Writer Ann Voskamp graced the interwebs with this article about what sons need to know about manhood in response to the current Steubenville trial. It brought me back to a blog post I wrote almost a year ago about men & why we need them. In light of the public’s outcry at our society’s view on rape and how news outlets have sympathized with the perpetrators, I want to take where Ann has gone and recognize the good men out there in spite of the injustices that have been borne against other women and men alike.
Wagging our fingers at the male gender, institutions, or the media will only go so far. When horrific stories like the Steubenville trial surface, it is easy and instinctive for the group identifying with the victim to immediately view the perpetrator group as “other”. It is easy for me, as a woman with my personal experiences of sexual harassment, catcalling, and molestation, to shut down into survival mode to react with my feelings and emotions. I don’t want to invalidate those feelings and experiences, but as I have learned over the course of this year, reconciliation and healing is not an easy process and there cannot merely be a reaction or logic based on feelings and emotions.
As I continue to learn about what it means to live as a broken yet transformed child of Christ in this hard world, I find myself more and more extending a listening ear instead of a pointing finger. Good men are out there, and without the encouragement, affirmation, and challenge of good women walking side by side with them, we will push them out of existence. I as a women have often talked about how good men are a rare breed in this world, and even rarer in a Christian-context, but I have been convicted and challenged by people in my life that this is all a myth. Satan is truly a master of lies because he has convinced us all that good men are far and few from our grasp and women should continue to complain and gripe about this terrible state because somehow, complaining will bring the good men out of the woodworks.
God created women AND men in HIS image. Who am I to criticize His creation? Who am I to point fingers in judgment and push the good men around me further and further away from standing up and becoming who God made them to be? Our worldview cannot be rooted in blame and accusations. We cannot blame all women for wearing scandalous clothing or acting in provocative way and “asking for it”. We also cannot blame all men for the terrible terrible trauma victims of rape and sexual harassment have to face. It goes back to the feelings of hurt, fear, and anger. There is definitely a place for righteous anger, a place to grieve as a community at how broken we as a people are for allowing atrocities like Steubenville or events earlier this year in India to occur over and over again.
The question is where we go from here? How do we move on and heal? How do we prevent our sons & brothers from hurting our daughters & sisters? It is in part saying no to ‘rape culture‘ and saying yes to valuing one another as human beings that are valuable and worth knowing. But further than those actions it also boils down to a “simple” statement. You are worth knowing. You are loved. You are valuable. When we believe that inwardly and act it outwardly, it creates a new culture that transcends the human vs. human mentality.
Beyond the labels of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ is the label that we are children of the light, belonging to a Savior that redeems us from even the ugliest deeds out there. Dig deeper, and you will find that only when we find the roots to these terrible acts does healing begin. When we go back to our foundation of human to human interactions, then we can build back up from the hurt & the pain and find hope because we have a God who not only weeps with His children, but He gives them the strength to transform and shed from caterpillar cocoon into beautiful precious butterflies.
My answers are not complete but I am learning with every morning to embrace the good men around me, one at a time. I am looking here and there and I find one, then another, all standing by my side. They are not far away, but near and dear. They are not few because where there is one good man there is many. When there is one good man, you are sure to find another because a good man keeps good company. His brothers are his pillars, what keeps him standing tall and firm on steady ground.