Monday, July 21, 2008

Christian debate: strong women, weak men?

Very interesting (long) article titled

The Biblical Challenge of Being a Strong Woman in a Weak Man’s World

written by Illinois baptist minister Bob Bixby.

Excerpt: "She is willing to respect the men in her life, only she silently cries out for a respectable man. Little by little the average Christian woman is coming to the conclusion that the men in her life are, in the main, boys in grownup bodies. And boys cannot be trusted with grownup matters."

Comments welcome here from those in the Christian community who want to discuss.

-- Mikki


Darla said...

Wow! Bixby is clearly drawing some conclusions from the literature he quotes that are very different from the conclusions I draw. When he writes, "But her statement shows how feminists reveal their dissatisfaction with the loss of masculinity. They find themselves living in an emasculated culture, and suddenly they wonder if they are strong enough to live in it" in response to Lakshmi Chaudhry's artile, I couldn't disagree more!

I know women are strong enough to live in an emasculated culture. We are proving that point all the time. Women's dissatisfaction, in my opinion, is not with 'a loss of masculinity' but with a loss of mens' sense of responsibility.

Furthermore, his statements indicate that 'this delayed maturity is endemic to societies that have bowed the knee to radical feminism'. While I agree that this does seem to be the case, I feel that his implied conclusion, that men were apparently forced into this role of apathy, is erroneous. I believe men chose this role, likely as a battle against accepting a role of equal partnership as opposed to a past role of almost total autonomy.

Bixby does do a good job of paraphrasing the conundrum: What is a strong woman supposed to do in this culture of weak men?

Unfortunately, based on Bixby's view that women can 'get it wrong and usurp roles that God did not grant to them' and that a married woman 'must submit and respect male headship in the home' I'm fairly certain I'm not going to find an acceptable answer in Part Two of his series.

Anonymous said...

In reading the article…I have to agree in part, and disagree with some. Over the last few weeks, I’ve actually led a few discussions on this very topic. Wondering if we as feminist have taken feminism too far and there by basically castrated the men in America. This topic first started with me December 2006, when a friend of mine was visiting and I was explaining to him my plans to begin choice motherhood. As we talked we came along a to the topic of why women think men aren’t good enough anymore. And I said to him I don’t think we think that men aren’t good enough anymore, its just that we can’t trust you to do what right in maintaining the survival of the species anymore. Now he and I have both lived in Africa and been to remote places where the Anthropological hierarchy is preserved. Men hunt and forage… women rear children plain and simple. So I said now just because we’re advanced doesn’t mean I (as a woman) don’t expect you to forget about hunting… not do I expect you ( as a man ) to forget that we women like rearing our children. But somehow the lines of distinction in our civil society have become eschewed.

So taking the Christianity parts out … blah blah … yea there is a relative missing element in our social breakdown. And it is one that has occurred within the last 30 years. And I say our – As in American … because in our European counterparts you can still find your fair share of men taking their roles seriously. That can be seen in the fact that their divorce rate and nearly everything else is lower than ours statistically. (And I point out statistically because there are always exceptions to the rule)

Now looking at the article from a single black woman prospective, there are things that of course pissed me off. My brother, for instance, is raising two children that are not his own, and his girlfriend had a hysterectomy so it isn’t like she can give him more children, even though he wants them. So there are black men out there who raise not only their kids but also sometimes someone else’s children. One of my friends her ex-husband, they had one child together. He is on his way to remarriage to another woman, who has 3 kids from another relationship. He raises his son and those three boys all at once. Seriously off the top of my head I can name 10 black men I know raising not only their children but have included their new partners previous relationship offspring into the fold. Now who knows it might be a new phenomenon that the likes of Bill Cosby isn’t taken into account the new black men, who are parenting more than just their own.

Now back to us single girls out there- who are just trying to figure it all out. I loved what _____ said last week in her post. How the hell are we suppose to be content with the mundane. Hell no I don’t know about the rest of you, but damn if I gotta settle for a man, then he damn sure better be a real man and not one of these faux men ( as I like to call them) … metro-sexual to the rest of the world. Yea we like to be strong women, but that means having an equally if not stronger man by our sides. And if you think you don’t girls…. Then I don’t know what to say. Look I can change a tire and fix the plumbing in my house… doesn’t mean I want to- nor should any of us settle for what is less then the best a man can and should give us. I mean seriously they want the best from us, how dare we not demand it back in return.

And lastly, today a friend of mine sent pictures from her brothers wedding this weekend. Her brother happens to be wheelchair bound and had a serious brain injury from an accident. And as I looked at this pictures after reading that article, all I can say is – yea I have to believe that god intend for all of us to have someone as a help mate. Not necessarily in the Christian fundlementalist way. But when you look at something like that you have to believe that there is still hope out there for all of us.

Umm and I just wanted to share this… one of my favorite songs by an Artist named Jill Scott, some of you may know. One of my favorite songs I love to hear because I think she sums it all up so well…. Is called the “The Fact is…” I’ll post the lyrics for ya’ll below.

