Do you have a faithful, capable, responsible man in your life? A husband, a father, a co-worker? Like me, you probably know quite a few men who embody those qualities! Because they’re all around us—men who care and provide and love their families well.
But if you watch TV, movies or follow social media, you might think there’s a scarcity of mature, wise men out there. Because there’s an awful lot of criticism and mocking of men in our culture. Men are frequently depicted or ridiculed as being clueless, laughably incompetent, or wildly immature and irresponsible. I don’t know about you, but I find it discouraging, frustrating and, to be honest, even infuriating.
Let me share a (sadly) cringe-worthy example. 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.
What is the impact of these kinds of remarks on the men in our lives? And how should we respond? Read on to learn more.
These Comments Hurt Men And Boys
Women 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 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. Share commercials and videos that honor men, not tear them down.
For example, we recently shared a story about a group of men getting involved to improve the conditions at their local high school—a great example of men stepping up to lead with integrity. These are the kinds of depictions that accurately and respectfully honor the men around us who are not just doing their best, but doing good.
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 (and, unfortunately, sometimes intentional) disrespect toward men. And make us far more appreciative of our men and boys at the same time.
So let’s be the antidote to male-bashing in our culture by highlighting the praiseworthy behavior and examples of good, strong, wise men in our own corner of the world.
And 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), check out the 30-Day Kindness Challenge. It is one of the best methods we’ve ever seen for stopping bad verbal habits and building great ones—with statistically proven, life-changing results in the relationships of the people who participate.
And if you are interested in having Shaunti speak on kindness for your workplace, church, school or community group, please contact Nicole Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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More from Shaunti’s Blog:
- Solutions for Sarcasm? Yeah, Right. (Nix the Negativity Series, Part 3)
- From Grumbling to Grateful! (Nix the Negativity Series, Part 2)
- Always Suspicious of Your Spouse (or Others)? Here’s What To Do! (Nix the Negativity, Part 1)
- 7 Date Night Do’s and Don’ts (Part 2)
- 7 Date Night Do’s and Don’ts (Part 1)
- Broken Trust in a Relationship? Here’s What To Do