Young male hoodie
This morning on Radio 4 on Thought of the Day John Bell of the Iona Community - the man who had on a previous ToD damned the English as a people far inferior to Scots - ran through all the dreadful things that are done by men as a gender. There was a long list. It turned out this was apropos the Rochdale case but the charge was not against those particular men: it was against maleness as a category.
It threw me into a deep depression, out of which I write now, so readers may attribute whatever I say to that condition, but I was, and still am ,very low, close at moments to a near-suicidal despair. I tried to to think of one positive value, a single virtue, in forty years - that is all my adult years - that has been ascribed to men in general. I cannot think of one, nor of any occasion on which it might have been attempted. None that I knew of in my own society anyway, or in what I read. Of vices several, forty continuous years of it, week on week, day on day. The other Sunday Esther Rantzen claimed that the idea of women and children first (into the lifeboats, that is) was unique to the Titanic and that it was only the case because the captain had a gun. In other words the men who had died were just scared of the captain's gun and no worth was to be attributed to them.
I want to make a distinction. As an individual man, I - and many other individual men - have been admitted to possess a few gifts and virtues, but that was on an individual basis, in effect despite the category: male. The virtues we, as individuals, might have been deemed to have were distinct from the category. The category itself was irredeemably worthless, harmful, stupid, feckless, malevolent. Everything else was a void. That is what you, as a member of the category:male had as your starter kit. It was never completely clear whether this was nature or nurture, cultural or genetic, but after so many years it the unavoidable conclusion is that it is genetic. The male gene is the bad gene. All vice was located there: all virtue, all worth, all true heroism was located in the female.
I should make another distinction, quite an obvious one. I have very rarely met a woman who was instinctively hostile to me as a man. It has happened three or four times in my life. Sometimes you could see the hostility itching to get out but on the overwhelming whole I have liked women and they, as individuals, have liked me, sometimes even while speaking against maleness as a category. Individually I have enjoyed three great Freudian comforts: fame (of a minor literary kind), money (well no, never had money but did have a job and luck when it was needed), and the love of women (I have felt it and hope I was not imagining it out of male self-flattery).
Interesting that the love of women should seem to be such an important factor in a man's life. I remember my mother telling me as a young child that I could never love her as much as she loved me. It seemed unfair, an accusation I couldn't possibly answer, but perhaps it was true. It must have seemed true to her, defining love as she might have defined it.
One post isn't going to be enough on this, even as a starting point for something I have no time to finish now and this one is in danger of getting too long. So I will move on to part 2 in the next blog.