i couldn’t help but overhear a troubling conversation between a grandmother and her granddaughter. apparently they were looking for baby stuff for a boy, presumably the girls little brother. she must have picked out a pair of shoes with flowers on them, and with excitement exclaimed, “look! how about these! these are pretty!” now granted, perhaps she was just thinking of herself, but don’t we all when we are younger? we have no real capacity to understand the needs and wants of others, especially those who aren’t born yet. who knows, perhaps this little boy would grow up to be a florist?
the grandmother’s response was a simple, straight faced gasp followed by, “well, maybe a pair with a football or something. boys don’t like flowers.”
i bit my lip, and continued staring at the selection of burt-bees butt wipes, but my mind drifted with anger, and resentment towards this woman. I wondered if this woman knew what she had set into motion. Would this little girl now grow up thinking that all boys couldn’t possibly like flowers? Would she widen that thought to boys wouldn’t like ANYTHING that girls like. which would then cause this little girl to think, boys and girls are innately different when it comes to personalities.
why is this bad? you ask.
i’ve often struggled with this for quite some time, and it seems only when i am surrounded by strong, independent women and men who fight against oppression am i reminded of the gender stereotypes that we place on men! i’ve talked about the oppression that woman feel in relation to men. there is no denying that we live in an oppressed society where your chances of succeeding in life are in direct proportion to the color of your skin, the type of genitals you have, how much money you have in your bank account, whether or not you can legally vote in the country you reside in, and who you know.
from my stand point, as a female, i look at males and get envious with all the power they are given in this world. what would it be like to walk into a room and not feel as though you are eye candy or walk into a job interview and know they aren’t wondering whether or not i’m going to get pregnant and take 3 months off. Simply put, what would it be like to not be seen just for my perceived gender, and instead seen for my value as a living, breathing person?
what would it be like, for men, if we gave them all a break and allowed them to define what it was like to be a person? what if, instead of profiling all men to be single-minded thinkers, we empowered men to be as they were created to be?
God says, “it is not good for man to be alone. i will create a helper for him.” (paraphrased) genesis 2. God creates woman, from the rib of man. i believe this is very important because women were not created from another section of the earth, but created from something which was inside of adam. to me, this makes it more clear to me that man and woman are not innately different, but rather the same. don’t get me wrong, i’m not implying that everyone is identical at birth, because i know we aren’t. what i am saying is that God created us with the capacity to experience life in a similar fashion.
regardless of what you have between your legs, god created human to experience a wide range of emotions, and enjoy everything he put on this earth. so yes, for all my male identified readers out there, it is perfectly acceptable to love floppy eared rabbits that play with daffodils all day long! ah, that’s a nice image in this dark post, isn’t it? go ahead! god created them to enjoy!
yet, because of the disconnect with the creator and the created, we have begun to define what it means to be male by separating men, once again, from something which was created from within them, women. when we do this, we begin to say and believe things like, “men are strong while women are weak.” which translates into one of the saddest statements against men being raped, “real men don’t get raped.” and why is that? because only the weak get raped, of course!
however, according to recent studies at least 1 in 6 men will have suffered through sexual abuse before the age of 18. Yet, because of the pressures that society puts on men, there are so many barriers to getting the help that a male-identified victim/survivor of sexual abuse needs. what’s sad about this, aside from the obvious lack of resources, is that we expect men to be strong without giving them the tools to be strong. we expect men to solve problems, without acknowledging all of the problems that men can experience just as frequently as women.
so. when i think back to that little girl who eagerly picked out those flower covered shoes for her brother, i say a prayer for her. a prayer that the enemy will not coat her love for life in stereotypes. i say a prayer for her brother, that he will not be mislead in what it means to be a man, but know that the Lord created him beautifully and wonderfully to enjoy all the things on this earth.
i know that healing will come to all those who are wounded by societies ideals, but it’s time that we as a church started to break down the barriers our society has created. it’s time, as a church, that we punch the doors off the hinges for all those in need. it’s time the church became the single, most sought after place of healing for victims of sexual abuse, regardless of your gender, sex, race, age, religious status, economic status or whatever other “status” society has placed on people.
it’s time to start seeing victims/survivors rather than myths.
i hope you have enjoyed this series on the myths of sexual abuse. there are many, many more myths out there, but these are just some that are near and dear to my heart. i’ve seen first hand how these myths further propel the enemy on his journey to destroy God’s creation.
see you all next week!