Saturday, November 24, 2007

Give us real men!

By my definition, a real manly man:

* Isn't afraid to take leadership and responsibility
* Is willing to provide for his family
* Both gives and merits respect

Maybe some of you have been more fortunate than I am, but from my observations, the world is full of 40-year-old Peter Pans with incurable commitment phobia. Sadly, not even all men who define themselves as believers fully understand the responsibility a man has as head of household, and the importance of masculine leadership. I remember once I was introduced to a young man who spent an entire hour telling me his expectations from his future wife – she doesn't need to be only a devoted mother and a great homemaker, she must also be good at earning money. By no means would he allow his wife to "just sit around at home doing nothing"! And this, my friends, was a man from a good, traditional family, a man who was supposed to know his Bible well. What can we expect of others?

Here's a note I received not long ago:

'Feminism and its influence aren't an excuse for men to dodge their responsibilities. Men have to be men, no matter what!'

I think I can't stress enough just how much I agree with this statement. Yes, we are in such strong need of solid, stable, responsible masculine leadership. Yes, men have to be men, but what can we expect when boys suffer attacks on their masculinity from a very young age? What can we expect, when the prevalent message is that women don't need men, and that men have no obligations towards women? On a personal level, it is not an excuse. On a general level, I can definitely see the link here.

It's not enough to say, 'give us real men'! We must build up our men. We can't expect to have real men if we aren't ready to become real women – godly, encouraging, kind, inspiring and strong in a feminine way. We can't expect leaders if we aren't ready to be helpmeets. We can't expect protectors if we aren't ready to trust our men!

But if we are up to the challenge of being real women and building up real men, we might just be rewarded with the loveliest compliment a woman can receive: 'you make me want to be a better man'.

18 comments:

Terry said...

Amen, Anna! I couldn't have said it any bettter myself.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for this...you clearly voiced my thoughts exactly! I very much agree with you...especially that feminism is not an excuse for a lack in masculine leadership, but there is a very strong link. The responsibility is with men AND women.

Maggie said...

Anna,

I'm wondering if perhaps this young man who you were introduced to was weary of having a stay-at-home wife due to stories of women who do stay at home suffer from depression, are closet alcoholics etc.. I am not saying that this is the case of all STHM/W, but rather those cases where this happens, have more media play than those cases of women who are great homemakers, helpmeets and moms. The Valley of The Dolls comes to mind. This could again be a cultural by-product of the message we've been receiving over the last couple of decades.

Secondly, in my opinion, I don't think that all of us are called to stay at home. Again, I am not dismissing the choice that many women make to stay at home, caring for hearth and home. I have a great deal of respect for women who answer this calling, my mom was a stay at home more, (domestic engineer is what she called herself) Others of us, myself included, are called to enter into the workforce. I am very passionate with what I do (research) and I also find that the workplace can be a wonderful place to witness. After all, are we not commanded by Jesus to go forth and spread the good news?

Just some food for thought.
Have a lovely afternoon.
Cheers,
Maggie

Anna S said...

Maggie, the spirit of that young man was definitely unwillingness to take the responsibility to provide for his own. He didn't say, "my wife can work outside the home is she feels called to do that"; he said "I'd never allow my wife to leech off me" - which is a typical prevalent attitude today.

Lutheran Woman said...

One thing that needs to be stressed as well is that as Christ is the head of the Church, so too is man the head of his wife and home. Christ takes an unjust beating for his Bride. So too must a man. When she is hurting, no matter if he is at fault or not, he needs to open his arms even if she is so hurt that she beats on his chest. He must be man enough to withstand her pains and she must fear, love and trust in God in such a way that she can come to her husband in a times of pain and good times.

Anonymous said...

But if we are up to the challenge of being real women and building up real men, we might just be rewarded with the loveliest compliment a woman can receive: 'you make me want to be a better man'.

Amen! My husband has uttered this wonderful phrase to me a few times in our long marriage. He suffers the same loathe observation of the 'peter pan syndrome' at work. He's been pitied by his co-male workers!! "Tied down", "no fun" (like taking off for white-water rafting or hot-air ballooning) - you'd be shocked at how many DIVORCES alone happen within couples with a special needs child like us (our son just turned 11 - he's autistic and has added an INCREDIBLE DEPTH of joy and love to our home and relationship). The whole crazy "I need time for ME" IS AT THE ROOT of so many people. Yet, when there's a holiday? His co-workers hope (and I don't mind providing when I can) hubby will bring some of my treats for them! It is a strong witness. Brenda was also right in this: if a woman is called or feels called to work outside the home; she needs check her reasons. Some flock to 'work' because (and I've been told this in person) it MAKES THEM BETTER MOTHERS OR HOUSEWIVES. Uh-huh. Sure, they have 'things' I don't; but I have something that many of them are still seeking: CONTENTMENT that has nothing to do with my physical living!!! And....NO CHILD TRULY ENJOYS MOMMA OUT WORKING. If there is a need, obviously the woman should work. But even then; NO CHILD WISHES TO HAVE MOMMA OUT WORKING.

