The war on Self-Righteous Bigotry.

Focus on the Family explains to us that there is a war on masculinity. (this is a link to an editorial based off of a chapter from Bringing up Boys)

My frustration with these articles knows no bounds. First, there is the fact that this all works off of the assumption that there is a widespread effort to undermine masculinity as an ideal, and we as consumers are all unwitting pawns. The concept of wars in which we are all pawns is old, and often true. In this case I think that masculinity as an ideal is it’s own enemy- because there is a war. There is a war against the assumption of power, strength and dominance. If masculinity as an ideal assumes all of those things, there are a lot of women (and men!) who resent that.

I wish there could be a fair discussion about our assumptions of masculinity and femininity, the ideals that both traits carry inherently and what we should do with that. This article, unfortunately, is not like that in the least. It starts out simply enough:

It is impossible to understand what is happening to our kids today, both male and female, without considering the influence of feminist ideology.

I wonder, for a second, if that means that they are going to talk about how feminist ideology has been a wake-up call to the old ways of patriarchal society, about how the world in which we live is changing and thus are basic assumptions about God’s intended order are being challenged, and perhaps proven wrong. Just in case you all were wondering the same thing, and the title of this post didn’t clue you in- Dobson’s views are as unchanging as they come. If they are challenged, the assumption must therefore be that the other party is wrong.

The article carries on, talking about how men who open doors for women are called “Male Chauvinist Pigs” and subjected to ridicule. Perhaps there is an era that I missed. I’m young. Most of the women I know talk about the death of chivalry, and how it’s hard to find a man these days who will deign to be a gentleman. That seems at odds with Dobson’s point. Perhaps he simply doesn’t know enough women.

Dobson writes:

A centerpiece of this hostility is seen in an ongoing effort to convince us that “Men are fools.” It claims that the majority of males are immature, impulsive, selfish, weak and not very bright.

I fail to know how to respond to this accusation. In the article that Dobson was referring to, he himself quoted the author as saying that several masculine attributes such as dominance and stoicism can be harmful. How saying that stoicism when carried to an extreme is harmful equates to an accusation of masculinity equaling idiocy is beyond me. Not in the least to point out that Dobson is being unsympathetic in his evaluation of a woman who wrote said article as a response to the harm that these ideals did to her own son.

Dobson carries on to chide the entertainment industry for it’s unfair depiction of men. He says:

So what is going on here? Is it possible that men, especially male beer drinkers and sports-car enthusiasts, actually like being depicted as dumb, horny, fat, nerdy and ugly?

Actually, it is my experience that men laugh at these commercials and clap each other on the back, often with words like, “what an asshole. Glad I’m not him!” It is not meant as realism so much as humor, and humor is so often found in the exaggeration of accepted form. Most men are not as big of buffoons as the men in beer commercials, but most men have either seen or felt some small bit of that longing for the unattainable and the feeling of it being out of reach. I fail to see how men in beer commercials being drunken assholes (because, honestly…) is somehow emasculating all men as a whole. The moral of the story? Don’t want to be an asshole? Don’t drink beer!

Dobson continues:

Not in a million years would you see a corpulent, unattractive woman lusting after a good-looking man who shows disdain for her as she does something ridiculous.

Of course not! Because the role truly can’t be reversed. Our society prizes beauty as the greatest of feminine attributes. It’s not just women who would find that kind of portrayal distasteful- men would as well. And there is also a very simple point in all of this. By men being portrayed as subjected to the mind-numbing powers of female beauty, men feel lust and women feel power. Both of those things SELL PRODUCTS. By showing a women being subjugated by male dominance, women feel anger and men feel guilt. What does that serve? There are thousands of years of patriarchal societies in which women were little better than breeders and servants that we are growing past. Does anyone truly think that advertising executives would want to take a step backwards?

Perhaps Dobson has a small point. Perhaps in our society’s zealousness to grant women power and take men down a notch it has all gone overboard. Men themselves have often played a willing role in it. Some men take it as a relief that the male part of our population is no longer solely responsible for keeping the economy going. They are just as relieved to be sharing the power as women are to be sharing the household duties. In most families it is a celebration of joint effort, of unity, of singleness of purpose. I don’t believe it is in every instance greeted as an unwelcome advancement.

