High Heels & Masculinity

Not long ago I heard on the radio that some men would be wearing high heel shoes in a special walk sponsored by the White Ribbon Campaign Organization…

I’ve often joked about wearing stilettos, but only in the context of explaining how the German army used tanks in their Blitzkrieg military strategy during WW2…   (They lined them up one in front of the other -as opposed to advancing side by side.)  I’d then explain further that if one’s foot was stepped on with running shoes as opposed to heels, the latter would be more damaging.   (That’s how the Germans were able to perform the “break through” of their enemies’ defenses with their tanks exerting the pressure like the tip of this female footwear…)   I may have totally lost you, but then again this was not supposed to be about grade 10 history.

Back to the point…  The White Ribbon Campaign is an organization that has the primary goal of ending gender-based violence and promoting gender equality.   (This is an extremely important agenda.) 

The other night I was catching up on “Timeless” (that television show that time travels through history) and it centered on the episode of women suffrage (the right to vote) in 1919.  I was horrified at the brutality and violence of the male police officers against the female protesters, and it seemed reminiscent of what occurs with domestic and other forms of gender violence.  Yet, how does the Campaign wage war against these behaviors? 

One of the primary values of the organization is to promote a “new vision of masculinity”.  The idea focuses on men taking responsibility and leading the charge against gender-based violence.  Men wearing high heels paints the metaphor of walking in another person’s shoes.  (Although,  I bet some women might argue about the cruelty of such uncomfortable footwear and rant against this representation of femininity…)

On their website they state the following:

Through education, awareness-raising, outreach, technical assistance, capacity building, and partnerships, White Ribbon’s programming challenges negative, outdated concepts of manhood and inspires men to understand and embrace the incredible potential they have to be a part of positive change.

Toxic masculinity hurts everyone.

How can manhood in all of it’s importance, depth and nuances be labelled as ‘negative’, and masculinity as ‘toxic’?  Those negative and toxic elements are not a holistic nor definitive  representation of all it is.  Masculinity and manhood represents nearly half the people on this planet.  So, what if I were to describe a large group of people by their worst offenders?  Furthermore, where does one find up-to-date concepts of manhood?

Interestingly enough, this ‘new vision of masculinity’ is actually an old vision -minus the high heels (which I suspect panders to the gender fluid ethos of our contemporary culture).

The first man (Adam -who appears to be an obvious template of masculinity) became “one flesh” with his wife.  Upon their introduction he declared words of comfort and care, meanwhile underscoring the depth and connection between a man and woman.  He said, “You are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh…”  (Genesis 2:23)  He acknowledges his love and recognition for Eve by declaring how interconnected and intertwined they were on the most fundamental level.

In the New Testament the understanding is expressed further as males (husbands) are commanded to treat females (wives) as their own flesh (or bodies), which is a call to love, nurture and care.  (Ephesians 5:28)

Typically, we love our bodies and don’t demean, discriminate or are violent towards ourselves.  We take responsibility of this attitude, and the way we treat ourselves is the way men should treat women.  That has been the oldest and truest vision of masculinity. 

Stats about violence against women are unacceptable, alarming and sad, but masculinity is not toxic, nor does manhood require new vision.  We need to more clearly see the old one. 

What do you think?  Your thoughts and comments are welcome. 

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Sexual Integrity

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only (Christian) guy to have struggled with lust, and the only guy (even now) that needs to be careful of what is consumed (lest it leads to places of failure).

 

Of all the men and young men I’ve talked and mentored; only one has ever actually flat out admitted that he struggled with pornography.  (I’m reasonably certain he’s not the only one…)  When I was  younger and and attended University, it was a continual challenge to avoid watching stuff that was lustful and contained nudity.  Yet, today young men and men (Christians) put on a façade as if those struggles don’t really exist.

 

Maybe in our collective minds men (in our modern context) have redefined pornography to include only that which is “XXX” rated, but “soft porn” (a classification that’s highly deceptive), and general nudity is acceptable…  Also, maybe that part of our lives (our hidden habits) are too taboo… too shameful…   It’s just too uncomfortable to let someone else know what really goes on behind our scenes…

But take comfort!  The Bible doesn’t seem to shy away from sexual issues.  Actually there are some rather explicit scriptures that are definitely not read Sunday mornings, and are liable to make the most seasoned congregation blush!  Take for example Genesis 38.  It narrates a series bizarre circumstances of sexual exploits, but that nevertheless highlights important lessons on sexual integrity.

