I was listening to a talk show this week when the guest host, Mark Belling, went on a total rampage about masculinity and the modern male. I was going to let it slide but it took up the entire three hours of the program. I couldn’t even listen to it- it was an extremely strange topic to focus on with so many other things going on in the world. He was calling guys under the age of 30 sissies and “girls”- meaning they use hair product, drink light beer and wear flannel shirts. He said the women nowadays are the new guys- crass, rude, tough and taking shots of hard liquor.
I normally wouldn’t have thought much of this one very long rant- however, a popular pastor (Mark Driscoll) got into a bit of hot water about a month ago for apparently making fun of feminine male worship leaders. It set off an epic battle on Twitter- which one could question exactly how masculine that is to get into a battle of words of 140 characters or less. But, it garnered quite a bit of attention in the “Christian Twittersphere”-between both stories I thought maybe this is something I could address here.
Is there still a place for “gender roles” in 2011? How do we define “being a man” and “being a woman?”. What does it mean to be “masculine” and what does it mean to be “feminine”? There is definitely a lot of confusion (and very strong opinions) in our society over these questions. The traditional lines that were drawn to define these terms have been decimated.
I read a book a few years ago called “Wild At Heart”. The premise was that men have been tamed and that we seek adventure- that we were created for adventure. Industrialized society has taken away the ability to interact with and “conquer” nature on a regular basis. We were made to hunt and gather. But now we have microwave meals, cars, highways, brick homes, etc. The problem that I found with this book was the same problem I have with the above mentioned commentator and pastor- the author equated masculinity with camping, hiking, mountain climbing, and white water rafting. Masculinity was reduced to a very specific idea- rugged, outdoorsy, beer drinking, cussing and wild.
I understand Christian leaders wanting to distance themselves from the idea that church and religion are for women and children only and that they want to become more relevant to men. But this growing obsession and intentional misrepresentation of gender roles is going to have the opposite effect.
While we relate to God as Heavenly Father- the Holy Spirit is actually a feminine noun in the Greek. There are many descriptions of God in the Bible that relate to a traditional feminine quality. I’m not suggesting that we should start saying “Our Parent, who art in Heaven” but I am saying that maybe there’s more to God than a narrow definition of masculinity that is being pushed by a few “manly” leaders.
In all fairness I might be a little sensitive to this topic because I don’t drink, smoke, not a big fan of the outdoors, I try not to cuss, I use hair product- in other words I would be defined as a “sissy” by the above people. My masculinity would be questioned because I don’t fall into their very narrow definition of it. But, really, why do I even care what these random people think about my masculinity? Probably because I see myself as masculine and it doesn’t look like their definition so I want to help broaden the conversation.
So, let’s open the discussion…how would you define “masculinity” and “femininity”? Are there certain qualities that are uniquely “masculine” and some qualities uniquely “feminine”? How do we treat and view someone that falls outside of these roles or our view of “masculine” and “feminine”? Is it different based on where we live or are there some qualities that are universally accepted?
What do you think of this kid’s poem and definition of masculinity?
pretty green eyes with
no I do not have on mascara
when I walkConfuse anybody…I am a Manly Man!
obviously rib laden chest
lies a heart
that beats to the drum of a
Native American ritual dancing
that a herd of wild mustangs have yet to grasp
If adventure abounds, there I will be found.
If a damsel be in distressI will show her who is best.
I am a Manly Man!
Because I don’t flush
and I leave the lid up.
I drive a nineteen
Ford Pick-up truck.
Girls don’t break up with me
I break up with them first!
(except the last time, it didn’t really work out like that )
I don’t shave the hair on my face
(because I still can’t grow facial hair yet,but when I can
Because beards are tough.
when I want
Not caring who’s nearby
Disrespect my momma
and I will punch you in the eye!
I am a Manly Man!
Or am I?
I tell my guy friends that I love them.
And sometimes,sometimes, I even hug them.
No because I’m not gay. But because I love em’.
When I watched Bambi
When my mama gets mad
I still run and hide.
Like David I want to be a man after God’s own heart.
I’m not there yet, but I’m past the start.
And when people talk
I try to listen
a spirit of compassion
That’s my vision.
Surely I am a Manly Man
I want to be loved
and have love
and give Love.
(and not just that romantic kind either)
Although I am looking for that beauty
But wants to be rescued.
The Damsel in distress
I will fight for her.
Climb the highest tower for her
Share with her.
Delight in her.
Be her warrior.
She will be my crown
and I will be hers.
My Masculinity will be passed down
and affirmed to my sons.
Each of my daughters will know they are lovely
and deserving of authentic romance.
Society tells me all day long
That I have defined manhood completely wrong.
But you ask any honest man and he will agree
You ask any honest woman and she too will see
That I am a Manly Man!