Friday, May 9, 2014

Society doesn't let women grow up.

Last year on The Roast, Jonah Hill made fun of Sarah Silverman's age, a successful female comedian in her 40's.  I watched interviews with her after the fact, and she took the joke lightly, but reflected on the deeper stereotypes about women this joke pointed toward.  "Basically, the joke is that I'm still alive," and speaking toward women, "Your obsession with being young is the reason why your daughters don't look forward to their future."  Her comment resonated with me deeply.

It is often spoken about the cultural setbacks placed on men, deterring them from growing up.  In a capitalist society where the end-all be-all is making money, the surest way to make money is to exploit people’s insecurities and desires.  Because men were the primary money makers in the past, we see the exploitation of their insecurities and desires thoroughly fleshed out before us.  The insecurity and desire to captivate a woman’s attention has led to porn addiction, strip clubs, and use of prostitution.  The insecurity and desire to excel in one’s vocation has led to video game addiction.  The insecurity and desire to be manly, the aggressive alpha-male, has led to steroid addiction and the muscle dysmorphia pretty much every college male has.

In these fantasy worlds, men stay boys, having everything handed to them without having to work towards their goals.  All of these desires should be a means to an end, namely becoming a father and a real man in Christ, but society deludes us into thinking that the means should be ends in and of themselves.  Since men with boy minds cannot handle being fathers, they have essentially metaphorically aborted their children.  The utter ruin caused by fatherlessness does not have to be explained.

The stunting of women's minds is on a strikingly similar trajectory.  Now that women are money makers, we see the exploitation of their insecurities and desires blooming before us, but we don’t talk about the cultural setbacks placed on women.  Sure we say oh it’s terrible women have body image issues leading to eating disorders and liposuction and breast augmentation and plastic surgery and botox, oh it’s terrible women think they have to be provocative and seductive to get the attention of a man leading to revealing one’s body and sexually acting out, oh it’s terrible that women identify their self-worth and happiness with materialistic things leading to spending addictions on makeup and nails and expensive clothes and jewelry.  But what are the practical ramifications of these setbacks on the future?

What kind of body and face do we glorify?  Essentially, the body and face of a prepubescent girl.  (Designers deliberately chose 15 year old girls to model their clothing because they were at a specific point in puberty when their limbs start growing before everything else, and therefore are disproportionately long, and before their body fat to muscle ratio shifts in the direction of more fat.  Designers now are finally choosing women a bit older after their practices were exposed.)  Completely hairless, not a centimeter of fat anywhere on her body, not a trace of a wrinkle.  Is this unrelated to our abortion epidemic?  I think not.  Because that is not the body of a woman who has been pregnant and given birth to a child.  Because the mind of a woman preoccupied with staying young and sexually attractive is not the mind of a woman toiling to raise godly children, growing in wisdom and humility (or forming any worthy opinion for that matter).

 Isn’t the next predictable step a lack of motherhood?  Society is again turning all of these means into ends, now destroying the end which is motherhood and becoming a real woman in Christ.  Women with girl minds cannot be mothers.  Abortion is killing one's offspring, and because boys and girls cannot have children, it is no large step to go from aborting one's offspring metaphorically to aborting them literally.

The ramifications of these stereotypes, which are put in place to exploit our insecurities, is real.  Silverman hit it right on the head.  Women are not allowed to grow up and age, and so their (unborn) daughters never will either, if we continue to let our carnal desires guide us rather than our Eternal Desire.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Words that have changed me: Words for the hurt.

Those whom one loves the most, family and close friends, are the hardest to forgive.  One feels entitled to their love and can be immensely hurt when she does not receive it.  But it is a hurt that one must learn to remedy or else it will last one's entire lifetime, as we will always be surrounded by people we must care for.

I like trigger phrases, phrases that can quickly come to mind and penetrate straight through my thoughts to snap me back to reality.  In two previous posts I shared some trigger phrases I use, one for anxiousness and one for growing closer to God.

When I feel hurt after someone says or does something rude, and start down into the tunnel of self pity thinking no one understands me or truly cares about me, the phrase that snaps me back to reality is, "You can't expect the love of God from a created being."  Because that is really what it comes down to--being hurt is just a result of my pride, when I expect I should be treated a certain way and am startled when I'm not.  It right away points out how ridiculous my pride really is.  "You can't expect the love of God from a created being," is quite an obvious fact, but in my pride it is really the false expectation I have.

One of my life long struggles is cultivating a positive relationship with my father.  I have always criticized him for being a hypocrite and having an unloving way in instructing me.  He would always be right when pointing out my flaws, but I always resented him for being harsh in his delivery, or not following the very advice he is giving me.  Even if I had already intended to do something, once he started barking orders at me to do that very thing, out of sheer resentment I would no longer do it.  But I knew I couldn't live like this forever, I knew I couldn't let my hurt (and ultimately my pride) hold me back in life, and I had to find a constructive way to deal with such situations.  Repeating to myself, "You can't expect the love of God from a created being," every time I have an occasion to feel hurt, has been a truly freeing experience for several reasons.

First of all, the phrase automatically brings my mind to the love of God.  Feeling hurt is an isolating feeling, but when I remember "You can't expect the love of God from a created being," I don't have a chance to start feeling alone because it reminds me that I am not alone, that I have the love of God.  It gives me the reassurance that I am already receiving perfect love from Someone--and that that Someone also loves the person I am raging against in my mind.

It then moves me to compassion, looking at my father or my friend or whomever as my peer, my equal, in this spiritual journey.  I no longer have the choice to criticize my father as being a hypocrite, claiming that he should be a better example for me because he is my elder, because he is more fundamentally my peer.  We are all equally responsible for our actions before God, and instead of criticizing him, I should pray for him.  In my self-centeredness, I remember this phrase, and it opens me up to "allow" others to have flaws.

When I remember that everyone is my peer, it then reminds me of my own inability to give the love of God.  I should not just pray for the person who has hurt me, but I should pray for myself, and realize the ways I hurt others without even taking heed to what I do.   Thinking that I give perfect love is a related illusion pride might give, but with this phrase, I am reminded that I too am a created being, and I fail miserably in being loving.  If I am allowed to be flawed, so are they.

Moreover, when I remember the love of God and remember that we are all sufferers of the sickness of sin, it actually makes me more perceptive and sensitive towards instances of love.  I no longer look at my fathers instruction as harsh judgment, but as his struggle in trying to improve me and raise me right.  It takes away my narrow view of what love should be and how it should be delivered.  Because I no longer have this insurmountable expectation, it opens me up to see all the ways I've been ignoring the love of others, however imperfectly it is being delivered.

Perhaps most importantly, it opens the door for reconciliation.  When I am no longer condemning the person in my mind for having flaws, and when I am now open to the ways they have shown me love, my heart is open to forgive, reconcile, and focus on improving the relationship.

You can't expect the love of God from a created being, and that is a good thing.