Monday, September 6, 2010

The Double Standard

“My husband’s so stubborn, thoughtless, and cruel!”1

“You throw a ball like a girl!”2

“You don’t deserve any credit. We’re going to reward a woman instead!”3

“If you do this, you’re going to look really stupid!”4

“You can’t perform as well as that other guy!”5

“Go cut yourself!”6

Shocking isn’t it? Open attacks on a man’s manliness. It brings tears to many women’s eyes as they muster up a defense. Others are outraged. And a message is heard across the Christian blogosphere: Commence the Great Remasculinization. Feminism has destroyed manhood, and it’s up to Christian women to help men regain it by promoting femininity.*

What follows is a whole new set of problems. Women are placing the blame on women, as man has done from the beginning of time (Genesis 3:12), socially alleviating men from all responsibility for their actions and inactions. Does a man feel insecure about his manliness? It must be because women aren’t wearing dresses. Does a man feel threatened by women’s abilities? It must be because women are going to college. Men are now victims, and our maternal instinct encourages us to coddle them so that they feel better about their diminished manhood. Heaven forbid that a woman might criticize a man, let alone say anything that might be construed as an insult to his manliness.

Insulting a woman’s femininity, however, is considered fair game. Women proudly – viciously! – tell each other when they fall short. There are thousands of articles, books, interviews, and surveys (courtesy of concerned males) devoted to this cause, instructing them on godly womanly behavior and begging them to stop causing men to sin. It seems that women will do whatever it takes to put dissenters in their proper place. No words are too harsh for members of the weaker sex to dole out on each other.

But why is it that way? Attacking a women’s femininity is supposed to encourage her to become more feminine? But the same doesn’t hold for men? Instead, shielding a man’s masculinity is deemed necessary lest his delicate ego be bruised. Does God care more for the feelings of the effeminate man than those of the masculine woman?

Manliness isn’t sacred, and men certainly are in no need of protection from women. If men avoid their duty, then they’re every bit as wrong as women avoiding theirs. Women who try to shelter men from criticism are preventing much-needed improvement. That’s not to say that we should insult them. But rather than ignore faults, we are called to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16) and correct in “gentleness” (2 Timothy 2:23-26). Favoritism has no place among us (James 2:9). When it comes to correcting our Christian brothers and sisters, equal respect is what’s required of us.

1Paraphrase of 1 Samuel 25:3, 25.
2Paraphrase of Nahum 3:13.
3Paraphrase of Judges 4:9.
4Paraphrase of 2 Samuel 13:12-13.
5Paraphrase of 1 Samuel 18:6-8.
6Paraphrase of Galatians 5:10-12.
*Ironically, women are expected to act feminine despite a dearth of masculinity, but men aren’t expected to reclaim their manhood unless a powerful infrastructure of femininity is in place. That is worth a blog post all by itself.