Bill Bennett, Bill Bennett, Bill Bennett. What will I do with you?
The three men who sacrificed their lives for their girlfriends are not great men because they sacrificed their lives for women; they’re great people because they sacrificed their lives for people. When it came down to the line, they chose to give up their lives for the people they loved; that’s heroism, and it would still be heroism if it were a woman dying to save a man, a man dying to save a man, or any other possible gender combination. Men are not somehow magically less deserving of sacrifice than women are; women are not somehow magically less capable of sacrifice. To quote your own Bible, Mr. Bennett: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”– whether those friends happen to be male or female.
Are men more likely to sacrifice their lives to save women than vice versa? Probably! For reasons both biological (men tend to have greater physical strength and bulk) and cultural (the pressure on men to protect women, the greater familiarity of men as a group with violence). But the second group of reasons are ones we should be working to eliminate or to make equal, and as for the former group one might with as much accuracy say that it is noble for large and physically strong people to sacrifice themselves to save the smaller and weaker. Actually, I’d say that one is a better rule, because it can be more generally applied, and because “compassion for the vulnerable” is valued in way more ethical systems than “thinking men should sacrifice themselves for women for no reason.”
And then Bennett goes into some End of Men bullcrap. Waa waa men aren’t employed or looking for jobs waa waaa they aren’t getting married waaa. I am not sure what possessed him to think this was an appropriate idea in an article that is supposed to honor the people who sacrificed their lives in the Aurora shooting, but whatever, if there’s nothing we’ve learned from years of shootings, it’s that they’re a wonderful opportunity for everyone to pull out their pet issues, however unrelated, and start waving them around. “The lesson we have learned from this tragedy is that everyone should be doing what I said we should be doing the whole time!”
But here’s a fun fact, Mr. Bennett. Whether you’re married has nothing to do with whether you’re a good person. Whether you have a job has nothing to do with whether you’re a good person. Whether you’re married, your employment status, and whether you walked out on your kids have nothing to do with whether you’d sacrifice your life to save your partner. These are all completely unrelated things.
A few months ago, my life was saved by my best friend. He also happens to be an unemployed man who has no intentions of marrying anyone, lives in his parents’ basement, and plays a lot of video games. These are not contradictory. He is generous, selfless, loving, and kind to the point that it humbles me– and “unsuccessful” in every sense of the word you believe in, Mr. Bennett. He’s one of those men you think are failures as men. You know what that says to me, Mr. Bennett? It says that your definition of success is wrong. It’s bullshit. It has nothing to do with whether you’re a good person, or even a good man (whatever that means). I don’t want a part of any idea of goodness or manhood that says my best friend is a failure, because he is not. He is a better man than you, Mr. Bennett. He’s a better man than you’ll ever be.
I suppose Mr. Bennett and I agree about a few things. We agree about the need for real heroes, and that the Aurora three are examples of those. We believe they should be honored. We believe in what I call ethics and what he calls honor. But he believes that their sacrifices should be honored as some kind of social-engineering experiment to create the men he desires, and I think they should be honored because it is a good thing to give your life for those you love– regardless of what gender you happen to be.