Dobson continues:

There is not a single example, as I write, of a healthy family depicted on network programming that includes a masculine guy who loves his kids and is respected by his wife!

And what, Dr. Dobson, is funny about a well-adjusted family?

Dobson continues:

Invariably, sitcoms today feature at least one gay or lesbian character, who is cast in a sympathetic role.

I don’t watch many sitcoms, so I cannot say that he speaks absolute truth. All I can do is turn up the eerie background music and remind everyone that the gays and lesbians apparently have an agenda, and they are going to enact it! I just hope that their agenda includes giving our house a nice makeover and helping me buy some nice clothes.

Seriously, Christians, stop beating a dead horse. The gays are not out to “convert” your children. Not everyone proselytizes their personal preferences the way that evangelicals proselytize their faith.

Dobson continues to talk about a bias in the American Educational system. This is the one place in the entire article that I find myself agreeing with him. Numerous studies have shown that our system of education is slanted in favor of females. That is an issue not with “feminism”, but our lack of understanding about the way that boys learn and a lack of funding in order to make the necessary changes.

Dobson eventually gets around to saying:

Please understand that I have nothing but respect and admiration for girls and women.

Well, gee, sir, thanks!

In conclusion I’d just like to reiterate that the problem isn’t with Masculinity itself- not as I see it- the problem is with the inherent bigotry that masculinity has traditionally bred.

Some are masculine, some are feminine, it doesn’t particularly matter if they are boys or girls. We should all learn to appreciate and love the myriad of attributes humanity has, and embrace each other. *

*Now, boys, get your heads out of the gutter.

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4 thoughts on “The war on Self-Righteous Bigotry.

  1. I’m so glad you wrote this, but… I haven’t been able to take Dobson seriously for years. The cause? A whole lot of things, but the thing that *really* got my goat was an article in which he went all-out in stating that girls should do girl-appropriate things (like helping their moms cook), while dads owed it to boys to take them to the hardware store and such.

    Excuse me, but wtf??? I *loved* going to the hardware store and lumberyard when I was growing up, because there were so many fascinating things there, because I loved going *anywhere* with my dad and grandfather – and because the employees at these places were sweet and friendly and showed me how things worked and generally made a huge fuss over me. Made this girl feel liked and wanted there, y’know?

    Cooking (and most other domestic things) have never, ever interested me. If that makes me what Someone Limbaugh calls a “feminazi,” then so be it. But how is it that so many men are chefs? And how is it that women are gaining ground in fields like architecture? Supposing Zaha Hadeed won the Pritzker Prize because both of her parents indulged her love for, say, building things, and drawing, and so on??? I tend to think that they did.

    So, if God gives us kids – entrusting the lives of small humans into our hands – I really believe we have an obligation to nurture the gifts those children have been given.

    Oh, and my fave TV show (not that i watch much) is Ugly Betty. I guess THAT says all kinds of things about me, eh? Excepting one thing that Dobson and others of his cast of mind probably miss: there’s a very loving family at the heart of the show.

    OK, I’m done for now (I think!)

  2. Oh, eventually I’m going to get around to more specific things about Dobson’s parenting advice and how it differs with how I raise my own kids. I have a boy and a girl, and my girl loves her plastic power tools and the boy loves ponies and guess what? That doesn’t mean that I feel my children are somehow going to become gender confused. We need to take gender AS WELL AS individual drives and personality into consideration.

    I also find it hard to take Dobson very seriously, but I regularly receive books of his as gifts and find forwards of his in my in box, so he’ll probably be a regular feature on my blog.

  3. I have to admit that I *tried* to read the article you’re referencing here, but gave up about 3 sentences in.

    It strikes me as *very* odd that people like Dobson are constantly ranting about “wars” on something or other. Marketing, perhaps? (Oh, shut my mouth!!!!! ;))

  4. I almost feel that I *have* to read these things, because friends of mine do, and I want to know what they are thinking!

    The word “war” raises such vivid mental pictures. *sighs*

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