Recently, Michelle Obama hosted a “United State of Women” summit at the White House. The schedule featured an interview with the First Lady conducted by Oprah Winfrey. At one point, Winfrey asked Mrs. Obama if she has any advice for men. “Be better” the First Lady replied, and then she reiterated, “Be better at everything.” She elaborated a bit: “Be better fathers. Just being good fathers who love your daughters and are providing a solid example of what it means to be a good man in the world. Showing them what it feels like to be loved.” I have no problem with this exhortation. But how do dads do this? Who will encourage, support and mentor dads?
How does this energize you as a dad? I must tell you men, the statement “be better” leaves me as a man feeling like I have been put in my place. I am told to do better, which I interpret to mean, I have not been doing a very good job. I am left on my own to figure out how to be a better man. I get the sense that important female figures, such as the First Lady, are watching to see if I measure up to a their standard. There is little empathy for “the male struggle” of discerning what does it mean to be a man and father in 2016. Most importantly I feel a spirit of disgust and condescension towards men in general (based on the video clip). So here is how I would respond to the First Lady and Oprah.
Speaking for men in our culture, I admit that we need to change. The feminist movement has made that all to apparent. As a man who wants to be a committed follower of Jesus I feel I am a marked man. I do not fall into lock step with the feminist agenda. In humility I do not defend how men have behaved in the past. I admit my own failings. But I sense that the argument has become one sided. The initiative for change is directed towards helping women and girls more then for men and boys. Women and their daughters seem to be finding their stride, while boys are falling behind.
As a man I don’t need to be scolded. The First Lady missed a golden opportunity to encourage men. I need help to be a better man. Condescension will only drive men further away from the culture debate about men and women. Women must understand that men may comply in their minds, but in the depths of their soul they will grieve and sink often into a kind of passivity that will not compliment women. Strong women will wonder where have the strong men gone?
I want vocal, strong women to know that they will not be able to create the new men they are hoping for in the days to come. Do they really know what is best for a man? Be careful, ladies that you don’t insist on men being created in your own image. Once we lose the equally important role of the male in culture, we are lost. Have we already come to that tipping point, where men have surrendered to what is politically correct, going against their God given basic instincts as men? .
My biggest concern is for men who feel that have been pushed into a corner, either afraid to respond or simply giving into what is political correct. Women need to encourage men to do their own soul work. This is best done by men helping other men.