It is really irritating that whenever I get together with a particular woman of my acquaintance, the first thing out of her mouth, 4/5ths of the time, is “Ugh, men!” or something similar.  Shortly followed with a short description of some clueless deed (or lack of deed thereof) committed by her husband.  Look, lady, just because your dude is a clueless twit at times, does not mean the entire category is hopeless. 

Perhaps I have been guilty of similar behavior on occasion, although nothing is coming to mind.  But at some point I am going to be unable to restrain myself from pointing out that her problem exists with her particular man.

Now, that is not to say that many of the issues of which she complains are undoubtedly due to the patriarchy inherent in our culture and this particular gentlemen’s privilege and entitlement (although he would be the first to protest that he has any, I’m sure – yes, he is nice but clueless).  But while that may spread blame across society, etc., it does not change the fact that the particular actions at issue are committed by a particular person at a particular moment in time and are not, in fact, committed by all persons of that category.

My theory is that by attributing his behavior to some general failing on the part of men, she avoids the difficult issue of the fact that her husband, as sweet as he is in some respects, is clueless.  He is nice, but totally oblivious to the privileges he has had (and I’m not saying total, he has definitely overcome some obstacles, but you can’t be a white male alum of a top 10 law school without certain privileges acrruing to you) and totally oblivious as to how those privileges have shaped his viewpoint and understanding (or lack thereof).

I think it’s a cop out.  Individual behavior should be called to account.  Certainly to the extent that individual behavior is shaped by society or persons engage in such behavior in consistent patterns it can be commented on more generally.   But if someone near and dear to you is behaving in a way you find unacceptable, then one should find a way to raise the issue (with obvious exceptions for dangerous or abusive situations which this categorically is not).

In case you couldn’t tell, patience is not one of my virtues.