Women! To paraphrase one of my favorite comedians, Stephen Wright, most men can’t live without them and often can’t live with them for their inscrutable ways. This brings to mind, the Rex Harrison lyric in the adaption of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, better known as My Fair Lady. In effect Why can’t a woman be more like a man? has become a battle cry for diffident men all over the West.
The logic behind this is not in a woman’s DNA. Women who try to act against their genes are in rebellion against their own minds and bodies. Harrison, an absolute misogynist, had to eat his words when he fell in love with student, Lisa Doolittle. No heterosexual man wants to fall for another man…let alone marry her. It runs against the essence of his male nature.
But sensible people know that women are wired completely different from men. Married to the same woman for over 50 years, I cannot say that I understand even one woman, let alone all women. My wife would say and do things that I could never understand. Since her death last year, I have met a number of women who bear that same unfathomable quality that leaves me with my head shaking.
There was a time when I would say that women are not just a different gender but a completely different species…and a superior one at that. Then I remembered an old book whose title seemed to say it all. Men and women are from different planets. It was psychologist, John Gray who chose the perfect expression for our differences. His longtime bestseller, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, was voted the most popular book of the 1990s. Men are warriors, competitive and aggressive in all their behaviors. Women are goddesses of love, who cared, nurtured and loved us no matter how silly, crude and insensitive men really are.
On further investigation I found that there is a lot more depth to Dr. Gray’s thesis. To summarizes his most salient points, which pierce the heart of the matter, men are basically problem solvers, while women would prefer just to have someone sincerely listen to what they were feeling. In other words they like to talk and we like to act.
I have a friend who was still grieving for her long-deceased husband. I thought this was harmful to her and as her friend I took it upon myself to change her. I tried to be her Sir Galahad and she my Lady Guinevere so as to just make her pain go away.
I had never been more wrong in my entire life. No other human being can change someone in the depths of her grief unless she wants to change. It was a very bad move and I truly learned my lesson. I am so fortunate that she still continues to talk to me because she was and still is my very good friend. From this point on, I have vowed to no longer be Mr. Fix it! I just try to be a good listener.
This is where the cultural fads of our generation have run amuck. Feminists, homosexuals and now the ubiquitous transgendered have muddied the waters of male/female relations to the extent that confusion, incivility and blatant hostility have become the ruthless monarchs of American society. These former social outliers have banded together behind the tattered banner of inclusion, diversity and fairness. Their ruthless tactics have so intimidated the rest of our society that many of us quake in fear of being in the crosshairs of their derision and infamy.
These social reformers are reminiscent of Mao’s Red Guards. They swiftly gained social acceptance because they had latched on to the lengthy coattails of the civil rights activists of the 60s. Many of them are elite thinkers, schooled in the rhetoric of Marxist social justice.But they have sacrificed reason for an ephemeral dream that has no chance of success in a mixed society.
They believe that anyone can be anything they want to be. And that includes their sex. Their perverted view of personal freedom traces its lineage back to the Nominalism of Franciscan monk, William of Occam, who believed that no creation has an immutable essence. There is no such thing as a tree nature, a dog nature and certainly not a human nature. People are fungible; that is, they can change and be anything they want and nobody suffers. In reality, the Transgendered movement does underscore the basic nature of its underlying homosexuality. These people are really just a new variety and perhaps a more logical variety of a sexual confusion.
I know of a married couple who own a store in St. Louis. The husband is a transgendered man and the wife a lesbian. I believe that when the wife fell for her husband she was attracted to his female essence, which he could not change, despite hormone therapy and constructive surgery.
All these movements strike at the very heart of what it means to be human. The late, debonair film actor, Maurice Chevalier, who had made his reputation in musical comedy, illustrated the true nature of men and women best in the wonderful movie Gigi in 1959, which I saw while in high school. He was an elderly man, who married a much younger woman, played by Leslie Caron, who had a young illegitimate son.
During the film, Chevalier is in the park, watching his stepson romp with a gaggle of little girls. The scene sets the stage for him to sing the lyrics that have been ringing in my heart ever since. Thank Heaven for little girls…because they get bigger and bigger every day.
What a beautiful mixture of prayer, appreciation of youth and a deep-abiding deep love and respect of all women. Somehow it seems to find its ultimate expression in Saint Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, where the Pope expresses how men should never depersonalize the women in their lives. I think we should regard our women not just as persons but as the epitome of God’s creation. That is why He made them so mysterious and different from us. It is what attracts us to them so that we may both be complete human beings. And as Chevalier always remarked Viva La Difference!