No Holds Barred: The problem with men

Mike Huckabee’s attack on Natalie Portman for being pregnant and unmarried was in poor taste and directed at the wrong target.

Natalie Portman at Oscars 311 (photo credit: MCT)
Natalie Portman at Oscars 311
(photo credit: MCT)
Just as I was about to write a column praising Natalie Portman for hitting back at John Galliano, along comes Mike Huckabee to attack her for being unmarried and pregnant. This was the wrong time, Mike. But before I respond to Huckabee – for whom I have much respect – let me first explain why Portman elicited my praise.
OUR WORLD constantly excuses evil. The Hitlers and Stalins are only “sick,” as if they committed their evil as a result of mental illness. That’s how you now hear people speaking about Muammar Gaddafi – he’s a weirdo, high as a kite – instead of calling him what he really is – evil to the core.
About five years ago I wrote a column that said that although most of my close friends are staunch liberals, I could never embrace liberalism because it refuses to hate evil. The inability of the two most powerful people in the United States ( the US president and the secretary of state) to stand up and say “Gaddafi is, was and always will be an evil despot” is sad proof of my conviction.
So it was with glee that I read Portman’s courageous statement in the wake of Galliano’s exposure as an anti-Semite. When Mel Gibson made a film depicting Jews as Christ-killers, the Jews of Hollywood – with the notable exception of my former agent Ari Emanuel – excused him and continued to work with him. Even after he got drunk and called us all “f-ing Jews” who incite all the world’s wars, Hollywood still cast him in films. It wasn’t until we discovered that he also hates women, African-Americans and Lord knows who else that he was finally shunned.
But when a famed designer, an “artist,” made his admiration for Hitler known, a leading actress who had just won an Academy Award told him to go to hell. Saying she was “shocked and disgusted,” she declared herself proud to be Jewish. Party on, Natalie! So perhaps Huckabee should have thought twice before choosing this particular moment to attack a Hollywood hero.
Not that Huckabee doesn’t have an important overall point. It is disconcerting that few in Hollywood seem to believe children should be brought into the world amid the security of marriage, and surely our stars would agree that most children love to see mom and dad as husband and wife.
But having said this, Portman is quite simply the wrong target. Huckabee’s ire ought to be directed toward the men who are the real problem.
Once there was a code of honor among men about how to treat women. If you lived with a woman and wanted to have a child with her, you granted her the ultimate compliment of publicly declaring your love for and commitment to her by making her your wife.
Marriage involves a man selecting one woman and simultaneously de-selecting every other, thereby establishing the object of his love as his one and only.
In today’s selfish age, however, the male honor code is broken. Men treat women casually, and hedge their bets. And why not? If you can have a woman commit to you without having to reciprocate, the whole marriage deal can seem a bit gratuitous.
This is a regular mistake made by social conservatives.
Last week, Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptists, published a column in The Wall Street Journal enjoining religious conservatives not to give up the fight on abortion – which he called the most divisive of all social issues in America. But why can’t we find language that is actually unifying? Both the Left and the Right agree that respect for women is a paramount virtue. Yet most abortions are the product of men having sex with women they don’t love, impregnating them and abandoning them. These are not real men but hormonally driven, walking sperm banks. Yes, women also have to learn to respect themselves, but more importantly, parents and schools must give males a desire to be gentlemen again.
So instead of beating an endless drum on abortion, why not focus on the real problem? Is there anyone, of any political persuasion, who would condone men using women as masturbatory receptacles and then disappearing from their lives? Granted, men who have a child with a woman in a serious relationship, like Portman’s beau, Benjamin Millepied, are not in this category, and indeed he is her fiancé. Still, there are far too many men who leave the scene as soon as a woman gets pregnant.
IN HIS comments, Huckabee acknowledged that it’s the men who are the problem, which makes his attack on Portman even more curious. “You know, right now, 75 percent of black kids in this country are born out of wedlock, 61% of Hispanic kids – across the board, 41% of all live births in America are out of wedlock births,” he said. “And the cost of that is simply staggering.”
But it’s not the women who are abandoning these kids, Mike, but the men.
And the same applies to so many of the recent racist tirades, nearly all of which are by ‘famous,’ broken and messed-up men.
The writer is the author of 25 books, and has recently published Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life and Honoring the Child Spirit: Inspiration and Learning from Our Children. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.