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Saturday, February 17, 2018

To "That Guy"

I don't care if I get hate mail or people wishing I was dead for this. It needs to be said and expounded upon, so I'm writing about it now. I actually had written about today's topic a while ago but read it to someone to see what they thought first and realized that the way I had approached the subject actually was a little off so I never published it. I deleted it. I had originally taken a more general approach and called out society as a whole for creating the problem I'll be talking about, but this time I'll confront it by sending out encouragement and kindness to people, like me, who are or have been victims of the problem. The more I talk about this to others in person, the more backlash I get, so I've decided to go the other way and just give victims of the problem the level of validation I have needed and not had much of for most of my life. If I give that to someone, maybe it will come back to me naturally and no that is not a subtle way of asking for it. I really am just here to offer kind words to the victims of the problem.

What am I referring to? Anti-masculism.

And no, I do not hate feminists. Women are beautiful and wonderful and amazing and powerful, etc. etc. Please don't imagine that this is some sort of passive aggressive dig at women because it's NOT.

Now I know there some people out there, even specific people (especially people who know me), who may be at first inclined to think, 'Oh boy. Here he goes again.' I'm asking nicely when I say, please don't get that bias in your head about me already. Please try to be a bit open minded and consider that what I'm about to do here is not an attempt to call out anyone or anyones for intentionally or unintentionally reinforcing negative societal stereotypes about men. I have spoken a lot to a few select people about how poorly men are treated in the modern world and all I get back is an attitude of "well, you shouldn't be surprised about it after thousands of years of it being the other way around." Please don't jump on that bandwagon. Don't be about revenge, This is simply me trying to offer help and encouragement to the guy who, because of those stereotypes, is being denied opportunities to be their true self, to become the son (as opposed to Son) of God he is supposed to be, to be a man. This is to the guy who people write off as immature by virtue of his gender, who others silence when he says something that someone else falsely interprets as bombastic, overreacting, sexist or rude because "that's how guys are".

This one is for that guy.

I've been in your shoes for most of my life. I grew up in an environment where men were considered to be the weaker gender. No one ever would have ever actually said that out loud, or at least would have been joking if they ever did say anything like that, but that type of mentality was almost palpable in the air and in the mood of every conversation that even kind of veered towards differences between men and women. You know what I'm talking about, right? You'll hear people say to a married man (or even just dating) things about his woman being his "better half" or man and women supporting the belief that it's just a sign of humility on the guys part and keeps him aware of "his place" in society.

I do know a lot of guys who don't have a problem with this and claim that it doesn't bother them, but I don't buy it. Every human being, male or female, has the right to feel like they are considered as just as valuable, loved and cared for as anyone else. Comparing anyone on this planet to anyone else is wrong. I don't care if it's done in the name of humor or even if, in some cases, what's being said about specifically "Billy John Bob" is true. Comparing anyone to anyone else has no place in the human experience; and yes, I need to work on that one myself. Yes, there are eternally pivotal, divinely designed differences between men and women, but those differences were not meant to be a reason to pit one gender against the other. This all reminds me of a scenario where humor or sarcasm is used in this way in a book I read called Without Offense: The Art of Giving and Receiving Criticism.
  • [Sarcasm] is the act of making fun of a person in a clever way. The word originally came from the Greek sarkazein, meaning, literally, "to strip the flesh."

    People justify the use of sarcasm because it is infused with humor. The one being sarcastic can always claim humor as his or her objective, while removing a strip of flesh from the one lashed by the tongue of the critic. For example, a husband might say, "I like your hair, dear. I wonder how it would look if you combed it." It's a funny line. Everyone laughs. Even the one who is the target of the joke may laugh, but inside, where self-worth abides, she bleeds a little and feels less worthy as a human being.  Sarcastic words demean and belittle. They are meant to injure. Thomas Carlyle, the famous Scottish essayist, stated quite accurately, "Sarcasm, I now see to be, in general, the language of the devil." (pg 30)
This goes the other way around, too. People may laugh or agree when someone says something like "where's your better half?" or "Oh, just let 'em be dumb and do the guy thing" and you or I may laugh and even sometimes willingly go right along with it, but, deep within, every negative comment diminishes self-esteem and the value of the man. I guarantee you the only reason a man ever agrees that his girl is his better half or that women are better than men is because of either sub-par self-esteem or an unhealthy, sexist attitude that someone (or someones) around him have convinced him is true - that he is somehow less because he's a guy. My friend, don't buy into this lie. Every son of God is of infinite worth to Him, just as much as every one of His daughters.

