On the eve of the confirmation hearing for an elitist preppie know-nothing of the sort who populated too much of my undergraduate days, I offer a reminiscence of earlier work experiences and a couple of thoughts on bar fights and masculinity.
The Senate hearings were a particular nightmare for those who have suffered sexual assault. I’m lucky – I have avoided that situation somehow in my life. It was also a showcase for what men get away with, and I hope it’s one of the last places in which I was lucky in that I never had to work for a yeller.
The one time in my corporate experience I had someone yell at me happened with one of my programmers. He came back from a meeting with a customer, and he looked sick.
“What the hell happened” I asked, with my usual ability to quickly judge the obvious.
“That guy is out of control – he yelled at me for ten minutes about the bill we submitted.”
“Yeah, he doesn’t want to pay a bill that has anything other than three zeroes at the end.”
I wasn’t even sure what that meant, but I made sure that the next bill we sent was very large, with at least three zeroes on it. I’m not sure he got it though, because after I went in and talked to him, the situation got worse.
“You need to stop yelling. This is unprofessional, and treating people like this just shows what an asshole you are.”
I walk out. And the next day my bosses canceled the contract with his firm. We left them in the lurch, and probably hurt our ability to do business in the Boston area for a couple of years, but the guys I worked for weren’t having their employees treated like that.
Even in the early 90s we knew that yelling at others was not the way to make business happen.
The Bar Fight
Suddenly, the bar fight has become a marker of masculinity. Lots of folks are coming out of the woodwork with elaborate tales of bar fights they have managed to survive, and we now know that they are, truly, men.
Bullshit. As my brother says, getting in a bar fight is just stupid. None of us have any idea what the person who wants to fight has on them, in the form of weaponry, tolerance of pain, MMA cards, or whatever. Who wants to risk their future on a situation that they can’t possibly have any control over, and which can even accidentally go very, very wrong?
I’ve been in a bar fight once. Since then I’m always quick to either de-escalate or get the hell out, pulling friends with me. So many factors out of your control, and so many possibilities for very bad consequences, makes being in a bar fight seem like a stupid risk to me. To all the suddenly macho men who are bragging about multiple bar fights, I’d encourage you to find another way to prove your manliness. Perhaps you could take up rugby, a sport where foes actually do drink beer after matches, unlike the movie scenes of bar fights in which guys beat the shit out of each other and then drink afterwards. Try boxing, or MMA, or even a mosh pit, places where there are rules and referees and in which men can truly test their own strength and ability to take a punch or two.
Soon-to-be Justice Kavanaugh did the bar fight right, at least. He didn’t actually fight – he just taunted someone else until his friend (according to stories it’s Chris Dudley, who played in the paint in the NBA, a place to prove one’s masculinity like no other) did the actual fighting. My guess is that he’s a coward in all the truest senses, and I can only imagine the horrors he will be a part of as a Justice who has promised consequences as retribution to his political enemies, but perhaps one of his biggest accomplishments will be a negative one (from his perspective) – young men will no longer grow up to think that getting into a bar fight proves that they are macho.