takes a while for them to catch on to that. The way I help them to is by asking questions and listening respectfully, and by expressing admiration for the things they’ve done. Then I talk about common interests: guns, tools, meat, hunting, or building things.
By the time we’re done I’m not so strange–I’m still a little strange–I’m a minister and an author among other things–but we have some basis for relating to each other.
Why does a person like Rachel Held Evans matter so much to so many people and these men seem to count for nothing?
One of the threads on my wall following this post had to do with the relative absence of men like these in our churches. I am happy to say that I have a number of such men. (In fact one of my members hosted this event.) But I can’t recall a single time in any of the church planting strategy meetings (and I’ve been in more of those than I can count) that men of this sort were “targeted” as a demographic to evangelize. People in the mold of Rachel Held Evans come up a lot. These guys? Never.
Why don’t we reach out to men like these?
I think it has to do with their relative lack of prestige. Everybody wants to reach the upper east side of Manhattan with all those artists and stockbrokers. And we should try to reach those folks. But you know what? Prioritizing those people at the expense of these men leads to bubbleization. And I know too many bubble-boy church planters who look more like Resnikoff than the Apostle Paul. Paul knew how to work with his hands. I suspect Paul wouldn’t have needed to call a plumber, even though he’d likely have known several personally.
Allow me to conclude with a conversation I had with a couple of the guys about hunting. The degree to which their outlook is alien and even frightening to you can serve as a gauge for measuring your level androphobia and bubble-boyness.
Anyone who has even a little exposure to the New England countryside knows deer are a real problem here. The population is out of hand. (Even the LA Times in 1998 knew this. And the problem has only gotten worse.) There are more deer and fewer hunters every year. Part of the reason has to do with urbanization and the resultant sentimentalization of wild animals.
Down in Fairfield County, on the Connecticut “gold-coast” hundreds of deer were killed by game and wild-life officials this year. The reason? The people who live in Fairfield County are afraid of hunters and won’t let them hunt in the area. The men at the wild game feast all agreed this was a terrible shame. All the meat could have been used to feed hungry people. Instead it was incinerated. The consensus was that the wealthy professionals of Fairfield County are hypocrites and that their fear of guns and hunters is largely due to their lack of exposure to them.
I suspect that many of those people also suffer from androphobia.
*For those who’d like to know what the fare included, we had venison (of course), pheasant, rabbit, frog-legs, and the big surprise was black bear sausage from Maine. All the food with the exception of the frog legs was provided by the hunters in the room.