Let’s Treat Women Better!

Last week I wrote, We MUST Treat Women Better! over on The Generous Husband. This was my response to a couple of brilliant posts by Gary Thomas – Enough is Enough and It’s Not Enough to Not Abuse: We Have to Cherish.

Let's Treat Women Better!

I don’t think I need to convince anyone here this is a very real problem in our society. If you don’t live in the USofA it’s between somewhat better and much worse where you are, but it’s a problem virtually everywhere. I don’t see this as a function of the issues of headship and submission; I believe those are valid biblical concepts but I’m appalled at the way many in and out of the church treat women.

This post is to encourage you to do what you can to bring about change. As difficult as it may be for you to believe, most men have little or no idea about what women face in our culture. It’s like a majority culture person trying to understand the subtle (and not so subtle) racism in our culture*. It’s not part of their reality and never has been, so they’re blind to it even as it happens right in front of them.

You can help change things by showing your husband and your sons the reality of being a woman in your world. Be patient, use examples, and try not to be offended by the clueless stupidity you hear in response.

A good help for this task is Raising Sons in a World That Disrespects Women by Kristen Welch of We Are THAT Family

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I hate to see people treat women poorly.

* I wrote a post on this a couple of years ago – And Now for Something Entirely Different 

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18 Comments on “Let’s Treat Women Better!

  1. Thank you for this post. As a whole I don’t feel mistreated as a woman living in the US. But when something does happen, like cat calls and comments related to “what I could do to you” happen I feel very violated. My husband and I have had many talks and he just doesn’t get it. No matter how I explain that there really is a difference in how men and women are treated he can’t see it because he hasn’t experienced it. From being treated as if I know more in the grocery store when my husband is actually the better cook to being treated like I’m stupid in a car repair or hardware store when I actually know more than my husband in those areas to feeling uneasy when a repair man comes to my house and I’m alone. I’ve lost sixty pounds over the last seven months and I know I look better. Where I blended into what crowd before as another mom, overweight and nothing different, now I have a body that looks healthy and fit and dare I say sexy. I can feel the stares sometimes from men and I dress very modestly, nothing close to showing cleavage and no yoga type pants happening here. But it’s there and it makes me feel like an object. My husband just doesn’t get that either. We see life through the lens of our experiences and it takes a lot of effort to change those lenses and try to see through someone else’s experiences. If we don’t try there is no way we can ever even come close to understanding.

    • @T – It certainly is difficult. It requires believing your reality is not everyone’s reality. And for men, it means accepting that your gender as a group is unfair – or worse. And no one wants that, because then they have to look at themselves!
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Work on A Dream TogetherMy Profile

  2. I guess I live in a cave. I didn’t realize women were so “disrespected”, and if I ever DID see this kind of disrespect people speak of (being cat-called, hit on, inappropriate remarks being made), it was only to a female who wasn’t behaving like a lady & was already distracting herself, in the first place.

    Although lately, I am seeing many articles that preach about women being disrespected in such way, & the injustice of it all…I just have never gone through that personally in my 38 years of living … (& no, I’m not a homely, matronly, overweight, unattractive gal, as you may be thinking right now).

    What I think some of the problem may be, is women looking to be offended or looking to find disrespect. I just didn’t realize society was still stuck in the stone ages where men grunted at women and we got drug by our hair (but maybe I’m just that out of touch).

    The only thing that gets me is when a man will deal differently (sometimes for the better, which isn’t a bad thing, & sometimes for the worse), than he would have to another male. Example: I saw a man on the road driving like a complete jerk & showing extreme road rage towards a lady in front of him.

    He had no problem being aggressive with her and trying to intimidate her with his driving and animated actions. What really irked me as I witnessed this (& other situations similar to this), is that, had she been a man…or a gangsta-looking dude, I GUARANTEE he would have thought twice about being as aggressive as he was.

    Buuuut, since he knew she was a woman, he took full advantage and drove like a creep and tried his best to intimidate her.

    That’s usually thee only time I see disrespect on a male/female level. THAT’S one that I cannot stand.

    • @Reina, I have to agree with you. I don’t get it. And I am not one to talk myself up, but I’m not horrible looking. A little too tall at 5’9″, but I’m quite fit and healthy, I’m just over 40 but most folks think I’m about 32. I’ve got great blonde hair that gets a lot of compliments. And yet – I have never been cat called, hit on, or even given a second glance by any man, anywhere, ever. Perhaps I’m oblivious, or perhaps I’m way uglier than I think, but this has never been a problem for me. I’ve never felt a stare from a man, ever. I know looks and body type should not matter, but I often hear women who are older than I or far more out of shape complain about men. I don’t know if the women are easily offended, or if men just find them far hotter than me. But again, this is not a problem I’ve encountered personally. I guess I should consider myself lucky.

      When we’ve discussed these things, my husband says he has seen many men “check me out” – but of course he’d say that. No husband is gonna say “sorry honey, you’re too ugly for men to notice.” Perhaps I am oblivious, but maybe that’s a blessing.

      I’ve also been told I can be intimidating. Because of my growing up years, I learned to be pretty scrappy. I do behave in s ladylike way, but if I’m walking alone I walk with confidence, aware of my surroundings, and my keys between my fingers in case anyone tries anything – they’d get a sharp punch in the eye! So perhaps people leave me alone because I have a “don’t mess with me” air about me? I don’t know.

