It’s the time of year when we work that “Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men” stuff pretty hard. A nice gesture, perhaps, but I really don’t think we can achieve that first goal so long as “men” are part of the equation.
To elaborate, I cut someone off on the freeway the other day. An unintentional act, as I was moving over to allow merging traffic in and didn’t check my blind spot. Totally my bad. Understandably, there was honking and frantic hand gesturing from the wronged driver. But it didn’t end there.
He pulled alongside at the first opportunity and flipped me off. Not the most original response, but something I myself most likely would have done in the same situation. He was also hurling epithets, the gist of which I was able to grasp even though I couldn’t hear him through the rolled up window. A request that I have intimate relations with myself, while calling out my resemblance to the discharge end of my digestive tract, mostly.
I tried to convey the fact that I was an idiot, putting my hands up in conciliatory fashion and mouthing “sorry,” but this only seemed to enrage him more. He edged his car closer to mine, then pulled ahead, cut in front of me and stepped on the brake, a move which nearly caused me to smash into his ‘Coexist’ bumper sticker. When I changed lanes to give him a little space, he did it again. We played this game for several miles before I got to my exit.
Nor could I claim the moral high ground. Despite being clearly at fault, there came a fleeting moment during the dust-up when I considered forcing my adversary off the road, jerking him out of his car through the sunroof and pounding him senseless by way of an apology. That John Lennon’s Imagine was playing on the car radio the entire time seemed oddly appropriate.
Acute phallic psychosis, better known as Toxic Masculinity, is more than just a ‘guy thing’ – it’s unhinged behavior that has been tolerated for far too long. Millennia, in fact. We just can’t shake all that “hunter-gatherer” crap, even though we’ve been out of the caves for a good fifty-thousand years. Somewhere in the ancient, uncharted folds of our gray matter, we’re still squatting around the tribal fire, scrapping for our share of Mastodon filet. Which goes a long way toward explaining our fascination with watching large, loud people pummel one another with folding chairs.
Remember when Rodney King asked, “Can’t we all just get along?” Well, apparently we can not. Not as long as men run the show, anyway. Getting along is not something we’re all that good at. We don’t go in much for talking about our feelings or empathizing with others. It’s much easier to simply lock and load.
Statistically speaking, men are 3 times more likely than women to be involved in a fatal traffic accident and about 15 times more likely to abuse a spouse. And when it comes to initiating a global conflict or leaving the toilet seat up, it’s a guy every time. Which begs the question, why are we still in charge? We should all be sedated and kept locked away in pods for the good of society, like in The Matrix. So long as we’re getting NFL Game Day in there you could be harvesting our organs and we wouldn’t care.
Aggressive behavior had a certain place in our evolution, but there is very little call these days for crushing someone’s skull over a swatch of saber-tooth tiger hide. Testosterone is a cruel mistress, I’ll grant you, but times have changed and we need to change with them or be replaced by a newer model. One that doesn’t thump its chest while shouting things like “Who’s your daddy?” or “You want some of this?”
Peace on Earth? That’s probably best left to the women-folk. Maybe New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who gave a Master’s course in COVID Crisis Management, or Angela Merkle, who’s handled Leader of the Free World duties with aplomb these last four years. If the guys just stick to what they’re good at – opening jars and killing bugs – perhaps we’ll all have a happy holiday.