Oct 20, 2010

Its our Fault: Men’s Career idolatry and Women’s Self Image

Great little video I came across this morning that I found quite moving.  These women talk about the pressure on women to see themselves through the twisted perspectives of the fashion industry and modern feminism.  Feminism devalues women by defining them according to men's standards, that she cannot have value unless she has a career, high profile job and wear a pencil skirt suit every day.  The Fashion industry screams that you have value if you are 5"7 + and weigh 110 pounds.  Here is the video.

I find myself convicted as a man that I am part of the problem too.  Really, every time I let my eye be caught by a Victorias Secret ad or some long-leggy half-dressed image, are we men not part of the problem?  I think we are all in this together.   Men have as much responsibility to protect the public image of women as women do, if not more.  We are in a culture that idolizes a teen figure because Fathers and husbands have not stepped up and protected their women from the pressure that the culture is putting on them.  The women are part of the problem too of course.  But as I said, we are all in this together.

One of the big reasons for this problem is actually a subtle one.  Here it is:  (drum roll please)  The reason women are devalued in this culture is because of men's career idolatry.  Really Todd?   How do  you figure that?  Stay with me.  God designed for the family, the marriage of one man and one woman to be that locus of the most life fulfillment and satisfaction.  Of course the fall (Genesis 2-3) screws this up.  Finding our satisfaction in the family is only second to finding satisfaction in God himself.  However the family has a semi-sacramental role in that fulfillment in life (it is not a sacrament).  What I mean is that God designed the marriage of one man and one woman to be the place where he pours out his grace and fulfillment toward us through us. 

Ok so here is where the wheels come off.  When a man places his identity and sense of self worth outside of the home, he is setting up the whole system for failure.  When a man is married to his job, career, hobbies, interests, etc as a means of finding his fulfillment and identity in life, he usually succeeds at it.  His is then satisfied, but his wife and family are not, left to say, "what about us?"  In a conversation recently a guy asked me, "why am I so successful at work and not in my home and other areas of life?"  I answered, "it is because you find your self-worth at work, so you pour yourself into it because you love the praise and the ata-boy."  In other words, he like the rest of us men, tend to look for our strokes outside the home, rather than in it.  When this happens, the faithful homemaking mother who is also not being fulfilled cannot help looking longingly at the sense of dignity and purpose the man gets from outside the home.  But there is another level.  His daughters and other young women watch this all along.  They grow seeing a constantly undervalued, frustrated and emotionally alienated mother and say "I do not want to be that girl." and make a decision to not be a man's stay at home patsy.  IN other words, when men do not endeavor to find their fulfillment in being husbands and family men, they devalue their wife and that naturally leads their own daughters to devalue and not respect their mother's role as a homemaker.  That is why I say it is men's fault.  Ultimately, we as a culture have elevated all careers above that of the home, for both men and women.  Feminism, sad to say, was invented by men.  Because we have as a culture raised the independent, self-made man to one of the highest virtues, it has trickled down to affect the entire system and has become the gold-standard for which all self-worth is judged.  Men before women made the choice to NOT find their self-worth in being a husband and father.  We admit this all the time when us guys ask each other what we "do."  How surprising would it be to answer.  I am a husband and father!   By finding our value outside of the home, we have set up women for disappointment and discouragement, and left them the only option to do the same.  But in the end, both lose.  Nobody ends up happy.

What is the answer?  The answer is the same for both, a return to a created perspective of the family.  Both men and women need to return to God's word and learn to become the servant of the other, but men need to take the lead.  Men must stop serving themselves and stop being neutered wimps that get their strokes at the bar with their co-workers and buddies.  But what can women do when men don't step up?  I think the godly women in the video above answer that better than me.  But simply put, they need to return to God's word and begin practicing seeing themselves the way God sees them, as created uniquely in God's image, and not in man's image.  Women need to stop judging themselves by men's career idolatry and by an idealized image of the Anglo teen and twenty something figure.  See yourself the way God sees you, as just we way he wants you.

Before you post that comment, give it a ponder.

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