Recently a male movie critic, while reviewing the recent film rendition of “Little Women,” stated that he was almost embarrassed to admit that he had seen the movie and that men in general who purposely avoided the movie or who saw it and liked the movie are hiding in the closet. His opinion is that men are reluctant or ashamed to see a movie that focuses on compassion, generosity and kindness displayed by women because men see these traits as not being masculine. The familiar trope that men are cold, hard hearted and out of touch with emotions other than anger is again tossed out as it is an unquestioned truth.
I did see the movie and am not embarrassed to admit it. It was well acted and visually attractive. However what bothered me about the movie, actually the book Little Women, is that insufficient attention is given to the virtue of the men involved with the female characters. Mr. March, the husband and father of the four sisters makes his appearance towards the end of the movie when he returns from fighting in the Civil War. Is it possible that the reason his wife and four daughters are fundamentally well adjusted and loyal to him is because he is a good father? Very little attention is given in the script to the influence this good father and husband had on creating a cohesive and healthy family life. Another character that seems to be undervalued is Mr. Laurence. He is the wealthy neighbor who is kind and generous to the March family including allowing one of the daughters access to his home to play his piano and then he gives her the piano.
Unfortunately, those who champion the movie as an homage to the resiliency and virtue of women forget that male energy also contributed to the characters of the women in the story. In general the countless examples of men supporting each other and their families is not sufficiently recognized as compassion, generosity and kindness. Society benefits when we value the synergism created by the uniqueness of male energy combined with the uniqueness of female energy. The simplistic notion of gender neutrality negates this synergy with the false narrative that men and women are essentially the same. Families thrive when both a mother and a father are actively involved in the parenting journey.