This is posted with permission from Verity Buchanan.
I have wanted to speak about this for a long time. I’ve held back from fear of antagonizing or hurting others. In fact, I daresay I will regret posting this. But I cannot stay silent, and so forgive me for briefly becoming as political as I will ever get.
Society’s media generally shapes society’s soul. We don’t live in a society where women are portrayed as weak and incompetent. Instead, we live in a society that sees men as everything problematic and women as strong and perfect. Psychologically, this conditions society into unconscious (or conscious) biases against men–not women–so those who believe women are weak will tend to be the exception instead of the pattern. The men have to deal with the incredible burden of society’s image of them every day in their souls, in their interactions–everything. They are mistreated and judged simply because of their gender. They feel the weight of judgment from every sort of media and conditioning available to our society. Against such a chorus, the affirmation of friends is barely a whisper. Only by reading the Bible can they maintain a positive self-image.
C.S. Lewis once wrote in The Screwtape Letters that society will inevitably target something, so the goal (of Screwtape) is to make them target the thing society is having the least problem with. In a society that demonizes and destroys men, we focus on how women are being mistreated and ignore the men’s situation. Anyone who brings men’s plight up is labeled a sexist. Lewis was spot on.
This is true. It is so sadly true and I have witnessed it my whole late teens/adult life.
I didn’t witness it growing up. I grew up in an environment where men and women were equally esteemed, where men were allowed to be masculine and women allowed to be feminine, where it was a good thing for a man to be the protector, where it was a good thing for men to be looked up to. I grew up around amazing young men who had incredible older men as their role models. They are still the most godly, gentle, wise young men I know.
No man should be afraid to be a man. No man should be ashamed of being a man.
If people shamed women for being women, the country would be up in arms. Yet men are shamed for being men and the voices are silent. Women were once called lesser because they were the weaker sex. Now men are called lesser because they are the stronger sex. Is one extreme less wrong than the other? Men are humans. They are not some biologically skewed monster capable only of brutality and objectifying.
That is why I cannot call myself a feminist. The first-wave feminism was understandable and the motives commendable, but in their efforts to raise their own status, they degraded that of their counterparts. It is never right to trample on others to reach the top. The ends do not justify the means.
Prejudice is an evil, no matter where it arises. Still more is it an evil when it targets something that is in no way the prejudice victim’s fault.
The Facebook comment above is a glimpse into what it is like for a God-fearing man to live in today’s culture. It is a culture that despises him for something he cannot help. Rather than lift him up and teach him to exercise his male-related gifts for good, rather than promote harmony between the man and the woman, it tells him that everything male about him is bad.
It’s not that blatant everywhere, but it is inescapable. As part of our culture, it bleeds into the framework of everyday life and speech.
Didn’t God create the male as well as the female? Didn’t both male and female fall into sin? Aren’t we both his image-bearers, though both fallen?
My heart aches for the men in the world, men who are not the men they could be because the world is telling them they cannot be men. My heart aches for the men who are fighting the culture and yet beaten back by it every day. For the male authors I know who are rejected by publishing companies for being white, straight males.
And my heart aches for the women in the world who are fed these same lies and do not understand what a beautiful, harmonious relationship with a man looks like. For those who have been wronged by men and find it hard to trust any man at all, and the world is only too happy to feed that distrust. For those who wonder if there are any “real men” left in the world.
What is wrong with us?
And that is why I will never stop writing male characters.
Real male characters.
Men who can be role models for man and woman alike.
Men who can show boys that their masculinity is not something to be ashamed of.
Men who are heroes. Villains. Gentle. Stubborn. Meek. Bold. Dreamers. Doers. Timid. Valiant. Fierce. Tender. Depraved. Redeemed. Pessimistic. Optimistic. Peaceful. Scrappy. Loving. Hating.
If we could only see that we’re all human.
Special thanks to Verity and to the others that contributed to this post. It is all their words, but I whole-heartedly agree with them. It is a tragedy and it needs more awareness.