Solomon Jones’ Quaint Views on Women, Men

On issues of gender and marriage, the Daily News columnist is living in the past.

solomonjones-400x400When this old world starts getting me down and people are just too much for me to face (doo-doo, doo-doo), I like to open the pages of the Daily News and find me some Solomon Jones. If you don’t know Mr. Jones, he is, as the Daily News describes him, the author of 10 books, the married father of three, and a parenting columnist. I can understand why he became a parenting columnist. On a planet that so often seems to be spinning too quickly, Mr. Jones is a calming influence, an anodyne presence, an antidote to the harsh rush of reality. Mr. Jones’s world is more akin to Mayberry or, perhaps, the land of the Lockhorns than the present day. One of his role models, after all, is Mr. Wilson, Dennis the Menace’s curmudgeonly neighbor from back when TV, and so much else, was black and white.

Consider, if you will, the piece he wrote not long ago (he has a weekly column at the DN) on the TV show Marriage Boot Camp. It was a small, gem-like riff  on how real life is much more fraught with hazards than any “reality TV” show could ever be:

On each of these occasions, marriage boot camp is in full swing. Someone’s going to start yelling, trash cans are going to start rattling and one of you is going to have to drop and give your spouse 20. You’ll have to give them 20 seconds to hand over the ice cream. You’ll have to give them 20 sentences of dialogue during the NFC Championship game. You’ll have to give them 20 minutes of affection when you’re exhausted. That’s marriage boot camp, my friends. It’s on every day at my house, and it’s probably on at your house, too.

Because, seriously, fellas, don’t you just hate it when your wife wants to talk to you during the big game? Don’t you detest it when you’re tired and she wants to cuddle? Women — so unreasonable and demanding, amirite? I can just hear those trash cans rattling!

Mr. Jones’s wife, LaVeta, is annoying to him in other amusing ways. Consider the treatise he wrote on how she connives to keep him from straying from the marital bed:

She couldn’t have a buff 40-something guy leaving the house every day for work. Not in the summertime. Not when there are so many young women desperately seeking a man with a job and health insurance.

So what does Mrs. Jones do to thwart this, starting way back last winter, here in the 21st century?

Every time it snowed, LaVeta would cook some sinfully delicious meal and stare me down, waiting for me to break.

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach! Never gets old!

Mrs. Jones is a peach, the sort of wife I dearly wish I could be. When Mr. Jones becomes ill, she nurses him back to health. She lets him handle the sensitive conversations with their daughter about not dressing like that tramp Rihanna. She takes him to A.C. — A.C.! — for Father’s Day, though he winds up paying. But what else is new?

When our wives wanted a fancy romantic getaway, we paid the tab in the hopes of getting a little affection. Unfortunately, that resulted in kids, which raised the amount of the tab even higher.

Conniving, you see?

It’s no wonder Mr. Jones seeks solace in the past, because when he runs up against the present day, he gets confoozled. “Help me understand the short skirt,” he appealed to his readers in a blog post  this summer:

Could it be that women who spend all day tugging at those short skirts are actually trying to call attention to them? … Do women mean it when they try to pull their too-short clothing into place, or is it a carefully orchestrated con game? Inquiring minds want to know.

Imagine Mr. Jones’s consternation when, in response to this earnest plea for edification, women told him that the post was not a very good idea. In fact, they said, it was unacceptable, and sexist. As one reader put it:

To ask if it is a game to call attention to a woman’s body, supports the objectification of women. A woman is more than her short skirt, a woman is more than her outfit, and questioning the point of either is an exercise in misogyny.

Poor Mr. Jones was bewildered by these accusations. “I don’t think it’s cool to tell someone what they should think, feel or say,” he chided these thoughtless females who don’t understand their place as objects for the masculine gaze.

But you must not think that Mr. Jones is insensitive to the greater issues of our day. In response to a thoughtful, impassioned article by local writer Denise Clay on male privilege, Mr. Jones penned “Kim Kardashian and the Way Men Think,” prompted by a woman who walked by him “in shorts that were so small they showed much of her buttocks.” Mr. Jones employs this as a teaching moment with his 12-year-old daughter, telling her:

“That woman was sending a message. She was saying, ‘This is what I have to offer.’ When you walk around with your butt hanging out men are going to respond to that, and you might not like the way they respond, because you are telling them that you want them to see that. You’re saying you want them to pay attention to that.”

Do you think that is a sexist statement? Mr. Jones is way ahead of you: “There are those who will tell me that’s a sexist statement. I respectfully disagree.”

When you come right down to it, women are the devil. In his most recent column, Mr. Jones confirms this. He writes that “something changes when a man gets married. It’s gradual at first. You miss a new song here, a bit of slang there. … With the pressure of juggling a wife, kids and a job, it’s hard to care about Lil Wayne’s biggest hits.” Being married, he laments, has made him uncool: “We wait for our wives to fall asleep, and listen to hip-hop on the radio.” The old ball-and-chain! All he can do now is “sit on the couch as everyone from my wife to the family cat parades past. My eyes downcast in a look of utter acceptance, I will hand out money till it’s gone.” It’s so fortunate that Mrs. Jones and the children have him to provide, and to guide them in life. As he once summed up his feelings for his life partner, “Then I think of the best dish of all — my wife.” What a delicious sentiment!

Mr. Jones was recently chosen as Online Journalist of the Year by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, an organization in which Ms. Clay is active. The PABJ lauded Mr. Jones’s work as “extraordinary in depth, scope and significance.” I couldn’t agree more with that. It’s hard to imagine any writer immersing readers in the wonderful world of long-ago with such relentless determination and persistence. The Daily News is blessed to have a columnist whose worldview dovetails so perfectly with that of its commentariat.

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