The Rape of Men

NB* Please read the comment section at the end of the post before you swear off my blog forever as a load of misogynistic crap. There are some excellent points brought up, as well as an apology or two and some clarifications. As I say in the post, I’m fumbling through this argument. 

Sometimes I wonder what you think of my blog. I wonder if you wonder if I’m completely honest all the time, or if I exaggerate, or if I’m afraid to talk about certain things. I wonder if you notice that I’ve mentioned things and never followed up on them, that I prefer to make you laugh than make you think, that I self-edit for the sake of those I love, those that love me, and those that would be hurt by re-living certain times in my past.

Because I wonder all these things too. I know I exaggerate sometimes; that’s part of my personality. My best friend knows to subtract 40% of the drama of what I say to arrive at the truth of the matter, but it doesn’t bother her (it doesn’t, right, Meg?). It’s a personality quirk, one I’ve had forever. (See what I mean?)

I know I’ve brought up things about my past that I would like to follow up on. I’d like to tell you what it was like to be a drug addict, what it was like to find God in my own personal hell, what it was like to carry a child inside me and know that the entire world was betting against me. I’d like to tell you what I feel now, when I look at her face and know that I’ve beaten the odds, that I was strong enough to accept the grace that was offered to me. But I can’t tell you those stories just now. For me, that life seems light years away. That girl seems like another person, one I sometimes don’t remember very clearly. But for my family it wasn’t so long ago. It was just yesterday when they paced the floors at night, wondering where I was and if I was alive or dead. It was just yesterday when my mother and father spent hours upon hours praying for me, begging God to get me out of the hole I had dug for myself. And I can’t put them through that again. Not now. One day I will tell you those stories, because they are stories that need to be told. Other girls need to know that they can make it, even when they have no idea how or where to begin. Other mothers and fathers need to know that their children are not lost, that their children can be saved. Other young men need to know that they can be strong enough for two; that they can make a family out of two broken people.

But it’s not time for that, yet. There are other things I want to talk about, and sometimes, like today, I wonder if I should. I wonder it if it’s too uncharacteristic of me, too harsh, too real. Too gritty. I wonder if I have the authority to speak on these matters, if I really know what I’m saying or if I just think I do. I wonder if my words will hurt someone. Because those things I mention above, those things that make me prone to exaggeration or reluctant to discuss things that might hurt those I love, those are qualities that aren’t just personality traits unique to me. Those are part of my inheritance as a woman. We are emotional creatures. We are attuned to the emotional well-being of those around us. I like to make you happy by making you laugh. My mind doesn’t run to high ideals or first principles. I focus on the simple stuff, the stuff that makes up my daily life, because most of you reading this are women, and those are the things that you are concerned with.

But I’m going to talk about something else anyway, and I hope you’ll bear with me, and know that I’m fumbling through a complex subject as best I can.

Yesterday, the Anchoress brought a horrible story to our attention.  A story about male rape victims in Uganda and other places, where rape is used as a weapon of war. A story about the stigma these men face, how they can’t get medical help, how they almost always lose their wives if they tell them, and their children. How their community no longer views them as men.

I see a parallel in this story, and I hope to draw it without diminishing in any way the unbearable suffering that these men are facing.

Our culture, here in America, has figuratively raped our men. We have taken their power, their masculinity, their honor, and the respect they deserve. We make sitcoms where they are pictured as bumbling, idiotic placeholders who need to be taught a lesson by their smart-mouthed wives. The jobs that have traditionally been allotted to men for the protection of us, their women, have now been opened up to both sexes, to the detriment of all involved. Men are no longer allowed to protect us, because we, in our ignorance and in our crippling pride, don’t want to be protected. We women wanted to show the world that we were not less than men, and in doing so, instead of making ourselves better, we cut them down to prove our superiority.

