Tom Durkin: Something old, something new

Normally, I wouldn’t revisit a past column. However, my last opinion piece on women’s rights generated some inappropriate comments from men who apparently thought their rights were more important.

I don’t want to waste a whole column on these trolls, so, once I ’splain a few things to my detractors, I’ll move on to trashing “normal” and why we shouldn’t go back there.

MANSPLAIN ME NOT

Women are not the only victims of condescending “mansplaining.” I got a big dose of it two weeks ago. I wrote about a woman’s right to choose a safe and abortion.

I expected blowback from anti-abortionists, but I didn’t get any. Nada.

Instead, I got bros whining about men’s rights. They mansplained how maligned, exploited and misunderstood men are.

These gentlemen entirely missed the point of my op-ed. I had to wonder if they actually read the piece.

Or maybe a woman’s right to choose just isn’t that important to them? After all, a man can walk away from an unwanted pregnancy.

She can’t. She is faced with the godawful choice of terminating her pregnancy or having a baby she doesn’t want and might not be able to support — especially if her man walked away.

If my critics want to talk about the plight of men, I encourage them to write their own column. I would love to read what they have to say. There are Other Voices slots open to readers who have an opinion every Tuesday through Saturday. I’m serious.

Discussing men’s issues is important and relevant. Most men are trapped in gender stereotypes and female expectations that insidiously work against our own best interests. (My father never said boys don’t cry. My mother did.)

If one of these guys does write, I hope he refers to Herb Goldberg’s 1976 book “The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the myth of masculine privilege.” That ground-breaking classic should be required reading for all men, and the women who love them.

“Hazards” does for men what Betty Friedan’s life-changing book, “The Feminine Mystique,” did for women. Goldberg raises the consciousness of what it means to be a man and he razes the rigid constraints of traditional masculinity.

The dudes who disparaged my March 11 column weren’t telling me anything I didn’t already know — or care passionately about — more than 40 years ago. The problem is, I was writing about women’s rights, not theirs.

I welcome their response, under their real names.

WANTED: A NEW NORMAL

Every time I hear somebody yearning to “get back to normal,” I cringe. Normal sucked. The last thing I want is to go back to normal. Normal was racial injustice, wage and income disparity, homelessness, pandemic denial, ageism, white supremacists, Q-Anon, disinformation and misinformation, sex trafficking, voter suppression, domestic terrorism, mass shootings, food insecurity, lead poisoning, abortion bans, child abuse, domestic violence (by both sexes), LGBTQ discrimination, political gridlock, failing infrastructure, unaccompanied children at our border, student debt, unaffordable healthcare, prisons for profit, inaction on climate change, and fill in your own blanks ___________, _________, and __________, because I’m sure I’ve left out other societal wrongs.

If we go back to normal, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and too many others will have died in vain. Republicans will steal elections by suppressing minority voters. The rich will keep robbing the poor. We will perpetuate a homeless underclass. Children will continue to go to bed hungry.

We will become doomed frogs in the slow cooker of climate change.

Now is the time for us to act, because:

If not us, who? 
If not now, when?

The ancient Jewish religious leader Rabbi Hillel the Elder said that. It’s quite possible Jesus knew of Hillel’s teachings. So I’m compelled to ask, What would Jesus do today? Would he wear a mask? Would he embrace LGBTQ people? Would he march with Black Lives Matter? Would he live in a homeless camp? Would he forgive the partisan Republicans and Democrats who put party and above human and civil rights?

Since Jesus is only here in spirit, it’s up to us.

Perhaps at no other time in our lifetimes will we have such a monumental opportunity — and moral responsibility — to effect profound change for the common good.

As we contemplate Passover and Easter, let us resolve to come out of this norm-busting pandemic better, more equal, and more compassionate than we were.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer, editor and photographer in Nevada County.

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