Even though we’ve never shared a beer, I kinda feel as if District of Nebraska Senior Judge Richard Kopf and I have become friends. Sure, it’s just on the internet, but that’s how long distance friendships happen these days. And so when I read his post the other day, On being a dirty old man and how young women lawyers dress, I sucked in some wind and pondered what, if anything, I should do.
I thought about emailing Judge Kopf and telling him, “Dear Judge, are you fucking nuts? Take that down now. NOW!!!.” because I knew what would come. But then, who am I to tell a judge what to do? I twitted about it, which reflected my confusion:
You see, having read many of Judge Kopf’s posts, and getting a feel for his sense of humor, writing style and manner of using self-deprecation to make a point by carrying the burden himself rather than foisting it on someone else, or the rest of his gender, I got his point. I also understood how others would react.
I honestly don’t care how you (or others) remember me.* I do care passionately that federal trial judges be seen as individuals with all the strengths and weakness (baggage) that everyone else carries around.
In the rough and tumble world of a federal trial practice, it is sometimes necessary to see and react to that world as it is rather than as we wish it would be.
He apologized to those who took offense at his post, who saw only the superficial words, which blinded them from getting the point. Just as I knew his initial post would lead to a blood bath, I knew his apology wouldn’t fly with those who were outraged. There is neither explanation nor excuse for those who reject the real world in favor of their perfect world.
Unlike Rich Kopf, who has a bulls-eye target on his back because he wears robes, trench lawyers can afford to be the targets of gender politics because, well, our clients couldn’t care less about our sensitivity to feminist sensibilities. And so, suffering the slings and arrows of feminist epithets, from “well-known misogynist” to the more recent, and bizarre, misogynist lech, by a young Brooklyn feminist lawyer (who plans to explain how my negativity toward criminalizing revenge porn is motivated by my desire to get rich on civil cases. No, really) with far more passion than grasp.
Here’s the deal. Not all men are ashamed of their gender and desperately want to recreate themselves as hairy women. We have man-feelings. We like manly stuff. That includes appreciating attractive women. Cars, too, for some of us. And here’s the deal-breaker: We are not ashamed of it. In fact, we’re kinda happy with ourselves this way.
I can hear you screaming “rape culture,” though I still don’t understand what that means.
This is what I am not saying: that most men are happy to be men, with all the baggage feminists see as the yoke of patriarchal society keeping them down. We do not rape, sexually assault or harm women (or anyone else, for that matter). We respect women’s intelligence and skills, even while appreciating that they usually smell better than men. And if somebody touches you inappropriately, we would be the first to punch his lights out to stop him.
We think they should be paid as much as a man for doing the same work, and we think women should be in charge of their own bodies. Of course, we think we should be in charge of ours as well, and refuse to manscape. We have hair. Get over it.
We make jokes about things that you find totally inappropriate. Why? Because we find them funny. You don’t think so? Does that mean you’re in control of our sense of humor? Sorry, but humor doesn’t work that way.
And we think and feel all those things you hate about us even though your lean-in group told you how it’s preventing you from being the Amazon (the river, not the company) Queens of Society. We like women, and if we’re lucky, love one or two. We accept gender differences, including bosoms, whether ample or otherwise, and we’re good with that. We don’t see it as thinking less of you, but as appreciating you. You think we’re sexists pigs for it.
You think we’re female haters because we will not adopt your language, designed to make certain that no woman ever feels as if she’s a woman again, as if there is something wrong with being a woman. If you can try a case better than me, you will whup my butt at trial, and afterward, I will shake your hand and congratulate you on your skills. And it’s possible that I will admire the view as you walk away.
That’s men. Judge Kopf explained that we’re “both pigs and prudes.” A bit coarse and simplistic perhaps (remember, it was a blog post, for crying out loud), but the point is that we are what we are, and as much as feminists may march and chant, we’re not paying attention because the football game is on.
This isn’t the foolish antagonism of the backlash jerks who create stupid clubs like the National Association for Men. We aren’t promoting barefoot and pregnant at all, and we aren’t telling women what to do or who to do it with. You may be all fired up about gender politics. We’re all fired up about properly-cooked bacon. We have slightly different concerns.
But we are not your enemy. We never were. We don’t even think about it. We’re just guys, and you hate us for that, and for not making your gender politics the center of our universe. Sorry that we like the way gals look sometimes, and want our daughters to keep their cleavage to themselves.
Judge Kopf tried to make a point, using himself as foil, that most men in the real world are just normal guys. This outrages you? Bummer. He’s right, and your offense doesn’t change that. And you can call us names, and blame us for all your perceived ills of society, but we’re still going to watch the football game and eat bacon. And sometimes catch a glimpse of an ample bosom.
We’re men. And despite your misguided belief that we want to change our world because we really seek your approval, we’re good with being men. Leave Judge Kopf alone.