I’m not one to call for a return to the days of the angel of the hearth. I think women should have the right to vote, and own property, and drive, and work. I think that women should be equal under the law. But as a culture, we have said, “Women are better. Men are senseless, idiotic brutes who have had the power all this time because of strength and convention, not because of some innate nature that desires to lead and protect.”

We have raped our men and brought them to their knees. Do not imagine that I am exaggerating this. Look around our country, and you will see men crying out in pain for all that we have taken from them. They are no longer allowed to be what they were born to be. They are no longer allowed to do what they were born to do — to protect us. To guide us.

I know there are those of you who cry foul, who say, “we don’t need protection! We don’t need guidance! We can figure things out just as well as the men.”

To you I say that you are wrong. Men and women are of equal value, assuredly, but we differ in essence. Women’s minds are ruled by emotions, by which we protect our families and our children. Every woman is called to motherhood, whether actual or spiritual. It is what we were made for. Our minds turn inward, to the stuff of life, and this is as it should be.

Men are different. They see things in the long-term. They worry about how best to make a place in the world for their family, not how best to order the family itself. (Forgive me for not including single men here, but I honestly don’t know enough about the life of the single man to make assumptions. The comment box is down there, though, boys!) Their minds are free of emotional restraints, the better to allow them to ponder the stuff of eternity. There’s a reason why Socrates was a man, why Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Augustine, Joyce, Eliot, and Shakespeare were men. The “dead white male,” that most despised creature in modern academia, is an archetype precisely because they were the ones who thought in leaps and bounds. They were the geniuses who laid the foundation of our modern society. The occasional Jane Austens were the exception, not the rule.

The Ogre and I attended a conference once in Tulsa. The conference was on interdisciplinary studies, which we should have known was code for “tolerance, tolerance, tolerance and diversity or death!” But we were so naive, freshly out of grad school at our wonderful little University where the canon of Western Tradition was properly venerated. Where men were treated with respect, as were women. Where the idea of “women’s studies” had no place, because to study women is to study men, and all of humanity.

We entered into the dragon’s lair without realizing it. The Ogre gave his presentation, on the cry of Kurtz at the end of the Heart of Darkness, and we attended a few other mediocre presentations before the conference dinner.

It was after an underwhelming course of mystery meat and limp salad that the woman who was putting on the conference, the former Women’s Studies chair and present director of Interdisciplinary Studies, began talking about the same thing everyone always talks about at these sorts of things. “What is Interdisciplinary Studies?,” she began. “What are we doing here?” she continued.

The Ogre and I were beginning to wonder the same thing as she rambled about diversity and recognizing the value of postcolonial literature and the cry of oppressed peoples. Then she got to the crux of her argument. “We’re looking for truth here, people.” she said. “Not white male, capital-T truth, of course,” she went on, her voice dripping with disdain. A titter ran through the crowd of graduate students at such an antiquated and hideous notion. The girl sitting next to me at the table cast a doubtful glance at the Ogre, as if he were exactly what they were not looking for here. The boy on the other side of him perceptively moved his chair further from the Ogre’s. “No,” the speaker went on, “we’re looking for each person’s truth. The ever-changing, individual truth, as we make it.”

I don’t have to tell you what a load of crap it all was. Nor do I really need to tell you that, in fact, the Ogre is the embodiment of white male, capital-T truth. He is everything our modern society despises. A white male Catholic! What could be more despicable than that?

I also don’t have to tell you what it’s like watching him fight these battles, but I will. It’s like watching Sisyphus roll his rock uphill only to have someone, a girl in his class, a feminist teacher, an anti-Catholic colleague, kick it out of his hands. He trudges back wearily to begin again, knowing that the battle will never be won, knowing that the world will always kick him when he’s down. Knowing that the only people who truly support him are those who truly see what’s happening around us, and knowing that those people are few and far between. Knowing that he is hated for what he is, a man who refuses to be less than that, just as surely as women once used to be despised and devalued for what they were.

