Monday, June 20, 2016

A (Belated) Father's Day Reflection

I've never had the patience or the time for today's brand of western feminism. The reasons for this are several; indeed, recent outrages have inspired me to resurrect and update an old multi-part essay I wrote several years ago on the follies of feminism's later incarnations. But to stuff all my thoughts into a tiny little nutshell: I'm not a collectivist, I'm leery of any movement that seeks to use government force to manipulate human society, and - to be even more blunt - I've simply got my priorities straight.

And you know what's even more important? You know what drives me to reject the covert and overt misandry of third-wave feminism more than anything else? I had - and have - a wonderful relationship with the first man I ever met.

Granted, I don't actually remember our initial meeting. All I have are photographs lovingly collected in two old books -- photographs captioned with the same neat hand that recorded the story of my birth. When I was in high school, I tried to imagine what that first day might've been like for this man that I loved, and I wrote a sappy poem about it -- a bit of doggerel that has since been lost (probably fortunately) to the mists of history.

The first man in my life read Scientific American articles to me when I was a wee little Steph. I don't actually remember that part either. I do remember his giving me other books to read on my own as my literacy blossomed and eventually outpaced what was being taught in school. Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke -- I know all of these names now because of him. This man - who let me steal books from his collection and allowed me to run lose in the East Lyme Public Library without a chaperone - made me an incurable, inveterate Reader with a capital R and a lifelong science fiction fan.

The first man in my life was a nuke; consequently, he was often temporarily absent from our lives. That didn't really matter to me though. When he was here, he made that time count. He openly and passionately loved the woman who bore me, teaching me through example what St. Paul means when he enjoins husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. In fact, even today, this man treats my mother as if she personally hung the moon and would do anything to make her happy. Once, on a YouTube podcast, a commentator remarked half in jest that if it were announced that women everywhere prefer men to walk on their hands, acrobats and gymnasts would make a solid living as hand-walking instructors. When I think of the very first man I ever met, I know at once that this is both funny and 100% true.

With us kids, the first man in my life was a trickster who subtly undermined our lessons in manners by blowing straw wrappers in our faces in family restaurants, cracking jokes at seemingly inappropriate times, and giving us pointers on how to spit phlegm out the window of a moving car without getting back-splash. His antics would often mortify Mom, but when all was said and done, I think they also taught both Matt and me the importance of balance. Sometimes you have to be serious, and sometimes it's okay to just let your hair down and be silly. I can't be too sure, but I suspect my appreciation for weird tourist attractions and hilariously wrong doodads comes from this particular man's joie de vivre.

Today, the first man in my life is getting on in years, and a mild stroke has imposed upon him a new fragility. But in all the ways that matter, he is still the same man I fell in love with as a girl -- and I hope with all my heart that God does not welcome him home for many years yet.

Dad -- I love you, and I am both proud and grateful to be your daughter. The vision of manhood you embodied in your very being and actions seems to have inured me to one of the worst ideological mistakes of our age.

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