Thursday, December 26, 2013

An Intellectual Who Can't Fix Things . . .

Mr. Un-Fixit
Fast and Loose with Facts
The Gang of Four

Like too many intellectuals, I don't know how to fix things. Unlike many intellectuals, though, I have done a lot of manual labor. Unfortunately, it was all the unskilled kind. The heavy lifting sort of work that builds muscles but doesn't exercise the brain. I'm glad I don't have to do that sort of work for a living, but I do wish I'd learned about things like plumbing, wiring, carpentry, and the like. I admire men who can do those things. I should add that I admire women who do those things, too. But building and repairing things seems to be mainly a man's world.

That brings me to a fact that I'd never really reflected on before -- and here, in reflecting, is where being an intellectual comes in handy -- but it seems to me that much feminist literature focuses almost entirely upon the dreadful ways in which women's choices have been limited by patriarchy, which apparently lurks everywhere, but says little on the ways in which women's lives have been made easier by the modern world constructed primarily by men. There ought therefore to be some balance in the feminist assessment of men. Yes, there has been patriarchy, but let's think outside of that box for a bit. I was brought to these thoughts by two bloggers I read every day: Malcolm Pollack and Bill Vallicella. Malcolm had noticed some thoughtless musings of Maureen Dowd in a debate:
So now that women don't need men to reproduce and refinance, the question is, will we keep you around? And the answer is, 'You know we need you in the way we need ice cream -- you'll be more ornamental.'
Malcolm didn't much like that coquettish condescension, so he linked to someone who didn't like it a whole lot more, Mr. Fred Reed, who really pushes men's accomplishments in Ms. Dowd's face:
Listen, Corn Flower. Let's think over this business of obsolete men. Reflect. You live in New York, in which every building was designed and built by men. You perhaps use the subway, designed, built, and maintained by men. You travel in a car, invented, designed, and built by men -- a vehicle that you don't understand (what is a cam lobe?) and couldn't maintain (have you ever changed a tire? Could you even find the tires?), and you do this on roads designed, built, and maintained by men. You fly in aircraft designed, built, and maintained by men, which you do not understand (what, Moon Pie, is a high-bypass turbofan?)

In short, as you run from convention to convention, peeing on hydrants, you depend utterly on men to keep you fed (via tractors designed by men, guided by GPS invented, designed, and launched by men, on farms run by men), and comfy (air conditioning invented . . . but need I repeat myself?)
And the list goes on and on and on, though I think he ought to have left out "peeing on hydrants" (and, anyway, isn't that sort of peeing done exclusively by male dogs). Interestingly, another feminist at the same debate where Ms. Dowd mused about the uselessness of men, Camille Paglia -- hat tip to Bill -- spoke her contrarian mind:
[M]en are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible. It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments. It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall.

Every day along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, one can watch the passage of vast oil tankers and towering cargo ships arriving from all over the world. These stately colossi are loaded, steered and off-loaded by men. The modern economy, with its vast production and distribution network, is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role -- but women were not its author. Surely, modern women are strong enough now to give credit where credit is due!
Damn, that almost makes me proud to be a man . . . except that I don't know how to fix things. But I do see that I have a responsibility to point out the role played by men in our modern world whenever men are denigrated solely as useless oppressors.

Not that I intend to be heavy-handed about it . . .

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At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Brendan said...

Jesus was a man, and also Moses and Abraham and so on for the other Hebrew prophets. The Apostles were men. Buddha and Lao-Tse were men, and Confucius. Krisha and Rama were men, and also Shankaracharya and Abhinavagupta. Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Plotinus and Proclus were men. Muhammad was a man and so was the Emir Abd el-Kader. Meister Eckhart, St. Francis and St. Bernard were men, and also St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure. No men equals no women, just as no women equals no men--at least since the creation of Eve.

Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Noadiah,and Isaiah's wife were women. St. Catherine of Siena was a woman, and so was St. Joan of Arc, and Hildegard of Bingen. Hypatia was a woman. Radha and Sita were women. And above all the Blessed Virgin was a woman. , Sacred wisdom, Sanctity, and true heroism count above all in human beings in the eyes of God.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Brendan. I think that Dowd's point was a bio-engineering one in which women wouldn't need men.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fixing stuff is easy Jeff, you just need some stuff in your toolkit.

Duct-tape and a hammer should set you up fairly handily.

If something's supposed to move but it doesn't - use the hammer. If something's not supposed to move but it does - that calls out for duct-tape.

Hammers are useful for clogged pipes & duct-tape for leaky pipes.

For the occasional electrical problem hammer nor duct-tape will really do - for that you'll need a license.


At 6:18 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I've used hammer and tape, so I reckon I have occasionally fixed things after all!

Jeffery Hodges

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