When I read this post on Pat Lang's blog this morning, I spotted a comment that bothered me:
Saddam may have killed your father, uncle or brother, but he died a man.
I wrote a comment to the effect that the phrase "dying a man" implies that only men are capable of dying courageously. We all know women are equally courageous as men, so why continue the stereotype that courageous behavior is male? This is bothersome to men, I imagine, who'd like to be able to express emotion without being called "girly" as well as women, who are tired of having their sex used synonymously for "weak".
I also indicated that while it was probably an inadvertent use of the language, continuing to use such phrases only furthers old, sexist stereotypes. I'm not a frequent reader of this blog; I only read it when No Quarter links to it, so I didn't imagine the author was a serial sexist.
And then I waited for my comment to be approved.
Imagine my surprise when I got this reply in my inbox:
I discipline people on my site, not you.
Huh? Did you not write the original comment, I asked, and in reply, was told:
If you do not have the wit to understand that that line means that he
died a resolute human being, then you have problems too profound for me to
Wait! Me, witless? Moi? Surely W. Patrick Lang, ret. colonel, U.S. Army., has never read my blog! All right, I'll concede that point, but if Col. Lang ever tries to tell me or my daughters that we are incapable of dying as "resolute human beings" because of our sex, I'll have a few words to say to him, none of which need involve wit.
For starters, I could tell him about the many courageous women who've died, maybe even under his command, while fighting for their country. I could tell him about women I've watched die from cancer, never uttering a cowardly word. I could tell him about watching my mother fight a horrible disease, never once crying over how life had dealt her such a rotten hand.
And I'd tell him how continuing to use phrases like "died a man" only makes one look a fool.
(I might also add that refusing to publish critical comments on your blog might be construed by some as cowardly. Or at the very least a "profound problem".)