I used to fume at the arguments I’m making here. I used to see them as nothing more than a tool to oppress women. But they’re not. I can see now, having lived with and loved a man among men, having given birth to my own little boy, that men and women are essentially different. We can never be equals, because we are not equal. We are so very, very different.

Why can’t we embrace it? Why can’t we rejoice in our difference? Sure, sometimes I get mad that the Ogre gets to walk out the door every day, or for six months, while I’m stuck with the kids. But really, I wouldn’t trade it. I would go crazy not seeing my children. I miss them after two hours away. He misses us acutely, but it isn’t the same. The children are my life, they are the air I breathe. It’s not the same for him. We are the end to all his work, it’s true; he is motivated by a desire to care for us. But the work he does is worth doing in and of itself. He has a separate work to do outside the family, and it’s one I couldn’t do. My mind doesn’t run to philosophy and poetry the way his does. I love poetry because I feel it; he loves poetry because he understands it.

Being unequal does not make us less than. It’s time that we recognized our men for the leaders and protectors that they could be, if we would only let them. Feminists, lay down your arms! Let the men be men again. They are no threat to you. They are, in fact, the very thing our country needs to get back on its feet. They are what we need to bring back the family in our society of crumbling morals.

Men, don’t be afraid to be strong! Even if the women around you don’t want you to be, rest assured that somewhere there are women who want to see you be what you were born to be. There are women who know that they need protection, that they need your guidance and your companionship, that allowing you your natural strength doesn’t mean that they are weak by default. It takes a strong woman to say to a man, “I will obey you, even when I don’t want to.” It takes a strong woman to let someone else lead. Never forget that.

I hope that we as a culture we have gone as far as we will go in the de-masculation of our men. I hope that the days of  women getting preference simply because of their gender are drawing to a close. I hope that the time when Toni Morrison is put on syllabi over Shakespeare or Joyce will end as soon as humanely possible. But I fear that unless there is a rapid and heartfelt change in the attitude and actions of the women in our country, things will remain too much the same.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01835636106102322421 Dacia

    Thank you so much for this post. I am a new reader. :) My husband and I frequently talk about this and couldn't agree with you more. I have too been writing a blog post on this topic but haven't found the right words to say. You did it so truthfully and all this needs to be said no matter how unpleasant some women find these words.One person commented that they didn't know where you got the idea that man is the protector. Our priest recently was talking about how in the garden God charged Adam (Gen 2:15) with this duty. Then later when Eve ate the fruit she turned and offered it to Adam, which means he was standing right there the whole time! He didn't protect his wife and the garden from the evil one, and the fall happened. Obviously Eve had a choice and decided for herself so I isn't as if Adam is to blame but they both played a part. But this is why the role of the man is SO important and is ordained by God as such. Man and woman each have our strengths and the way God desinged us is something to celebrate.One last thing regarding the "long skirts" comment. I don't understand why it is threatening to others that some women, including myself as of very recently, decide to dress in a more feminine way. It is something God has put on my heart, and is not easy for me to do (Heaven knows I love my favorite pair of jeans). There is not any judgement in our actions, but there are many good reasons that I have taken this step. Thanks much and God bless you!

  • http://hg2au.com Ann Seeton

    This is a beautiful post on Men in our culture. I especially liked the parts about how different we are, men and women, and how wonderfully that difference can enrich society when both are cherished equally.I am married to a very male guy. It has been his experience that some women hate him instantly the moment he walks into a room. I laugh and say, of course, because you are not cowed and will not be cowed. He is baffled because he also comes from a family where the women have been scholars and businesswomen and had the respect of their men. He does not get it that some women see very male men like him and instantly think oppression. Me, I adore him. A man strong enough to be my equal is rare!

