Monday, September 30, 2013

An Open Letter to the World

I am participating in the Open Letter Challenge writing contest organized by Josh Irby. The following letter is my response to An Open Letter to You from the Rest of the World.


Dear World,

I am a man.

To most anyone, I look like your average American man. I have a wife and two wonderful children. I have a dog. I work two jobs. I drive a four-door, American-made sedan. I love baseball, apple pie, and jazz music. I am normal.

But I am anything but stereotypical.

Why do we as a society accept the male stereotypes the media parades before us time and time again? Our culture would have us believe there is a little Homer Simpson in all of us--that underwear-clad, beer-swilling, unenlightened Neanderthal that wakes up every morning, gives half an effort at a dead-end job, and comes home only to fall asleep on the couch in front of mindless television, all the while reinforcing the stereotype that we men have nothing to offer this world but our money and our sperm.

I am not an automaton.

I am a Renaissance man.

Or, at least I try to be.

I love my wife, and I'm not afraid to show it.

I love when my kids want to cuddle up to me, and my lap will never be too small for them.

I am a feminist and believe women should have every opportunity that men do in this country.

I don't babysit my children. I father.

I cook.

I clean.

I'm athletic. I lettered in four sports during high school.

I cry when something moves me.

Power tools don't intimidate me, and while plumbing and I don't get along, I'll attempt any home repair.

I love to see 007 save the day, but I also love it when Lloyd holds up that boom box and Peter Gabriel tries to help him convince Diane that they should be together.

I write poetry.

I play music.

I think that "The Book of Love" is one of the greatest songs ever written, and I sob like a baby when J.D. walks out of Sacred Heart to watch that final home movie of his future with Elliott.

I think boys should learn to treat girls with respect, long before they want to date any of them.

I think that the promises men make to the world while marching with a million men or standing in a crowded stadium don't mean a thing compared to the promises they keep within the walls of their homes.

I want my son to recognize that he is in control of his thoughts, emotions, desires, and urges. You are an evolved and enlightened being.

I want my daughter to realize that she deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, and that there is nothing she can say or do that will make anyone think more highly of her than she already thinks of herself.

I think dads should kiss their children forever and ever.

I think that as funny as he is, Doug Heffernan is disgusting, and as hard as Carrie works she has every right to demand that he take better care of himself.

And I am tired of the world telling us that even when we show up and are present, that we will forever be thoughtless, clueless, and in the end, just one more child for our wife or girlfriend or mother or partner to take care of. We are more than that. We have the X and the Y chromosome. We have the yin and the yang. We are strong and sensitive.

We know who we are. I just wish the world wouldn't expect less.

Not just a man.



Emily Foley said...

Awesome. That scene on the last season of scrubs is the best. I wish they hadn't tried to continue it past there.

You're a good man. This letter just articulates a few of the reasons.

Jimmy said...

I don't get all the references, but I agree with your message.

So thank you.

Boquinha said...

Love this so much. I am a lucky, lucky girl. Beautiful letter and great sentiment.

LMW said...

Yes, great sentiment. You're definitely one of the great ones. Two things that my husband can't abide by are bigotry and patriarchy. He's even taught me in those areas over the years, which I greatly appreciate. I think a man who are viscerally against those two things make a great husband and even greater man.

Dr. Mark said...

@Emily--I totally agree with you about Scrubs. They should have left it alone. And thanks. I try to be.

@Jimmy--I'm not surprised you agree. You're the kind of guy who "gets it."

@Boquinha--Aw, thanks. I think we are a good team and bring out the best in each other. Well, you bring out the best in me. I hope I do the same for you.

@LMW--Thanks. I think your husband and I would get along. When you look at those two terms, essentially he's saying that everyone should be treated equally. How can you go wrong if that's your attitude?

The Magic Violinist said...

Awesome letter. :) I wouldn't be at all surprised if you win.

(BTW, I'll never get too big for your lap).

Dr. Mark said...

@MV--Thanks. I know you'll always fit on my lap. :)

Dave Johnson said...

Wow. Couldn't have said it any better. I actually thought of starting a blog once called "Renaissance Dad" to address this very issue. I think people in real life are getting more used to this idea but the media, as always, perpetuates lazy and cheap-shot stereotypes. I don't even like the term "Jack of all trades, master of none," because it implies that we don't have the attention span to get really good at anything. Your example in being this type of person has meant a lot to me, and I definitely look up to you for striving to better yourself - for your family, but also just because of the fulfillment that comes from doing something well and expressing emotion. Good on ya.

Dr. Mark said...

Thanks for the comment, Dave. Sadly, I think a lot of people can relate to the lazy, pathetic stereotype and maybe poking fun at it so blatantly is a way to cope with what has to be a very frustrating situation.

Admittedly, when I wrote and posted the letter, I was feeling very good about myself. Since then I've had moments where I've been less than I'd hoped to be, so the letter is a bit self-scathing in a sense, but I know none of us is perfect. I just wished that our imperfections weren't so magnified and exploited.

Jagged Rocks said...

I love this letter! There are so many things I agree with you on. I love you guys!

emeral_greenlove said...

I am really moved by your letter to the world and LOVE the honesty behind this blog post as well as the prose-poetry thing you have going on. Please continue to write like this :).