“Women have very little idea how much men hate them.” — Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch
Back in the mid-1970s, when I was an undergraduate at North Carolina State University, Germaine Greer, author of The Female Eunuch and militant feminist, came to our campus to speak. During her speech, she relentlessly disparaged all men, asserting that every one of them wanted to rape women, but that most had not yet acted on that impulse.
When Greer opened up the floor to questions, I stood up and informed her that my father was not a rapist either in thought or deed and that I found her assertion that he was deeply offensive.
“You obviously do not know who your father really is,” she responded.
“And you do not know my father at all,” I shot back.
She looked at me for a moment and then called on someone else, not bothering to acknowledge my comment or to engage in any discussion with a person who disagreed with her. So much for a vigorous exchange of ideas.
Fast-forward forty-odd years, and the spirit of Germaine Greer is alive and well, not just on college campuses, but in the halls of power in the elected officials who have the political and legislative clout to act on their man-hating impulses.
Recently, Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, uttered one of the most outrageous and prejudiced statements I have ever heard from a public official. Responding to allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while they were in high school, Senator Hirono shared her own thoughts about this situation: “Guess who’s perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It’s the men in this country.”
And then she offered this nugget of wisdom: “And I just want to say to the men in this country, just shut up and step up! Do the right thing for a change.”
Can you imagine the blowback that would have followed if someone had issued a blanket condemnation like that based on race or ethnicity instead of gender?
I think Senator Hirono needs a reminder of some of the things the men in our country have been doing when they haven’t been busy raping and pillaging.
Let’s look at some of the achievements of men who did “step up.” Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence; James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton penned The Federalist Papers; the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution (with Madison adding that little part called the Bill of Rights); and Abraham Lincoln crafted the Emancipation Proclamation. Not bad for a bunch of sexist ne’er do wells.
As for Hirono’s suggestion that the men in our country “just shut up,” think of some of our most significant historical moments when men didn’t shut up, but delivered inspiring speeches. Think of Patrick Henry’s impassioned cry, “Give me liberty or give me death,” as he and fellow Virginians prepared to revolt against the British. Think of Lincoln’s eloquence as he delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of a cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, or the soaring rhetoric of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech which King gave during a civil rights march in Washington, D.C. in 1963.
Three men. Three powerful orators who helped to define pivotal moments in our nation’s history.
And what about Hirono’s suggestion that men do “the right thing for a change”? Throughout our history, hundreds of thousands of American men have done what they thought was “the right thing” by sacrificing their lives in the service of their country, including nearly 360,000 who died fighting to end slavery and approximately 416,000 who died in World War II fighting against Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan in their quest for world domination. If dying to secure or preserve freedom for others isn’t “the right thing,” I don’t know what is.
Perhaps Senator Hirono could offer us a better example of what “the right thing” is.
If the Germaine Greers and Mazie Hironos of the world hate men so much, perhaps they should remove from their lives everything that men have invented, discovered, or built during the course of human history. They could start with the wheel, and then they could move on to things like dams, agriculture, roads, systems of weights and measures, boats, navigation, cartography, democracy, mathematics, science, the printing press, the free enterprise system, microscopes, electricity, the radio, the telephone, television, antibiotics, the smallpox vaccine, the polio vaccine, trains, automobiles, airplanes, rockets, organ transplants, computers, and the Internet (I could go on, but you get my point).
So, how do you think life would be for these women without these nifty little inventions? Sure, they would have no indoor plumbing, no means of transportation other than walking, and no modern medicine, but they would still have their principles, including their certainty that all men are either bumbling nitwits who need to shut up, or sexual miscreants, or both.
In other words, if only men were women and not men, they would be just about perfect.
Mary Zahran is a writer who lives in Fayetteville. She is currently astonished to find herself living in such interesting times.