  • Anonymous

    I want to respond to the very first comment, where Sarah talked about father's rights regarding an unborn child. If you give a man the unlimited right to prevent abortion, one potential consequence that you may not have thought of is that he would also have the right to prevent adoption. THIS HAS ACTUALLY HAPPENED, where a woman gives her newborn up for adoption, and then several months later the father learns that he had fathered a child. In some states the father has the legal right to tear that baby out of her new home, away from adoptive parents who love her. If the father and mother are not in a committed relationship, doesn't the mother get to determine who can raise her baby??I don't think there are very easy answers here; but my personal opinion, as a lawyer, is that without marriage or a similar common-law situation, the mother should have _full_ rights to decide the custody of her child, including to keep her baby, to give the baby up for adoption, or, if abortion is legal, to abort. It's sad if a father loses his child either through adoption or abortion, but if he is not in a committed relationship with the mother, he can try to persuade but not control her decision-making.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07309172253250458020 Karen

    Okay, I'm not going to lie, I did not read all of the comments listed above and I know some of them were awesome, so I'm sorry. But, if I may, I would love to speak on this matter that means so, so much to me! Calah, you're awesome. Seriously, awesome. I know you struggle a lot with your previous "feminist" views, but you get it! I love it! A lot of the comments I read and the actual post itself brought to mind a couple of things. The first: I don't know if you have all listened to the Theology of the Body series done by Christopher West, but one of them is specifically for women (I so so so highly recommend it! Or just read JPII!), but on there he says multiple times, "As women go, so goes the world." When Calah talked about in the post how women have stopped men from being men, I thought of this. As women, really, as people, what we say, how we act, what we do, it all matters. We are all a community, whether we like it or not. Our beliefs matter. So, if (hypothetically, of course!) a whole buncha women got together and decided that their bodies are their own right and no one else's, and that babies were inconvenient for them in their stage of life, and decided to just stop having them altogether (or trying to be like a man… not having to "bear that burden"), that would pretty much start to become a thing. Weird, I think that may have happened once or twice. Anyway, the point is, being a true feminist means living your life AS A WOMAN and by doing that, you will bring about the order of things as God intended. Being true to who you are, and how you were made is what God intends for us. As women, that means embracing our true femininity, embraces the fact that we have periods, that we have to carry a baby in out belly for 9 months, that we are emotional (we are… it doesn't mean we're also not rational, it just means that we ARE emotional, most times more than men are. deal with it.), the more we accept these things and see the beauty of who we are, the less "oppressed" we will be! As women go, so goes the world. If we choose to love who God made us to be, then we will no longer be ashamed, put down, oppressed. We'll be free to help guide the men of our lives (in a different way than they lead us… that's part of complementarity, people!)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07309172253250458020 Karen

    continued:Anyway, the second thing that it brought to mind is the verse, "Wives be submissive to your husbands…. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church." I can't remember all of the rest of that verse, but, just in case anyone was unaware, there is actually more about how a man must love his wife than there is about how a woman must love her husband. Not to mention it's freaking beautiful. I know asteadyinvitation said at one point in her comment that she didn't understand that point Calah made about men guiding women. She brought up some other awesome points about how her and her husband lead each other and guide each other (i believe that was you, wasn't it? I read a lot…). That's awesome, a husband and wife should lead each other, but they lead in different ways. Sometimes a woman might refuse the guidance of her husband, and honestly, it could happen to the best of us, you're taking care of your kids all day, guiding them and helping them, so you get to thinking, you don't need any guidance, you don't need help from that guy, he;s been doing other stuff all day, he doesn't know what the heck has been going on and how stressful your day was, what the hell does he know? Oh, he knows. if he is that man, the one that feminists hate, the one that wants to lead and guide and is longing to love you just as Christ loves the Church, he will know exactly how to guide you, because God is guiding him. It is so liberating to be able to rely on someone in that completely uninhibited and free way, albeit, a little terrifying at first.I know that some "feminists" have commented on here (and I write that in quotations because i don't believe you know what it is to be a woman. okay, that was a judgement call.. but you definitely have not truly encounter all of the awesomeness of TRUE femininity!), and I want to thank you for your comments. But, I also want you to consider what it would be like to let a man love you. Consider letting go of that resentment, that hatred, that disdain, and all of those assumptions that are stopping you. but, most importantly, let go of that fear. A mortal man can hurt you, and he isn't perfect, but a true man of God will try desperately to lead you and guide you and sanctify you for Christ. And if that doesn't suit your fancy, marrying God will. (also, side note: I always say that when you get married, it's like you're marrying Christ in that person… so treat your spouse as Christ… love him/or her like Christ, and follow him.) Anyway, thanks for your time!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13920044547879138335 Jennifer D. Whitmore

