“Honey, I’ve got one bit of advice for you: marry a guy who can fix things.”
This I said to one of my darling daughters recently, as we watched her dad painstakingly repairing a bed frame which had fallen apart. With plyers, wood glue, and a handful of screws, he turned a pile of bent and broken wood-look product back into a queen-sized bed that could be used at college, rather than relegated to the town dump.
My husband, like my dad, is an old-school “fix-it” guy. He can change his own oil, chop wood for our fireplace, replace faucets, trouble-shoot car problems, wire up any kind of TV or stereo system you want, and even solve most computer problems (with a reasonable allowance for unpleasant language). He recently replaced our hot water heater under serious time pressure when it blew out, spraying water like a fire hose into our guest bedroom, while we were packing for a cross-country plane trip that same afternoon. Then, when we were on the trip and our rental car broke down, he took care of that, too—using zip ties to shore up an undercarriage that was dragging the ground. MacGyver would have been proud.
I know I sound old-fashioned as hell, virtually anachronistic, when I say I admire these characteristics in my spouse and find them attractive. Yes, attractive. There, I said it. I do not find masculinity toxic, as seems to be the fashion these days. There’s something to be said for a little grease under the fingernails, a hairstyle that doesn’t require “product,” and knowing which end of the hammer strikes the nail. In fact, I’m concerned about the dying art of manliness. How many young men today can change a tire without calling the AAA? How many can grill a decent steak—I mean, outside, over coals, without George Foreman involved? Could these young fellas survive even one night out in the woods without a smartphone and a cable-ready RV?
Well, can you do those things, Maria?
Yeah, I can hear the mocking questions now. Could I perform any of the aforementioned macho activities? Heck no. I’m a girl and darn proud of it. That’s why I married the poor slob; so he could handle all that stuff for me. And I do girl stuff for him in return; shoot, just last week, I sewed a button back on one of his golf shirts. Yay me.
Understand, I am not saying all men have to be ultra-masculine testo-beasts, or that all women have to be cookin’ and cleanin’ fools. Do what you like, do what suits your personality and lifestyle, but don’t marginalize those who are comfortable in traditional gender roles. And stop bending over backwards to push a role-reversal agenda that’s not natural for the majority, in deference to those who choose a different path.
And before you argue that our gender roles are not natural, but rather, a product of enforced norms, sorry, but science proves you wrong. Even primate babies prefer traditional gender-specific toys when given a free choice; male monkeys like trucks better, and the females prefer dolls. And of course, there’s loads of research showing that environmental chemical contamination is responsible for a lot of the current gender-bending, at least in the animal kingdom (I won’t even bother to cite that remark, since a simple Google search will flood your screen with reading material on that topic).
Am I trying to insult the “gender-fluid” culture here? No, I’m not. I’m simply saying that I’m tired of having this politically correct crap shoved down my throat every day. Most humans fit pretty easily into traditional gender roles. Sure, some guys like to cook and are really good at it, but they’re still very masculine men. Some girls are total jocks, but also love to dress up, wear make-up, and curl their hair (my daughters). Some women have well-developed careers in traditionally male STEM fields, but still choose to stay at home and raise their kids (me, with hat tip to James Damore). There are no societal barriers to any of us living our lives as we choose nowadays. We don’t need schools and movies and books and kids’ television shows constantly pounding us with the message that “girls can do boy things” and “boys can do girl things.” Everybody knows that already!
So sorry, but I’m not buying what they’re selling. Masculinity is decidedly non-toxic. It’s normal and healthy for about half the population. My husband loves his chain saw, his John Deere riding mower, and his 1990 red Ford pick-up, and I find that all rather sexy. (Plus, it keeps him out of my hair when I’m trying to work on my books.) Hopefully, he finds my version of femininity equally attractive. Which reminds me, gotta run to my wifely duty for the day: time to pick up dinner at Taco Bell.