I have been feeling uncomfortable recently; on behalf of men, which surprised me. As a modern and educated woman, I should, in theory be on their side. The press are quick to defend us all over the world and our value sets. I am aware and shocked at the still evident disparity in income that we receive from doing the same job as a man. There is rampant abuse and violence towards women all over the world. Within our own faith and in our own backyard, women are made less than, unequal to men. So why do I feel sorry for and empathise with men?
I need to formulate my argument carefully and to explain myself at this point. What I feel we have in society is an environment, which has an appearance of masculinity, but a heart which is aggressively feminine. Feminism has changed, from love and nurture to aggression and noise. Have you noticed how love has become a selfish emotion; based on how you feel about YOUR relationship? Have you noticed how sex - meant as a mutual and intimate experience has become about satisfying yourself and your desires.
I have a theory on this. When Old Testament rulers of ungodly nation states became great, they would create a statue of themselves and command all their subjects to bow down and worship it.
I wonder if we or at least the feminine aspect of society has done that to men. Let me explain. In our collective feminine mind, we have become great, good and almost, almost too big for our boots. We have projected ourselves on to culture and onto men and said that they must be like us; they must bow down and worship us. Have you noticed how men have changed and become more feminine?
A developed understanding of emotion within a man is a highly desirable thing, which should be cherished. But at the same time, something within me rankles that men should feel a need to be "more feminine".
A troubling matter
There is also the simple and yet troubling matter, of whether feminism, in its current form, "solves the problem". Feminism suggests that women should be raised up. Is that at a man's expense? Is feminism something that men openly support? Are women supportive of feminism when the alternative suits their needs more? We were shocked by "Blurred lines" which is a song by Robin Thicke. He addresses his wife as the "good girl". This is about as condescending and dehumanising a statement as you could imagine.
It was one of the best-selling singles of that year. I cannot imagine it was solely bought by men. Lily Allen came out with a so called "ironic" take on what feminism and "sexy" means in modern culture and we were, all of a sudden confused.
We were not quite sure how to take the idea that, women themselves were in some way, actually okay with being seen as little more than what they are wearing or how they are dancing.
So, are we comfortable with what feminism is at the moment? We seem unable to move it beyond a debate about pay and perfunctory comments about our figures or faces. We seem unable to speak with our hearts about what we really desire. A far deeper discussion about what it means to be feminine needs to happen. And yet.
I love the way that Paul argues in his letters. He spends a good amount of time, setting up the logic of a theology and then turns it on its head with "and yet". I do not pretend to be Paul in my understanding of faith or in my depth of intellect, but I do feel that the phrase "and yet" should be used in this article.
Perhaps it is because I feel that "and yet" is not just about setting up an opposite. It is also saying, despite what is being argued logically, my heart chooses to go a different way. OR despite what seems to be the way that is safe and pain free, I choose to engage and think about this.
May I suggest that our femininity can come from a different source? When God formed Eve, he did not take dust from the ground or create a new substance out of nothing. God took a part of Adam's rib. We were made from man; a point that is conveniently forgotten in our caffeine fuelled, backslapping, women only bible studies. If we were made from man then, our definition of what it means to be feminine needs to be thought of differently.
It is plain to see that, in making us from a man's side, God wanted us to relate to man. Whether that comes through in your personal or professional lives, we all have a chance to live out that primal, biblical picture. In being made from, you are related to. Fact. End of.
As fragile and complicated
How do we live this out? We have chances every day to honour and uphold men. We feel that it is not necessary as they seem perhaps, arrogant and well on their way to be self-honouring. And yet scratch beneath the surface and you find that their masculinity is as fragile and complicated as our femininity.
Speak to a man (without interruption) and he will tell you that he has witnessed open instances in the workplace of women debasing men in public but in a socially acceptable way. If a man insults a woman now, the lawyers are called in. If a woman does the same, she is called "sassy".
We need to move beyond the playground debate that frankly, solves nothing and honours no one. We need to acknowledge that we have deeply hurt and wounded each other equally. It is not just what men have done to women, but what women are consistently and damagingly, doing to men. We need to grow up. The first rule of playground games is... if you are bullied, do NOT become the bully. Rise up and beyond it instead.
As women we should go beyond the current cultural debate and move to honour the opposite sex. If men are good enough for God, then they are certainly good enough for us. Men have been formed and fashioned by God. And yet we seek to call them inessential; the cause of the great credit crisis and no longer needed in reproduction.
Is it any surprise that, amongst teenage boys in the UK, suicide is on the rise??
Time to listen
I think that Men are special and incredible and just complex and mysterious as women. Women seek to dumb them down on account of a lack of understanding. Perhaps it is time we took the time out to listen to them, rather than talk over them; to give them the time and the space to express their masculine heart.
We may learn something and have cause to honour men, not for what you hope they may become or what you can turn them into, but you choose to honour men as they are; because in their beauty and expression of God, they are enough.
Rosie Robinson resides in Manchester where, in between feeding myself coffee and bagels I work for an international custodian bank, called BNY Mellon. I attend a lively church called Audacious, enjoy reading, running and watching films and am currently on a trek with Jesus; discovering slowly but surely, all that life has to offer. And I have decided that I have the coolest big sister on the planet! (fellow young writer Amanda living in New Zealand).
Rosie Robinson previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosie-robinson.html