This connects, I believe, to your post, because it isn't only the men who need to step up to the plate!! As you've written; us women do, too. Good post, Anna.

Eileen

Kristy Howard said...

Amen, Anna! Very well put! Our culture has sabotaged masculinity to the point that many men no longer even know how to define manhood, let alone live it out in their daily lives. I am blessed to be married to a wonderful MAN- a Knight in Shining Armor who is definitely worthy of respect and admiration. As a young wife, I can definitely attest to the fact that a woman's attitude toward her man can either buid up or devastate his manhood. We women do have our responsbility to protect chivalry both in our homes and in our culture!
~Kristy

Maggie said...

Anna,

Do you think this young man's attitude of "I'd never allow my wife to leech off me" is reflective of the female attitude of grab a man and latch onto him for dear life? I personally am not seeking that, but I do know that some women are seeking just that: A man with a bank account. If that's the case, I can see why he seems a bit disillusioned.

I'm curious to know if this young man has found a suitable wife yet.

Maggie

deb said...

Listening to my husband it appears that he the majority of people that he has worked with are either the Peter Pan types you mention or are workholics who spend most of their free time at their place of employment. No wonder so many people end up divorced.

Perplexity said...

Both my husband and I work, outside the home and inside. We are partners in this marriage, and in life. There are divisions of labor, so to speak; I'm more responsible for the inside of the home because that is where I get antsy if things aren't right or to my expectations or standards. Same with him and outside work. But, we do gardening and trimming and yard cleaning together. We both did all the painting and carpet cleaning and cabinet & closet cleaning when we moved in. We both spent yesterday putting up our Christmas lights and decorations - inside and outside.

We have shared interests and separate interests, and we pursue them together or separately and neither of us is threatened by the other doing something we don't have an interest in doing. We both get "alone" time, we both get private time, we both have times when we do something for the other we don't particularly want to do.

Marriage is give and take, and cultural "rules" can, and do, put a lot of pressure on both men and women. The important thing that everyone - male and female - needs to do is what works for them, not what works for others.

Sure, there are people - men and women - who take things to an extreme. But that happens in all aspects of life, all religions, all cultures, all over the world. It does not, however, mean that a married couple who doesn't live by your standards is unhappy or wrong.

This is directed more towards "anonymous" than Anna's original post. I bake and cook, and my husband takes things to work and everyone enjoys the treat. I also take it to my place of employment and everyone there enjoys it as well.

To be blunt, we are both entirely content in our relationship and marriage and our place in the world. Saying people are not content because they look at things differently than you is just plain selfish. We've been married 11 years, and together for 15. There has never been talk of divorce, and we don't look elsewhere for our needs because we both get what we need and want from our marriage, and the life we created together.

I find it very offensive when people get on a high horse about people who live differently than they do. Insecurity in your own belief is generally the only reason someone compares themselves to others and makes them self come out on top. If you know what you are doing is "right" then you don't need to try to convince anyone else, or yourself, that you are "right".

Mrs. G said...

Great post! When I quit work while pregnant with our daughter, my husband told me it made him feel more masculine to be the sole provider. I am lucky; he is 8 years older than me. The men who were my age were all the Peter Pan type you described. Sadly, most of my girlfriends find this behavior cute. One in particular refers to her fiance as a "boy." He's 31 years old. Maybe if we started expecting more as women, men would start acting like men again.

Andrea said...

Anna, another thoughtful and thought-provoking post! I agree that many men experience efforts to beat them down, belittle and demean them at crucial stages in their development (derisive remarks and cruel comments can, for example, have a much more profound and crippling effect on the psyche of a 6 year old than on that of a 36 year old!) I think many times, as humans in general we are prone to speak thoughtlessly and without regard to the lifelong effect our attitudes may have, particularly on little people whose selves are still being formed. For touching on that consideration alone your post is meritous!

