Tag Archives: manhood

Chivalry By Another Name

9_chivalry-lessons-from-legendary-gentleman-flash12

This article gave me a good laugh yesterday:

Chicks Dig Sexist Guys, Research Finds –

Researchers from the University of Auckland, New Zealand report that “the endorsement of sexist ideology is linked to higher subjective wellbeing for both men and women.”

According to this study, “a man’s score on a test of ‘benevolent sexism’ – a view of women as ‘deserving of men’s adoration and protection’ – was directly correlated with his overall life satisfaction. Their results also indicated that women are happier in relationships with sexist men.”

Let us take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this phrase, benevolent sexism. Allow it to sink in. For if modern man has mastered (nay, perfected) anything, it is the Art of the Euphemism. We love bushes, especially the kind you can beat around.

To those who may be wondering, benevolent sexism is really just a mealy-mouthed tip of the tongue to the concept of chivalry. The former, however, is easier on our Enlightened Ears. Chivalry is a noble word, filled with the echo of That Which Is to Be Striven After. Benevolent sexism, on the other hand, sounds like a psychological disorder. Those who suffer from it deserve our pity – and our therapists.

Casting Out Pearls: Men and Reading Fiction

I wrote a piece for CBMW on why men should be readers of fiction. It was published this morning. Here’s an excerpt:

An explanation (or excuse) for this piece can be found in a certain truth, which seems to me very obvious, but which I have seen under attack: that men should be readers. And by readers, I do not merely mean readers of car manuals, the Internet, or those instructions on the backs of microwaveable meals. I mean readers of books, and especially, in this case, readers of stories.

This truth, I say, is under attack. It isn’t that men are lining up with protest signs or writing polemics or having bonfires. It is much more subtle than that. Ray Bradbury’s observation is apropos: “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” To bring the discussion into narrower focus: there are worse crimes than abhorring good stories; one of them is not reading them. Continue —->

No Swords (or Pruning Hooks) Allowed

This article in TIME by Christina Hoff Sommers is well worth a read:

As school begins in the coming weeks, parents of boys should ask themselves a question: Is my son really welcome? A flurry of incidents last spring suggests that the answer is no. In May, Christopher Marshall, age 7, was suspended from his Virginia school for picking up a pencil and using it to “shoot” a “bad guy” — his friend, who was also suspended. A few months earlier, Josh Welch, also 7, was sent home from his Maryland school for nibbling off the corners of a strawberry Pop-Tart to shape it into a gun. At about the same time, Colorado’s Alex Evans, age 7, was suspended for throwing an imaginary hand grenade at “bad guys” in order to “save the world.”

In all these cases, school officials found the children to be in violation of the school’s zero-tolerance policies for firearms, which is clearly a ludicrous application of the rule. But common sense isn’t the only thing at stake here. In the name of zero tolerance, our schools are becoming hostile environments for young boys.

Exhibits X, Y, and Z in the Ongoing War on Masculinity. ‘Cause boys are just so freaking violent. If you see one behaving, y’know, the way boys normally do (wrestling, sword-fighting, playing army, etc.) be sure to call 911. We’ll send a squad car and a straightjacket right away.

What was it Lewis wrote in that magnificent little volume The Abolition of Man? “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

Even this scathing indictment is too generous for us. We remove the organ because we hate the function. We make men without chests because we’re scared of what they might do if they had them. We laugh at honor because we know that honor is an antiquated notion best left to the Victorians. We castrate because the last thing we want is fruitfulness.

In Future Men, Wilson argues that “men who follow Jesus Christ, the dragon-slayer, must themselves become lesser dragon-slayers. And that is why it is absolutely essential for boys to play with wooden swords and plastic guns. Boys have a deep need to have something to defend, something to represent in battle. And to beat the spears into pruning hooks prematurely, before the war is over, will leave you fighting the dragon with a pruning hook.”

Let us have our way, and pruning hooks will be banned, too.

Sneering at Virtue and Beauty

“[We must] instill in our students the easy habit of sneering at virtue and beauty. I say it is an easy habit, because a little veneer of intelligence will usually suffice to persuade one that all the people in the world who lived before one’s time – say, all the people who lived before two in the afternoon on July 2, 1965 – were knaves an fools. They all believed the world was flat; they kept slaves; they burned witches; they smoked cigarettes; whatever easy stupidity or immorality can be pinned on them, we pin it. They cannot answer the charges themselves, and students ignorant of history can’t answer them either. So we talk glibly about traditional manhood and traditional womanhood, with a knowing wink – meaning brutality and idiocy. That such men and women, possessed of virtues we ignore, tamed a continent, is not to be considered.

Have children understand that manliness and womanliness are contemptible. The true man is a cartoon figure, a crazy mixture of steroid-exploded muscle mass, grunts, and a bad shave. Otherwise men are fat, sloppy, and stupid. They paint their bellies for football games and drink beer. They are incompetents in the workplace. Their conversation revolves around fast food and fast women. For their part, the women are skinny to the point of emaciation. They wear clothes that would make the whores of old blush. They are fussy, snappy, and feline. They enjoy humiliating men, who always come back for more anyway. They have studied martial arts, and can be choreographed into delivering a backhand slap from a thin-wristed arm that will defy all the laws of physics and send a 250-pound man reeling. They have foul mouths, but they do not come by the foulness honestly; a sort of sneaky, sniggering arch foulness.

Let these be the creatures held up for our children’s emulation. They cannot excite the imagination, no more than cardboard can excite the appetite. They may possess a lot of money, a sharp wardrobe, and a glamorous job, but those things are the false goods that glut the soul rather than whet its longing for what is beyond our immediate range of sight. They not only possess no virtue; they corrode what virtues are left in the young. They leave children with the cynicism of a twice-divorced harridan or cad. Men are not worth looking for, women are not worth looking for. Feed young people enough of that, and you will not only ensure that they lose the ideals of manhood and womanhood. You will go far toward making their souls incapable of any real virtue at all.”