I can pay my own light bill baby
Pump my own gas in my own car
I can buy my own shoe collection
I've been blessed thus far
I can kill the spider above my bed
Although it's hard because I'm scared
I can even stain and polyurethane
But some things just don't change
I need you yeah
Sometimes so hard to say oh
I need you
Some things remain
I could buy my own groceries baby
Get my hair tight, my nails right
I can floss my own bling bling
Write the words to the songs I sing
I can even raise the child we'll make
Make sure he's loved and knows what God gave us
I can teach him how to walk and stand
But he needs you to help him be a man
We need you
So hard to say
We need you
Some things don't change
I could be congresswoman
Or a garbage woman or
Police officer, or a carpenter
I could be a doctor and a lawyer and a mother and a good girl
God what you've done to me
Kind of lover I could be
I could be a computer analyst, the Queen with the nappy hair raising her fist
Or I could be much more and a myriad of this
Hot as the summer, sweet as the first kiss
And even though I can do all these things
I need you
And even though I can do all these things
We need you
We need you
We need you
And even though I can do all these things by my damn self
I need you
I do, I do, I do, I do
And even though I can do all these things
I need you
We need you
We do
We need you yeah
We need you

So I ask ladies, isn’t it ok for us too need them? And isn’t it ok for us to want them to be MEN.


Monica said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Monica said...

I think it's very sad how out of control man-bashing has gotten. I think we've talked about this before, but look at many of the TV ads and sitcoms. The women are smart and beautiful while the men are overweight and dopey. I especially hate the Special K ad where the woman eats cereal for dessert while her hubby is kicked back on the couch with some sort of junk food. Definitely sends the message that we need to have high standards for ourselves while expecting the minimum from our men.

I think it's cyclical. The less we expect, the less they give, the more we complain.

Ellen said...

As a Christian who grew up in a conservative evangelical church and home, and still a Christian but much more progressive in my faith, this has been a huge issue for me over the years and still comes up in the midst of this rollercoaster of ttc. I had role models of strong Christian women in my life. My mother who though quiet and demure was the silent strength and backbone of our family. My grandmother who raised 9 children, was a farm wife, took in her epileptic brother-in-law, fed, dressed and cared for her invalid husband for the last 13 years of her life even as her own mind began to deteriorate with senility (grandpa had a series of strokes that left him without speech and partially paralyzed). My aunt who just 6 mos after her youngest son was born was widowed and then raised her 3 boys by herself (all have grown up to be strong young men, two are new fathers).

Since my 20s I have felt that I was too strong for the Christian men I met whether it was when I worked in Christian music or in my churches in Los Angeles.

Last summer on a plane to visit my dearest friends for my 40th birthday, just months before my first IUI, I found myself sitting next to a pastor of a mega church. Eventually I told him I was pursuing single motherhood. He was surprisingly not judgmental. I explained that I had always dreamed of doing this with a man I loved and was sharing my life with but at 40 I couldn't keep waiting for God to "bring my husband" if I wanted a biological child. I told him that the men that have come into my life have not been able and/or willing to step up to the plate. His response surprised me. He agreed that most (Christian) men in our generation have fallen short of being the kind of men God calls them to be (strong, compassionate leaders, husbands, fathers). After a bit more conversation, he looked me in the eye and said, "On behalf of Christian men, I want to apologize to you Ellen for letting you down." Tears filled my eyes. He said he would pray for me and I sensed that he meant that sincerely.

All that to say, Christian or not, it is a dilemma that can't be boiled down to male bashing or feminist bashing. It's more complicated than just dismissing or demonizing traditional roles and more complicated than clinging to, reestablishing or reviving traditional roles. I have seen modern relationships (mostly among my Christian friends) that are about mutual partnership and balanced relationship, not the stereotypical "man must be the head of the house and the woman must submit" kind of relationship. Besides, I do NOT believe that kind of dominant/submissive marriage ideal is taught in the Bible and is contrary to the heart of Jesus' message but that is another conversation.

Anonymous said...

I see it Like this ; Most Chirstian Women think Chirstian Men are Weak. If a Man comes to Church It tells the Women that something Happend in his life that he couldnt handle on his own. One thats realy Bad theology ; If your a women and being taught that i would suggest you find a new church and READ your Bible. And Ladies Quit defing what a man should be Leave that up to God!

Choice Mom said...

The Oct. 12 Anonymous post seems to generalize a great deal. I go to church. The men there tend to be good people. Several are excellent role models for my kids. And certainly we are not being taught that one sex is not equal to the other.

No one should "define" what someone else's life should be. We're all in charge of developing and dedicating our own lives to the greater good. And that includes not turning our lives over to serve a mate, but building our lives into positive strength that serves everyone whose lives we touch.

phoenix_talons said...

Physically stronger women are not attracted to physically weaker men, nor are physically taller women attracted to physically shorter men. Every woman that talks about her ideal man has emphasized that fact. Then you see her actual choice of man - the fact is reinforced. To claim/argue otherwise is sheer ignorance. Women seek at least an equal or greater, not less. It's a fact!