When my brother and I were little my brother was given one of those toys that safety regulations have relegated to the Antiques Shows of history: a splendid set of carpenters' tools - real tools, only in 1:2 scale - in a wood case. Among the tools included were a real hammer, chisel and a small wood saw. (In case you're wondering, we thrived and our fingers and toes remained intact, thank you). We used to live in a house with a front porch, and a few steps bordered by a ledge where Mom planted some flowers, that faced the front lawn.
One day I was playing in the front yard while my brother, who at the time was not old enough to go to school yet, was sawing a small wood board with his new saw. All of a sudden I tripped, fell down, and busted my upper lip and scraped my face and arm on the ledge. My brother witnessed the whole thing. He got my mom, who immediately got me in the house and summoned iodine, band-aids, ice pack, and comfort. After I stopped crying my mother heard a banging noise coming from the porch. Alarmed (the tool set wasn't exactly her idea), she ran to the porch and found my brother banging the ledge with his hammer.
She asked him, "Why are you doing that?"
and he replied, "Because it hurt my sister."
I remembered that incident yesterday when I read The Anchoress' post ;Affection for the protector lads and He-men
in thinking about this 25 year old picture, and men in general, I realized we don’t think of men as "protectors" any more
Men like my brother are born protectors.
Much of pop culture causes him to get aggrivated, these days, but nothing does so more than the way men are served up to the national psyche by Madison Avenue.
Anyone who's read a story knows that adversary relationships further the plot, and that sex sells. That's why we're still paying good money to go to Shakespeare comedies like Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, whose plots go like:
Hardly surprising, then, that Madison Avenue and everyone flogging a script injects the first two every time they get a chance. Not being Shakespeare, they tend to omit the third, the result being that we, the public, are bombarded with small (ads) and big (movies, plays, soaps) stories portraying relations between men and women as inherently adversarial.
The 'women are inherently better than men' meme gets a lot of mileage because/from that. In either case, the message is that men are wrong in being what they can not help but be: being men.
The Anchoress remarks,
It’s a shame that our society seems interested only in the softer, more feminine sides of a man, or in making a man into a buffoon.
As I was saying the other day, men are not hirsute women with different plumbing. Additionally, men are not bufoons and will resent you and avoid you if that's what you believe.
Men want to protect women.
Be glad they do.
The Anchoress, whose two sons are definitely protectors, says,
As capable as I am, I am happy to know that I am under their protection, and their father’s.
Amen to that.
My brother and I by the guilty ledge.