Recently Floyd Mayweather publicly broadcast his sadness that his ex-fiancé had aborted his unborn twins. While I know little of the back-and-forth gossip going on here, my heart broke for this man. There was something about a man whom I only knew as a boxer, speaking out in defense of his children, that got to me. Was it personal business? Yes. Was airing it in public not the best option? Probably true. Is it right not to involve a man in a decision like this? No.
A boxer standing in opposition to “killing babies” is an apt metaphor. Men, while capable of brutish violence, channel that effort best into protection of others. Men at their most heroic save lives, fight wars, die for their country, or even patiently smile through tea parties with their daughters. The boy inside the man has always wanted to do right. That is, until women told them that they don’t need their help, their opinion, their love, their care, or protection. From “don’t hold that door” to “don’t think you deserve to be a part of your child’s life,” the message is clear. Go away.
Women lament very often that men have changed, wondering, “Where have all the good men gone?” They falsely attribute it to women outpacing men in education or moving into the workplace. Notice, despite a long period of economic success by men, there never once was a movement to tell women they weren’t needed. Even when they joke, men realize they know better.
Lloyd Dobler: I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at like the Gas ‘n’ Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?
Joe: By choice, man.
That’s from Cameron Crowe’s 1989 romantic comedy “Say Anything.” John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler didn’t believe that his interest in “smart girl” Diane had any negative impact on his ambitions. This isn’t an anomaly for men. Take an early American example such as Abigail Adams who, while technically a “homemaker,” ran an entire farm not a carpool. Cooperation, mutual admiration and the resulting benefits are the hallmarks of the best male female partnerships. Moreover, who was engaged in the classically “manly” activity here? John Adams, who wore pretty wigs while spending a lot of time getting in cat fights with Thomas Jefferson, or Abigail, running the farm? No, good men aren’t going away because women “work.” Women have always worked. Men, however, are listening.
The good men are going away, because women tell them they aren’t needed. In fighting for “equal rights,” women forgot about the huge reservoir of power they’ve always had. Spending time shaming men who want to protect the life of unborn children is telling them to value neither women nor their children. To later lament that men have stopped stepping up only when it’s convenient for women is to ignore their complicity in developing a society that has told men to sit down and shut up. Whether men are supposed to “check their privilege” or nod their heads along to the daft idea of defying gender norms because “shut up” or remain silent when their own child is threatened, eviscerating their honor and protective instincts is leaving men rudderless and without ambition.
Men crave a protective role in women’s life. They want to be seen by a woman like they saw themselves as a boy: a protector, a savior, a hero. Women who refuse to cede this space to a man are doing so out of fear not confidence. Relationships are not a zero-sum game or reductive job description waiting for the perfect applicant. Even in this latest dust up over the confidence gap, it’s shown that it’s women who downgrade themselves — not men. Maybe it’s not just men listening when women are told to discount their power to bring life into the world, to consider it a hindrance, a weakness or source of shame warranting a violent act to remediate.
It’s been such a frequent rejoinder in abortion politics to demand “choice” that people have ignored what that message of choice means to a man. Men were told to treat sex as transactional, inconsequential, and, worse, to step back from its natural consequences. Women get angry when they see any man dare say he is pro-life. It’s a strange thing to shame a man for seeing a little baby and thinking it deserves protection. Even more dissonant is the woman who can’t recognize this viewpoint isn’t to dominate her, but recognition and respect for the power women uniquely have.
You will never, ever see a man admire a woman more than the day he meets the child they made together. He’ll be humbled and awed all in one shot. Grant him that space to honor and protect life.
Men today are being told to not be heroes, but they all start out wanting to be. An 8-year-old boy this past week died defending his older sister from an attacker. He didn’t run or stand down. He did what men all start out wanting to do: protect life. Next time you find yourself asking “Where have all the good men gone?”, it might be time to remember what makes a good man.