Poor Rush Limbaugh, he doesn’t know where men fit anymore since feminism ruined everything for men. He’s not alone in these feelings, and indeed, there is some truth to the notion that American men of a certain age might feel lost, not knowing what their purpose is since women can and do work and earn a living and all of that feminism stuff.
Limbaugh ruminates here that feminism changed forever the normal human relationships between men and women. Listen here via Media Matters:
One could ask what is “normal” for Rush, but sewer diving is not our thing. Let us instead address the kernel of truth in Limbaugh’s fear; the idea of manhood and the role of men has changed since feminism all of those years ago. We can mock Limbaugh for feeling lost, but the truth is that many men feel this way. It’s okay to feel confused. It’s not okay to become so angry at the confusion that one ends up hating on women for wanting equal rights.
If I were to counsel Rush, I’d suggest he look to some positive male role models – men who manage to embrace their masculinity while at the same time showing equal respect for the women in their lives. Several men come to mind here; one of them is our President.
As a woman, I can only imagine what Barack is like as a husband. We know he suffers from a massive ego — he has admitted as much, and hello, he is the President. Any politician who runs for President has to have an unnaturally strong ego. But he chose to marry a strong, smart, warm and loving woman whom he respects. You get the idea that Michelle doesn’t take any crap from her husband, and yet they have managed to sort through the traditional roles and find strength in equality. They’ve balanced important careers with family, and managed to do it all while maintaining a relationship rooted in mutual respect.
Michelle chose to temporarily give up her job to support Obama’s career choice and become First Lady. But in Michelle and Barack’s relationship, I don’t see the traditional Stepford wife First Lady. Their marriage is the first presidential marriage that I’ve ever related to as a woman; one that makes me feel good about the ability of modern men and women to work it all out.
In February of 2009 the AP wrote about the Obama’s modern marriage, based on mutual respect:
A scholar of the American marriage, Stephanie Coontz, is struck by how different the Obama marriage is to White House partnerships that preceded it.
“We’ve seen love in the White House before, but in many cases it was the adoring wife, along the lines of Nancy Reagan,” says Coontz, a professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. “What the Obamas have is a jocular, playful love, a mutual respect, and on Michelle’s part, a lack of awe and of adoration.”
It’s about grace and respect. Limbaugh just seems to not get it; it’s not about gender roles. Women who stay home with their kids and women who work outside of the home want respect and want to feel honored by their partner.
Michelle told People magazine in October of 2009, “Cute’s good. But cute only lasts for so long, and then it’s, ‘Who are you as a person?’ Don’t look at the bankbook or the title. Look at the heart. Look at the soul. When you’re dating a man, you should always feel good. … You shouldn’t be in a relationship with somebody who doesn’t make you completely happy and make you feel whole.” Can you imagine feeling good with a man who calls other women sluts and prostitutes? Can you imagine wanting to have children with such a man?
Since we know what deep issues Limbaugh has with the President, I’ll offer another role model, albeit a fictional character. The role of the coach on the TV series Friday Night Lights is an excellent example for Rush; and one he should be able to relate to. Here’s a guy who is all traditional man. A sports loving, Texas-living football coach whose wife has supported his career throughout their marriage, and indeed, put his career first. But as the series develops, her career begins to take on a life of its own and he is forced to deal with this. It’s not pretty. He is not perfect. But in the end, grace and love win out over gender roles, and he comes to the party, giving new meaning to the coach’s chant, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!”
He shows a new appreciation and respect for his wife, and in doing so, deeply honors their marriage and her sacrifices for him and their family. The coach’s wife reminds him in season three of his responsibilities as a man, “You are a teacher first, and you are a molder of men.” Imagine if Rush Limbaugh had chosen a better path for his talents and fame; one in which he would lead by example. It’s almost enough that Rush serves unwittingly as an example of why his ideas don’t work. He isn’t even a good man professionally. His attitudes enable men to stay angry, lost boys instead of reaching higher. No wonder Rush feels robbed.
Rush needs to stop getting so hung up on feminism allegedly stealing his masculinity. Feminism didn’t steal his masculinity. The real truth is that men like Rush refuse to embrace the better side of their masculine role. He could have chosen to be a man of honor and integrity; a man who defends the vulnerable, is a role model for young boys, and through his love for his partner, grows into a deeper understanding of what equality means to a woman.
Equality does not mean being the same; it does not need to rob men like Rush of their manhood. American feminism has been reduced by the media to the notion that women are equal because/if they are just like men. This is inherently flawed for obvious reasons; for starters, biologically, women are not just like men. Women can have babies, and in the animal kingdom, the female who gives birth requires certain things for her offspring. Translating this to an evolved, modern relationship can be tough, but a lot of people do it.
They do it because they love more than they fear.
It’s true that many men feel threatened by feminism and while we can mock that as unenlightened, it does nothing to address the root cause and truth that there aren’t a lot of role models for men these days.
The things that make men so spectacular to women don’t need to be suppressed. For example, the natural desire to care for and protect children and women does not need to be suppressed. It needs to be built upon in a positive way, wherein caring does not diminish the recipient, but instead is a mutual relationship resulting in stronger people and a better union.
Rush is a conservative, and as such, he should be familiar with one of the more positive aspects of “conservative/traditional/Christian” values — respect and courtesy for the role of wife.
Yes, I know it’s not always in evidence, but when it is, it actually provides a way for men like Rush who allegedly embrace the “good old days” values to find their way. A traditional gentleman might seem on the surface to not get women’s rights, and might even express disdain for feminism – but he does not treat his wife with disrespect. For example, while I never felt I could relate to George W Bush’s marriage, he treated his wife with respect; I can’t imagine him calling women sluts in public. Rush can’t even live up to the expectations of courtesy from old school masculinity, so why does he think he’d be any better in the modern world?
Perhaps if Rush knew how to be a gentleman, he could find his way into being a conservative man in a positive way. Instead, Rush uses feminism to excuse his vulgar behavior and obvious ineptitude.
There’s really no excuse for Rush to continue rejecting his masculinity by whining that feminism stole it. He could have chosen to be a traditional male gentleman, but even that he has tossed aside in favor of being an ill-bred, willfully uneducated boor.
Rush Limbaugh has no class. That is his real problem. He embodies the modern day conservative movement as a whiny, mean-spirited, greedy finger-pointer who brings nothing to the table but can’t stop complaining about what others are taking from him.
Rush needs to grow up if he wants to find his MIA masculinity. But since he makes so much money being a lost, angry boy, the chances of him ever embracing his masculinity are slim to none.
Don’t blame us, Rush. Our equality never demanded that you not be a man. In fact, if you look at the President, you can see that you can be a man and still have respect for women.
Image: Pete Souza, White House Photo