Though I have done a lot of writing on the intersection between religion and men's issues, I thought I take this opportunity to offer the following summation of my concerns: Cultural conservatives and the religious establishment do not care about men. Granted, I am willing to acknowledge that there are notable exceptions to my thesis, but in large, I think it stands as an axiomatic observation. I say this from the perspective of one who is a men's rights activist and a Christian man. I submit for your consideration some propositions which are subordinate to my thesis. I do not intend to get into a detailed discussion about them, but I offer them as talking points for an ongoing discourse that I have been having for some time on this blog and elsewhere.
Cultural conservatives and the religious establishment do not care about men as evidenced by the following ...
1. They expect men to silently bear pain, suffering, shame, and humiliation at the hands of others in the name of "manhood" and "virtue."
2. They are largely silent on issues that men's rights activists address, such as lopsided divorce laws, paternity fraud, male-bashing in media, etc.
3. They assert that men are primarily, if not solely, at fault for the problems that arise between the sexes (either in interpersonal relationships or in general).
4. They generally don't hold women accountable for their actions against men.
5. They address issues which affect men only to extent that such issues might be of concern to women and others.
6. They treats a man's masculinity and humanity as a privilege that can be granted or withdrawn by others (viz., all the talk about what "real men" do).
7. They define manhood in terms of a man's usefulness to women and others.
8. They push antiquated stereotypes about what men should be like (e.g., having an extroverted personality type, being stoic, etc.).
9. They push the notion of men being "protectors" and "providers" without any meaningful discussion about whether or not these roles are always necessary or appropriate for men.
10. They typically demand a type of arrangement between the sexes where options accrue to women and responsibilities to men. This is especially the case where men are expected to embrace traditional roles while women are given more leeway in how they define themselves.
11. They present marriage and fatherhood as hallmarks of masculinity, adulthood, and spiritual growth to such an extent that men who don't embrace marriage or fatherhood are put in a bad light.
12. They have high expectations of men but give no meaningful guidance or or assistance so that men can meet those expectations (viz., the expectation that young men should have the ability to support a family, even in unfavorable economic and social conditions).
13. They imply that male sexuality is, at best, of secondary importance to female sexuality. At worst, they regard male sexuality as being generally suspect or disordered.
14. Whatever outreach they offer to men, they imply that men are in need of remediation (e.g., the proliferation of "accountability groups" but no real support groups).
15. They have no compassion for socially marginalized men such as single men, divorced men, economically disadvantaged men, men who are socially awkward, men with emotional problems, men caught up in sexual sin, etc.
If you want an apt illustration of the disconnect between cultural conservatives and the welfare of men, consider the following on-air exchange between Bill O'Reilly and Mark Rudov ...
Bill O'Reilly's dismissive attitude is par for the course among cultural conservatives. Mark Rudov raises a valid issue about why women should be treated as "equals" if they need to be mollycoddled. O'Reilly never addresses that issue, and neither do a lot of other right-wing pundits who claim to be "against feminism."
Religious pundits are just as cavalier towards men's concerns. Why would they be otherwise? They cater to women and powerful men. Their paycheck does not depend on the men they excoriate, belittle, and demean. Or if it does, then these pundits escape accountability because the men they vilify are mentally arrested by fear, insecurity, a restrictive social upbringing, or just plain ignorance. All in all, from Phariseeism to Jim Crow to man-bashing, the religious establishment has dropped the ball on being merciful and just to those who are lower down on the social totem pole.
When you see a religious figure engaging in any of the behaviors I described, then you know what kind of specimen your dealing with. Jesus said you can know a tree by its fruit (Matthew 12:23). Some religious pundits just need to be marked and avoided (Romans 16:17). True, Christian men have an obligation to be a part of a visible faith community whenever possible (Hebrews 10:25), but they have no obligation to hold up the hands of those who fail to be compassionate to men. The Bible speaks of "shepherds" who are no shepherds but are, in fact, oppressors (Ezekiel 34). When these "shepherds" fail the flock, it's time to look to the One, True Shepherd for the healing our souls--Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:20). If need be, leave your faith community if it does not respect men.
When cultural conservatives and the religious establishment start talking about men, and when they claim to be "concerned" about men, take their claims with a grain of salt. It may be a ruse and a sham. Cultural conservatives and the religious establishment are "concerned" about men as a commodity. Men's right activists, on the other hand, are concerned about men as people. Think on these things.
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