Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Men – What Are They Good For?

According to some women, not much!

Pat has been providing me with a bunch of books, especially lately, that he seems to think might inspire me in my sailing endeavors. One of the major sub-genres seems to be “Women Sailing Around the World Without Men” – which includes such writers as Tanya Aebi, Dawn Riley, and most recently, Pat Henry’s By the Grace of the Sea.

An underlying subtext of many of these books is the question, “Who needs men?” This seems especially true in Henry’s book; I have read only about a third of it so far, but the recurring theme seems to be that she, and just about every other woman she knows, is much better off without men. Her family seems to consist of a line of women who continue to have disastrous relationships – her grandmother, her mother, herself, her sister, her daughters. Even on her round-the-world journey, when she meets a man, the results aren’t pretty. Given her experiences, I might well conclude that men aren’t worth the trouble.

But most women, such as Dawn Riley, do find that men have a place in their lives. I’ve been married to one for … let’s see … 22 years and counting, and clearly, I don’t find him useless, or I would have ditched him a long time ago.

It’s not that women need men to be their servants, or to rescue them, although I have seen plenty of women who believe that to be men’s purpose, and enough men willing to play along, for at least a while, to create a lot of emotional train-wrecks later on. Women need to have their own strength, so that they don’t have to depend on some man to rescue them.

This has been a challenge for me in my writing. I want my female characters to be strong, so they aren’t dependent on a man to save the day. However, I’m also a romantic at heart, in that I believe that everyone should have a soul mate with whom to share life (BTW, the soul mate does not necessarily have to be the opposite gender). So I need to write female characters who are strong enough to rescue themselves if need be – and maybe sometimes, they even rescue their partners. But I also don’t want to reduce my male characters to helpless idiots; they have to be strong enough to be worthy of my female characters.

But the one thing that I can never, ever do is to have a universe in which men are useless. Because, darn it, they aren’t.


Anonymous Dan said...

I fully believe in soulmates. I don't think that women need to depend on men, but as my late wife often told me, "Having a man around has its advantages."

Then again, having a woman around has its advantages too.

Sat Jan 14, 08:20:00 PM MST  
Blogger Pat said...

And, some women, like some men, are more useful than others... and yet again, "usefulness" isn't the full measure of a person's worth.

Though perhaps for some more traditional women, the "walking Swiss Army knife" type of guy might have some appeal. Maybe I'm thinking of an old James Bond movie line in which 007 tells the attractive redhead, "I have a friend named Felix who can fix anything," to which the redhead replies, "Is he married?"

Mon Jan 16, 02:07:00 PM MST  

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