Here I am again, picking up where I left off last week. Yeah the letter about women being the equal of men and as the week’s passed by and I’ve read and thought, I’m now thinking I perhaps should have reversed the phrase and asked, will men ever be the equal of women? This last week has involved a fair amount of introspection which is best done, fortunately, with a single malt in hand. I found myself facing lots of big questions.
Like, have we got this whole male thing wrong? Our role models, were they damaged and if such, how much so? Indeed, can I throw a question out there for you, and anyone else who reads this letter, to consider? How far, if at all, have we come from the intended model of male-female relationship? I mean, is what we currently widely see, the suppression of women to domestic roles, the original design?
So, here I am back at the beginning, literally, in the creation account found in the Bible that you read, and it says that God made woman because man needed a helper. A helper, a person who would assist, a co-worker. Indeed, the same word is used on occasions when referring to God’s help. So I’m not seeing anything suggesting woman are in any way inferior to man. Perhaps there’s someone out there who will tell me otherwise? Indeed the woman is described by man as “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” a recognition of equality if ever I heard one.
But by the time of Deuteronomy, another early Biblical book, women are the possessions of men, daughters are the chattels of their father’s to do with as they see fit and it’s perfectly acceptable for men to take multiple wives. The whole plan has come off the rails. So we rattle along with women as second class citizens for the majority of written history.
But my thoughts aren’t with women at this moment. I think we can all accept the struggle women have, even now, for a moment of equality. I am thinking about how men have gone wrong. That the model seems to be flawed and they too have lost their way. But the model perpetuates itself as sons look to fathers for a role model and they, in turn, have looked to their fathers. For many, what is modelled for them becomes the norm, the acceptable. It’s often said that the abused become abusers but if that’s the model of male behaviour that is given, the perceived norm, what are we to expect?
The model has often been one of the independent, strong male, standing above his emotions, who excels at sports. And for the many who never were that person there may have been a sense of failure or of disappointing parents. In so many ways the gladiatorial spirit lives with us as our hero’s compete on the sports field. The model of the modern male is coupled with the need to dominate and that of itself has led to many issues that were unexpected especially as women in the West make headway in their demands for equal job rights, equal opportunities and same standing in many areas of society where men have long competed only with each other. Pogue, have you witnessed the discomfort of some men when faced with the prospect of the woman of the home becoming the breadwinner? Tradition, hundred of years of tradition, denies that this is right and the ground is snatched away from under men’s feet. But I’ve now witnessed this on numerous occasions.
Regrettably, for some the solution to this, to the falling apart of the time honoured model, has been a descent into the aforementioned gladiatorial role and a resolution through aggression, even violence.
Having said that, there has been an idea within our culture that a woman should look to a man as her provider in many ways. An implicit denial of her own potential and ability to fulfil many roles and it is probably that myth, fed from mother to daughter, that has created a limiting role for women and imprisoned them in the belief of limited possibilities. Now, as we look around, we finally see this myth being challenged, debunked, as strong women rise up.
So what happens to men when their traditional belief system is challenged and the cracks begin to appear? What happens when women prove they can do the job better than a male counterpart? There’s a crisis. If the model of the dominating male has been long taught then the challenge may be too big to face and the prevailing sense of having failed maybe overwhelming. Sometimes there will be violence. Because violence can fill the void created by failure.
If our society is to progress we have to heed the words that were right there at the beginning of the story, the woman is indeed “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh”. That in the beginning there was equality and communion. This is the perfect plan, the “A” game before ever things went awry.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.Genesis 3:16
Yet we may well persist in building on the other model, the one that came after the Fall, the “you’ve really messed up” model. The one that started men off on the path of domination, or probably, justified their behaviour and validated a lack of accountability. I often wondered which came first, the instructions or the behaviour that, requiring validation called for the instructions to be recorded?
Whatever, men have a lot to learn and a new model to absorb. Dominating is no way to built healthy relationships or healthy society. Respect should be given to those who show authority but done so without the need to dominate. Leadership through strength of character not according to my ability to inflict damage and pain.
Pogue, we all have a long way to go and a lot of baggage to shed on our journeys. Prejudice dies slowly and often goes screaming and kicking but it will go in the face of a determine move towards a better day.
Yours, looking both back and forward to that better day,