Wineskins Archive

December 20, 2013

Threatened By Men? (Jan-Feb 2009)

Filed under: — @ 10:14 pm and

by Sandra Milholland
January – February, 1998

30If you take the development of oral contraception and the publishing of The Feminine Mystique (Friedan, 1963); add an unpopular war, thousands of dead young men, and an upheaval in gender role expectations; stir in social and economic unrest, a sprinkling of hedonism, unmet needs, disappointment with life circumstances, and egocentrism; simmer in the heat of racial discrimination, and conditions were ideal for what has come to be known as the “Women’s Movement.” For over 35 years, women have had a Cause. A purpose that attempts to give credibility to a vague, inexpressible dissatisfaction with female roles and social standing.

Women’s demand for equality was a paradigm that compared Past with Present and, energized by each new social trend, propelled us all haphazardly into the Future. The Future is here, but that vague, inexpressible dissatisfaction remains.

While women were spreading their wings, arguing independence, and turning gender roles topsy-turvy, men were doing the same things they had been doing for centuries before. There was no Men’s Movement taking place in concert with their female counterparts except, perhaps, to move out of the way.

They likely had difficulty understanding why a subculture of women would demand equality with men. (Millions of women wondered the same thing!) But, thanks to the vocal female minority, women can have it all. Education, career, husband(s) and children, both or neither; a financial portfolio, community responsibilities, and increased visibility … stress headaches, sleeplessness, chronic back pain, heart attacks, decreased life expectancy, professional liability insurance. How lucky can a girl … make that woman … get? (Or is “female” politically correct this week?)

I know I’m being overly critical of women, but I am one, and I think we’ve earned some bad press. I keep hearing women say they want to be treated equally with men, which tells me we are prepared to take criticism square on the chin and not cry about it. Men are asking, “How do we do ‘relationship’ better?” I hear them saying they want to stand beside their wives and take a more active part in parenting their children. They want to be better husbands, brothers, and friends. They have said they want to use their unique strengths and differences to enhance the well-being of their families, their neighborhoods, and their world to the glory of their God. men are asking what women want from them, and we need to honor them with an answer.

Some people say women want men to be more like women, but that doesn’t make sense to me. Women obviously admire all the things men are else they wouldn’t be dressing like men, working and playing like men, and fighting so desperately for equal status with men.

This article cannot represent every woman’s need, but it can be a place to start dialoguing together. This is an extremely important time in history, and as we move through it together, it will help if we are aware of some subtle, yet powerful, social dynamics impacting our progress.

First, let’s discuss the topic at hand. The “ideal” man. What women are looking for. One woman’s “ideal” will be different from another’s depending on her past experience with men, her current situation, her future needs, and, most importantly, how comfortable she is with herself. A Christian woman will look for different qualities in a man than will the woman who has no understanding of be last so you can be first, die so you can live, be mutually submissive to one another.

Contrary to popular belief, women don’t want a man who will treat them equally; they want one who will live with them equitably. She will respect the man who has power to insist on his own way, but chooses not to. Who acknowledges her talents and skills, and abdicates his control over those areas where she has the superior ability. She cherishes the man who can look her straight in the eye and say, I’m worried; I’m afraid; I need your help; I need your love; Something wonderful happened today, and I couldn’t wait to tell you about it, and who allows her to do the same. There is no more beautiful picture than that of a man gently holding a baby, or carefully and lovingly discipling his child. A man who is saddened by the misfortunes of others, who is not threatened by tears, and who can openly enjoy all of God’s creation without destroying it is what “real” men are all about.

There is a healthy sense of security one experiences when watching thousands of men lift hands in peaceful prayer, rededicating their hearts and lives to God, and seeking someone to whom they can be accountable. Women of integrity find this recommitment both courageous and appealing.

But Satan never rests. There are some factions of society who seem determined to defeat men’s efforts at personal and spiritual renewal. I find the reasons for this both interesting and unfortunate.

To understand it better, we can turn to systems theory and look at how social systems react to change. Change can be a death knell to familiar (that’s familiar, not necessarily productive) patterns of interaction. For that reason, we can expect some women to have a strong investment in men staying as they were. They know how to fight in the war between the sexes, but are baffled and out-classed by men of compassion. They must, therefore, go to great lengths to sabotage any efforts toward change even though that is precisely what they have been asking for.

This dynamic is quite obvious when you listen to spokespersons from some women’s organizations. They don’t appear to be very happy people. They need a Cause, like women’s rights, to give them purpose. That Cause, to maintain momentum, is dependent upon the male stereotype of power-hungry, unfeeling, irresponsible, clod because this stereotype validates feminist feelings and behaviors.

When a stuck door suddenly opens, it often swings too far too fast, and those pushing hardest land flat on their faces! Some women expend exorbitant amounts of mental and emotional energy pushing open doors of opportunity trying to find one that satisfies them. And as long as they focus on this quest, they don’t have to stop and face a reality that men have known all along – those opportunities are not always as satisfying as they seem.

Men and women need each other. We are more effective together than we can ever be apart. People who deny this deny a most valuable part of themselves. God created men and women to be in relationship with him.

I have experienced all the advantages and disadvantages of the women’s movement firsthand. I think most women would agree with me that we find ourselves in positions foisted upon us by other women’s agendas, and for years we have struggled to maintain those positions with as much grace and dignity as possible. We are not threatened by men wanting to stand in the gap; we open our arms and welcome them there with us.Wineskins Magazine

Sandra Milholland

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