Traditional Men Via Men Who Wouldn’t Fare Well

One thing that kind of still nags at me about Professional Busybody David Fowler is that his organization is all about “real” family values–basically male-lead married Christian households arranged out of a mixture of love and duty. Here’s what I don’t get. And I’m not trying to be snarky. I genuinely don’t get it. If I were a father and my daughter came home and said “Daddy, I think David Fowler’s going to ask me to marry him.” and I bought into this family values crap, I couldn’t give my blessing to that marriage. When Fowler came to ask me for my daughter’s hand, I’d have to tell him no.

Now, I admit, there may be some cultural differences which need to be accounted for, but hell, even in a fully realized Christian theocratic patriarchy, there’d be some cultural differences. But here’s the thing. If I were a Christian head-of-householder patriarch, my definitions of manly behavior–of behavior fitting of the person who I was handing my beloved daughter over to and saying, yes, submit to him–would not include gossiping or sneaking around, even in furtherance of causes I believed in. I would take someone sneaking around and sticking his nose into other people’s business as a sign of weakness. Depending on the kind of patriarch I might be, and let’s assume I’d be pretty hardcore, I’d see it as womanly.

A man who can’t face the people he disagrees with and who is constantly in his neighbors’ business would, to me, read at the least as someone who is not yet mature enough to have a wife. And maybe someone who’s not spending enough time in manly pursuits.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this, probably more than in healthy, but I don’t think I’m wrong. I think that most of the men who sit around and push for a “return” to a time when men were men would not actually fair that well. They wouldn’t read as “manly.” Maybe with Trace Adkins as the exception.

Otherwise, if you are indeed secure in yourself and what you need to be happy in the world, you make the arrangements you need to make with your loved ones and you get on with it. If you want to be the head of your household, you make sure any potential spouses know that and you find someone who’s like “Yeah, that’s what I want in a spouse, too.” If you want an egalitarian household where you switch who even gets called the husband every other week, find, search that out. Whatever. It’s all good.

I believe we are going through a real upheaval in what it means to be a man, and I don’t envy men who find their ideas about what being a man means challenged not only from all sides, but internally, from what they want for their sons.

But I don’t know if it’s just that I have really cool friends–I do, of course–or what, but I don’t really know anyone who’s like “You must do and be this certain way, B., for the sake of my manhood.” Not literally, not even metaphorically. Whatever upheavals they’re feeling, it doesn’t require me to pretend to be smaller or weaker or needier than I am for their benefit.

And, color me silly, but I find that really manly (heck, I find it a nice trait in everyone)–to be strong enough in yourself to let me be strong enough in mine.

I just don’t experience how David Fowler goes through the world as being very secure or as him being very strong. And I feel like I can’t be alone in noticing this, so I’m still baffled as to how he has so much power in this state. Can it really be the specter of He-Man Jesus which skulks behind David Fowler giving him an aura of masculinity he otherwise wouldn’t have?

But again, if Fowler got his way and everyone was a good Christian according to his definition, that threat would be gone. No one would think Fowler had some inside track on what Jesus wants, because everyone would be on the same track.

I don’t know. The whole thing is weird.

And I wonder if I just have kind of sexist notions of what manliness is that I’m unfairly projecting onto that asshat. But I don’t think so. I think that, if your whole public shtick is about returning Tennessee, if not the nation, to a time when men ruled, you’d better demonstrate traits that would make people think it was a good idea for men like you to be in charge.

And I’m just not seeing it. Even if I were a Christianist asshole, I’d find him off-putting (though for different reasons). He’s just a terrible advertisement for the way of life he’s advocating.

Southern Festival of Books, The Sequel

So, another exciting thing that happened Tuesday is that I got invited back to the Southern Festival of Books to read again from A City of Ghosts.

Come see me, if you want! Sunday, October… um 17th, I think, at 1:30 on the Chapter 16 stage. I’ll also be there all afternoon on Saturday for my job job, so feel free to come by and see me then, too.

