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.