July 23, 2008

Is This Manly?

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Why the long face?"

Jokes are over.

OK, Gang, Uncle Bob is feeling a bit philosophical. Not the "meaning of life" kind of stuff. These questions are more immediate and, dare I say, relevant. This post is mainly for men. I'm sure women will read it and chime in with the comments button, too, and that's fine.

Over at The Art of Manliness, questions have been raised about, "Is (activity) manly?" The problem is, the term "manly" means different things to different people. Does an activity make you a better man? Maybe, and maybe not. I'm hoping that the guys at TAOM read this and give some input.

An assumption that can be made is that, if something is not "manly", it is somehow "un-manly". What does that mean, then? That it diminishes your manhood? Careful with that six-gun, Tex, you can shoot yourself in the foot with that assumption.

Worse yet, there's the assumption that if an activity is not "manly", then, by default, it's effeminate. Whoa there, Big Fella! That's a big leap. And an unwarranted assumption. (Yeah, big words. Told you I was philosophical today.) An activity could be considered "not manly" and be just an activity, nothing more.

A question posted at The Art of Manliness was: "Are video games 'manly'"? I don't really care. Does playing them make you a better man, somehow? Not bloody likely. Does playing them make you effeminate? Only if you spend too much time playing some kind of Dress-Up Dolly thing.

I'm making this a two-in-one discussion. First, I pointed out that certain terms mean different things to different people. That should be a given. Now, for something more difficult, yet related.

Is it "manly" to hit a woman? Is it "unmanly"?

My own feeling is that it's dead wrong ninety nine percent of the time. Ever hear the joke, "What do you say to a woman with two black eyes? Nothing! You already told her twice"? Not laughing? Me, neither. Sure, she annoys you. Yes, maybe she hit you, too. When I think about one of my favorite goomahs that is five foot two and thin as a rail, she could do almost anything to me and I'd let her get away with it. If someone raised a hand to her in my presence, he'd pay a big price, I promise you that. If it's someone that you love or care about that is having a tantrum, walk away. In that case, I think that taking it is a manly thing to do.

I was talking to a guy the other day and asked, "What if a woman starts beating you in the face?"

He replied, "I don't care who you are, man or woman, I'll take you down." I've also had women say the same thing.

But what if a woman is powerful enough to inflict harm, and she hits you first? Hey, if your safety is in jeopardy, I feel that all bets are off.

Part of this is because of Neil's problem (related in the previous post). He had someone treating him like crap for years, despite all he'd done for her. When she got physical with him on another occasion, he took it. When she tried again (face punching, that is), he hit back. This dame meant him harm.

Would he be a man for walking away and taking it? Most people would say, "Yes". He felt that he had to take a stand, and put the bully in her place because she would only get worse. (And she's not some tiny, frail thing that happened to have a bad day.) Is he somehow less of a man because he hit her back? (The key word is back. She hit him before, remember, and he took it. She hit him first in this instance, too.)

I don't think so.

But I promise you this, Neil isn't happy with himself, the situation or his actions. He felt it had to be done, but he didn't like it in the least.

Were his actions manly? Unmanly? A different category? I'd like to know what people think. Hit the comments button. You have to hit it first. You have my permission.

Addendum 7-29-2008: AoM seems to have missed some of what I'm trying to say:
"...wants to know what AoM means when they ask if something is manly or not. Really, the purpose of the survey question is to make it as open-ended as possible. Commenters are free to define “manliness” in their own way. (Isn't that pretty much what I said?) I personally envision it to mean, is this item or activity befitting of a grown man...believes that the opposite of manly is effeminate. (He did not read the article closely. I indicated that this is one possible conclusion, but I do not think it is necessarily true)This is not necessarily the case, although it could be. But the opposite of “manly” could just as well be “boyish.” Thus, to say video games are not manly is not to say they are effeminate, but instead to say they are childish."

In addition, he missed the bigger point, that the "manliness" discussion and the video game example was a springboard for a more important question. Those of you who have read this far will already know what that is.

Addendum 12-12-2009: I expanded on this subject here. Trust me, it's worth your time!
Addendum 8-03-2008:
Found out that this post is linked to here. Good reading on the subject of manliness.

July 22, 2008

More Emotional Terrorism

Buona sera. I've been busy. Not only was Lela out and my crew had to do extra work (yes, including yours truly), I've had to spend a lot of time talking to my old friend Neil (and I still wish he was in my crew). In our talks, I've mentioned the control freak and the way she makes Neil's life a living hell. First and foremost, she's a selfish, whiny control freak (see this post). Also, she had a go at Neil, who showed amazing restraint in not ripping her head off (discussed in that post). Neil's drawback is that he's been trying to be a nice guy instead of heading for the hills when he realized that the control freak's mother is an enabler and wants this lazy welfare slob ruining and running her life, and ruining his life, too. This cazzo is physically an adult, for crying out loud! Time to grow the rest of the way up and get a life!

After interrogating Neil for hours (I didn't think I was interrogating him, but he felt that way), I'm going to put this story together. It'll take a while, but it's amazing.