And to any woman or feminist reading this who wants to insist that guys actually are or ever were somehow less human or less worthy of respect because of their masculinity, you might as well stop reading this now because your perspective doesn't belong anywhere near a civilized conversation or where rational thought prevails.

But, to you, my friend, "that guy," believe me when I say I get it. I know how you really feel when you laugh along with something that makes guys look dumb or somehow uncivilized. It sucks. It's the worst feeling ever. It sucks being in a society where you and I are more likely to get falsely accused and convicted for rape because we are men. It sucks living in fear of what that special woman in your life will think about your mistakes, fearing that she will impulsively associate your weakness with your gender instead of your unique identity. I do get that many weaknesses are as a direct result of gender differences, but those differences a) do not objectively or automatically make us guys better or worse than girls and b) do not give anyone the right to make comparative statements or make light of someone else's weakness or sin.

*edit Mar 11* Just to illustrated how bad it really can be for men these days, take a look at this. It's relatively short: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WMuzhQXJoY *end edit*

Here's to you, "that guy", for trying to be your best anyway. It's not fair to you, me, or even them when derogatory assumptions or statements are made about anything that relates to our masculinity. Heck, it's something to be celebrated. One female blogger even said this:
  • "Millions of women, myself included, celebrate you guys for being dudes. We may joke about how you annoy us with your one-thing-at-a-time focus, but we love that too. Life is simpler and better with you in it. We love how you say what you mean. You’re uncomplicated, straightforward, and easy to talk to. And we usually don’t have to issue disclaimers before we do speak with you…so thanks for that.

    "We appreciate that you want to protect women. Despite what all the feminists say, millions of us know you care for women. We know you would pound a punk into the ground if he tried messing with us. We know you love children and want to protect them. We know you want to call your daughters “princesses,” and you’re not being patriarchal when you do.

    "We celebrate your ambition. One of my favorite qualities in a man is his drive to be his best. He likes to take risks because he likes to push his limits and test his strength. He likes to be challenged both in his career and in his personal pursuits. Every day he is working to better himself to be a greater man than he was before.

    "We love your competitive drive. Women might mock you for needing to “out do” the other guys, but *this* woman at least, enjoys it. What’s life without a little competition? Thanks for the sarcastic back and forth, for trying to one-up your buddy at the gym. Rock on. We’ll watch and cheer you on. But you better win…


    "We love how you pursue us when you like us, and we like you... Yes, men, we LIKE IT when you call us. We like it when you show us how much you care for us by actively pursuing us, even when you have us. We like it when you open the door and treat us like queens. We like it when you make the plans, when you have direction... The world is a better place with men in it. Yes. I WROTE THAT. Millions of us support you. We support your careers. We support your choices. We love you for being masculine, and we celebrate you for it.

    "Now go chop some wood and make us a fire."
If you go read her entire blog there are some ideas she shares that I do not subscribe to, but the general point is that men are SUPPOSED to be MANLY! Sometimes taking a seemingly stupid risk actually is a good thing, like when a guy jumps into a questionable looking pond/trail/tree and finds out the hard way that it's not safe but spares the girl that pain. And fathers who scare the crap out of every one of his daughters boyfriends is doing a good thing!

Bottom line here? Being manly is good! Women are NOT better than men and the same goes the other way around.

To "that guy", celebrate your manliness. Do it with courage, dignity and respect, but do it! Hopefully things turn out right for us and the women that matter most to us see it as a good thing.