For the Men

I stumbled across an article earlier this week. I say “earlier this week” because after reading, I knew I would need a few days to calm down and be objective enough to write about it.

The article can be found here. Reader discretion advised: he doesn’t bother euphamizing. Take a moment to read it, then come back. Skim this fellow’s whole blog if you wish, to get a better idea of his worldview.

Interesting perspective, wasn’t it?

Now, I know that this fellow’s ideas are hardly representative of a majority. His style is similar to that of anonymous commenters on news articles and YouTube videos. His whole website is full of unabashedly inflammatory opinions, including–to put it lightly–a careless opinion of the value of women (i.e., if you’re female, you’re good for sex and making men look good and not much else).

That’s all I want to say about the author. I’d rather talk about his ideas.

In the article I linked to, the author expresses what he thinks men should be by deriding the men who don’t fit his standard: the soft men, shorter men, quiet men, brainy men, gentle men. Real men, it seems, should be cunning, should be burly, should have “manly” occupations, should ignore their emotions, and should take command of as many women as possible.

He blames birth control on scientific grounds. He asserts that women, when following their natural hormonal cycle, are attracted to “alpha males” and are only drawn to softer “beta” males when taking birth control. He bemoans the fact that we’re begetting a race of soft, malleable, “unthreatening”, “unaggressive” men.

There are a lot of really insulting assumptions here I could point out, but I’ll stick to two.

First assumption: women only like gentle guys if they’ve been medicated out of their desire for men with the “cues of genetic fitness.” This assumption allows for no variance in women’s personalities–women, all women, are only out for one thing, and that’s security with whoever we think is the most attractive. Because that’s how animals work.

Second assumption: gentle, unthreatening men are essentially worthless. They’re not genetically fit enough. A boy who wants to be an artist or an actor or a musician or an intellectual instead of an insensitive tank clearly has something wrong with him. He shouldn’t survive because he’s not the fittest. It’s not fair that the nice boys are getting all the girls. Because that’s not how animals work.

As insulting as these assumptions are, I’ll admit that they are assumptions consistent with the idea that man isn’t made in the image of God (which is an important element of the author’s worldview). After all, if man is no more than an animal, then of course men should strive to mate with as many women as possible, of course women should only gravitate to alpha males, of course we should be worried that the world might be overtaken by generations of “diluted” men. Animals act on instinct more than they act on love, so why should we expect anything else from ourselves but brute instinct?

Why, if men are not made in the image of God, should we expect men to be more than animals?

Biologically, man is an animal, formed out of the dust of the ground like animals were, sharing their genetic code. We have instincts and act on them. I won’t bash or ignore science for a moment–science is cool, and science is super important. But we were set apart–we were created to be something more than beasts. We were made in the image of God. If it weren’t for His reflection on our beings, there would be no repulsion about the issue of rape, no abhorrence for murder, no sense of wrongdoing in cases of adultery. We would just be the animals we are.

In 2 Peter 2, Peter uses some colorful language to describe the attitudes and behaviors of false teachers: “They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish” (2 Peter 2:12). Sin devolves us, reduces us to brute beasts. We’re broken mirrors, hindered in our ability to reflect God’s attributes as we were intended to.

What does this have to do with God and women? Or men?

Back to those assumptions. To address the first assumption, women, in my experience, are about as identical to each other in preferences, personalities, and motivations as snowflakes are. No two are alike. Our reasons for choosing the men we do transcends chemical reactions (though plenty are involved, I’m sure). Sure, we like physical security, but emotional security–the importance of marrying our best friend, companionship, belonging, finding mutual trust and acceptance–often outweighs the consideration of “biologically favorable” physical characteristics. The stereotypical “alpha male” may or may not be able to provide this kind of security. Depends on the case.

As to the second assumption, men, in my experience, are about as identical to each other in preferences, personalities, and motivations as snowflakes are.

Some of the “softest” men in my life are the strongest men I’ve ever known. My grandfather was a skinny, soft-spoken kid who charged the beaches at Normandy and survived to be decorated for his valiance and to marry my gorgeous, headstrong grandmother. He was a quiet man who led with gentleness and loved my grandmother and his two daughters with all of his soft heart. My father is a bookworm who can probably bench press my bodyweight (I’m not light, either), adores my brilliant mother, and stopped traffic both ways to save a kitten hunkered down in the middle of the road. And my husband–my fantastically brainy, gorgeous husband–saved my life just by walking into it. And he didn’t use a drop of machismo to do so.

My point: men don’t have to be “alpha males” to be strong, to be influential, to be loved.