I suppose I'm a little concerned, though, that you would think the greatest compliment a woman could receive (as lovely and cherishable a sentiment though it is) is one that would come from the lips of man. Scripture cautions us against loving the praise of man(kind) more than we love the praise of God. (John 12:43) I am positive, having spent so much time reading your blog, that you didn't mean it to come across that way, but really, greater than the loveliest and most encouraging things all the Kings of the world could say to me would be to hear those most precious words of all from my Father: "well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Now of course, I like the idea of a manly man as much as the next girl! The idea of a protector is not only attractive, it is attractively easy, isn't it? It promises a feeling of security and of consistent tenderness that I believe we as women are geared to desire (though some of us do feel more drawn to it than others). But so many times in Scripture women are praised not for their domestic devotion (though that comes up as well) but simply for their faith and devotion to God, all mentions of household excluded; I think one of my favourite passages of all has to be the faith of the woman with the issue of blood, and her belief that to simply touch the hem of Christ's garment will make her whole.

And, once she has acknowledged him before men, Jesus doesn't disappoint her; he affirms her faith, and tells her that it is her faith alone that has made her whole. Really, I never get tired of reading that! A woman who spent twelve years cut off from all people because of Levitical law, and suddenly . . . not only is she whole, but she is praised for her faith in being moved to defy the law that isolated her in her infirmity. I boggle. Repeatedly!

I suppose I bring this up simply to caution any young girl against believing that marriage and/or the praise of her husband is what would make her whole, since Scripture does not bear this out. Looking at the woman of Proverbs, yes, we see that her children bless her and her husband praises her, and yet (to me, at least) those praises seem to pale in comparison to the idea that the Son of God himself would stand before people and praise a woman for her faith in Him; a faith that made her whole.

I suppose as I read both passages, the difference I see is much like the difference between a classroom teacher's kind word and a mother's exclamations of delight and devotion; both are treasured by the recipient, but one is just a very faint echo of the heart and soul of the real thing. Always we should seek first His Kingdom; then the rest of these things will be added :)

Personally, I do look forward to the day when God, if he has planned for me to marry, chooses to show me the man he has picked for me, and yes, I do pray he will be such a man as you have described, one whose strength is tempered with humility and whose love for God is reflected in his love for all people-- me included! (I also really hope he loves dogs, because I have three of them!)

And yes, absolutely, I would be delighted if my love for him, as I work with him in whatever path God shows us we are to follow, were to garner a reaction from him such as you have mentioned. It is always nice to hear what we mean to people, that not only to they love us, but that they admire us so much they want to change for our sake (or really, for the sake of the One who inspired the change in us!) But first and foremost, I would value the praise of God; men after all, are only human, and in the long run, the praise of humans only counts for so much ;)

Anna S said...

Andrea, I meant the best compliment a woman can receive *from her husband*. :) Maybe I should have been more specific. I just thought it was kind of obvious.

Andrea said...

Anna, you're right, it should be! Unfortunately, in my church and in my life, I've seen too many young ladies for whom it would not be :( These were young women who are taught either by example or by excplicit instruction that they should seek a husband above all else, which in many cases seems to translate into "even before God." It hurts my heart to see these girls go that way, putting pursuit of a husband (even a Godly one) before pursuit of God Himself. From what I have read of your blog, I know you are not one of them; I just though it bore pointing out ;)

Laeyra said...

Thank you for posting about this, Anna. I also tire of seeing Peter Pan types. I think having a generation or two of men raised only by women has a large effect on our society. Many of these young men have absolutely no role model to look up to, no mature, wise, intelligent adult man to help them see that being a man is more than trying to "score" with women, more than only thinking about themselves. Instead, they are surrounded by other men just like them, convinced that it is normal to pursue only the juvenile and selfish interests.

Also, I remember reading an interview by some record company exec on the topic of "boy bands." This exec said boy bands look and sound the way they do because girls and young women are afraid of and threatened by masculinity, so these men are feminized as much as possible to appeal to them. That was illuminating for me, and I started to notice the kinds of men many women are attracted to these days are, well, not all that manly in either appearance or demeanor.

The effects of feminism are widespread and complex, I'm afraid. What is sad that some men are very, very, angry about this and direct this attitude of hostility towards all women, much the same way as angry feminists direct hatred towards all men. I can only think that Satan must be very pleased with all this.

Krystyna said...

Anna, perhaps the young man, even having a good knowledge of the Bible, had a different interpretation of it? But really, from my feminist viewpoint, he comes off as less than sympathetic - his wife stays at home, he works, great. Both work, both take care of the home and parenting, great. But two shifts for her - not so great.


Eileen, I was a child who didn't mind either of my parents working. But both of them did have plenty of time for me, and I really enjoyed kindergarten and school proper. (Actually, I had a minor case of culture shock when I found out about stay-at-home-mothers when I moved to another country - although this might be explained by the fact that I was quite young at the time!)

