Dear Clover (8) and Mathilda (2),
Over the last 50-60 years (mainly during my growing up years) women and men all around our country have been fighting for you!
They’ve been working hard to ensure that you grow up in a world where you are treated equally with men.
It may be that when you enter the workforce in 15 years or so that that may seem quaint—that equal pay for equal work and equal opportunities will be so deeply ingrained in our culture that your generation has no memory of anything else.
In a remarkably short period of time the storyline of girls and women has changed dramatically, mostly for the better—again thanks to many good women and men.
- In the early 1960’s girls were behind boys in school. But by 1982 girls not only caught up, they soared past boys. Girls now do far better than boys in virtually every area of education from pre-k through graduate school.
- Increasingly the pay gap is shrinking. There’s still a lot of debate about this one. Some say that women make 80 cents or so for every $1 a man makes. This isn’t really the whole story. When you get down deep into the numbers and all of the factors that go into who works where and why, the gap is much, much smaller. There are certain job segments where the gap is huge and we still have work to do but again, a lot has changed in your favor over the last 50-60 years.
- You are growing up in a world of unprecedented opportunities for women. When I think back to the opportunities your great-grandmother had (again, this was in my lifetime!) to what is possible for you now…it’s breathtaking!
I could go but I want to get to my main point.
This new world for women has not come without a price for men. You are not only growing up in a world fighting for equality for women, you are also growing up in a world that has become increasingly disdainful of all things masculine.
Here are two recent book titles:
- Is There Anything Good About Men?
- Do Fathers Matter?
Can you imagine anyone having to write a book with a title like that about women?
- Is there Anything Good About Women?
- Do Mothers Matter?
Unfortunately, some men contribute to the negative masculine stereotype. And we’ve been seeing it rear its ugly head lately through a series of powerful men being called out for sexual harassment. In fact, many believe we have reached a tipping point—one hopefully of high impact—that will bring to light this dark side of masculinity and protect our daughters, wives, sisters, and colleagues from it.
As your grandpa I’m sickened on the one hand, and heartened on the other hand, that this has become a public issue. For your sake, I pray that God will protect you from sick men who simply don’t deserve the title, Man.
However, the actions of a sick and powerful small group of men has given some in our culture the chance to pile on. Men, some in the media are saying, simply by being men, are complicit or guilty. They are all monsters.
Jennifer Berdahl, a professor in the business school at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver who studies the harassment of men, says harassment is also about gender and how society defines it. Males learn a sense of superiority over females from the time they are children, she says. Being a man means being superior to a woman and dominating women sexually or otherwise; sexual harassment is taking that (thinking) to an extreme, Berdahl says...Men are socialized from the age of 3 to think of themselves as being a ‘real man,’ defined as dominating women.
That is simply not true. It is vastly overstated and not only demeans men but the many good women who raise these boys into men.
As a man, and as your grandpa, here are some things I want you to know about men. You will be surrounded by them all your lives so I want you to see men as their Creator sees them.
1) Yes…some men are bad men. They are sick. They are contemptible. They bring shame to the masculine side of the Image of God. But they are not the majority of men or even close to it.
2) Good, noble men do exist in the world, lots of them…and the world needs them.
3) A good man is one who uses his gifts and talents to help build a better world. And many men have done just that: Countless dads working hard to provide for their families and invest time in their children. Men faithfully loving their wives. Men protecting our country, often at great personal sacrifice. Men building the infrastructures of our nation. Men educating our children and youth. Men creating works of art be it music or literature or dance or film. Men doing their jobs with integrity and excellence.
4) While, as my friend, Dr. Michael Gurian, says, almost all of the challenges and ills a society faces trace themselves back to troubled men, at the same time, many, many of the successes and strengths of our society are built on the backs of good men.
5) The overwhelming majority of men not only want what’s best for women, they actively fight for it. These women are their daughters, wives, sisters, moms, aunts, friends, and co-workers. Men care deeply about these women in their lives. They neither want nor condone masculine domination of women.
6) Masculinity in and of itself is not toxic. It is a good, God-created, sacred gift, just as is the feminine.
7) Men are wired to experience the world differently from women. Our brains work differently. Our thought processes works differently. Our chemical make-up is different. That doesn’t make us better than women. It doesn’t make us inferior. Women and men are equal but different, and those differences make the world a better place.
8) Again, a real man is a man who uses his unique gifts and talents, and his uniqueness as the Image of God male, to serve those he loves and the world around him. And again, those men are all around us.
Your Daddies are good men. Your Grandpas are good men. The men in your church are good men. You will interact with far more good men than bad men throughout your lives. May you discover the blessing that men can be as you grow into the women God created you to be.