Bet You Can’t Do This

My father would say, “I bet you can’t rub your head with one hand and pat your stomach with the other.” Try it; it’s hard, but is it possible. He would also say, “I bet you can’t grab yourself by the neck and pick yourself up.” This you can’t to. You have to be outside of yourself to do that. This is the problem with those who have faith in faith, by the way. Their faith is from within not without and it waxes and wanes with how they feel. But I digress, but not too far.

A man can be unmanned. He can do it to himself but usually it happens from without. If you look up the word, Google keeps pointing you to unmanned as in a drone. But if you type in just “unman”, you will find the verb. It first appears in the late 1700s, crescendos in 1850, plummets till it reaches a resurgence in WW II, and then dies down again.

No Surprise here; it roughly follows the waxing and waning of feminism. What is a surprise is that while you can unman a man, you cannot unwoman a woman. Google it and they will have a definition for “unwoman”. But no such word appears in Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary ©1972. The words unwomanly and unwomanlike are there. Deep truths are revealed by real words and when words are made up, say for example: transsexual or gender dysphoria.

You can’t unwoman a woman because her womanhood is tied directly to her biology. You can unman a man because not everyone who has a penis is a man. Manhood – although that has historically been a polite way to refer to the penis – is not something automatically bestowed by biology. It has to be taught, imparted, given, and hence can be forgotten and/or taken away.

I’ve been unmanned before. When the only Green Beret in our Ranger School company was bawling his eyes out before us at Survival Escape Resistance and Evasion school telling our “captors” how sorry he was, I was unmanned. If you have testes you know the physiological effect that goes with the unmanning event. By the way, I’m not sure the Green Beret who was also a Vietnam vet was actually unmanned or was merely role-playing on behalf of the Ranger School instructors. But I wasn’t playing. I was unmanned.

Everyone is embarrassed to see a man unmanned. It’s like the old adage that a henpecked husband is not only hated by other men but even by other women and especially his wife. No woman likes to see a man unmanned. Unwomanly woman do, and that is as close as you can get to being unwomaned.

About Rev. Paul R. Harris

Ordained pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
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