Sue said...

Personally, my marriage is similar to Perplexity's, we like it that way after 21 years together. I never looked for a husband who would fully financially support me (and any children we might have); I had planned on working from home or working part-time with young children. I looked for a protector, companion, friend and someone I could live in Biblical mutual submission with.

However, I have enormous respect for you women who choose to be SAHM/Ws. I think it's nobody's business except you, your husband, and God's how you choose to divide up breadwinning, home management, and childcare in your family.

As for "Peter Pans", I know a few at church, at work, and in my family. But they are the minority. Most guys I know are men marrying about the current average for men in the U.S. (~27), with wives their age or a little younger. Most have good jobs and have lived on their own. But I'm also not a single woman wanting a serious relationship leading up to marriage. In that case, I might see something entirely different.

About the male role models, I wouldn't want to raise boys with a macho warrior character, but I think organizations like the Boy Scouts could provide some of what we're talking about here. It would also be great to have more male teachers in elementary school (whether public, Christian, private, or even homeschooling). I wonder if boys just plain spend too much time around women to get a good male identity.

My .02,

Sue

MarkyMark said...

Ladies,

I stumbled onto this blog via LAF, which I found via a link from Henry Makow's site. As a man, I would like to offer a masculine point of view on what you all have been talking about-Peter Pans, feminism's impact on boys, etc. I must say that it is REFRESHING to see that there are some women who GET IT; it's refreshing to see that there are some women who are truly empathetic towards what many men experience in the USA today, and how these experiences shape men...

Before I get started though, I'd like to respond to what Laeyra said about boy bands, and how modern women find masculinity threatening. As a quiet but confident man, I have found this to be true. For example, when I'm sure of something (i.e. I can prove or back up what I say), I don't equivocate; I don't say, "I think," "I feel," etc.; rather, I say, "I KNOW," or something similar. I have found that, while women respect that, they also are unsettled by it. I don't beat my chest or loudly proclaim my masculinity; I just quietly let my actions demonstrate it. Modern women (I'm talking about those who are not old fashioned, Believers, or both) are, at best, uneasy around me; at worst, they fear and avoid me. At least they did when I worked with them. I now work with men, and spend very little time with women. Given how most women act, this is fine by me...

Many of you ladies said that we men no longer have role models we can emulate. Man oh man, that is SO TRUE!! I'm 45 going on 46, and it's only been in recent years that I've been able to get a handle on what manhood is, and to start living it in my life. I believe that the same could be said for most women today. Because fathers have been kicked out of the home, and because men have been so demonised (you may think that's a strong word, but when you're blamed for everything, I think it's rather appropos), men no longer know what it means to be men. We're stumbling around blindly out here...

So, what did I do to turn things around? One, when I went to church, the preacher quoted OT passages that exhorted, "Show thyself a man!" He said that even if we hadn't been taught how to be men, to 'fake it till you make it'; preacher said that, if we started ACTING in a masculine way (even if we weren't for whatever reason), that we'd sooner or later become masculine. That was one thing.

Another thing I did and still do is watch old movies. I know, I know; it sounds corny, but when you have nothing else to go on, what do you do? For me, a reasonable answer was to seek out masculine archetypes (I'm talking in the Jungian sense here), and to emulate their examples. John Wayne's "Sands of Iwo Jima" was good in this regard, as was Jimmy Stewart in "Strategic Air Command". Though both characters are men, they go about it in different ways. What was common to both characters though was the willingness to make difficult decisions alone, taking no one's counsel but their own.

Now, I would like to address the 'Peter Pan' issue, and I'd like to talk about commitment phobia as well. Both are, more often than not, interrelated, so I shall discuss them as one topic. While you fine ladies get closer to the truth than most women do, you're still missing the mark; while you at least HIT the target (most modern women don't; they just blame us men for everything-how convenient!), you don't quite hit the Bull's Eye. I'll share the male point of view here, and I hope that it'll help...

I'm 45, and I'm not married. I've never been married, nor am I in a rush to get married. There are many reasons for this, but it was NOT my long term goal to be single at my age. So, what happened?

One reason I was single for a long time was this: when I was active in church, I studied the Bible and what it had to say about my favorite topics: prophecy and the husband/wife relationship. When I really delved into the duties & responsibilities that God gives husbands, I was blown away; He expects a LOT, no question about it. There was also no question that I did not have what it took; I was not at all READY to assume such awesome responsibilities. It took me over a decade to rectify my many shortcomings. While I still have shortcomings, they're not as many, and those I do have are more manageable.

