I'm a man. But I don't know whether to be amused or disgusted every month when men who identify themselves as Bible bloggers play King of the Hill. And women are not included in their game, at least not in equal numbers. This is a small thing, I know. It's just blogging and just only about "the Bible." And yet, to me, anyways, it's indicative of some very big things.
Thanks again to Kristen for coming over here to this blog, for reading, and for writing these sorts of questions:
Why are there ... no classes for men on how to recognize attitudes and trends within themselves, their friends, and society in general, which leave a back door open for rape to happen?I'm a man, and as I blog and blog with men and women too, I'm wondering how we were trained. Blogging about the Bible hasn't seemed to help the sexism for many. There's no need to name names. There's really no time for that. My wife just gave me Mary Pipher's Surviving Ophelia, and I just finished reading it. Read very closely the chapter, "Fathers." Now want to quote a few paragraphs or sentences or words from her final chapter, "A Fence at the Top of the Hill." Let this be a kindergarten class for us men, who blog, and who spout out stuff about the bible, so we can rise, at the expense of, or at the very most, to the neglect of, women around us.
In Pipher's final chapter, she opens up with a real-life scene of her being in a room at a YWCA with teenage girls watching a film on date rate. "This film doesn't hold my attention," the author confesses. And she explains: "I'm gray-haired, I have been married for twenty years and unlikely to go on another date." But she stays and watches and listens and talks. This blogpost may not hold your attention. But, for one reason or another, why not stay just a little while longer? Pipher says:
There is something eerie about teaching our daughters how to fight off rapists and kidnappers. We need classes that teach men not to rape and hurt women. We need workshops that teach men what some of them don't learn: how to be gentle and loving.Now she's saying many things more to women, about adolescent girls, for parents of young and older children who are females. But here in this chapter, she does mention us men, a bit more:
Schools could offer clear sexual and physical harassment policies that protect students and establish norms for conduct toward the opposite sex. They could offer guidelines for appropriate sexual behavior and teach how to say no. This work with young teens might help prevent the "gang bangs" and the date rapes of the high school years.As she begins to end her chapter, Pipher credits a man for bringing a poem to her attention, the poem that is the parable forming her title for the closing chapter of her book. And here also she has an additional allusion to the title of the book itself. But there are things for us men to hear, to hear for change, change of ourselves. She says:
"Manhood" needs to be redefined in a way that allows women equality and men pride. Our culture desperately needs new ways to teach boys to be men. Via the media and advertising, we are teaching our sons all the wrong lessons. Boys need a model of manhood that is caring and bold, adventurous and gentle. They need ways to be men that don't involve violence, misogyny, and the objectification of women. Instead of promoting violence as a means of solving human problems, we must strengthen our taboos against violence. Some Native American cultures have no words in their language for hurting other humans. What do those cultures think of us?
My grandfather liked a poem about a town that had people falling off its cliffs. The city elders met to debate whether to build a fence at the top of the cliffs or put an ambulance down in the valley. The poem summarizes the essential differences between treatment and prevention of social problems. My work as a therapist is ambulance work, and after years of ambulance driving, I'm aware of the limits of the treatment approach to major social problems. In addition to treating the casualities of our cultural messages, we need to work for cultural change.Men around the top of the hill may actually be ones who have caused others to plumet to the bottom. Yep. Let me say it again, I know, it's just blogging, and it's only blogging around the Bible. We don't need to change a thing, really, because that's all it is and needs to be. Get serious, have a sense of humor, and get a life or another bible blog, but don't rock the boat because it's all fun, all games, all well intentioned, and so forth, and so on. It's not real life. Blogging and bible don't really hold my attention anyway. And it's hurting no body. Or is it?
I believe, as Miller, Mead and de Beauvoir believed, that pathology comes from failure to realize one's possibilities. Ophelia died because she could not grow. She became the object of others' lives and lost her true subjective self. Many of the girls I describe in this book suffer from a thwarting of their development, a truncating of their potential. As my client said--they are perfectly good carrots being cut into roses.
....Let's work for a culture in which there is a place for every human gift, in which children are safe and protected, women are respected and men and women can love each other as whole human beings. Let's work for a culture in which the incisive intellect, the willing hand and the happy heart are beloved. Then our daughters will have a place where all their talents will be appreciated, and they can flourish like green trees under the sun and the stars.
There is something eerie about teaching women (bloggers) how to slough off the way men Bible bloggers treat them. We need classes that teach men not to disparage or ignore the many contributions of women. We need workshops that teach men what some of them don't learn: how to be gentle and loving.