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Nasty Gets Us Nowhere: Making peace in the 21st-century gender wars

To truly understand what is happening in our culture today, we must first understand that the feminist movement is simply a response to the last movement that wreaked havoc on our country—one that specifically took a toll on women and the family. You could call it a men’s movement, but I prefer to refer to it as the John Wayne era. You might know it best from the old 1950s movies where the leading man smacks the woman, then turns and kisses her.

In The Quiet Man (1952), John Wayne drags a “rebellious” Maureen O’Hara along the ground through sheep dung, followed by a crowd of amused villagers, while bright, lively music plays in the background. In The Conqueror (1956), he strikes Susan Hayward before kissing her. Of course, other actors portrayed men behaving badly on the big screen, too, like Robert Mitchum in Angel Face (1953) and Ronald Reagan in The Killers (1964). Men often slapped “hysterical” women to “calm them down” or because “they deserved it,” sometimes to accompanying laugh tracks.

Images of men leaving their families and their marriages for younger women became a way of life on the big screen during the sixties sexual revolution.

That was the picture of masculinity portrayed to many young boys in the mid-twentieth century. Men were culturally encouraged to be unfeeling, tough, often blunt, demanding, and even mean. Emotions were labeled as weakness. In order for many men to maintain their images of power and authority, to appear to be trendy or mainstream, they abused their positions as heads of their households instead of laying down their lives for their wives. (See Ephesians 5:25.) A movement of sexual liberation swept the nation through the new world of media and caused more abuse, more pain, and separation between men and women. Women strived to look good and perform to be worth something, competing with images in movies and magazines, often only to be hurt or rejected by men.

Women were not only belittled, excluded, and dishonored, but this movement hurt everyone involved—men, women, families, and especially children.

The John Wayne era failed our country and now another movement turns the tables with equal destruction. “Women Are the Future,” according to the shirt one woman was wearing as I passed her in the airport.

Are we still missing it so greatly? Have we learned nothing from the past?

Nobody wins when one gender belittles, dominates, or cheapens the other. Families suffer. Society suffers. The abusers and the victims suffer.

When I was growing up, my mom, with all her great southern wisdom, always told me, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” In other words, just because someone did something wrong to you, that doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to do something wrong back to them.

More hate is never the answer.

Nasty gets us nowhere!

Gary’s father grew up in the John Wayne era. He was a very hardened, cynical man until he gave his life to God and was saved at the age of eighty. Gary never heard his father tell his mother he loved her even once while he was growing up. In fact, Gary’s father never told him that he loved him either. But when Gary’s father was saved after eight decades of life, God did an amazing work in his heart, and he became a completely different man.

My Navy veteran father-in-law, Thomas Keesee, would cry almost every time we came to see him, gushing about how proud he was of Gary. You couldn’t talk to him without hearing him express how much he loved you.

“I’ve wasted my life,” he told Gary one day. He was a successful businessman who started his own company—a company that lives on today— but that didn’t matter to him anymore. He realized he had hardened his heart to what really mattered. Now his eyes were open… but he was out of time. Tom died peacefully at home, three years after being saved.

Today, I see so many women who speak bitter, angry words, particularly when talking about men, and I can’t help but wonder if they, too, will look back on their lives with regret, realizing they hardened their hearts and traded true happiness for the world’s counterfeit agenda. Speaking from personal experience, it’s an empty, broken path that does not lead to happiness!

JUSTICE… OR GETTING EVEN?

We have come such a long way since the John Wayne era, but many women still cling to the idea of getting even. The feminist movement has done its best to turn the tables on men. At its core, it’s not about making things right; it’s about getting more than justice—about women winning and men losing. Maybe that’s not how it is for everyone, but unfortunately, that is the case for many. Today, we are seeing man-hating, belittlement toward men, and anything you can do, I can do better mindset running rampant. The teasing song by Irving Berlin has been turned into a thrown gauntlet or declaration of war.

I’m reminded of my mother’s words: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Galatians 5:15 says, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

We all lose when we tear each other down. The way the family goes is the way the nation goes—and the family unit doesn’t work when we demean a crucial part of it.

