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Bob Mustin

I recently read Ava's Man, by Rick Bragg, a Depression era memoir of sorts. The main character, Charlie Bundrum, a carpenter and roofer by trade, adored and protected his very large family of mostly females, but often disappeared into the Alabama woods for extended days of fishing, hunting, moonshining, and just plain prowling.

In the context of that story - and I believe the context has broad applications - the family is essentially a matriarchal thing, organized by women for the nurturing of children (and the women that produce them). Men's role is mostly one of the "outsider": a provider, who rarely establishes the family ethos (read: its "reality").

What this seems to mean to men and women of today is that women want what seems on the surface a schizophrenic thing: a man sensitive to the physical needs and ethical culture of the family, but also a "man's man" a la Russell Crowe.

In the language of Charlie Bundrum, this makes sense. Men support the nurturing of the "tribe" through tenderness, love, and provisioning, but also by prowling the woods and beating back any and all physical threats to the family.

DF

Bob, I have heard of Ava's Man but never read it. You've pointed out something important, which is that "civilized" men do not have to live full-time in civilization to be civilized, and in fact probably do better when they have a chance to be "in the wild" in some way. Enkidu and Gilgamesh spent a long time outside the city, having adventures, killing monsters, and cetera.

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