How Your Comments Unintentionally Hurt Women

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.

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35 thoughts on “How Your Comments Unintentionally Hurt Women

  1. Brian

    J, you’ve always sought to be fair and factual when it comes to men, or at least that’s what I’ve observed. You research topics and you present biblical as well as academic evidence for almost all of your opinions, and I greatly respect that. While I have disagreed with some of your conclusions, or at times the facts themselves, I think that you try to be objective.

    The last thing I would want to do is to harm your ministry, because I thank God for what you are doing. What I try to do when I comment is to find the truth and to give my own perspective. I’ve been studying many of the topics you post about for years myself, and so while I’m capable of being wrong, I’m not uninformed. One thing that bothers me greatly is how much men suffer in this world without much sympathy from anyone, be it women or other men. Of course women have it hard, but in my lifetime our society has always cared about women’s suffering. We see a man’s pain and we generally downplay it. I find that I still catch myself doing this even after all this time.

    When I comment about men, it’s not to make it seem like women don’t have terrible troubles. I do it because most people don’t understand the things men go through and frankly most people don’t care. Men are 50% of the sexual equation and our issues are almost completely ignored or the subject of jokes. I used to have all of these same flawed perspectives on men until I started my own personal quest to understand sexuality.

    I know I haven’t always been gentle enough or empathetic enough in my comments and for that I’m sorry. I apologize to any women who felt hurt by me. I realize women are probably the majority of your audience and that’s why your posts are mostly geared towards the female perspective. If I am harming that then I’ll move on.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thank you, Brian. I think some men forget that the females who read my blog…are wives. With husbands they love, often sons they love, and fathers and brothers and so on. But honestly, it’s like the feeling that some women get that all men are pigs, because there are so many victims of sexual harassment and assault — but we have to be reminded that each perpetrator typically has many victims, so a few bad men can make it seem like an “everyone” problem. And it’s not. LIKEWISE, your statement that “frankly most people don’t care. Men are 50% of the sexual equation and our issues are almost completely ignored or the subject of jokes” is probably based on a few outspoken people who make a lot of noise and it seems like women on the whole are the problem. We’re not.

      I’m simply for banding men and women together and fighting both ignorance and evil in the world. If we really go after that mission, we won’t have enough energy left to make enemies of one another. When God clearly intended otherwise. Blessings!

      Reply
    2. Louise Johnson

      Actually, I feel like I am so alone in my suffering, and J has helped so much with this by starting her Facebook group. I don’t see much compassion out there for women who have husbands who don’t have as much libido as them because other women say they’re lucky, and other men say that I basically don’t exist. After making some terrible choices the day that would have been my best friends birthday who passed last year, I tried to encourage myself and surround myself with the word and others. I went to a marriage conference that basically made jokes about how much more men want it and have them tips, not me. That was a 3 day conference, and the other sessions were good, but the most important session did nothing but harm me. I then went to a women’s retreat several months later that was 2 days long. They did not even mention sexual sin once!! And they even had a session about temptation.
      I do feel really bad for men though who are sexually harassed or abused or raped. Because I imagine it would be so much harder because of stereotypes.

      Reply
      1. Brian

        Louise, I know that couples like you and your husband exist, and you have my utmost sympathy. I can’t say that it’s the same as a man that desires more sex, but I’m sure it’s terrible all the same.

        I think what you said is correct. Women don’t want sex just like men can’t be victims of sexual abuse. In fact, I’ve seen many times the same kinda of comments about men being “lucky” whenever a women sexually abuses a man or teenager. It must feel pretty bad to have someone tell you that you are lucky to have something so hurtful in your life.

        Reply
        1. Louise Johnson

          Thank you so much for your sympathy. Yeah, that would be just horrible!! I read a story about a man who was raped by a woman who was a family friend. His wife divorced him because she didn’t believe men could be raped and she viewed it as he cheated on her!! What a terrible, terrible thing!! To go through all that and then your wife treats you that way!!

          Reply
        2. Louise Johnson

          Also, J. I think what Brian mentioned may be a nice idea for a post!! (Not that you don’t already have a ton of fabulous ideas!! That’s why I read your blog!) I think maybe you could compare and contrast the high drive wife and the high drive husband. 😊

          Reply
          1. Mitch

            I find it fascinating that your women’s retreat never once dealt with sexual sin. Just as high libido wives are often invisible to the church, so is the whole area of the sexual struggles of women. Our women’s ministry has basically one female profile in mind – hyper busy homemaker who struggles with low self esteem and wants to learn how Jesus can talk directly to her and encourage her that she is beautiful and wonderful, despite the fact that she wonders if she’s good enough for God. Our men’s ministry has one male profile in mind – married guy who doesn’t properly lead his family and struggles with porn and needs to man up and take responsibility and learn how to become sexually pure by eye bouncing off other attractive women. For women, it’s all about encouragement. For men, it’s all about accountability. But it is never the reverse.

