a few weeks ago, on Father’s Day of all days, a man came up on stage to do the announcements for church and in the process of talking about Father’s Day, he mentioned that his wife had been gone all week and he had been alone with his kids all week and how all three of them (he and his two kids) were so relieved to have his wife back because she was the better parent of the two and everyone’s lives were made easier by having her around.
now, i get appreciating your wife. i like to think that one day when i’m married, i’ll give a lot of credit and praise to my wife and that we’ll be partners in taking care of the kids, but for now there’s something cringe-worthy of hearing a man, on father’s day, make cliche quips about how women are better parents than men, and not a single mention for the praise-worthy characteristics of men. on Father’s Day.
it comes as a surprise to people (sometimes, anyway) when they find out i’m a little right-leaning in my political/sociocultural views. (i guess it’s because i’m nice, because i’m not rich, because i’m respectful, because i make efforts to learn Spanish and have been to a couple of countries outside the US to do missions and i don’t hate non-white people, which i guess is un-conservative.) i listen to a lot of the Ben Shapiro show, which is helpful in shaping my opinions on what’s happening in the world. one of the reasons i love (and hate) his show is that he will bring up articles written by major ‘news’ publications and rip them a new one, and while i am a little tribal in rooting for him while he dismantles their arguments, i also find myself incredibly sad at the things that go through people’s minds.
recently there was an article published in the Washington Post called why can’t we hate men? (yes, that’s a real title) and its conclusion basically suggests that if you’re actually a good man, you’re only going to vote for feminist political candidates, you’re going to step away from positions of power and influence, you’re going to sit down, shut up, and play for Team Feminist. i guess that men are supposed to be some sort of Brian Scalabrine, keeping the bench warm and being on the team but literally having no influence whatsoever. and it’s not just the one article. theres this one, about how women have the right to hate men; or this one, about how she used to not hate men, but now she decided it’s what “intelligent women” do and how she will patronizingly tolerate some individual men, but hates the class of men altogether.
first of all, i’m a little bit sorry for delving into this on my blog, since i try to stay largely introspective and not do a whole lot of political or social or cultural commentary. but this one’s been burning in my bones for a while, so i’m not actually that sorry.
i just have to say that this is how you get more sexism. sexism breeds sexism which breeds sexism. so if there’s a system which oppresses women (which i’m willing to believe is true, despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary) then i agree that we need to figure a way to disarm that system. but we have to recognize that disarming that system is a lot like disarming a bomb – cut the right wires in the right sequence and you’ll successfully disarm it without incident, but if you cut the wrong one, you blow the whole thing up – including yourself.
i think that my greatest pet peeve about the cultural conversation around gender at the moment (amidst a flurry of peeves) is how we talk about men, but we don’t talk about manhood. we really need to define manhood, because it’s my belief that we have a totally misguided idea of what manhood is, and therefore we talk about men in the wrong light.
i think the greatest perpetuator of incorrect ideas of manhood is a lack of male role models and male figures to look up to. i think that fatherlessness is a social epidemic, and you can explore some statistics on the phenomenon here, but just to throw out a few: children raised in a single-mother home are more likely to display aggressive behavior than in a two-parent home; individuals from a fatherless home are 279% more likely to carry weapons and deal drugs than a two-parent home; poverty rates are four times higher in single-mother homes than a two-parent homes…
i have more to say but let me start with this:
men, you matter.
seriously. you matter so much. you matter.
i wish someone else were out there saying this more, because i am convinced that the first thing the world is going to try to take away is that you matter at all, that you have an influence at all. i know that i’ve entertained the line of thinking that a woman just needs a man to inseminate her so she can get pregnant, and she can take it from there. you know what? that’s kind of true – women are strong and incredible and it’s amazing the fact that a woman’s body is capable of growing and feeding and sustaining a human life. but i’m here to tell you that the child’s life will be better and the mother’s life will be better if you – a good man – are around to be helpful and supportive and constructive.
but let me say this: you just being around isn’t enough. that is – you cannot be passive. you don’t just exist to pay the bills, to be a warm body at night, to be someone to play catch with. men and women should be helping each other – it’s not a one-way street of women being supportive and doting and being at home for their man to get off of work; nor is it a one-way street of the woman doing all of the parenting because it “comes more naturally” or because she’s “better at it.”
men, you matter.
women, you matter too.
let me guard against something really quick – i’ve heard it said that if equality feels like oppression, it means you’re accustomed to privilege, so let me do my best at being open-handed and saying that i’m not trying to push back against women or feminists, i’m not trying to claim any sort of male victimhood. if anything, i feel (in my own spirit) more like i’m bracing for a wave, and i’m willing to crash into it, but not willing to be swept away by it. i’m not willing to sit around and listen to men get trashed and thrown away as unnecessary. that’s a load of crap.
now, that said, i think there is something to properly channeling masculinity. i think masculinity is a good thing when it’s used and held properly, and i think it’s an awful thing when it’s not. (again, i would submit that male role models in life are incredibly important in understanding how to properly channel masculinity.)
i think there are some basic traits to masculinity: pride, strength, passion, ambition, desire. there’s a lot more, but i’ll go with those for now. i think there’s a roaring in the spirit of every man. i think when you don’t channel those traits, you wind up with some ugly stuff. i think rape – to use one gross example – is misguided pride (pride of what you can “conquer,”) misguided strength (strength used for gain instead of strength used to help,) misguided passion (instead of loving a woman, you love her body only,) misguided ambition (same idea – you have the ambition for sex but not the ambition for love) and misguided desire (same idea as passion, you have the desire for a body, but not for a soul.)
i think that war is – or can be – misguided pride.
i think bullying is misguided “strength” and “pride.”
i think that careerism – the dog-eat-dog of the working world – is misguided pride and ambition and strength.
but good God, i think there’s a whole hell of a lot of good that masculinity can do and does regularly.
i think masculinity writes some astounding works of literature (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a wonderful piece on the dynamism of the human man, i think that’s well-guided passion and strength to explore the topic.)
i think masculinity creates some astounding pieces of architecture (desire and ambition channeled properly.)
masculinity creates some great businesses.
teaches the next generation of scholars.
raises some amazing children.
loves some amazing wives.
contributes to amazing mission and relief work across the world.
leaves legacies that can’t be unwritten.
(before you say that women can do all of those things too, let me get ahead of you – i agree with you! women can and do do all of those things. that’s exactly my point…that men and women both accomplish great things.)
masculinity matters. it’s important. it’s deeply, deeply important. as much as the world wants you to think it’s not, wants you to think that a man’s only value is to provide sperm for a baby (except our culture loves abortion, too – so even that isn’t valuable to them) i want to swing the ideological pendulum back to the other side and say – shout, even – that being a man is deeply important, deeply valuable, and deeply good. i want to say that as men in the world we should aspire to raise good sons who will be good fathers to good sons, who will be good, ethical, fair businessmen, who will be good husbands to wives, who will not sleep around in college and demean women’s bodies, who will channel all of their creative energies to write, to create, to build, and to dream, and who (perhaps most importantly) will not apologize for being a man. manhood is not superior to femininity, but it sure as hell isn’t inferior either.
so men, go be a man. go be passionate. be ambitious. desire things. dream big. don’t step on anyone while you do it – but don’t let yourself be stepped on, either.
the world needs you.