Genesis 38 starts out with the main character Judah (one of the 12 sons of Israel) departing from his familiar environment, and then initiates a sexual relationship with a foreign woman.  (I really have to wonder if he married for sex, because almost in the same sentence it says that he got married and had sex.  Read chapter 38 verse 2 and see if you get the same feel.)

Anyway, his wife conceives three times and Judah then has three sons.  In a somewhat “Klingon-like” fashion, the Bible states that ‘son number one’ was wicked “so the Lord put him to death.”  (NIV)  So now Tamar, the wife that Judah had selected for his first son, suddenly became a widow.

The custom at that time was to keep the family in the family, therefore a male sibling was encouraged to marry his brother’s widow.  However, the second son died also (at the hand of the Lord) because…well… he preferred to just have sex, rather than to be fully committed in the process of family responsibility and continuity.  (Read chp 38:9-10 for more clarity.)  He was selfish.  He felt that any child he would have had with Tamar would not be his, therefore he took the necessary steps to make sure she would not get pregnant…

 

[Sidebar: Guys… sexual integrity matters outside and inside marriage.  God was clearly displeased with son number two and punished him with death.  God does not approve of selfishness, sexual integrity matters.]

 

Fast forward… Judah’s wife eventually dies.  Tamar is still a widow (her biological clock, by the way, is still ticking…)  Son number three is still available.

 

I think that what happens next in the narrative highlights this lesson; The lack of sexual restraint leads to complicated problems.

Judah goes to “Young Street” and solicits sex with a prostitute or a “harlot” -that’s the term mentioned in the Bible.   It is interesting to observe the anonymity surrounding sexual dysfunction.    I’m not sure if all prostitutes wore veils, but this one did.  Judah didn’t care what she looked like, he was willing to buy sex, and she was willing to gain from it.  As a matter of fact his friend (Aullimite) acts kind of like a “john” because Judah sends him (after it was all over) to go and make payment.

Now I’m not sure what the time frame was between his wife’s death and his marketplace sexual encounter.  Perhaps Judah’s mental state may have been saturated in loss and grief, and we know that poor sexual choices are definitely made in periods of emotional confusion and vulnerability.  However, the “payment” is always worth more than the experience.  Specifically, in this context, the Bible said that she wanted Judah’s “signet and chord and staff”, which were essential elements of his familial and social identity.

 

By the way, (surprise, surprise) it turns out the “harlot” was his daughter-in-law Tamar.   Yes.  Judah had sexual relationships with his sons’ wife.  (Yuck!)

Let’s pause at this cliff hanger…

“All men watch porn and it is not bad for them”

“All men watch porn, and it is not bad for them”

This is the name of the article written by a Montreal university professor based on his two year research study.

I’m not even sure where to begin…  The only remotely positive thing I can see this article doing is perhaps attempting to reduce authentic guilt some men may have with this addiction, and that’s hardly positive at all.

Assuming that he interviewed mostly university students, the short article paints many “matter- of- fact” arguments as facts… (and I quote)

“…his research had refuted views that pornography enthusiasts seek out in life what they see in X-rated videos, leading to sexual abuse or denigration of women.

“It would be like saying that vodka ads lead to alcoholism,” the sociologist said.

The author further “…dismissed suggestions that avid pornography enthusiasts seek to imitate in life what they see on screens, or that they watch X-rated videos in an attempt to purge vile sexual impulses.

“Both arguments are worthless,” he said.   Men make a distinction between their real lives and sexual fantasies…”

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/all-men-watch-porn-and-it-is-not-bad-for-them-1833949.html

This is what passes as a internet “hit” on Men’s Health.

There is a “Focus on the Family” article that takes another view on this topic and points out the dangers of this addiction.

“Not everyone who sees porn will become addicted to it. Some will just come away with toxic ideas about women, sex, marriage and children. That kind of damage is bad enough. And porn isn’t the only ingredient in addiction. Usually, those who become addicted have some kind of emotional opening that allows the addiction to really take root.”

Also interesting, as this short article continues, is the “Five Stages of Addiction” – early exposure, addiction, escalation, desensitization and acting out sexually.

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/love_and_sex/pornography.aspx

Read both the articles.  Read what the Bible says.

 

We shirk our moral responsibility and family responsibility when we start an affair with pornography.  I told my son that pornography is like a handcuff.  I believe this.

All men don’t watch porn, and it’s not good for them.