Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My Thoughts on Men in Mainstream Media

I have had it on my heart to post about this for a long time.  Still, I start typing with a deep sigh, this could be controversial and I am not a fan of stirring the proverbial pot.

I am going forward with this because I am a daughter, wife and mother of a son.  It matters to me how men are portrayed in mainstream media, especially as a MOB (mother of a boy).  Now, some may say we can just censor what our son watches or is exposed to. 

There are 2 major problems with this:
1) he is almost 13 and it is getting harder to restrict what he has access to, especially at the homes of some of his friends (don't even get started on me about monitoring his friends' homes, too-I have enough on my plate monitoring my own home) and
2) it is nearly impossible to keep all of the violent, sex-filled, emasculating media from being seen.  It is just too rampant, even during the day or during television programming that is supposed to be rated "E" for everyone.  There is sex in drain cleaning commercials for heaven's sake!  How do I censor that?

In the past 2 decades there has been a shift in the role of men in TV programs.  Initially, men were portrayed as strong, capable providers in many programs.  They were bread-winners, they "knew best", they were the kings of their television castles.  But this has changed, men are now often portrayed as inept, bumbling, and incapable of managing household tasks such as balancing a checkbook, caring for their children, grocery shopping, and cooking.  In many programs, it is clear that the wife "wears the pants" in the family and the husband is just there to do her bidding.  (Please note I am not writing in absolutes, not ALL programs portray men this way and not ALL programs in the past were exponentially "better")

This view of men is seeping into our culture.  I was recently at lunch with some co-workers and a couple of them were quite surprised that two of us had husbands who regularly went to the grocery store, cleaned, cooked, did laundry and pumped our gas (I have not pumped my own gas except for a few random occasions in years-I hate pumping gas and my husband graciously does it for me).  The other women we were with stated their husbands/significant others either would not or could not do these tasks.  Now, this is not inherently bad, some men are better at domestic tasks than others, just like women (I am not particularly crafty like many of my SAHM counter-parts....okay, I am not crafty at all).  However, in general, men are portrayed in mainstream media as not being capable of handling these tasks and they need a woman to keep them from becoming dirty, lazy, homeless disasters.

I pray frequently for my son's future spouse.  I pray she will be a godly young woman and will care for my son the way I have.  I pray she will be domestically inclined and able to keep house and cook, or at least willing to learn these things.  However, I am still teaching my son to do laundry, clean, cook and other domestic tasks.  He may have a period when he neither lives in my home nor with his wife and he will need these skills to take care of himself.  He and his future wife may decide she will continue to work outside the home, so he will need to take on a share of keeping their home.  I know there is nothing more precious to a wife and mother of little ones than a husband who takes some of the load of keeping the home.

I am blessed to have a husband who is fully capable of doing all of the domestic chores that are part of running a home (except ironing....we both hate that).  This has been instrumental when I was working full-time and especially since I have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, there are just some days and some tasks I am not able to do and he is always willing to pick up where I left off.

Now, before the feminists decide to roast me on an open flame, I am not suggesting that women subservient to men.  I do believe in marital submission, but that is a subject for another time.  I believe women are fully capable of anything (well, almost anything) men can do.  I am simply suggesting that men and women are different and God purposely designed us that way.  By emasculating and feminizing the men in mainstream media, we are setting a bad example for the next generation who is watching these programs and thinking that is the way marriage and relationships should be.

The role of the husband as provider, protector, and leader of the home has been compromised and replaced by a weaker, sillier, and frankly less desirable man.  This shift is evident not only on television programs, but in our homes and on social media as well.  I cringe when I see women openly berating their husbands on Facebook.  Again, subject for another post, but social media is not the place to air your dirty marriage/relationship laundry. 

When I was first married, my mother gave me some advice on dealing with conflict in our marriage.  I had called her to cry and complain about something I was upset with Rick about.  She calmly asked me if I had taken this issue to my husband first to which I replied, "No, I was too angry to talk to him!".  She then told me she could not talk to me about this until I had taken it to my husband.  She advised me that I should always speak highly of my husband to others and never discuss his shortcomings outside of our marriage (and he should do the same with me).  At first I was appalled, this was ridiculous and archaic, right!?  But as I grew in my faith and our marriage grew more biblical, I began to understand this.  I may only be angry with Rick for a moment, but if all I ever share with my friends and family is these angry moments, what are they going to believe of my husband? 

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
-1 Peter 3:1-2

God designed marriage to be a relationship of mutual love and submission, but we seem to have confused the term "mutual" with "equal" and "equal" with "same".  Men and women should have mutual respect for one another and are equal in the eyes of God.  However, God created us to be different.  We should rejoice in our differences, we should relish our different roles and embrace them, not attempt to make everyone the same.

Please remember these are simply my thoughts on this subject.  I welcome comments, even dissenting opinions, but only in a respectful and productive manner.