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?


  1. great post! i agree with a lot of what you're saying. the only thing that i'm questioning a little is whether motherhood is actually an end? personally, i don't think it is; just like how marriage isn't either. i think both things are part of an individual calling as a means to union with the Trinity. i think setting motherhood as an end could also hurt in its own ways. just my 2 cents...not speaking on behalf of anyone except myself.

    1. Thanks for commenting and giving me a thought-provoking question!

      You definitely bring up an interesting and valid point. There are two things I would say about that:

      1. I'm not referring to parenthood as an end for life, but an end for those means. For the examples I gave for men, if one desires the attention of a woman, to excel in his vocation and be able to provide, to feel strong and manly and able to protect, that is all fine and good, as long as one desires those things to ultimately lead to marriage and fatherhood. For women, if a woman desires to be cherished by a man, to look young and beautiful, that is all fine and good, as long as it will ultimately lead to marriage and motherhood. The issue becomes when we divorce those means' from the end they really exist for. So I suppose if one does not desire marriage or motherhood, then those means are especially futile, and for the mature person, should be a nonissue. I was somewhat thinking of the point you're making when I was writing this post, that's part of why I wrote "motherhood and becoming a real woman in Christ". It's not an "or" thing because both married and celibate should become real women in Christ.

    2. 2. But it's also not an "or" thing in another sense. I think motherhood and fatherhood is even broader than simply having children. Hopefully what I’m about to say makes sense:

      I agree not every person's calling in life is marriage—some people choose to stay celibate, some just never end up getting married for whatever reason. But for the vast majority of people, the end is marriage and parenthood. And even for those who never get married, that does not erase their gender. (That is another issue of our society today, gender becoming something arbitrary and people feeling like androgynous beings.) One does not suddenly become a woman when one gets married. She is always a woman, and that is an integral part of who she is and part of her unique individual way of expressing God. Something C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity is that God is infinite, and can therefore be expressed in infinitely many ways. So even though there are 7 billion people on earth all made in His image, each individual expresses unique facets of God, no individual of course completely expresses God entirely, and that is why we need each other and the body of Christ in this endeavor to fully understand God. By looking at each other (including reading the lives/experiences/writings of others), as reflections of God, we come to understand God more.

      So although God is genderless, and males and females are made in His image, we must realize and try to fulfill our unique expression of Him. And I think “motherhood” or maternity is an integral part of being a woman. Every woman has this maternal and nurturing instinct, and it isn't something that should be dampened if one never becomes a mother in the literal sense, and using this unique gift is part of our obligation to younger Christians. For example, I myself am not married and have no children, but I am an aunt and a Sunday School teacher. I would certainly say that my cultivating and purifying this maternal aspect of my being is an integral part of me being a good aunt to my nieces and nephews and a good Sunday School teacher for my students. I can’t just throw up my hands and say, “Well I’m not their mom! I’m not responsible for them! I can just live my life however I want without heeding the consequences!” What I’m saying is I am still a “mother” of sorts, still influencing them and shaping their growth. We are all responsible for each other. This is simply how the human psyche works. My niece doesn’t just look to her mom and aunts to understand what it means to be a woman and to imitate it, but she looks at her teachers, all the media and everything she sees in society portraying women, and might unfortunately imitate some of it. (Same goes for males of course.) This is why we call the saints who came before us our fathers and mothers, and why we refer to some nuns and monks and the clergy as mothers and fathers, because of their role in shaping us and helping us grow.

      (Another related issue is this sort of individuation and disenfranchisement of people in society, which is precisely what leads to all these addictions and forgetting our obligation to one another. A really great psychology article I read discusses this, call The Globalization of Addiction. I would love to send it to you if you’re interested—it really helps everything make sense.)

      As Christians part of the body of Christ, and as members of society on a whole, we are obligated to be good role models to younger people, and we are all fathers and mothers in a symbolic sense.
      Maternity and motherhood is a uniquely feminine gift— it’s not just part of a certain calling in life—that should be cultivated and is still part of our “growing up” and becoming real women in Christ. (Same goes for men.)

      Sorry for the long response, I know I gave a sort of roundabout explanation, but does what I’m saying make sense?

    3. P.S. Please don't be intimidated by my long response...I just like philosophizing...

  2. hi! yes! sorry, i didn't get an alert that you bad. i'm on board with the gist of what you're saying...especially when you broaden the definition of motherhood in those terms. at this point, i think it's just semantics between us. you would call it motherhood, i would call it being Christ-like.

    1. Yeah I get what you're saying. I'm saying motherhood is part of the end of being Christ-like, and you're saying motherhood is just part of the means of being Christ-like.

      I also get why you think seeing motherhood as an end can be damaging, because it can imply that women are just baby-makers and if they don't get married or have babies then they're useless. I just like to emphasize the fact that motherhood is a very worthy path to sanctity and is much more complex than just getting pregnant and popping out a baby.

      I can see why you wouldn't like such a broad definition of motherhood, it's almost like I'm saying "everyone is a mother, somehow" :-) I do think it's valuable that you emphasize that Christ-likeness is the key and solution to all things. I just personally have such a distaste for the individualism of our society that I think it's really important to remember that a major part of our becoming Christ-like is owning up to our responsibility to guide others. Sometimes people have a tendency to divorce spirituality from the other major aspects of their lives. Regardless of how we word it, at the end of the day I think we both agree that fellowship with the Trinity should permeate all aspects of our being! :-)

      I really like your blog by the way :-) I look forward to reading more posts!