      I do agree that women should be treated better. But I’ve been blessed with a husband who treats me well, and we are raising our sons to treat women well. If we all pray and try our best to raise our sons to treat women well, maybe we can help change the next generation.

      • Yes!!! The confidence is HUGE. I, too, am a taller woman, carry myself in a confident manner and don’t really have a problem with inappropriate actions from men.
        Not to toot my horn, but I DO get looks, when I go out and I DO get stares…but so what?! That means nothing to me.
        They probably see the way I walk with purpose, I keep to myself and my body language says “don’t talk to me”.
        It also helps that i am trained & skilled in martial arts. The confidence shows and I will kick your a$$ if you think you’re gonna take advantage. ?

    • @Reina – You ae indeed blessed to not have hundreds of examples come to mind. Having travelled the country a good deal I can say it varies from place to place. But it does exist everywhere. The glass ceiling is higher and has some openings, but it’s still there. And a woman is far more likely to be assaulted than a man in the same situation – in part for the reason you gave above – he can get away with it.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Work on A Dream TogetherMy Profile

      • That’s not unique to women, though. Women are weaker than men so they’re more likely to be a victim, but any vulnerable group is more likely to be attacked — the handicapped, the elderly, children, and anyone who is intoxicated.

        I’m with Reina and B — I also have never had any issues with catcalling, groping, or whatever. The closest thing, probably, is when I’ve traveled to some major cities, and there’s just general creepiness from the homeless (like following me to my office). That’s the only thing I can think of.

  3. Somehow this has become about how men treat women sexually. While that’s a part of it, it’s only a part of it. Studies show men overestimate the intelligence of other men and underestimate the intelligence of women. This is the case for the vast majority of men, and it’s just one example. Much of it is subtle, but it still adds up to limiting and sometimes abusing of women.
    Paul Byerly recently posted…Work on A Dream TogetherMy Profile

    • C’mon Paul – if you’re going to cite studies, lets see them.

    • I won’t argue that you’re wrong — that’s certainly possible. I don’t have the cite, but I heard in my linguistics class that men (and women) will both consistently say that a woman talked longest in a business meeting, where both in time and word count, a man (or possibly men) spoke longer. But “chattering woman” is a stereotype, and most people just assume that’s true.

      However, it is really poisonous to start assuming that everything is latent sexism. I had a friend and coworker completely meltdown because she was convinced that everyone was a sexist who was treating her differently. Some of it, it may have been, but some of it was personality conflicts on her projects or a manager who was equally rough on everyone. But she was straight up convinced it was sexism, and she eventually rage-quit after a tussle with our manager. I’ve lost touch with her, but for at least a year after, she was kind of drifting with occasional freelance projects and no work. What’s sad, is she had talent, but she scuttled her own career. (She’s also young, like late 20s, so she definitely has time to grow out of it.)

      I completely agree with you encouraging men (and parents of boys) to watch their own behaviors and biases and try to do better. But, personally, I would caution against *women* looking for latent sexism or ascribing things to sexism (even if it is arguably a factor). It perpetuates a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. At least in my own life.

      • @sunny-dee – It’s impossible to find the right balance on this, and those who blame everything on sexism are as bad as the men who deny it exists.
        It’s rare you can prove any individual action is based on sexism. But when a pattern emerges, be it the actions of one man or differences in large groups of people, there is no doubt sexism still exists.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Do Less, Live MoreMy Profile

        • Yeah, I’ll admit — I’m the type of person who would end up obsessing and reading stuff into every interaction. I consciously make myself take a step back most of the time, tell myself that yes something was horrible, but I need to let it go instead of analyzing it, just to keep myself reasonably sane. So, for me, trying to recognize bias would last about 5 seconds before I went into full-on paranoia. ;)

          It is equally unhealthy to deny or ignore dysfunctional situations, and recognizing patterns of bad behavior is sensible and necessary. I guess I would just caution that if you are one of those people who tends to over-think things (/me looks in the mirror), it is probably better to *not* try to analyze too much; just address whatever the situation is directly and then move on.

  4. Would like to hear your thoughts on benevolent sexism.

    • @IntimacySeeker – That’s tricky. Much of what comes under that category is wrong, but some of it is based on real gender differences. Men and women are not the same, and those who want to pretend they are the same are not helping anyone.
      There are certain things Lori could do that she will never have to do as long as I am alive. For example, when it’s zero degrees outside, I drop her at the door of stores and then go out to park. And I tell her to sit in the car while I move the groceries from the cart to the car. Because she is female cold is worse for her, and I think I should do all I can to “protect” her from the cold when possible. But we do this kind of thing for each other in general, regardless of why something is easier for one of us. To me it’s not sexism, it’s being a loving, generous spouse. Some of it is based on gender differences, some it not.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Do Less, Live MoreMy Profile

  5. Thanks for taking a stand against poor treatment of women, Paul. I have seen some appalling examples of it, including in the church. It’s hard to understand how anyone can claim to follow Jesus but then demean, degrade or even abuse some of His daughters. The way that Jesus treated women, in every instance, was radically counter-cultural for his time and is the model we should all be following. I think that this also applies to how we treat any people who may have less power or resources, because of physical or cultural limitations.

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