Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

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Today has probably my favorite of all his points, in that it so clearly the double standard between men and women. Let’s launch into it, shall we?  

Stop having sex and learn to make love.  I’m amazed at how many women hook up with guys and talk about how terrible the sex was. Seriously, I hear them talk about this all the time. But why? Why would a man who has slept with hundreds of women not be very good in bed? Well, the main reason is a woman wants to connect in ways beyond just a physical connection. Most “players” have no idea how to make love to a woman, precisely because they don’t even care about the woman they are sleeping with on a given night. They are so busy trying to get laid, they take no time to actually find out who she is. Essentially, sex to them is just mutual masturbation. It usually leaves the woman feeling dissatisfied and well, disgusted, and if she’s honest, a little used. … I mean sure she wanted to have sex, but she may have wanted something else, too. A woman often wants a deep, soul connection. Even though she hooked up with a stranger, she was just going through the motions of something she really wants. She wants words of affirmation and eye contact and playful fun that only happens in intimacy. Why was the sex no good in the hook up? Because the relationship was no good. … That said, start being a man who knows how to connect with women. I’m not suggesting becoming a player. I really think you should only be connecting with a woman who is worthy of becoming your wife. But when she is your wife, make love to her heart, not just her body. As ferociously as possible, find that woman’s heart and connect with it. Learn everything about her and connect with her in as many ways as possible. Understand her story and care about her past. In fact, for the first several months, I wouldn’t even try to make a move. Just get to know her, become her friend, do things with her that she enjoys, take the relationship to the place where you smile when you hear her name. Once you get there, the sex will be great. Once you have earned the respect only a husband deserves, her body will respond in ways she never thought humanly possible, and for that matter, so will yours.

 

I’m glad to learn that by virtue of having a uterus, I somehow require some sort of emotional connection in order to make sex better. I’m glad that my boyfriend, by virtue of having a penis, has to LEARN how to make an emotional connection. Good thing Donald Miller is here to tell us how we feel!

 

Maybe that’s a bit too sarcastic. But, seriously, can we stop characterizing men as unemotional and purely physical and women as these emotional beings as though absolutely everything we do has to have some sort of “feeling” attached to it?

 

It doesn’t do men any favors, and it doesn’t do women any favors, either. Women don’t have a monopoly on emotion, and men can be just as, if not more, emotional than women sometimes. In my family, my dad is very much a feeler – he connects with things emotionally and spiritually, which is why it’s very hard to have a discussion on politics with him. My mother is very much the opposite – while she’s emotional, she is frequently able to separate how she feels about a topic from the discussion of it. I love having discussions with my mom because they range all over the place and I don’t necessarily have to worry about her getting emotionally harmed by me disagreeing with her. She is a good sounding board because she separates out her emotions. The fact that my dad doesn't isn’t a knock on him, either; it’s just a different personality. Surprise, surprise, men and women both experience emotion, and they do so on an individual, case by case, basis.

 

Men are not unemotional robots who have to be taught how to have an emotional connection. Women are not automatically feeling beings for whom every encounter must be this enlightening, engaging, emotional experience.

 

This is perhaps the most damaging stereotype that Miller perpetuates in these blogs.

 

But it goes further than that. In telling men that they must develop emotional connections to the women they woo, nowhere does he say that all of this should be reserved for the man’s wife. Nowhere does he preach about purity and sluttiness and asking for forgiveness from your wife for your periods of hooking-up.

 

The “worth” language really gets to me because it makes it sound like this emotional connection stuff only really matters with someone you want to make a commitment to – it doesn’t actually tell men that they need to eschew hooking up. It just tells them that they need to get better at it and be more aware of the women they are hooking up with – make the sex better!

 

Notice that he spends 3/4ths of this point discussing how women feel about sex…which is kind of funny, because he’s a man and thus has never experienced sex as a woman. All he knows is secondhand. "Women can be used, but only men can be users" seems to be the message.

 

Also, his relationship advice strikes me as kind of silly. It strikes me as a way to spend a long time getting into her pants, just to make the sex better – because that’s the promise Miller gives us at the end here: “The sex will be great.” Not, you’ll fall in love and have someone you want to spend every waking minute with, no matter what you’re doing, but “the sex will be great.” It sounds like a way to improve the guy’s sex life, not as a way to protect his purity or his worth or create a great love story. If you’re looking for a good love story, sex will be a part of it, but Miller, here, turns it into the end game.

