Just so you all know, I am not and don't pretend to be a feminist. Honestly, I don't even know what it means -- I certainly don't know what it means to be a feminist dude. It strikes me as a potentially slick and disgusting way to get women to like you. At the same time, I can't imagine women being genuinely enthusiastic about the results over the long haul: is that really what you want? A man who, by virtue of having minored in women's studies, is inherently more sensitive to your plight? I'm not going to lie: that feels disingenuous to me. Because here's the thing: he's still a man, and no matter how in touch with your feelings or his he might be, he can only sympathize, he can never truly empathize. And don't you really want a man to be a man, in the end? Those of you who do actually like guys -- isn't that one of the things you love about us? Our man-ness? Our quality of being "other?" because I can tell you without the least hint of smartassery: your otherness is one of the reasons I dig women. You get to experience some of the world in a way I never will, and I'm into that. It's compelling, it's rich, it's cool. For me, looking back over my four-plus decades, I'd say it has been and continues to be essential.
So I'm not a feminist, though to the extent that I understand it, I don't see anything philosophically wrong with feminism. Off the top of my head, the only -ism I can think of that is truly problematic would have to be fascism. That's just rude. I'm not a big fan of catholicism, but just because it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Anyway, moving on: in a broad sense, I'm an individualist, more or less in the sense that the transcendentalists meant it, though, and less as a political stance. I believe in the power and autonomy and mutability and potential of the individual. I believe a lot of people suck, but not because they're women or Chinese or tall or left-handed or protestant or gay or hairy or talkative or physically weak or green-eyed or eleven years old or an exterminator or whatever: just a lot of people suck, because they're sucky people. They are individually, as a product of the traits that make up their respective characters, sucky people. But that still leaves quite a few cool people in the world (especially now that we've topped seven billion; think about that for a second, man: that is a whole lot of fucking going on). And this may shock you, but I'm going to say it anyway: some of my best friends are left-handed.
One left-handed friend in particular has had it pretty rough over the years. He was ridiculed very early on because he couldn't master the art of cutting shapes out of colored construction paper with the safety scissors in kindergarten -- this was before the engineers at MIT designed a pair of left-handed scissors (because, of course, all eggheads are left-handed, so they had a stake in this experience). Well, technically, they designed the first pair of left-handed scissors in 1951, but based on the original prototype, which included a small nuclear reactor, the device was far too expensive to mass-produce. It took some time to work out the bugs, and they weren't available by the time my friend reached kindergarten. It got worse, of course. Sister Beneficent beat him severely each time he reached for his pencil with his devil hand. He quit Little League because all he'd ever wanted to be was a catcher (big Pudge Fisk fan), and although they managed to find him a left-handed catcher's mitt (miracles do happen), he ultimately lost the position because half the time he tried to throw the ball back to the pitcher he ended up bouncing it off the helmet of the kid standing in the batter's box -- because, in those days, all good boys batted from the right side of the plate. The shame proved to be too much for him. By the time he got to high school and really discovered girls, he understood immediately he would have to master the art of heavy petting with his right hand. By all accounts, he pulled it off with remarkable frequency and great success. But it never felt right to him, not being his true self, and soon after college he dropped out of life, choosing to live alone in a remote mountain cabin, where he dreamt of a day when left-handed people enjoyed the same experience of the world's many joys as right-handers. Last I heard, he's still up there waiting. I believe he's writing a book about it, but honestly, who's going to read it, typed all left-handed and all. Poor bastard.
And I sympathize, but I would never pretend to know what it's like for him to be left-handed in what he perceives as a right-handed world. I can tell him we've made some strides. Christ, we've actually had a couple openly left-handed presidents in the last twenty years. I once dated a left-handed woman for about a month -- yeah, it was kind of weird at first, but what can I say, I was in the right place mentally to let a little strange into my life. Just the other night I had a left-handed bartender, if you can believe that. I ordered a Rumford martini, and I watched him start to pour the coffee brandy left-handed, then pause and glance my way a little chagrined. "Go ahead," I assured him, "it's cool."
The point is, I'm a person, you're a person, let's just take each other that way. Yes, I'm interested in your struggles, your stories, your perspective. But I promise you, I will never be more interested in you as a member of a group or a movement than I am in you as a human being. And I think sensitive, new-age guys are willfully ignorant of the complexity of the world. Which means they pretty much suck. Turn a corner, folks. At some point the road ahead needs to stop being entirely dictated by the road behind. That's something I would like to be around to see.