Thoughts from the ammo line

Father’s Day approaches and Ammo Grrrll is AGAIN WITH THE DADDIES. She writes:

Sunday is Father’s Day. In a rush of “premature congratulation,” let me express my profound gratitude to every man I know personally or virtually, who devoted 20, 30, 40 years of his life helping to raise smart, independent-thinking, God-fearing children. They will grow into, or have grown into, law-abiding, tax-paying Americans. And most importantly, young working adults who will continue to pay my Social Security.

There are men I know, even in my own extended family, who did not just “help” raise children, but did it virtually alone. We have nothing but plaudits for the Single Mother, and certainly I have known several who earned every bit of that respect. But the Single Father is generally unsung and at least as deserving of the same Hero status.

However, the Single Father should not feel singled out for disrespect. For the entire male sex has been undervalued and over-vilified for nigh unto half a century now. With what I consider predictably catastrophic results for society.

Unless, of course, we are talking about a male who pretends to be a female collecting honors beating the tar out of biologically female swimmers, bikers, or weightlifters, or another scrawny man raking in millions celebrating his first year as a grotesque parody of a woman with his ridiculous mug on a can of beer nobody will buy. THOSE “men” are acceptable and celebrated.

When I was a kid, at least in my small town (c. 6,000), there WERE no single mothers. Of all my classmates, one shy boy named George had a widowed mother. He had no memory of his father and, to my knowledge, his mother never remarried. Another friend’s mother had BEEN divorced, but it was before any children were born. Now she was married to her second husband, who was the father of her three kids, including my pal.

Everybody else was Noah’s Ark all the way – two by two. As a kid observing from the outside, I found some of these Daddies (almost to a man, returning WW2 vets) scary or “sweary,” but they were definitely MEN and in charge.

Playing outside till you couldn’t see the ball anymore, when Mom called – even when she used your middle name – you could play one more inning without too much fear. But when Daddy whistled once, OH BOY, “See ya tomorrow, guys.”

Oddly enough, single fathers did exist in T.V. Land, most prominently Ben Cartwright, who lost not one, not two, but THREE wives after each had produced a son. Luckily, he was rich as Croesus and had household help in the form of a Chinese family retainer named Hop Sing. Sadly, the sons did not fare any better in the long-term lady department. It got to the point that every time one of them fell in love with a girl, even 12-year-old girls watching at home yelled, “RUN! You’re going to die!” at the television set. At least this one did.

Fred MacMurray was kind of an updated Ben Cartwright. He starred in the popular sitcom My Three Sons. Again with the three boys, although they were kids, not adults. Again with the male helper, “Bub” played by William Frawley. I do not remember how “Steve” the MacMurray father character came to be alone, but in the ’50s and early ’60s, it pretty much had to be death and not D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

More typical were Ozzie and Harriet, Make Room for Daddy, Leave It To Beaver, and (gasp!) Father Knows Best! I was so envious of the great nicknames that Betty and Kathy had – “Princess” and “Kitten” – when mine evidently was “Settle Down!” (Emotionally at least, if I had been a dog, I would have been a Jack Russell…)

There was also a sitcom called My Little Margie which revolved around a “headstrong” young daughter trying to protect her widowed father from a bevy of women she thought were just gold diggers after his money. We were never really fans. It was a bit too weird and just a little creepy, frankly. Oh, Margie never misplaced a diary saying she had showered with her father, but there was something vaguely off-putting about the relationship.

Fathers gave advice and sometimes had to enforce “discipline” (look it up…, lefties), and most of them worked, although in some sitcoms, it was hard to tell at what, exactly. They certainly didn’t put in the hours that a farmer, miner, truck driver, steel worker or small business owner did, but okay, it’s just a story. I have no idea what Ozzie did, for example.

And then somewhere – if anyone could pinpoint the moment it would be helpful – children went from things that should be “seen and not heard” to sitcoms and commercials where every smart-mouthed kid was smarter than his father and disrespectful with no consequences! What kind of bizarro world was THIS? I remember once the terrible child actor called “Rusty” in Make Room for Daddy stomped off in the middle of a talking-to by his Dad and slammed the door to his bedroom! And I recall thinking: “I had NO idea THAT was an option!”

All In The Family came along in the ’70s, and was an enormously successful sitcom. It featured a thoroughly repulsive son-in-law living with and off his father-in-law and was still just a pain in his neck. Archie, of course, was portrayed as a hopeless bigot. Archie therefore deserved to be dissed by the shiftless squatter in his home. To my recollection, Meathead never expressed the slightest gratitude or respect. You never saw him setting the table for Edith, for example. Joe and I watched the show as everyone did and we undoubtedly laughed at some lines, but even though we leaned left at the time, we couldn’t stand Meathead and his attitudes toward the beleaguered working shmo who opened his home to him.

At about the same time, ALL men of any color must have guzzled the same Stupidity-Flavored Kool-Aid because suddenly in commercials and shows only WIVES or children were smart. They rolled their eyes at Dad the Moron! (I would STILL be grounded if I had ever rolled my eyes at Daddy…it would have been part of his Last Will & Testament.) I vividly remember one commercial for laxatives in which the black wife tells the druggist all about her husband’s predicament while he stands there looking like an embarrassed, constipated idiot.

And something that insidious can only metastasize. So we currently have a Smartness Hierarchy: Smart: kids, all women, people of color, gay men (unless a gay white man is arguing with a gay black man). Stupid: all straight white men, especially husbands, and white people in general. If anyone is using the “wrong” deodorant or driving an uncool car, or has chosen an ineffective cold medicine – he is never, never, never black or female (unless, as I said earlier, a white woman in COMPARISON to a black woman is using the wrong floor mop.) Watch just one commercial break – it is startling. (Identifiable Jews and most Asians simply do not exist in television, probably because it would strain credulity to portray them as stupid.)

And so we have had a 60-year War On Men and Boys, on Masculinity itself. Sometimes it is a pretty overt war (refusing to hold the scientific awards program if only white men have been nominated) and sometimes it’s just a tedious War of Attrition, but war it is. And I am sick of it. I resent it deeply. The feminist harpies who attack men as a sex, calling them “toxic,” are talking about MY smart, kind husband who has more integrity in his little finger than most of them have in their whole sizable bodies; MY smart, kind son; MY late father who, though not perfect, did a heckuva job considering he had just turned 21 when I was born — and he loved me hugely. The anti-male bigotry extends to MY dearest friends and confidantes, at LEAST half of whom are men.

¡Ya basta! Enough, already. So, fellas, Happy Father’s Day, we lucky ladies who love and need you, we righteous women who voted against Hillary, have got your back!

So “don’t go changin’” to try and please the hateful, jealous hags who diss you. If ever there was a time that this country needed strong men – menschen — it is now. Hang tough!

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