Our staff meets weekly at a local cafe. I love the breakfast food, the kind servers, and the familiarity of our home office away from home. Recently, though, I saw this new sign posted near the back wall to help customers find the bathrooms … and my heart sank.
It seemed funny, at first. Then the impact sunk in.
Seeing the sign reminded me of a time I was heading to the airport to speak on a Christian women’s cruise. (Hardship duty, I know.) On the radio, a woman on a bank commercial was saying something like, “Girl, I don’t have time to worry about my banking. I mean, I have two kids — well, three if you count my husband!”
Having spent so many years on the research for For Women Only, and having seen the surprisingly sensitive hearts that beat inside the men and boys in our lives, it made me mad. Why is it okay to bash men?
When I boarded the cruise and first spoke at a workshop for about 500 women, I mentioned that radio ad. It was fresh on my mind, and a concrete example of how our culture so easily disrespects men, and how painful it is to our men. That night, I gave a different talk to the entire boat of about 1500 women. As I left the stage, the singer for the evening walked on. The first words out of her mouth? “I’m so happy to be with you all! My name is so-and-so, I’m from such-and-such city, and I’ve got three kids — four if you count my husband.”
You could hear a third of the crowd gasp, as the oxygen was sucked out of the room. Right in front of us, we witnessed how easily — without thinking about it — we can make “jokes” that are actually cruel and male-bashing. Even in the church. Even from a wonderful, godly leader.
How should we respond to these remarks? What is the impact on the men in our lives? Keep reading for more.
These comments hurt husbands and sons
We often miss these statements. But men hear (or see) these sentiments of inadequacy and idiocy multiple times a week. And they either make their skin crawl or make them feel beaten down constantly.
And ladies — it’s not just impacting our husbands. Think about what our sons are absorbing about themselves. We want a society of strong, capable men — but we raise boys who are told over and over again that they are worthy of ridicule. It is absolutely damaging and dangerous. For men, whose self-doubt is a deep and hidden characteristic, what we think of as throwaway comments can truly cause anguish. Our sons absorb these messages too, both spoken and unspoken.
There’s a better way.
A little kindness goes a long way
In our society, kindness needs all the help it can get. One simple act can make a difference: when you see unintentional disrespect in a joke or comment, call it out. Speak up when you see male bashing. And boost the signal when you see examples of men being praised and respected in the right way. For example, this recent Amazon commercial warmed my heart. Share commercials and videos that use comedy to honor men, not tear them down.
Let’s be honest: it is probably easier to be destructive than constructive. But making the real effort — and recognizing the work of others — can help reverse the tide of unintentional disrespect toward men. And make us far more appreciative of our men and boys at the same time.
(If you are feeling a bit convicted about how you’ve been speaking to your husband or son (or about what others have been hearing you say), I strongly suggest you do the 30-Day Kindness Challenge. It is, statistically, one of the best methods we’ve ever seen for stopping bad verbal habits and building great ones.)
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her latest book, Find Rest: A Women’s Devotional for Lasting Peace in Busy Life, focuses on a journey to rest even with life’s constant demands.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.