It was some months ago that it hit. Like a tsunami breaking ashore, the #metoo movement swept across lines; geographical, political, cultural, and religious, exposing the rot to the light.
As it should.
Most of it focused on the sins of men. On strength sorely misused, on the damage it wrought, and it needed to be named and called out. It sure did. (And with every scrap of courage I had, I shared my own #metoo right here.)
However. What it failed to address at the time it flared up was that men could be casualties, too. (Just hang in.)
Somewhere in all of the uproar, a term began to make its way into the national conversation. “Toxic masculinity,” that’s what it was, and it painted a picture that alarmed me. Men, it seemed, should be more like women. Must be feminized, domesticated, subdued. And loud bells went off in my mind.
As the mother of four sons and the wife of a “very male” man for nearly 32 years, I know a bit about men. And I love them.
I know that my men were born wild. They take risks. They like conquering, adventure, competition.
I know that my men were born protectors. Providers. They are warriors, and they long for a mission.
They wrestle and fight and pummel and pound, and in it, they all feel loved. I have learned this and embraced it without understanding it. That’s just how my men are all made.
In no wise is this toxic. It’s how they are wired. It’s intentional design, and I appreciate every facet of their manhood.
What I don’t hear much about in the national conversation is the other side of that coin. “Toxic femininity,” and it’s time to start teaching on this one.
Men can hurt women, but women can hurt men. It just looks a bit different, that’s all.
When women attempt to control, subjugate, and essentially neuter their men, the effects will be, yes, toxic. As women, we carry a great deal of power with the men in our lives, and with that power comes real responsibility.
Just as it is horribly wrong for men to use their strength, power, or position to abuse women sexually, it is wrong for women to use their sexuality to control men. It just is.
Just as it’s wrong for a man to absent himself from his family and his duties, it’s also wrong for a woman to withhold as well, whether its sex or affection or respect.
Just as it’s wrong for a man to demand control, it’s ugly as sin when we do it to them. It will kill the free flow of love. Every time.
When it comes to toxic masculinity or femininity, it’s not “either/or,” it’s “both/and.” When men are allowed–yes, encouraged to be men. When women are allowed–yes, freed up to be women, it’s a beautiful picture of God.
The soft, gentle, comfort of a woman. The fierce, tempered strength of a man. Not enemies, but co-heirs, kings and queens.
May God give us the wisdom and the grace to walk freely and confidently in who He’s made us to be, male and female.
For this generation and those to come,
The Curly-Headed Girl with “all those men”