Recently, I saw an article about an incident involving Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. She was talking at a forum when a young man approached and grabbed her microphone. Her husband, Douglas Emhoff, was one of the men who sprung to her defense, which to me is both commendable and expected. Yet, as I read the article, the journalist was disturbed by the interchange: not because someone would have the audacity to threaten a speaker’s space, but because Emhoff intervened. Somehow, this writer thought his actions diminished Harris’ status as a strong woman. How bizarre. It’s political correctness run amok. Not all traditions need to be tossed to assert our equality.
I honor women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the Suffragettes, the women of "Hidden Figures" and good female leaders; I feel fortunate that the church of my childhood always allowed women to teach men and even pastor, even as, thousands of years ago, Deborah served as both prophet and judge over Israel. Men and women praised their leadership and teaching. Yet, I don’t believe we need to do everything the same.
Perhaps we have been brainwashed by superhero movies, but, let’s face it: in real life, a Scarlett Johansson is not going to overwhelm Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Yes, weapons can even the playing field, as women in the police, military or elsewhere can attest, but generally, with, hand-to-hand defense, it should be fine to admit that men are usually more equipped. Such an admission does not lessen either of us.
I am fine with the fact that my husband is kind of a protective, “macho” guy, but that does not make him less respectful and caring. He taught me much about football, but I don’t need to be on the field or see other women playing. I can watch the MMA–based film "Warriors" with him, and not yearn for the octagon, not against male opponents. He also loves and writes music, even writing songs for me. My dad provided for us on his postal salary, and attended parent-teacher conferences, but he also drove out of his way to a beautiful garden in Ontario, because he knew I loved flowers. For me, these are winning portraits of masculinity; like the police mantra to “protect and serve.” It can be something to remember for Father’s Day, even as some men (and women) struggle to know where they fit in.
Not all traditions need to be swept away. In reading Sebastian Junger’s excellent book "Tribe," I see the importance of men and women working together to create a good community. During research, he found, “Men perform the vast majority of bystander rescues [90%]…..But women are more likely than men to display something called moral courage.” In evolutionary terms, Junger notes we need both to survive. In striving for equality, we needn’t sneer at such displays as Emhoff’s. I would be disappointed if he had done less. I’m fairly certain his wife would agree.