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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The American Male

Living in other cultures gives you insight that you may not have otherwise gained. I lived in Japan for three years and now live in a Muslim Gulf state. Those being opposite sides of the spectrum for a lot of reasons, it gives one pause about nature, nurture, and societies impact on humans. I am also, obviously, born and bred in the states. Not just the states, but mid-West suburbia at it's simplest. I am from neither poverty or privilege, my surroundings neither rural or urban,and not shaped by any substantial tragedy or triumph.I am in every sense, the average American girl.

I think I am blessed to have the opportunity to observe, immerse, learn, reject and compare aspects of the three cultures. One thing that stands out the most to me is the men. Not due to the obvious physical differences, but the basic cultural differences that I have observed first hand. As with anything, there are exceptions and variations, I don't debate this. However, I find that I look at the American male with a sense of pride in comparison.

I remember making much use of the public transportation system in Japan, which is a cultural experience in and of itself. The train is people watching at its finest. The handicapped seats were used by anyone until they saw need to remove themselves for the intended parties. Included in the "handicapped" category were elderly, pregnant women, and women with small babies. Other than that, the women were on there own. A Japanese man simply would not give his seat up for a woman. They aren't rude, very polite in fact. They just don't have the same code of chivalry that our ancestors beat into us hundreds of years ago. The women were so obviously flustered when my husband would get up and insist she take his seat, they were almost giddy. I will never forget the first time my pre-teen son did the same, and my heart just swelled with pride. He didn't have to be told to do it. He just knew that it was wrong to make a 4 ft 11 woman stand, struggling to reach the bars to brace herself on the moving train, while he sat comfortably in the seat. The woman was so confused when he got up, held the bar, and motioned for her to take his seat. Confusion gave way to understanding and gratitude. Again, almost giddy. The blonde hair and green/blue eyes never hurt when it came to the student aged girls.You could tell he fascinated them even as a young boy. I think taking his place next to his dad, standing there like a gentleman who had just given up his seat for a lady, it was a milestone for him. No longer a child, but a man with free will about how he would conduct himself in the world So, although I loved Japan and it's people, score one for the good old fashioned American gentleman.

Now that I am in Bahrain, I gain new perspective on the matter. Arabic men just look at women differently. We know all the cultural differences, to varying degrees, with how the women are viewed,the concealing clothing being the most obvious. It has been interesting to watch the public scenes in Bahrain, however, and see the interactions between the men and women. Physical affection between a man and woman at all is rare. Occasionally you will see hand holding, but not often. Absolutely no kissing or hanging on each other. The men, however, hold hands with other men, hug them, and even give a quick peck on the cheek. They sit closely, eat and drink together. The women hang out with other women. They don't even seem to kiss their children in public. I get odd stares, not ugly stares, just curious ones, when I kiss my children in public or tickle the baby with raspberries. You will see men kissing toddlers on occasion, but not women.

It is interesting to watch. Touch is more a part of our society. It is okay to put your hand on a male friends arm or hold hands with your man. American men are just a different breed. Raised to believe that enjoying his wife is his right and hers, that her beauty isn't something to be hidden, and that to protect her his duty. Now don't get confused. I find people pawing each other and making out in public both inappropriate and disgusting. There are boundaries, and some people don't have any. However, I find something primitively comforting about the way men, mine in particular, shift their body language while in public with their women. Just a hand on the small of her back or on her shoulder as they move through a crowd, or putting himself between her and the crowd on a train or bus, or situating himself to where he can see the entrances of a restaurant. Maybe this is a military male thing or maybe it is an American male thing or maybe it is just that in some branches of evolution it is ground into their DNA. Maybe those bloodlines from the time of Arthurian legends live on. All I know is that I prefer it. I consider myself tough, I really do. However, I like knowing that I am protected. I fear that even our culture is attempting to emasculate males in the pursuit of political correctness. There is a balance of course. If I am sick in bed, my husband will change diapers, do dishes, bring me water. Not just because he will certainly hang later if he doesn't, but part of protecting me is stepping in when I am sick. Balance in all things is good, but there is no mistaking that there's a both a grizzly and a teddy bear with in him, and that I am in good hands regardless.

