Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Issues....I've Got Issues

Don't we all?

A recent dating experience has brought some issues up...again. You know the kind of issues I am talking about. The kind that stay in the background much of the time but are always there. The issues that are hard to define but that somehow affect much of who you are. The kind that are about our parents, our sin, wounds from the enemy, and the deep desires of our hearts all rolled up into one. The kind of issues that God peels away from your heart over time, like the layers of an onion.

God has been peeling these layers from me for quite some time. But this time feels different. What happened to bring this on was one of the most confusing experiences of my life but I can't help but feel that what happened is going to be the impetus for a much deeper peeling. Yes, and I am hopeful.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Interesting Post

Another quick post today to say that I really enjoyed Carolyn McCulley’s post today at her blog Radical Womanhood . Carolyn’s post reminds me of the children’s story The Velveteen Rabbit. I have loved the story The Velveteen Rabbit for a long time. I like the idea of taking chances and being open. Of living and not being afraid of what could happen…of loving and being loved to the point that your “stuffing comes out”. :)

Be sure to check out the Washington Post article linked in the post as well. Interesting stuff!

Some Thoughts about Extremism

I believe that you can learn a lot from extreme positions because they introduce ideas that may be unfamiliar and can challenge you to think outside the status quo. I in no way think that everything Thomas Ellis had to say in The Rantings of a Single Male is correct (and by the way, he is hardly at the extreme edge of thought about these issues), but I do think that much of it was reasonable enough to consider and examine. For someone who recognizes that there are issues between the genders and who wants to understand the other side's point of view, listening to things that sound "extreme" and really considering them and asking yourself some tough questions can help promote better understanding.

When I begin considering a point of view different than my own, my thoughts on the subject tend to sort of swing back and forth somewhat like a pendulum. I consider both extremes of a position and the less extreme positions in between and within the arc of the pendulum as well. I tend to keep the most extreme of these “swings of the pendulum” to myself because I know it is just part of the process for me. At some point the pendulum comes to rest in a position that hopefully has a better understanding of both sides, as it were.

You know what? It may be that in six months that I think very differently about all this stuff than I do right now because I will have learned more, and thought it through more and the pendulum will have swung back and forth a few more times. And, I am fine with that. I am fine with that because I believe that to really be open to learning you have to be open to having your mind changed.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Rantings of a Single Male: Part D.

After a nice relaxing Christmas and New Years holiday I am back with another installment of my discussion of Thomas Ellis’ book The Rantings of a Single Male

Rant D: The Perceptual Female Self-Worth Crisis

Ellis begins the chapter discussing the desire of women for male validation.

"Regardless of what feminism has done to diminish the importance of men, most women still crave traditional male validation. Oppressed or not, they still expect men to suck up and buy them diamonds. In adequate as we are, women keep coming back for relief from their perceptual self-worth crisis.

Because of feminism, women are now hopelessly schizophrenic about how they want to be valued by men. If men respond to their sexuality, women feel underappreciated for their inner qualities....But if women begin to think men do not desire them in a sexual way, they panic and start doing things to attract men. " (p. 28)

Ellis is correct on several points here. I have met few women who do not desire male validation. Women do want to be desired by men (for some women it is their husband\boyfriend and for other women, it appears to be a broader spectrum of men) as well as being valued for their inner qualities. All true. I think the desire for validation from other people is a quality many people have, both men and women. I think some degree of wanting to be valued by others is normal and appropriate. In my opinion, the problem comes when the person is unable to feel self-worth outside of the validation of others. In this section of the book Mr. Ellis doesn't really make it clear what he thinks women should base their self-worth on. I would argue that women, and men, should base their worth on who God says they are. Ladies, we should be cognizant of where our self-worth comes from and not use others to make ourselves feel better about who we are. We should take care that in the relationships with the men in our lives such that we are not expecting them "to suck up” or buy us diamonds just to make us feel worthy.

Ellis goes on to argue that women prefer gifts that are useless and impractical because “wasting” money demonstrates that the man values the woman over money. In illustrating his point Ellis uses the examples of gifts such as a small box that holds nothing or a glass egg. Leaving aside the argument that all women do not have a penchant for things like glass eggs I think there is food for thought here for us ladies. I would like to say though, no glass eggs for me, thanks. I think the best gifts I have ever received from men were things that demonstrated that the man was paying attention to what interested me such as a book he thought I would like or a CD he burned for me with music he thought I would like or with a radio show he knew would interest me. But, I digress…back to the food for thought. I agree that we should be very cautious to not equate how much money a man spends on us with our value, our perception of his value of us, or for that matter with how we value the man.

Ellis also discusses his thoughts on why he believes diamonds are women’s favorite gifts. Ellis reports that he thinks diamonds are popular with women because their expense causes men to suffer and because they have been bombarded with images from commercials telling them that “diamonds are forever”. Ellis further theorizes that “diamonds protect women from being called whores. It's an archaic concept it's still ingrained in the female brain, that married women can't be whores-and, of course, married women get diamonds." (p.32) Ellis goes on to say that women do not want to be considered to be whores and that since diamonds cost so much more than a whore does that then diamonds indicate that the woman is not whore. For me the obvious response to this is that a biblical view of sexuality calls for sex to be reserved for marriage. But, as I have previously said my purpose here is not to argue for the biblical view of sexuality, but rather to see what I can learn from this book.

I do think it is reasonable to consider the point of an expensive diamond engagement ring. I am probably not the best woman to address this issue since I don't particularly like diamonds because I think they are cold. I wouldn't argue that a man should not buy an engagement ring for his fiancée because there's nothing inherently wrong with it and I think that it's up to the individual couple. I do think that women should consider their attitude toward an engagement ring because I think the issue is really more about the attitude of the woman's heart than the ring itself. Ladies, I do think it is a valid question to ask ourselves if it is really necessary for a man to spend a lot of money on the woman he wants to marry for her to agree to marry him?

Ellis then goes on to discuss the issue of commitment. Ellis theorizes that women desire commitment, not in order to commit to a specific man, but rather to commit to a lifestyle or a “relationship” apart from the actual man they marry because "it’s the concept of commitment itself that women love, not men" (p. 33). It is valid to consider his point here. Does the desire to marry a man arise from simply wanting to be married or does it arise from the desire to be married to a specific man because you love him?

Ellis goes on to argue that he believes commitment is inherently a bad idea for men because it doesn't make sense since it does not allow them an "out". He says that men fear being in a dysfunctional relationship that they can't get out of. This dysfunctional relationship could entail the wife being demanding, requiring he spends more money on her, denying him sex, gaining a lot of weight, pursuing an expensive divorce, or accusing him of sexual assault. Ellis states, "I don't care how extravagant the ceremony is, a commitment cannot guarantee anything." (p. 34)

It is true, there are always risks with commitment. Commitments do not guarantee anything. Like many things in life, commitments require faith. Any individual may decide that the risks of trusting someone else outweighs the rewards when considering the commitment of marriage. That would be that person’s right to choose not to marry. I do find it sad, though, that we are losing our ability to trust each other. Beyond seeking to be a person who is trustworthy individuals can respond to this by being informed about inequities in divorce laws (especially regarding child custody) and supporting reform of inequitable divorce laws.

In closing I want to say that I am considering ceasing my discussion of this book. At the very least I will be approaching it differently such as limiting my discussion to just a few more entries that deal with the over arching ideas in the book that I feel I have learned good stuff from. I hate the idea of “quitting” anything but to be honest I think focusing on this book has kind of “messed with my mind” a bit because of the author’s differing world view.

Finally, yes indeed, it is a great night to be a Mountaineer! Rich who?