    Sex and gender are NOT the same thing.You are either biologically female or male.Gender is about behavior; how you dress, your interests, etc. It is not considered the same thing in all societies and cultures; meaning, your idea of what is "manly" is not what is considered manly elsewhere. It is a cultural construct.The ideal that men are the breadwinners (gatherer of means of living-food) and that women are the homemakers came about with the dawn of man.Women stayed near to where was considered "home" while the men would go into the wild and hunt. The women and children stayed home.The women stayed home because of their value. The men went out to hunt because they were expendable.Women are the means of reproduction and the loss of a woman meant not only the loss of a single person, but all of the children she could have had. So the work that women tended to do was safe, closer to the home and a better environment to watch children.Women and men have what is called relative strengths due to biology (this means the strength of men compared to the strength of women). Men have the ability to develop more muscle in their arms and chest; these muscles are key for heaving lifting, pushing, pulling, etc. Women have the ability to develop more muscle in their legs and lower body; these are key for birthing children. Men are considered to be better at activities which only require short, fast bursts of energy, while women are considered to have greater stamina.While this is true, not all men are better at heaving lifting, pushing, pulling, etc. than all women; not all women have more muscle mass in their lower bodies than all men.The sexual division of labor is a cultural construct; meaning the idea that men are more suitable for jobs like protection (be it as a police officer or member of the US army) and women are more suitable for teaching and child rearing.Society also holds positions in the US army in higher regards than teaching. This, in turn, is devaluing women.A man and a woman can both be employed at the same company, business, what have you, and the man has a greater and quicker chance of both getting a raise and getting promoted. This is considered the "glass ceiling." This is something that effects most women and should be something that all women are aware of and understand.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01728443115634592651 xunrefinedx

    This is terrible writing about a terrible idea, and I am offended. I just happen to be a man who has effeminate characteristics, and I've often seen this same line of thinking used in exactly the manner you've said you're not using it. The problem isn't with the application, the problem is with the idea itself. If you where to say "I believe that white people are different then black people, as a matter of fact" and then to say "this shouldn't be used to oppress black people" you're basically handing someone a gun, painting a target, and telling someone not to shoot.This idea, which is harmful to society, is also false. We can see throughout the course of history that the truth of the matter is this: gender roles are socially constructed. Man is not one way simply because they are that way, nor is women. Women are conditioned into a role, the same way man is.That being said, as a man who has effeminate traits, I can say firmly that I've felt both sides of this coin. I'm supposed to act masculine to help preserve the norm of the patriarchal society. Or I'm supposed to act girly, have a lisp and dress in drag to fit into the counter cultural ideal of what a gay man should be. I don't fit into either, (although I'm not gay, I'm not straight (pan sexual)). Gender roles do nothing more than alienate the outliers and support cissexism.

  • Anonymous

    Did you ever think that, maybe, just maybe, you're really stupid and you're husband is not? And that's why your mind doesn't run to philosophy and poetry the way his does? No offense, but you're clearly just not very intelligent compared to most women and are completely fulfilled by being 'barefoot and pregnant'. That's nice for you. Well done for finding your calling in life.Please don't extrapolate your limited perspective on the world to generalities. Stick to being barefoot and pregnant and talking about babies if that's your calling in life. I can see why your mind doesn't run to philosophy easily. You're just not very bright.