Too often, men and women look at each other like opposing paddlers in a canoe race, both struggling to take the lead on a river only wide enough for one canoe. In reality, we are more like two paddlers racing in the same canoe. When one knocks the other out with their paddle, the canoe is likely to capsize.

MARRIAGE ISN’T ALWAYS EASY

My husband and I are very different, both in our natural roles as man and woman and in our personalities. I am Mrs. Can Do, Sign Us Up for Everything…Our Flight Leaves in Five Minutes, We Still Have Time for Breakfast…Let’s Talk About This for Three Hours…Life of the Party…I Haven’t Slept in Three Days, But I Still Have Enough Energy to Shop at Marshall’s… Ha!

My husband is Mr. Steady Plodder…I’d Rather Be in a Cabin in the Woods Than at a Party…Talking for Three Hours Straight Sounds Like a Nightmare…Let’s Finish the Last Thing We Signed Up for Before We Sign Up for Something Else…Drenda, Didn’t You Already Buy Three Bedazzled Plungers From HomeGoods?… Ha!

Okay, that might be a little exaggerated, but sometimes, it really does feel like we are that different. And for the record, I have never bought a bedazzled plunger… but if I ever find one for sale, you bet I’d probably buy a couple.

My point is, when Gary and I were immature in our marriage, we attacked each other for the things we did differently and called out each other’s weaknesses. We weren’t complementing each other; we were competing with each other.

Today, after thirty-eight years of marriage, we know that what makes us different is what makes us stronger together. Our differences protect each other. As Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”

Gary and I have also learned that we are in this together, whether we like it or not. Where one person goes, the other goes. When I tear down my husband, I tear down myself and our family. We are two canoeists in the same boat; if we don’t agree on a direction, we’re likely to end up spinning in circles and going nowhere. When we work together, there’s nothing that can stop us. We are faster, more resilient, and stronger. People have actually called us a power couple. When men and women work together, they succeed together.

That’s why a men’s movement or a women’s movement won’t fix the problems in our culture. Neither one will make us happier, make our families stronger, or make us feel more fulfilled in life.

That’s why even though women have gained more choices, rights, and opportunities since the John Wayne era, they are less happy than ever.

MEN ARE FIGHTING BACK

And that’s why a lot of good men today are in hiding and others have started a war of their own against women in a backlash.

In an opinion piece for Observer, Andrea Tantaros wrote:

MIA: Men.

Feminism told them we didn’t need them. Then we were told to emulate them. On top of it all, we’ve emasculated them, and now men are fighting back… quietly. American society has become increasingly anti-male. Men are sensing the backlash and are consciously and unconsciously going “on strike.” Breitbart has dubbed this “equal but separate misery” between the sexes a “sexodus” where men are giving up on women altogether and stepping back from society. Statistics are showing that men are increasingly choosing not to get married... One man commented, “Marriage is dead. Divorce means you are screwed for life. Women have given up on monogamy, which makes them uninteresting to us for any serious relationship or raising a family.” Maureen Dowd once famously asked, “Are men necessary?” Now it’s the men asking that about women—and, more importantly, about commitment. This isn’t political, this is critical. It’s time for both genders [to] admit we need each other, start treating each other with respect and concede that we’re equal, but equal doesn’t mean the same and embrace the differences in our wiring.1

On our mission to love and be loved, we have pushed ourselves further away from our goals.

WOMEN VS. WOMEN

There has already been too much collateral damage in this gender war. Motherhood, the family unit, and marriage have taken big hits and have simply been shoved into the front lines as ammunition in the battle.

And the attacks aren’t just between men and women. Women have been pitted against each other, too—working moms versus stay-at-home moms, married women versus single women, moms versus women without children, pro-choice versus pro-life… and the list goes on.

A Volkswagen commercial was recently banned in the United Kingdom for promoting gender stereotypes. Its offense? It showed a woman sitting next to a stroller.

In an interview with singer Taylor Swift, a German interviewer was scolded after noting she was turning thirty and wondering “if she would like to be a mother someday.” Swift refused to answer the question, noting, “I don’t really think men are asked that question when they turn 30.”