Unfortunately, by the time I was ready to be a good husband, finding a good woman was quite difficult. Even in the church, it seems that too many of the women go for the exciting 'bad boys', since they're seen as more exciting. Once I'd cultivated & developed those character traits I'd need to be a good husband, women no longer wanted me.

Let me back up; it's not quite as simple as that. I ended up leaving church back in the mid 1990s. Why I did is too long a story to tell here. Suffice to say that, when I left church, Christian women no longer wanted me; I was too carnal, too much 'of the world'. I remember the thinking well. So, I was too 'bad' for Christian women.

Out in the world (even now, I don't really feel at home in the world), I was too much of a 'goody two shoes' for non-Christian women. I was undesirable to them as well. IOW, I was in limbo. I was too bad for Christian women, while I was too good for secular women. Well, when you're not even MEETING women, it's hard to date, form a relationship, and marry them, isn't it?

As for the commitment issue, as for why men won't get married (I am aware of the growing number of Christian men who are avoiding marriage, along with their non-Christian counterparts), there's a big elephant in the room that nobody's mentioned: divorce. Divorce is ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATING to men! That's a big reason why men are avoiding marriage these days. We can have our lives WRECKED just because 'Cupcake' decides that she's bored with us. I'm not trying to disparage you fine ladies; I'm just telling you how it is-from a man's point of view...

I don't say fine ladies to be patronizing, either; I really mean it. You are a breath of fresh air! My brief visit here has raised my spirits in a big way.

That said, even though you all are great women now; even though a good man would be LUCKY to have you; there is one truism that's gone unmentioned: just because you're great women now doesn't mean you'll always REMAIN SO. Prince Charming may be marrying his princess now, but she could turn into the Wicked Witch of the West tomorrow.

For example, let's say I were to marry a fine gal like Laeyra. Judging by her post, she's a rare gem; she's a great gal, one who could easily inspire me to be the best man that I could be. Indeed, that is one of the things I look for in a woman: someone who inspires me to be a 'knight in shining armour', if you please; if I don't feel that around a woman, then I know that I'm NOT with the right gal, and that I'd best be lookin' elsewhere...

That said, there's no guarantee that my princess would REMAIN the fine person she is now; there's no guarantee that she wouldn't get caught up with the wrong group of friends, and totally change overnight. There's no guarantee she wouldn't backslide, either. After all, David, Peter, and other great Men of God sinned; are we any better than they? I don't know about the rest of you, but I know that I am NOT-end of story.

Anyway, say my princess becomes friends with a divorcee. This divorcee convinces my wife that I'm a bastard, I'm this, I'm that. My wife, under the divorcee's spell, divorces me. Guess what, Ladies? I'm up the creek without a paddle. It doesn't matter if my wife is at fault; it doesn't matter if I want to work on the marriage and save it. Thanks to no-fault divorce (a misnomer, since it's always the man at fault), if my wife wants to bolt because she's bored, then she can. If she cheated on me, she can dump me, and there's NOTHING I can do about it-nothing! A short, pithy little bumper sticker sums this up best: If I cheat on her, she gets half my s*@t; if she cheats on me, she STILL gets half my s*@t! IOW, marriage confers few, if any, benefits on men, while saddling him with ALL the responsibilities. It's a truism that, if you want to enter into a contract with someone, then BOTH PARTIES must find it mutually beneficial to associate themselves with one another. Marriage IS a contract, but it only benefits one party-women. Men don't get any benefits from marriage to make it worthwhile. IOW, there's a REASON they call it the INSTITUTION of marriage. If you want to see what Christian men think of marriage, and why, you should pay a visit to the "Scripturally Single" blog, as Anakin Niceguy goes into far more detail on this than I ever could.

I have two motorcycles that I love & enjoy. Does that make me a Peter Pan? I don't think so. I know that I enjoy the peace & quiet I come home to at night; I have no nagging shrew to make my life miserable. I do know this, though: if someone steals my bike, my bike won't take half my present and future assets; if someone steals my wife, I'm SCREWED. Sorry, but that's the way it is; that's the way I and many men see things.

It's getting late, so I shall close for now. I'm glad to have found this blog; seeing that there are REAL women still out there is refreshing! However, marrying is extremely dangerous to men; I don't know about anyone else, but I do NOT want to be eating Kal-Kan when I'm 70, ruined by the divorce I thought my Godly, Christian princess would never file. That's a man's perspective on things; have a good night, Ladies...

MarkyMark