Being around so many military and civilian alphas, you can up this all tenfold. Never have I seen a group of men scramble faster to open your door or carry a bag. Countless men I have encountered either on base, on military flights (even commercial actually) there's always some nice men that are helping me get my bag in the overhead while teetering a toddler on my hip. Helping me carry my car seat. I remember being 4 across on one flight, my husband not with me. We were in the middle on a huge international flight. Some nice chap was down on the end of our little row next to Brigid. She was just small enough to struggle with things like her seat belt and getting the top off her juice. I watched the guy. He saw how I struggled to care for all three and still try to sleep and eat. He would just say, "do you mind if I help her? I have kids at home, I know how it is". Another man helped me off the flight with the kids and the carseat. When I had to wait for my stroller on the tar mack, I told him he didn't have to wait. He said, "I know I don't have to, but I don't have to leave you either. I can wait, you look like you've got your hands full".  Then there was the snow storm of 2009, when the two men bunked up and gave me and my children their hotel suite. No room left in any hotel, no food left in the restaurants, no husband, and 4 kids a cat and a dog. We were stuck on the hwy for hours. When we got to the exit, the only exit due to the closed hwy, we were going to have to sleep in the car or go to the emergency shelter. I got out to pee at the Country Inn and Suites. These to men were walking around the parking lot taking in the scene. Their plan was to double up in their hotel and give the other room to someone who needed it. When they saw a woman with brood of kids, no man, and a Marine Corps sticker on the car, they knew they'd found the lucky recipient. They approached me in the lobby of the hotel after my niece cracked the window to talk to them. They asked if I was Stacey. They told me that it looked like I needed the room more than they did and told me their plan. I literally leapt on the men and started crying. "Thank you so much! I am trying to get home to my parents, husbands in Iraq....blubbler blubber sniff sniff whaaaaa!" They left strict orders with the girls at the desk (who were gleaming with smiles at the whole scene) that they were not to let me pay for the room. I didn't know this til I tried to pay later. When we went up to the room, there was a steak dinner from Outback, the Outback that had closed because the restaurants literally ran out of food. The staff was stuck too, and stayed open as long as they had something to serve, but no one had anything left. We were in the middle of a mountain pass and no one could go anywhere. I sat on the bed, called my mother, and cried. I cried for those two, sweet, beautiful men who would not even tell me their names. Who gave us one of their dinners. They just said to "tell your husband thank you". The thought of it now 2 1/2 years later still threatens to undue me.

I feel proud of the average American male, especially my American males. Not afraid to be tough, not afraid to be gentle, not feeling they have lost anything by extending gentlemanly courtesies toward a female. I think the saying "Chivalry is dead" is used by those who have failed to notice the little things. They have also failed to endear themselves to that certain type of male. So if it is chivalry that  you want and what you like, look around.  It isn't dead, and I am glad.

1 comment:

  1. In 2001 I drove down into what appeared to be a base underneath Oak Hammock Marsh Manitoba Canada (protected wildlife sanctuary), I completely forgot the experience until reading a report on undergroundNazi bases at the beginning of 2013 (The Omega Files), I then used Google Earth and more recently Google Earth Pro to view Oak Hammock Marsh and the surrounding areas, I found several irregularities: A saucer with adaptive camo and what appears to be its landing area nearby that is marked with two swastikas and protected by 2 anti-aircraft weapons, a wormhole in a backyard neighboring Oak Hammock Marsh and a large white/silver tank 100 feet North of that wormhole. These images are somewhat blurry as they are taken from space using technology that is available to the public for free, if you look closely though there are some things that should not be in a protected wildlife sanctuary in Canada. Since remembering driving down into what appeared to be a base and finding these irregularities using Google Earth I have not stopped making this known, in my opinion anything less would be committing treason against Canada. These images and the links below are posted on my Facebook wall/account which is open to the public. In the photo albums labeled Oak Hammock Marsh I have included images from previous satellite imaging of these areas as well as the most recent (Google Earth Pro) so it is possible to see what is normally in those areas.
    Wesley Wadien 11/08/1983

    Links to Google Earth showing parts of a possible Nazi base on Canadian soil

    Landing area marked with 2 swastikas and protected by 2 anti-aircraft weapons, west 400 feet is adaptive camo saucer, distortion around edges of the saucer is visible.


    Wormhole in backyard of property and large white/silver tank 100 feet North of that.


    Possibly technology used to create projection top on base.


    Statement from the former Canadian Minister of National Defense.


    News report on chem trails.


    Please make copies and distribute. Long live a free Canada.