Women, who were once one of the greatest cheerleaders for family, now march for the right to kill their own children inside the womb. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are around forty to fifty million abortions in the world every year. That’s roughly five times the number of Jewish victims experts say were killed in the Holocaust—and it’s happening year in, year out, right under our noses. What a plan from Satan!

When did being a mother become a shameful thing? When did demanding our own needs and “rights” become more important than standing for the defenseless and protecting our children, not to mention the women’s rights of the little females in the womb?

Motherhood has become a taboo, touchy topic, treated more like an insult today than the position of honor God created it to be. Satan loves to pit men and women against each other to destroy the very things that God created to be sacred. This may be one of the sneakiest and costliest attacks of all.

WHEN A HAND UP HURTS

Even efforts to help marginalized women through economic development opportunities can backfire, as it did in Uganda:

Traditional masculinities, hinged on men’s ability to protect, provide and rule, have been destabilized. One of the clear outcomes of this loss is an increase in violence. Gender-based violence was noted as a deterrent to women’s political participation. Although some respondents indicated that the level of gender-based violence had gone down, the larger majority indicated that violence still persisted and that it impeded women’s political participation.… Violence seems to be one of the mechanisms through which patriarchy is reinventing itself to subordinate women in a situation where the majority of men have clearly lost their dominant position in the household economy.2

Ugandan media is filled with stories about men making women do all the work, taking all their money to spend on themselves, and cheating on their wives or girlfriends. One man told a reporter:

“This girlfriend of mine thinks I’m stupid, but I’m biding my time.… One night I spent 200,000 shillings on her and her friends and she gratefully told me that now she knows how much ‘I love her’. Just wait until the ring is on her finger. I’m going to leave her in the house to take care of the children and enjoy my other women. That is how women deserve to be treated.”3

By focusing solely on women’s empowerment, many initiatives fail to bring lasting change because they inadvertently excuse or alienate men from responsibility or obligation and essentially undermine masculine identity.

Women and men both succeed when they’re working together. We need each other. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

WE REFLECT THE FULLNESS OF GOD

Together, we reflect the fullness of God. Even as women are economically empowered and society advances, it is not fully sustainable unless men are also included. As women take their place at the table alongside men in the ranks of every part of society, from leadership to labor to ministry, we will see more of the fullness of the kingdom of God on earth.

Jesus taught us, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).

Satan has been using bitterness, unforgiveness, and strife to blind us to what has really been going on right in front of our eyes—genocide, the destruction of marriage, suicide, families split apart… all-time highs for depression, anxiety, abortion, drug abuse, immorality, and loneliness, and all-time lows for successful marriages, happiness, couples getting married, men leading their families, and more.

Nasty gets us nowhere! Neither women nor men win at that game.

It’s time to throw out the culture’s every man for himself rule book and go back to the original guide. It’s time to put aside men’s movements and women’s movements to end the destruction caused by gender wars.

What we need is a forgiveness and restoration movement. We need to come together, build each other up, and speak to the strengths of each other’s gender. We need a movement of complementing each other instead of competing with each other.

It’s time for a movement toward unity and re-establishing God’s design for life—that’s the only way we can all succeed.

 

 

This article was extracted from Issue 6 (Summer 2021) of the AVAIL Journal. Claim your free annual subscription here.

 

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Andrea Tantaros, “Five Ways Feminism Has Made Women Miserable: If we want a return to romance, we’ve got to start empowering men instead of emasculating them,” Observer, May 3, 2016; observer.com/2016/05/five-ways-feminism-has-made-women-miserable.
  2. Josephine Ahikire, Aramanzan Madanda, and Christine Ampaire, “Post-war economic opportunities in northern Uganda: Implications for women’s empowerment and political participation,” July 2012, International Alert/ Eastern Africa Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI); international-alert.org/sites/default/files/publications/201209WomenEconOppsUganda-EN.pdf.
  3. Lindsey Kukunda, “Why Ugandan men suck!,” Kampala Dispatch, November 25, 2016; dispatch.ug/2016/11/25/why-ugandan-men-suck.

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