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.