          2. J Post author

            You know, I get frustrated with those stereotypes on both sides. Jesus addressed people from all kinds of backgrounds with all kinds of problems, and we should do the same.

  2. Anthony Innerd

    Thanks J for your post, as a man felt it very honest and clear.
    Am sure have hurt my loved one with unintentional words, and coming from a dysfunction family where my father had to lead due to severe illness with my mother all her life – I felt man growing up can pick up all these foibles and takes a blog like yours to bring him round centre and back to Christ. I try to look at the Cross when feel frustrated or angry but loving someone, wife, children always is on top of your list to somehow fix problems and that I feel can be same am sure for women. When both are in harmony that is how the Lord wants it and yes as a man – i have to die a little bit everyday to see the things you discussed. Bless

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thank you. And I always shoot really straight with guys. Men generally seem to prefer that kind of communication.

      Reply
  3. Libl

    I won’t say all men are like this because I know they are not, but in my experience, unfortunately, some men I have known use these tactics and others to simply shut women up. For whatever reason they simply refuse to understand, hear out, or deal with a woman’s dissatisfaction.

    Now, some of it is miscommunication. I have learned that HOW I bring up an issue will determine whether or not a man listens or dismisses it. A firm, “knock it off” tends to work better than a pitchy monologue.

    Also, if a man is trying to impress a woman he is more likely to listen. If she is in a position of power over him and a lot hinges on his respect of her, he will listen. If my husband is attracted to,a woman, even if he has NO intention of following through on that attraction, he listens and treats her FAR better than a woman who puts him off.

    When I behave with boldness and confidence and a can-do attitude, hubby is more apt to respect me and listen than when I get all emotional damsel in distress. But, I know other men who LOVE damsel in distress and will hear her out and play the knight in shining armor.

    Also, I gave found that stroking a man’s ego can get him to listen better. If a man is facebooking a manosphere point that has women foaming at the mouth, you should see him latch onto the women that agree with him. Even Gary Thomas experienced this. He had a viewpoint about marriage and abuse. Emails and blog comments didn’t have as much of a profound affect on him as women at his conferences coming up and asking him what to do about the rampant horrible abuse they faced.

    BUT, I don’t believe for a second that this is male-exclusive. This is a human thing. We all simoly listen to what we want to hear and tune out the rest. We believe what we want to believe and everyone else is wrong. We understand what we understand and everyone else is just frustrating.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Libl, generally I’ve come across two different types of men when it comes to written communication. I’ve encountered men who only respond when they agree with what is being conveyed, or as you put it, to having their ego stroked. Or, there are men who respond to well reasoned intellectual discourse that is relatively free of emotional input. Now, I realize that emotional elements are important, but I tend to fall in the latter group. I think that’s why I’ve always paid a lot of attention to what you say. I know there is a mountain of emotional pain behind your words, but you don’t focus on that. You hone in on the ideas behind your hurt, and that makes me take notice.

      Reply
  4. Mike

    J, I will keep your points in mind when I post. I am sure I am guilty, and I want to apologize if I have offended anyone. The last thing I want to do is cause anyone to drop off your site over anything I said. The information here is so helpful for couples in their striving for intimacy. May your ministry continue to be blesses as you bless all of us.

    Reply
  5. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    J, if I’ve done any of this in my comments here, I’m sorry.

    One area in which I know I’ve erred – and I can’t quite categorise it – lies in having let my own perspective as something of an outlier speak to generalities. I think I’ve offended men and women pretty equally.

    The salient example is my attitude toward this long Via Dolorosa of pancreatic cancer. I’m OK with it, and often flippant, and that is, I’ve found, NOT an inspiration. It’s a slap in the face to those who care about me, and who don’t want to see me suffer and die.

    “How can you joke about this?!” is really, “How can you ignore my feelings like that?!”

    How indeed? My rough background is not an excuse that allows me to run roughshod over others’ emotions.

    The end result is, “Well, if you don’t care that much about yourself, I won’t worry about you.” I’ve heard just these words, and this is a place where everybody loses.

    Compassion’s like a game of catch. It takes two.

    Reply
  6. Joseph

    J,

    Thank you and all of the women who soo openly share their perspectives here for allowing me to glimpse through your pink spectacles into the world. Your book and blog have helped my wife and I to openly have conversations I don’t think we ever could have had without it turning into an argument of some kind.