Sometimes I think my male fellow Christians have subliminally accepted the world’s perspective on what men should be. I sometimes hear my brothers express opinions of what manliness is based on a secular, limited definition. Yes, of course, men can and should be leaders, but that doesn’t mean they have to be authoritarian. Yes, men should pursue an occupation, but that doesn’t exclude him from being an artist or a writer or an interior decorator. Yes, men were born with a sin nature, but that doesn’t mean they can’t control their instincts (or their gaze). Yes, woman was made (in part) to help man rule the earth, but that doesn’t mean she exists only for his gratification or only for procreation. I’ve rarely, if ever, heard one of my brothers express such opinions out loud, but sometimes–sometimes–their attitudes reflect this sort of damaging thinking.

We weren’t made to be merely “biologically fit,” we were made to reflect God’s infinitely multifaceted character.

I know that this post has been mostly me spouting my opinions, and for that I’m sorry. The internet has enough of that. But I want both my sisters and my brothers to understand that examining God’s plan for men and for women–and examining it closely, starting at its root–can not only teach us important things about God but also teach us important things about each other.

God’s view of women effects our men, too.

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11 comments

  1. Timothy Pemberton · October 1, 2015

    After reading both your article and his article I have just 2 thoughts.

    The first is that I don’t think evolution has been represented well in either spot. His because he assumes that “alpha males” are the best, and yours because you agree with that interpretation of how evolution works. According to the theory, there is no “preferred” traits or characteristics. Saying a physical trait is good is not a good idea in science. That being said, there are traits that are rewarded (with the passing on of the genes) due to the surroundings. For instance (in many cases) in the jungle camouflage is rewarded by not being killed and able to pass on genes, where being brightly colored may result in the death of the creature. So it is with humans. Being an alpha male may result in passing on the genes to survival, but we as a species have reached a point where being physically strong is no longer a necessity. If that were true, our species would be dead because there are loads of creatures that are stronger and faster than us. It is our intelligence that allows us to rule the earth. This is something that we have had for around 0.5 million years. Before this point, yes, physical strength would have probably been a bit more necessary, but that stopped once we could outsmart (rather than outrun) our predators. In short, there is no reason in the evolutionary model that would require the males of our species to be alpha males.

    This brings me to the second thought–I believe it is religion that is keeping alive this notion of the alpha male through gender roles. According to most religious texts, it should be the men supporting the family rather than the women, and this has classically required physical strength (to hunt, fish, etc.). The thing is, humanity has elevated itself into this modern age where all of that is no longer necessary; we can sit at a computer for 40 hours a week and have plenty of money to obtain food and other necessities, yet these texts (which were written long ago) still say that men should be men so they are able to provide. In case you were wondering, yes, the Bible does have a passage that verifies this: I Corinthians 6:9-10. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, *nor effeminate*, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (KJV) According to this “effeminate men” will not be able to get into heaven. Throughout the years, religion has bolstered this idea of “men should look like men, and women should look like women” through the doctrines of modesty, gender roles, and activities. Therefore, I see this not as an evolutionary problem (this model dictates that being “manly” is no longer necessary because of our intelligence), but a religious one that has saturated our entire culture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • E.A. Stephens · October 1, 2015

      Admittedly, I do not have the understanding of evolutionary theory that I’d like to have, so I’m sure I misrepresented the theory in some points. And thank you for the clarification. I was only trying to point out that the belief that man is merely an animal, not made in the image of God, can at times lead to disastrous conclusions. I have a question though–from an evolutionary perspective, where did human intelligence come from? I’ve never had that point of the theory clarified for me.

      You’re absolutely right–we have more than rudimentary means of supporting ourselves. I work a 40-hour/week desk job that keeps the roof over my and my husband’s heads. But that interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is not quite true to the verse’s context. Verse 11 states “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Salvation (admittance into heaven and the family of God) is *not* based on traits or talents or deeds, but on Christ’s righteousness and His sacrifice. And I’ll agree (if I didn’t, this blog wouldn’t exist) that often Christians have taken the idea that “men can and should provide” and let that grow into “men should look like men and women should look like women” and then adopt the current culture’s definition of masculinity or femininity to fulfill that ideal. But I’m not sure that God intended us to follow those definitions. Part of my current project is to define how God *really* defines masculinity and femininity for myself.

      Like

      • TypewriterError · October 1, 2015

        I’d also like to add to this that there are passages in the Old Testament that talk about a woman being a contributor to the household income (Prov 31).

        If you read that passage in the King James it may not be entirely clear but in more modern translations (NASB being my favorite) you can see that she isn’t just spending her husband’s money, she’s actually earning it and using it to buy the things her family needs.

        One time in college, when someone tried to convince me that women were only supposed to stay at home and homeschool their children, I countered with that passage and the person looked at me as if I was making things up. To me that spoke clearly that you have to purposely ignore parts of the Bible to excuse this idea of a woman never earning income and only allowing men into the workplace.

        Liked by 1 person

      • E.A. Stephens · October 1, 2015

        I’m planning on spending a lot of time in Proverbs 31. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • TypewriterError · October 1, 2015

        I knew you would 🙂 It is an excellent passage.

