Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Men: The Most Endangered Species In America


Dale Matson

It is quite customary for university professors to have their credentials on their office walls. This may include degrees conferred, awards and honors, photographs with dignitaries and plaques indicating membership in professional organizations. The walls and office “library” are a kind of physical resume’ that serves to inform and impress students and other office visitors.

I had my framed Bachelor; Master and Doctorate degrees at home in a box in the attack. I also had my psychologists’ license and other assorted ego dressing in that same box. As the director of the School Psychology and School Counseling programs, I had three items on my office walls.

I had a poster from the “American Odyssey” my first marathon completed in 1991 at age 48. The main icon on the poster was a milk can, which symbolized the central Wisconsin farm country through which the 26.2-mile course ran. For me the poster symbolized a personal victory over obesity, smoking and alcohol. It symbolized goal setting, self-transcendence and closure. For student prospects, most who were at a crossroads in their career and personal life, it was a reminder that they too could, as Nike would say, “Just Do It!”

I also had my framed journeyman plumbers’ license on the wall. I had spent seventeen years in construction as a heavy equipment operator, plumber and certified soil tester. In academe, there is a tendency for professors to be condescending when talking about people in the trades who are mostly men, who may be blue collared but are seen more as red necked and ignorant by the university intelligentsia. I was proud of my training, work history and the people I spent so many years of my life with. When they were in a trench their very lives depended on my skills as a backhoe operator. There was a sense of mutual trust and teamwork. The work was difficult, often cold and sometimes downright dangerous. I knew what it was like to work by the sweat of my brow. University business was nothing like the construction business. Hitting a four-inch high-pressure gas main was a big deal in construction. Leaving someone’s name off a memo was the university equivalent.

John Wayne

My final item was a framed photograph of Marion Morrison (AKA John Wayne 1907-1979). He is sometimes referred to as, “The mans’ man”. The Duke is not the favorite of modern feminists but if one looks at some of his leading ladies, the feminists can't complain. His women were intelligent, strong willed and courageous including Maureen O'Hara, Lauren Bacall and Katherine Hepburn. Even the much younger Kim Darby was a tower of strength in “True Grit”.

The characters he played were principled, tough, courageous, and led other men to do the right thing. There was an independence about him. “Make sure you are right and then go ahead.” Another of his sayings was, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” He fought for justice and was a patriot in real life. He treated women with respect and not as objects. The man who most closely carries on this tradition is Robert Duvall. Duvall was terrific in “Lonesome Dove”, “Broken Trail" and "Open Range”.

John Wayne's portrait was on my office wall because, in the University Environment, he was an affront to all that was politically correct. He was not acceptable to many of the feminists both male and female. They are the ones who insist on calling it Orange County Airport. The proper name is John Wayne Airport.           

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