    Thank you,

    Reply
  7. Louise Johnson

    Hello! Thanks for posting! I appreciate you helping us 30% of women who higher sex drives than their husband. It can be EXTREMELY lonely. It has been hard when men have commented with reasons they believe it is not possible that we exist 😉😆😢

    Reply
    1. B

      Hi Louise! I, like you, am a higher drive wife. I agree with you – it can be incredibly lonely. But I assure you – you are not alone!!

      I totally agree with you that it is like a slap in the face when men make comments that women like us can’t possibly exist. It adds insult to injury. It’s like our pain doesn’t matter and on top of that, we are accused of being liars. Because most men don’t think like women I’m not sure if they understand just how hurtful they are.

      I think sometimes they don’t intend to be hurtful, they are speaking from their own place of pain. But it is very hard when you’re struggling with all the feelings of inadequacy that come with being the higher drive wife and then someone tells you that not only is your pain not real, but they believe you yourself are not real.

      Hang in there! Praying for you!

      Reply
  8. Anonymous

    I agree that people should make greater efforts to understand & empathize with one another. I also think people who have endured trauma (and I have had my share) can forget that not every hurtful comment from everyone is about or related to them specifically. (Stop seething & just keep reading. This is good I promise! ☺) I know healing is a process, & sometimes a long one. I’ve been in that victim place. But at some point you have to shed that victim identity & realize you don’t have to defend yourself against and/or take offense to EVERYTHING. (Just keep reading, just keep reading… ☺)
    I don’t appreciate ignorant comments any more than the next person. But they happen, because people are in different places and have different, often skewed, perceptions, or sometimes just wrong information. But I don’t have to take in that negativity, and neither do you. If you are still healing from trauma, or having difficulties in your marriage, or both, you’re dealing with enough of that already. J, I’ve been a reader of yours for years, & I love your heart and humor!! I don’t always read all the comments on your posts, but when I do it’s to see what’s there that’s helpful. I consider those things & ignore the rest.

    Hear my heart people! This is not to minimize anything that people are going through, or to excuse willful rudeness. I just have finally found that I am free to be me, which means that I can allow others that same freedom. In whatever state they are in. Because Lord knows I’ve made my share of ignorant comments to people because my perception was colored by my experiences & not transformed by God’s great love. And I know I still have a long way to go! I definitely still have a button or two (or a few) that get pushed sometimes. But I am confident of this, that He who has begun a good work in EACH OF US shall be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus! (Based on Phil 1:6) I know not everyone is to that place of freedom yet, but I hope this maybe helps someone take a baby step in that direction.

    Reply
    1. Mark

      J, I can’t make apologizes for no one but myself asI haven’t read every single comment, but if I have offended anyone (including you) with any comments I have made, I apologize.

      Reply
  9. Wayne

    It occurs to me that, even if we feel a certain criticism of our behavior is inaccurate or unfair, we still need to consider it and learn from it, if possible. I feel that’s especially pertinent to a discussion of what us men do or say that hurts others, and most especially, how it may affect our wives. But even among friends or co-workers. And by the way, I have been bothered many times by comments directed my way by other men – implying, however subtly, not-in-so-many-words, and for whatever reason that I’m not “enough of a man”, or I don’t know as much as the other guy, or whatever. You know, “my pain is greater than yours” when they can’t possibly know that.
    (Nobody on here has done that – let me be very clear about that. Men or women.)

    My wife would definitely vouch for my compassion and ability to listen, but she has called me out on occasion for lack of the same. It isn’t easy to hear, but hear it I must, because I love her, and I don’t want to hurt her in any way, even (especially?) unintentionally.. It helps that we can also laugh about these things on occasion- and at and with each other. Not all the time, of course; it depends. Balance is needed, seems to me.

    Andrew, piggybacking off the last part of your comment: Up for a game of catch? Here. {Tosses a ‘cyber-ball’ to Andrew….or anyone else….}

    Reply
  10. hubby m

    Well said, I need your way of expressing what women see and experience,to help me be a better man, today than I was yesterday…also a better husband.🤣

    Reply
  11. Chris

    J, i am sorry if anything i have ever said here in the comments have hurt anyone reading your blog ot you. Your blog is much more male friendly than some others marriage blogs out there. Its obvious that you love and care about men and its obvious from the way you speak to men that you have sons. Its a communication style that a marriage blogger who only has daughters would never get quite right despite good, well intentioned efforts.
    As for listening to women talk about things in which they are expert, like their bodies, it is sometimes hard when my wife keeps saying things like “I’m fat, i’m ugly” but as a man who does not own the equipment, i used to try to argue that she was not but with the culture telling us to just shut up and listen i guess i just should.
    To brians point, men are mostly invisible. I agree with that.

    Reply
  12. Paul Byerly

    Here here!

    I have the same struggle on the XY Code. Moderation is my friend!

    Praying the men will see the power of their words for good and for harm and work for good.

    Reply

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