 

What really matters is the individuals in a relationship and the wants and needs for the partners involved. No amount of advice can compete with actually sitting down with your boyfriend or girlfriend and discussing your physical affection, setting boundaries where both of you feel comfortable, and figuring out how to connect on all levels, together, before taking that step.

 

Some writer across the internet can’t tell you how to make a connection – and I include myself in that.

 

And you know what? Taking a leaf from Miller’s own playbook – men deserve to be “made love to” as well, not just women. Men can feel used and many men desire emotional connection as well. Don’t paint yourself into a corner by thinking it’s only the women who needs the emotional connection – that’s a recipe for disaster.

 

Moving on:

 

Bring peace into chaos. I firmly believe that the job of a man is to bring peace into chaos. A man (and a woman too for that matter) can look into an empty field and see a house. He can look into a woman’s lonely heart and see how easily it could be loved. He can walk into a room and settle a group of wild children. Look at your life and ask yourself this question: Wherever I go, do I leave a trail of peace behind me? If not, then start practicing the art of ordering chaos right now. Is there chaos in your personal life? Clean it up. Is there chaos in your relationships? Clean them up. A man brings peace and order into chaos. You have what it takes to do this, I believe it firmly. You were designed to leave a wake of peace everywhere you go.

 

I'd like to draw your attention to a little something we call The Bible: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Matt. 5:9, NIV).

 

From Gills’ Exposition on the Bible (a Biblical commentary): “…that is, they are the children of God by adopting grace, which is made manifest in their regeneration; and that is evidenced by the fruits of it, of which this is one; they not only shall be, and more manifestly appear to be, the sons of God hereafter; but they are, and are known to be so now, by their peaceable disposition, which is wrought in them by the Spirit of God; whereby they become like to the God of peace, and to Christ, the great and only peacemaker, and so are truly sons of peace.”

 

“Son” is an interesting word in Jewish history – especially in the ancient culture. A son was the one who could inherit property and carry on the family name. In a patriarchal society, being claimed as a “son” was a high honor because it meant a father’s blessing. We see “son” language used throughout the New Testament, but not in a way that specifically means “men” – rather, for example, as Paul uses it, we are all, by grace, children of God, on equal standing as heirs to his kingdom, men and women alike.

 

We are, by being children of the light, by being children of the Gospel of Peace, ALL called to be peacemakers.

 

Men do not have a monopoly on peace. Nor do women.

 

We are all, as children of God, called to the task of “bringing peace into chaos.”

 

Characterizing it as a solely male task (he does throw us women a bone in a parenthetical, but the rest of his paragraph clearly indicates that this was an afterthought) is to do a major disservice that the call to be Christlike places on ALL followers of Jesus. We are ALL called to be peacemakers – literally, “bringing peace into chaos,” as Miller characterizes it. There is no particular qualification for men to be peacemakers over and above women.

 

This is further solidified when we look at the words of Paul to the Galatians about the fruits of the Spirit, about what the life of a Christian – man or woman! – looks like: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5: 22-24, ESV).

 

This language has no gendered meaning to confuse us – Paul is saying that for those living in the Spirit, whether male or female, the fruits of such a life include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All of these are elements of being a peace-maker, a bringer of peace into chaos.

 

And let’s not forgot the absurdity of Miller’s line: “He can look into a woman’s lonely heart and see how easily it could be loved.”

 

I gag every time I read this line. Bleck. I am not a puppy in the shelter waiting to be rescued. It brings up the imagery of those ASPCA commercials with Sarah McLachlen, begging us to just look at this pitiful wittle babies who need a good home. For the love that is all good and right in the world, can we not have purple prose that puts women on the same level as an abused dog?

 

It’s an image evocative of pity, of empathy with an unmanageable plight, of a rescuer coming in to save the downtrodden woman from her loneliness. If my romantic partner sees me as a being to be pitied, he will never see me as fully human or equal.

 

Bleck, indeed. I feel like I need a shower.