– Esolen, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (pp. 196-197)

Justin Bieber and the Redefinition of Manhood

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)

A good friend recently referred me to this article, titled In Defense of Justin Bieber. As you can imagine, my initial reaction was one of incredulity. What? You’ve gotta be kidding me. Surely I read that wrong…

But as I continued to take in what this young woman had to say, I found myself nodding in agreement. She makes some very good points about the power of words, the importance of being Christ-like in our conversation, and how quickly sarcasm can turn into pure, arrogant, ungraceful spite. She’s pleading – and rightly so – for gentleness in our speech.

Having said that, I believe that, on the whole, she tends to be a bit too gentle. I’m all for self-control of the tongue; and as far as that goes, the article is a good one. At the same time, I think it would be much too easy for someone to read it and walk away under the mistaken impression that Justin Bieber is A-Okay: just a misunderstood kid who doesn’t deserve an ounce of the criticism he’s received thus far.

I’m not suggesting that this is what the young lady meant to say. Not at all. But I am suggesting that her words could be perceived in such a light. And I find that more than a little unsettling.

Please note: I don’t dislike Bieber on a personal level – I’ve never even met him. I also don’t believe that wanton verbal abuse is the appropriate (or mature) response to him or his actions. My concerns are just that: concerns. And they’re biblically rooted. So don’t play the fool and take what follows as an angry ad hominem attack on a celebrity figure.

As a guy, my frustration with Bieber has little to do with his voice, girly or no. My frustration stems from the fact that his general bearing is effeminate. There’s hardly anything manly about the way this young man carries himself. From the way he dresses to the way he acts, he’s implicitly conveying the idea that it’s totally “cool”  for guys to “get in touch” with their “feminine side”.

Whatever the heck that is.

In short, what we’re dealing with is yet another manifestation of the ongoing movement to redefine manhood. Of course, this movement didn’t start with Bieber and it won’t end with Bieber – but Bieber is contributing to it nonetheless.

For one thing, he is playing no small role in influencing what girls look for in a man.  He’s a teen-heartthrob, for goodness’ sake: his biggest fans are adolescent and pre-adolescant girls. Bieber is the bomb. *swoon*

Instead of looking for the same qualities they used to – qualities like strength, purpose, responsibility, manliness –  girls are looking for different things from the men in their lives – things like sensitivity and passivity. You get the picture.

Biblical, masculine, manliness is out. Soft, effeminate, metro-sexuality is in.

Because of this shift in expectations, guys will naturally tend to mimic the example set by Bieber and those like him; after all, if that’s the sort of “masculinity” so many girls are attracted to these days, why not? Slip on those skinny jeans. Wear that pink shirt. Grow some bangs. Your girlfriend will love you for it. And you’ll look so much “safer” and more “sensitive”.

I’m not saying that Bieber is responsible for all the girly-guys on this giant dustball. But he’s certainly not helping set a different, more biblical standard. In fact, he’s doing the very opposite.

He’s a celebrity, and people love celebrities. Not only that, they idolize them. They want to be like them. A celebrity’s sphere of influence is wide – ranging from fashion design to hair styles to which charity you should support. Yet these are all superficial when compared to the impression a celebrity makes on the hearts and minds of his/her followers. Bieber is making an impression. And if you think it’s a good one, you should probably take your head out of the sand and open your eyes.

Bieber has apparently professed to be a Christian; and while I may not be able see the state of his heart, I can see the fruit he is bearing. The fact that Bieber claims the name of Christ means that he has the responsibility before God to “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory”. (Thessalonians 2:12) But instead of doing this – instead of using his influence to encourage fellow believers, witness to the lost, and bring glory to his Savior – Bieber is promoting an image that is directly contrary to biblical Christianity.

We should find that more than slightly bothersome. But resorting to hatred and loathing isn’t the correct response; we need to be praying for him. Fervently.

Fellow blogger Gabriel Hudelson has written several times on the subject of biblical manhood. In this post, he says something which I think is well worth repeating:

Has anyone else noticed the fad of girly, soft young men lately? I’m getting tired of it. I even see it among homeschoolers. A gentle, quiet softness that isn’t just manly meekness – it’s girly. And it’s disgusting. And it’s unbiblical, most importantly.

And it’s so fashionable, it seems, today.

I’m not advocating boorish, vulgar manhood – just manly manhood.

Any other men out there who agree? Who desire to have a bit of thunder in their step, lion in their voice, iron in their grip, determination in their stride, fiery vision in their eyes?

Of course, this strength must be tempered by meekness. Strength under control for The Glory of God.

But I can be meek and still be very firmly a man.

Young men don’t need any more examples of effeminacy. They need the examples of real men, godly men; men of the past and men of the present; men who take their God-given manhood seriously. We need more writers like Gabriel Hudelson; more blogs like Man Against World. Most importantly, we need to get back to the basics – attempting to ground yourself in manhood without first grounding yourself in God’s Word is ultimately counter-productive, like trying to drive a car without an engine. You ain’t goin’ nowhere.

I’ll close with the words of C.S. Lewis:

We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful.

I know it sounds cliche, guys, but we are at war. The fight to redefine what it means to be a man has been raging since time began, and Bieber is only a part of it. So don’t just sit there listlessly on the couch, drooling like an idiot – get up and do something about it.

Don’t settle for what the world has to offer. There’s a race to be run, a fight to be fought, a crown to be won.  Go run it, fight it, win it. All to the glory of Christ.