…that he would make a comment that would light up the internet with conversation more colorful than a gay pride parade, while I was out of town, and unable to blog about it.
But it’s all good. I’ve taken a lot of time to reflect on the topic. If you are unaware of all the kerfluffle, Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church, Seattle, posted this on Facebook:
“So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?”
And all hell broke loose. People ganged up on Mark, demanding apologies, calling him a bully. And somewhere, Rob Bell was a little bit jealous of all the negative attention.
I’m glad I’m late to the game on this one. Because I think I can say something that hasn’t been said yet. And this topic is so much bigger than Mark, or all the people he offended. This is all about what we think “real” men and women are…and how wrong we have it.
Checklist of the Un-Manly
Mark Driscoll is, by all appearances, a manly man. He’s burly. He probably has a five-o’clock shadow…at lunch. He’s probably never had to work hard at his appearance of masculinity. He probably has typically masculine interests. His beef is with guys who don’t live up to the standards of masculinity that he so easily embodies.
By contrast, since I was a teenager, I’ve never lived up to most standards of masculinity.
Scrawny kid with patchy facial hair and glasses? Check.
Virtually no athletic coordination? Check.
Interests and talents in all things artsy-fartsy? Check.
Reads books and gets good grades in school? Check.
Yep, no one ever accused me of being too masculine.
I compensated for these masculine shortcomings by joining Boy Scouts. But the “man” points I may have gained in the eyes of others by learning to wield fire, knives, and guns were cancelled out by prancing around in a uniform covered with badges.
Here’s how our culture works. We also think that “masculine” and “feminine” are opposite things. Opposites attract, right?
That’s a pretty easy and clear cut way to approach things. If something’s not “manly,” then a man shouldn’t do it, or say it, or wear it. It’s for girls. This strict standard forces guys like Mark Driscoll to pursue the cartoonish caricature of fantasy-masculinity that is peddled in video games and pro-wrestling. Fortunately for him, he does it quite well. Those of us who don’t quite measure up…well, guys like Mark called us “fags” in high school. Girls who don’t quite measure up to our clear cut standards of femininity, in other words, girls who were more big boned, or tomboyish are called “dykes.”
The only other alternative we’ve come up with is to deny that masculine and feminine are different at all and try to be some kind of androgynous, Lady Gaga-like, alien life form.
Neither approach really works.
Who’s the Bigger Man?
Here’s the irony. If Mark Driscoll saw me, he might call me out for being, in his mind, too feminine or queer. In his guts, he has a problem with guys who aren’t as “masculine” as he views himself…
…And in my guts, I have just as big a problem with him and his idea of masculinity. I don’t even know him, but my mind tells me that I know his “type.” The big, dumb jock type. And my guts have a quiet disdain for that type of man who doesn’t measure up to my standards of masculinity. The type man who I imagine is more like an ape, incapable of deep thought or self-reflection in between ass-slapping his sweaty football buddies in the shower.
Of course, my idea of Mark is probably no more accurate than his idea of “effeminate” men.
The truth is that I’m no bigger a man than a burly lumberjack like Mark Driscoll. And he’s no more a man than I. A man’s masculinity (or lack thereof) isn’t determined by athleticism, or his paycheck, reading habits, or the size of his penis, just like a woman’s femininity isn’t determined by her cooking skills or the size of her breasts. (A man also can’t make himself any more of a woman, whether it’s by dressing like a metrosexual worship leader, or getting a sex change.)
There’s so much to talk about here, I can tell this is going to be a big springboard that goes way beyond this silly little controversy. So let’s get started! How do you know a “real” man or woman when you see one? How do you measure up at being “real” men and women?