Guys, I’m talking to you today. I had a whole other post ready to go, but after hearing from various women about comments here on my blog and in my Facebook community, I need to address this:
I’ve lost female followers due to male commenters exhibiting little empathy for the experience of women.I've lost female followers due to male commenters exhibiting little empathy for the experience of women. via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
I am not blaming all men here. Believe me, I often feel like the champion for men. I get along well with most men. I find male biology and viewpoints fascinating. More of my friends in college were guys than girls. And I have lived with three guys for most of my adult life, whom I treasure thoroughly. I like men.
But while I make real efforts to consider the side of men in various situations, some of you struggle to put yourselves in the place of women. You love your wife and your sisters and your daughters, but you don’t really try to understand them. Or you consider them exceptions and feel the world out there—women generally, or those frustrating feminists—is against you.
What comments are problematic? Let me share some types, so you know that I’m talking about. And before you ask, yes, these issues occur with women too, but believe me, they’re far more common with men.
You don’t understand yourself like I do.
Sometimes a man comments with 100% certainty that he understands how a woman works more than she does. Whether that’s her thoughts, her feelings, or her sexuality, it takes some real chutzpah to have no credentialed expertise and tell a woman what she’s experiencing.
I’m not talking about those times when wonderful husbands offer their own experiences with their wives, what they’ve learned in the course of personal study, or biblical wisdom itself. Those can all be very helpful. Obviously I talk on this blog about how men work, because my position requires me to learn and study and know.
But there’s a tendency among some men to confidently instruct others in something they probably don’t know enough about. Some of this is just differences in gender communication (see my guest post for Generous Husband), but we should still pay attention to how we’re being heard. The type of commenting I’m talking about has been called “male pattern lecturing.” And you know what? It’s annoying to women. Especially when the subject is us.
In Stephen Covey’s wonderful book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he lays out this principle that we could all benefit from adopting in our lives: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” If you have an opinion, you can certainly express it, but first be open to hearing what others are saying and try to understand where they are coming from. If you’re talking about women, recognize that women themselves know more than you do about that subject because they are the subject.
Look, I will never pretend to fully understand the penis, because I don’t own the equipment. Likewise, please accept what women say about themselves, their bodies, and their sexuality.
My sin struggle is your fault.
It’s a poor strategy to blame others for your sin. God will not be impressed with that defense on judgment day. Consequently, these formulations just don’t work:
I lusted because women weren’t dressed modestly enough.
I watched porn because my wife turned me down.
I engaged in adultery because I was in a sexless marriage.
I speak up against women because they’ve spoken up against us.
Consider these verses instead:
“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7).
“The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them” (Ezekiel 18:20).
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).
God’s not looking at the person to your right or left when He determines your righteousness. He’s looking at you (and hopefully Jesus, whom I pray you’ve embraced).
And if that isn’t convincing, remember what your mama told you: Two wrongs don’t make a right. If a woman is misbehaving in some way, that does not give you license to mistreat her or others. So those of you who’ve tried to argue otherwise, please stop. Consider what you’re saying! And be responsible for yourself.
Yes, but what about my issue?
Whataboutism is alive and well when it comes to discussions about gender! And it happens from time to time in the comment thread. It goes something like this:
Woman: I’m concerned about the sexual harassment so prevalent among men in the workplace!
Man: Yes, but what about the women who harass men. There are at least as many women as harass men, and we never talk about them. It’s women who are getting away with the worst infractions because men don’t report their harassment. Meanwhile, the #MeToo moment is taking down men everywhere, whether or not they’re guilty, and…
You get the point. I’m not saying this is how the conversation would go exactly, because the woman might say something that should be answered with appropriate information. But my-oh-my, some of you in the male species are quick to flip the tables and make your case for how men are mistreated.
Here’s the truth: In this broken world, no one makes it through this life unscathed by the mistreatment of others. Instead of coming to the comment thread with that chip on your shoulder, how about first asking whether the other person made a good point? Better yet, try to put yourself in their shoes. (Hopefully, she’s not wearing heels…)
Engage in real conversation, as if the person who wrote the post (usually me) or another commenter is sitting across from you at a table in the coffee shop. You are just discussing an important topic and hope to learn more about each other and the subject as you converse.
I’m just here to promote my cause.
Finally, some men simply tour marriage blogs and comment with long complaints about what they’re going through in their personal lives or their passionate position on XYZ.
For instance, a while back I had a nudist who wanted to argue with me on various posts that showing off your goodies in public was a wonderful idea for Christians. (It’s not.) I entertained several comments, then moved on. Because really, dude, you weren’t here to discuss the idea but merely advocate for your cause. See you later, and don’t let the door hit your bare butt on the way out.
I’ve gotten better at spotting these, but not always. Sometimes it can take several comments to realize that someone is just here to stir up controversy and use my platform to promote their ideas. If you’re here for any reason other than improving sexual intimacy in marriage, I suggest you find another place to go. Even better, a different hobby.
It’s Mostly Unintentional
With the exception of that last issue, most of these missteps are unintentional. You guys who’ve done this, I don’t think you know how you’re coming across. Not fully at least.
So I’m asking you to ask yourselves: Have I done any of these?
- You don’t understand yourself like I do.
- My sin struggle is your fault.
- Yes, but what about my issue?
- I’m just here to promote my cause.
Have I unintentionally made it more difficult for others to engage here because of my comments? In particular, have I made women feel they must in turn defend themselves or simply be quiet?
Hot, Holy & Humorous should be a place where men and women find common ground, ways to approach struggles we face, and strategies to support one another. We won’t always understand what the other gender is dealing with, but we can listen, support, and encourage one another. THAT is what I want my comment thread to be — for both husbands and wives.Hot, Holy & Humorous should be a place where men and women find common ground, ways to approach struggles we face, and strategies to support one another. via @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” Ephesians 4:29.