Men and women are often segregated, perhaps not as much in our culture as in many others, but it’s still there. And, ironically enough, it seems that there is more segregation in conservative evangelical Christianity than in the rest of the culture. I say that ironic because it seems that Christ broke down these barriers. He talked to women and generally let women into the man’s world of that time. And Paul later says “there is no male or female…” (Galatians 3:28).
I recently shared a link to an article about how women are portrayed in the media. I’m aware of the over-sexulization of our culture, and I’ve heard similar things on occasion before. But as a guy it’s easy to forget or not think it’s that big of a problem. But I recently heard some of my female friends talking which reminded me of the challenges women face.
What I’d like to get beyond is the fact that there is a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance between the genders because of lack of communication. Guys aren’t going to fix women’s insecurities about their bodies and their beauty. And I’ve heard that often women are judging each other more than they are paying attention to what guys think. However, if guys knew that a girl remembers everything you say about what she looks like (again as I’ve heard), then perhaps it would make us think about what we say. While we can’t fix woman, whether we say something positive or negative can make a significance difference in how she feels, at least for a moment.
I heard a story about a woman who read a book her boyfriend shared with her. It was for men regarding sexual purity. She was surprised to hear how affected guys are by what they see. “I had no idea.” she shared. Similarly to the above, women aren’t going to keep guys from lusting. Yet if they’re more conscious of what guys deal with, perhaps they can help challenge us to continue to take the “high road” and celebrate when we do. It’s easy to get together with the gals and complain about how all men are “pigs”. While that may make you feel some comfort, is it really productive? It’s easy to say, “guys should just stop lusting,” as if it were just as easy as choosing one breakfast cereal over another. It would be easy to say that women should just stop worry about how they look. But ladies, how easy is that for you?
I heard one woman tell a story about how a she was with a couple of other women, and a guy approached and asked, “would any of you like to dance?” She was quite critical, taking the lack of asking a specific woman as a sign of weakness. I couldn’t believe it; I would never have thought of that in my life, yet it seem to be plainly obvious to her mind. The difference in the way we view things specifically related to attraction can be significant.
Growing up in church, I got the strong impression that if you were a good, godly guy who respected women, the ladies would all be very interested in you. After all, they’re always asking where the good men are, right? Women complain that Christian guys don’t ask them out. We’re told to wait for marriage. And we must keep guys and girls separate most of the time. We’ve got to have our own separate groups for each gender, and we can’t let guys and girls intermingle too much. You should get to know someone of the opposite sex first before going out on a date with them, yet you don’t have a chance to get to know anyone because we’re always segregated.
That probably didn’t make any sense, but the point is that there is a lot of confusion. I feel like we might be able to lessen the amount of hurt, frustration, confusion, and disappointment if we did a better job of communicating with one another. I think there are limits, but can we be open with each other? I think there are appropriate contexts and relationships for this type of dialogue. However right now it seems like there is too little communication.
I read recently about a class where the girls shared about how they can tell when guys are checking them out and… er… are doing more than just looking in a sense. They shared about how dirty it makes them feel. I thought, “crap, no doubt I’ve done that before.” As a guy you try to be subtle and think that you’re not being noticed. But it sounds like that’s not true. The point is, I realize that I may have even done that with friends of mine and may have hardly been aware of it. Yet I feel terrible if it is hurting them. When it comes down to it, I care about my friends. I want to be doing something to encourage them, not hurt them. But how can I do better if I don’t even know the damage I’m doing?
The bottom line is, I care deeply about people, and genuinely want the best for everyone. Guys have their share of challenges, but I think women have it worse. I love women, and want to do what’s best for them. Yet I don’t know what the challenges are nor what to do unless some of you ladies start sharing. (And one thing I’ve learned: repetition helps; I often don’t get something right away; it may take a handful of reminders before it starts sinking in.) Perhaps all men aren’t heartless; maybe they’re oblivious. Perhaps all women aren’t evil; maybe they’re dealing things that no one knows about. I’m not sure I’ve really communicated very well, but hopefully you get the general idea. What do you think?