This is set in an apartment. The apartment is small, and the top floor of a two-level house.

Neil had not been having much sleep lately. He'd wake up with his mind racing and being angry at the situation, at his wife, at the adult child -- and at himself. He felt that by giving in and letting this 20-something-going-on-13-year-old ruin their lives, he was giving away his "Man Card" in efforts to live in peace.

But there is no peace with a control freak. Only submission. They're "takers"; this one instantly forgets all the things Neil has done for her over the years.

On Monday morning, his mind and emotions went into overdrive while he was in the shower. He's tried to co-operate with his wife and get along, but the wife's approach had been too coddling to please him. Sure, there was change. But it was for the worse. You can't appease a terrorist.

So, he got himself ready for work and had a plan in mind. Not a good plan, but remember, he had pretty well snapped inside. He knocks loudly on the girl's door at 6.45 AM (she hates waking up before the crack of noon). When she finally opened the door, he told her that she's going to start doing some things around the house, and doing them right. (After all, Neil and his wife work, and work extra, to pay bills that she has run up. Why not let "Miss Sit Around The House And Eat And Watch Television And Poop 46 Times A Day And Talk On The Phone" do something useful?) Naturally, with his rude approach and tone, she tells him...well, I don't want to give this an "adult rating", so I'll just tell you that she was rude and profane, and started to shut the door.

He kicked the door back open and said, "It's either winds of change or fist of rage". Well, naturally, words were exchanged, to say the least. Bitchley shoved Neil, and Neil shoved back. Then, she decided that she needed to punch him in the face.

Well, the last time she did that, he tolerated it. But he also resolved that it would not happen again. So, he hit back. She shoved and hit, and he gave her a helluva running shove back into her room, into some stuff and onto the floor. He was on top of her back and screaming some things he picked up from Kid Rock into her ear, essentially telling her never to touch him again.

The wife is freaking out and blaming Neil for his outburst, even though she has said that she's long been fed up with the baby girl's antics. (The "baby" is that way emotionally. Physically, she's in her 20s, like I said. Five foot six, I think, three hundred pounds or so. So, she wasn't easy to move! She built that girth up over years of doing nothing.) So, everyone's angry at Neil. His wife asks, "Why?" Neil says, "It's been a long time coming. Your way hasn't worked all these years."

But what's he supposed to do? Let her hit him again? He felt that she's a bully, an emotional terrorist, and needed to be stood up to (bad grammar here, I'm wound up too, get over it). He also knows that the police and the courts side with females ninety percent of the time in the USA. When she called the cops, he took anything metal or considered remotely dangerous out of his pockets and only had his identification.

The police came and listened to both sides of the story. Amazingly, Neil didn't have to wear metal bracelets and go to the cop shop like he was expecting. More amazingly, the police suggested that baby adult girl should be evicted, or Neil and his wife move away and leave her there! Yes, she was that credible to them -- they didn't take her very seriously.

Neil called the landlord to fix the window that had been damaged. She had chained the door and wouldn't answer it, so the landlord had to wait for the grown-ups to come home and let him in. Neil offered to pay for damage, but there was nothing that the landlord couldn't handle. And he wasn't angry, either. But no more property damage, please!

That evening, Neil and his wife came home and made plans. His wife's sister and the sister's boyfriend would come over to try to mediate. Sure. Worth a try.

Everyone was waiting. Control Freak finally comes in late (another power move, you see, since she knew it was happening and had agreed to it). Things went reasonably well at first. There were some disagreements, Neil was told where he was wrong and agreed to most of it, but not all. The witch was told that if she wants respect, she needs to give it as well.

She said that she has a knife in her room "for protection". Neil said the had made his point and has no intention of going in there anyway. (Later, he learned that the biggest enabler of them all, Neil's mother-in-law, suggested the knife! What a lame brain! What, she wants the granddaughter to kill Neil, then Neil's wife is a penniless widow and the wicked stepchild is in prison for life. Would that make her happy? Coddling is absurd. Brainless coddling is insane.)

After a while, Herself was caught in some lies and had her story clarified, she got louder and more irrational. The mediators were still doing well. But then, she launched into a tantrum, screamed about Neil, "I hate him!" and stormed out of the building.

In the aftermath, the mediators told Neil and his wife that the girl is hopeless. Also, Neil should watch his back. (The mother had been afraid of the daughter years before, and had hidden all the knives in the house out of fear for her own safety.) Best bet: evict her. She refuses to co-operate, wants to control the entire household, and won't do any giving of her own.

With the wife's anger and resentment (and used to being controlled by the girl and her own parents), well, she's not all that pleasant lately, either. Neil thinks that the marriage is over, or will be soon. Anyone have a place for him to stay?

The lesson of the story? I don't know. Stay away from stronzos? Maybe. I just wanted to share this amazing tale. Tragic, but amazing.

It's a good thing I wasn't dealing with that wicked adult child. I don't pull my punches. I'd be in jail again, and they'd need an ambulance to haul her away. She got off easy, and should be glad that Neil didn't "lose it" completely.

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