People Who Should Consider Therapy

1. Stacey Campfield. Vvixen has nice analysis of his problems understanding that women don’t just come in two flavors. In good news for Campfield, though, I would say if he doesn’t think you can’t find “virgins” in a whorehouse, he’s so obviously never been to a whorehouse. Still sitting down with someone and explaining that you sort the world into “acceptable” and “unacceptable” women and then use your political power to knowingly punish “unacceptable” women and have been told that your behavior punishes “acceptable” women would probably be good for the Senator.

2. David Fowler. Bless his heart! David Fowler actually is a member of a not-so-secret conspiracy to hurt gay people and yet, he is afraid of gay people secretly plotting against him. This is the greatest plot ever, though.

The former lawmaker speculated that BlueCross’ move may stem from what he says was a backlash from national gay organizations this spring after the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed a Fowler-generated bill that banned cities from enacting ordinances banning anti-gay discrimination by local government-contractors.

Yes, because BlueCross’s decision to not discriminate against gay people is evidence of gay people plotting against Fowler who does actually plot against gay people! Seriously, the fact that Fowler can claim to have an invisible cabal of enemies working to influence insurance companies to annoy him and people still put him in the papers is not good for Fowler’s mental health. If I started ranting on Pith about how a secret cabal of Elvis impersonators was unduly influencing BlueCross in order to hurt me, I’d hope someone would tell me it was time to work things out with a shrink. Someone needs to do the same for Fowler.

Tennessee is Always Looking for Ways to Kill You

Finally, the dog and I got up to walk again. I figure, we’re too old to walk in tropical storms, but that put a damper on our walking until today. I wasn’t even half way to the big tree in the AT&T yard when I felt my chest tightening. I thought, well, fuck, this is it. Life is going to kick my Midwestern ass by killing me right after my happiest writing moment.

But then I realized it was only on the right side and I coughed and up came this big goober of pollen and snot and yuck.

Fine, Tennessee, I get it. The heat didn’t get us so you’re coming after us with pollen.

I swear, though, that I can feel where they went in to take that lymph node out, sometimes. Is that weird? Especially when I’ve been coughing a lot or sitting too long in one place. It doesn’t hurt, exactly, but I feel like I can feel the scar tissue, just a little line of… something… almost stiffness.

Ha, lord, it’s probably some vein in there calcifying and I’m too stupid to realize.

I’m embarrassed to even be sharing this with you, but I think some of you who aren’t from the Midwest may not fully appreciate how ingrained the whole notion of “your good things will somehow be taken away from you” is, and I want you to get it. Here I am, in full awareness of how the dynamic works, also fully aware that I have terrible allergies and that I’m always coughing and sniffiling and sneezing this time of year, and yet, as I’m exerting myself no more than I do almost every single day, I am convinced that I am going to be struck down by a heart attack in the middle of a yard. That, Midwest, is some impressive conditioning.

It’s also kind of funny and sad, if you think about it.

Anyway, the Butcher and I watched the most recent episode of True Blood last night. It’s a bad sign when you can wait until Wednesday for previously unmissable TV. And is it just me or did that episode suck? (No pun intended.) None of the vampires seemed really to be acting like themselves. And it seemed like Jesus’s transformation wasn’t really given enough space. It didn’t seem that scary to me. Though that dude is a hell of an actor. And the dud who plays Lafayette. I feel like I can tell a difference, just in his eyes, between “I am me, a dude” and “I am a woman.”

But I was most startled by the random appearance of another black chick in the witch shop. Up until now, in this fictional Louisiana, which is somehow more racially akin to Montana, there has only been one family of black people–Tara’s. But now? Now some other random chick just shows up? I think it just goes to show you how fucked True Blood is about race when, in a story set in Louisiana, you notice the one black chick in the background who you don’t know.

But it did help me decide that, in Sue Allen’s case, the way to handle the racism is not to foreground it, but to make it just a given, to just show that she makes some decisions that, from our perspective, are obviously incredibly stupid based on her belief that she can put more trust in her white social peers than she can her black fellow Nashvillians. And leave it at that.