Recovering from manhood
“Hi. I’m Jeff. And I’m … a man.”
It was finally time to join Manhood Anonymous. With the Sexual Harassment Hall of Shame growing every day, and historians, sociologists and The New York Times offering fresh proof that men caused Every Bad Thing That Has Ever Happened, it was time to look in the mirror (and not just to shave or say, “Hey there, handsome”).
I now realize, looking back, I’ve been a man ever since I was a boy. And even back then I exhibited man qualities, like being competitive instead of collaborative and learning how to pronounce “furshlugginer potrzebie” from Mad magazine.
My man-ness worsened as I descended fully into manhood. I mansplained, manspread, mandrove without asking for directions, mandozed in an ugly reclining manchair, manthought about internal combustion engines and manforgot birthdays, anniversaries and what I manpromised to do around the house.
I can man up to my failings as a man now because I’m making good manprogress with the recovery process:
· I admit that I’m powerless. I can’t control the fact that I’m a man and it’s taken over my life. Including my wardrobe. And my home “décor” from the 1980s.
· I believe that a greater power can restore me to sanity. Namely, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Claire McCaskill, Maggie Hassan, Mazie Hirono, Patty Murray, Kamala Harris, and Tammy Baldwin and of course, The New York Times, with its relentless coverage of all things manbad. I thank them, as Senator Franken does.
· I’m turning my life over to this higher power. I’m being even more supportive than usual of issues in Congress that affect women and families and, thanks to the Times, also know what’s going on in Kuala Lumpur and what movies to miss this holiday season.
· I’m examining past errors. I don’t manremember harassing anyone on the spectrum from George H.W. Bush’s David Cop-a-Feel to the Weiner/Weinstein/C.K. Take-it-Out. But as a man, by definition, I must have manoffended someone at some point.
· I’m admitting the exact nature of my wrongs. Ok, maybe I created discomfort with a few ribald quips and double entendre — not necessarily because my “humor” was offensive; people pitied me and felt awkward. Anyone with a true comic sensibility surely was offended.
· I’m making amends for my errors. If I did offend anyone with my mansplaining, manspreading, manjokes or other manstuff, let me say right now, I’m mansorry. That’s not a manjoke. I’m manserious. Mantruly.
· I’m learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior. Since as a man, I’m manclueless, and a bit like Larry David in that everything I try to do right goes horribly wrong, I’ll be staying home, avoiding female company (or to be safer, any company at all), and working from home, shopping on the computer, ordering groceries and meals delivered, and mandozing in my manchair watching a huge manTV. I’m manjoking, of course, though it does sound pretty pretty pretty good.
· I’m helping others who suffer from manhood. Believe me, my man friends need a lot of help here. They’re nowhere near as manenlightened and mansensititive as I’ve become. While they enjoy mocking and sometimes punching me for sharing my advice, I know deep down, if they can access their feelings, they appreciate it.
But it’s not a competition.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.