I have my grandfather's war medals in a small wooden chest,
along with two pictures--one of him as a young man in military
uniform, and another of him as a grandfather. Also in the box is
a poem about the war which he wrote to the woman who would
become my grandmother. The poem is simple and about as good as
one can expect from an immigrant with an elementary school
education and a future as a milkman.
When the United States entered World War I my grandfather lied
about his age so he could join the army, wanting to show his
gratitude to the country which had allowed him to escape foreign
tyranny. Wounded in the decisive Battle of the Argonne Forest in
1918, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the French Croix de
Last week Dr. Helen Caldicott, renowned feminist and antiwar
activist, spat on him.
In a speech released under the title "Men: Natural Born Killers"
Caldicott told feminist antiwar demonstrators that the male of
the human species has unbridled bloodlust, explaining that
"young men rushed off to battle in the first World War. So eager
were they to participate in the noble act of killing that they
lied about their age."
In other words, grandpa didn't enlist out of duty, loyalty or
honor, but instead because he wanted the chance to kill.
Welcome to the world of modern feminism, where everything men do
is either privilege or pathology and all events and actions are
seen through a sharply focused, anti-male lens. Caldicott also
told the audience that the "killing reflex" came to be "located
in the human (male's) brain" back when the "world was hostile"
and "full of saber-tooth tigers, mammoth elephants and roaring
tribes. While women sat in caves breastfeeding and nurturing
their young, the males quickly learned to protect their genes by
aggression and killing."
"Protect their genes," Ms. Caldicott? No, they were protecting
the women and children they loved. They risked their lives and
sacrificed themselves to protect them, as men have done to
varying degrees in all human societies from the beginning of
time right up to the present.
Caldicott told a story of an upscale social gathering where she
described the tremendous destructive capabilities of modern
weapons in gruesome detail. The crowd quickly divided along
gender lines, she says, and the men (who Caldicott asserts are
"almost clinically and psychologically dead") listened intently
to her descriptions. The women "sat on the periphery watching my
interrogation and silently agreeing with me" but "had no courage
to publicly take on their men for fear of later rejection and
retribution." Retribution? I suppose Caldicott thinks that on
the drive home the husbands of wives who expressed disagreement
over the war would take them off to the side of the road for a
beating. This would fit perfectly with men's nature, of course.
According to Caldicott, societies dominated by "male values"
approve of violence and killing, and she criticizes women for
being "absolute wimps" who "condone [male] psychotic behavior by
their silence." She ignores the fact that, rightly or wrongly,
American women support this country's wars as much or nearly as
much as men do. According to a Washington Post/ABC poll
conducted on Sunday, March 23, 78 percent of men and 66 percent
of women support the current war. When the United States went to
war against Iraq in 1991, 87 percent of men and 78 percent of
Caldicott also ignores the fact that women have always played a
crucial role in ensuring that men serve in wars. As men's issues
author Warren Farrell notes, during the Civil War Southern women
"hissed and groaned" at male civilians. According to historian
Ken Burns, few Southern men tried to hire substitutes to fight
for them because the Southern women "wouldn't permit it." During
World War I women in the capitals of the warring cities of
Europe would hand civilian men flowers to show that they viewed
them as cowards for not enlisting.
An excellent illustration of women's power to shame men into
fighting can be seen in the Australian movie Gallipoli.
The movie is the story of how two young men from the Australian
outback come to enlist in the army and fight in one of history's
bloodiest battles, the Battle of Gallipoli.
Of the two main characters, one is determined to enlist,
believing it is his patriotic duty. The other, played by Mel
Gibson, has no desire to fight and says the war is "an English
war" which has nothing to do with Australia or its interests.
However, while at a small dinner party where both Gibson and his
friend interact with an attractive young woman, Gibson is shamed
for his lack of martial spirit. Shortly afterwards, he tells his
friend that he does not want to be treated like this the rest of
his life and enlists.
Similarly, several years ago an Israeli political analyst
pointed to this phenomenon to support his assertion that support
for militarism and hardline policies had declined precipitously
in Israel. His evidence? For the first time in his country's
history a draft dodger could get a girlfriend, he explained.
Like many feminists, Caldicott actually has some good ideas once
you get past her prejudice against men. Whether one agrees with
the current war or not, certainly her concern for civilian
casualties is legitimate, as is her belief that the general
public understands little about the nuts and bolts and
destructive capability of modern warfare. And proper respect for
the men who have sacrificed their lives in the service of their
country and for what they believed was right does not mean that
one must endorse all wars or any wars, including the present
When my grandfather returned from World War I he started a
family. Seventy years later my mother can still remember her
tender father staying up half the night stroking the fevered
brow of his sickly youngest daughter before going to work at
three in the morning. As a boy I loved and revered my
grandfather and I can still remember the pain I felt almost
three decades ago when my mother came into my room sobbing and
told me that grandpa was dead.
This magnificent man (and the millions like him) is not your
punching bag, Ms. Caldicott. He's not a bloodthirsty warmonger,
or an oppressor, or a patriarch, or an abuser, or any other of
the dozens of repulsive canards which feminists have used to
vilify men over the past three decades. He was instead a kind
and decent human being whose masculinity was in no way inferior
to the femininity whose virtues you extol.
Glenn Sacks is a men's and fathers' issues columnist and
radio talk show host. His columns have appeared in dozens of
America's largest newspapers. To learn more about his radio
show, go to
His Side with Glenn Sacks. Glenn can be reached via his
GlennSacks.com, or at