The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet’s Dress

by rsbakker

Just got back from New Hampshire this morning… I. Am. Bagged. A friend of mine, Roger Eichorn – who will one day I’m sure become a giant of fantasy once he clears up the pesky matter of his philosophy PhD – got married. And we stayed with another friend, Nick Smith, who along with his wife Nicole, fairly broke his back observing the ancient laws of hospitality.

It was our first longish trip with little Ruby, who had a fantastic time dancing on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean: she is a true beach baby. But I also had the strange experience of watching her get repeatedly mugged by Nick and Nicole’s two little boys – the one three, the other fourteen months. She was smacked on the head with various objects, shoved to the floor, and had a hard time holding onto any toy for longer than a moment or two – it’s funny how things become ‘mine’ as soon as you see someone else with them! It’s the law of the jungle with little children, man.

It was all kid stuff, and with a little patience and a lot of good humour, we soon had the boys giving her toys and kisses. But it did remind me just how personal all these questions regarding sexism have become for me. For one, I don’t want my daughter growing up hearing that her father is a sexist. For another, I don’t want my daughter growing up in a cultural climate that is – however immeasurable – worse for her father’s hamfisted attempts to make things better.

But, man, doesn’t this topic get people talking!

I think part of the reason has to do with age-old ‘battle of the sexes.’ Pretty much every human being I know has made numerous statements of gender solidarity: wives bitching about husbands, husbands bitching about wives, most of it goodhearted, some of it exasperated, but only on a few, rare instances, has any of it been genuinely vicious.

The thing is I get the feeling that pretty much everything said by the husbands would be regarded by many feminists as pernicious and ‘symptomatic,’ and I can’t shake the sense that they are simply missing the point, like the cultural critic who goes to a monster truck rally, shaking their head and tsk-tsking in polysyllables, somehow forgetting that all the people around them are laughing and ooing and sharing something genuinely important.

We are, as I am so fond of saying, judging machines, capable of going to extreme lengths to secure the high moral ground – more than a few of those lengths theoretical.

Christ, look at me, waving my three pound yardstick around…

No pun intended.

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