        Like

      • Timothy Pemberton · October 1, 2015

        To answer your first query about intelligence, first we must acknowledge that most superior creatures (I’ll define here as ones with brains) have intelligence. Octopuses can open jars and hunt prey. otters crack mussels with rocks. These are all intelligent. Then take that with what I said above, humans are not the strongest or the fastest; therefore, in order to survive, we must have been smarter than what was hunting us. Certainly, this does not mean that our early ancestors were able to solve complex calculus or anything, but even the simple act of crafting a tool such as a knife would have been enough to lengthen a lifespan (I will use this as an example, but it can be applied to many different areas). Now, those in the species who are able to craft knives (or weapons) will more than likely stay alive longer. It can also be said that these are the more intelligent members of the species. Therefore, intelligence is rewarded with a longer life which in turn means more ability to pass on genes. This system just proceeds until today with us making iPhones and understanding most of our world in order to manipulate it to our whims (whether good or bad for the world).

        [Lazy cop-out, I know, but here is the Wiki page on the subject:] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_human_intelligence

        As for the salvation bit, while what you say is true, it still references being effeminate as a bad thing, for it lists that trait right along with theives and extortioners. It also states that those who are saved were saved out of the above thereby again making clear that those in the list were doing wrong. It implies that a “good” Christian no longer is a part of any of those items.

        Also, it is my opinion that we as humans define masculinity/femininity for ourselves. There have just been too many changes in the ideas (in the past 200 years alone) for them to come from divine ordinance.

        Liked by 1 person

    • tpelle0808 · October 1, 2015

      Thanks for pointing out the article’s misrepresentation of evolution, but I think you took it too far by saying that “there is no reason in the evolutionary model that would require the males of our species to be alpha males.” On the contrary: attitudes attributed to “alpha males” (dominant personality, physical strength, disregard for minor moral qualms, etc) also tend to be evolutionary advantages, and such traits only become more effective when paired with greater intelligence. I think it’s fairly obvious that there are a huge social and personal advantages to being both physically strong and socially dominant, but I’m interested in any other objections you have to this.

      I also take issue with your statement that “religion is keeping alive the notion of the alpha male.” Although the passages you quoted illustrate how this point can be true, other passages sometimes seem contrary to misogyny (Gal 3:28, Judges 4, even Gen 1:27). Regardless, such verses are far too simplistic an explanation for a pervasive cultural Patriarchy. Religious belief is only one of many influential factors. Another factor would be the kind of pop culture Darwinism which the above link exemplifies. A third factor would be social traditions which are often patriarchal wholly apart from religious beliefs. There are myriads of societal influences which work together to create misogyny. Lets not pretend this is a simple issue.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Timothy Pemberton · October 1, 2015

        Very true. I misspoke and should have said “no reason *today* that would require males to be alpha males.” You are right. And also thanks for pointing out that even that has its limits. For instance, if one works out, generally that leads to a longer, more healthy life. I should have refined this thought out a bit more 😛

        And very true on the second point as well. Apologies if I reduced this entire complex problem into religion vs. women’s rights. I should know better than that. I merely wish to point out now, however, as an addendum that religion does have a big impact on our culture. Many times today and in the past, it has been the force that has been used against women’s rights and gay rights as well. While religion may not be wholly to blame, I feel that it at least has a good portion of the blame. I must say as well that I don’t think that religion can be blamed entirely for what it says, for it was conceived at a time when the gender roles and rules implemented probably really were a benefit to the group that held the beliefs. It is simply that we live in a completely different world, and no longer need some of the things that are prescribed to us.

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  2. TypewriterError · October 1, 2015

    All I could do was shake my head at the author of that article. It almost seems to imply that intelligence in a woman leads to birth control…which leads to making a “wrong”(by his definition) choice in a partner…which leads to the ruin of mankind in general (yes, I’m paraphrasing a lot but that’s what I got from him).

    So…is this another way of saying that women shouldn’t try to be educated in the first place?

    //sighs

    Nowhere in the Bible are we ever called to be uneducated or ignorant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • E.A. Stephens · October 1, 2015

      His whole blog is like that. :/ A very, very interesting character.

      Like

  3. The Dadster · October 1, 2015

    The Dadster Ripostes:

    Amen. And Amen! Deo Soli in Aeternum Gloria!

    And to all you useless knuckle-draggers out there grunting your disapprobation–what useless pieces of flesh you are! Learn–if you are capable of such–what a real man is.

    Christ wept!

    And He will send the eternal souls of men who reject Him to an eternal Hell.

    Think yourselves strong?

    Die for someone.

    And then freely forgive him for everything he has done against you.

    And BTW–weep over him in the process.

    Love,

    The Dadster

    Like

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