I watched the Super Bowl Ads at my son Kurt’s home. The next day we left, driving to South Padre in Texas for two weeks, so I can only share some impressions. I kept coming back to Ecclesiastes 1:10-11 (The Message). “There’s nothing new on this earth. Year after year it’s the same old thing. Does someone call out, ‘Hey, this is new’? Don’t get excited – it’s the same old story. Nobody remembers what happened yesterday. And the things that will happen tomorrow? Nobody’ll remembers them either. Don’t count on being remembered.” All those ads that attract so much attention are intended to manipulate our basic desires with a total focus on self. This is not a new business. Men, this has being going on since the serpent offered the apple to Eve.
It is amazing how the ads have taken on a life of their own. In the years that I have been writing this blog, I watch the ads for insight on how the culture views the masculine. I have watched with a critical eye, knowing the ads industry is aware of how the masculine in viewed in society. In the recent past men have been portrayed in a rather condescending manner. Men live with the curse of Adam. “The very ground is cursed because of you; getting food from the ground will be as painful as having babies is for your wife; you’ll be working in pain all your life long” ( Genesis 3:18 – Message). The ad business makes this apparent by suggesting ways to relieve some of the pain.
Compared to other years, I was disappointed. They seemed to be more political in nature. The best one liner was from Mr. Clean,. “You gotta love a man who cleans.” I have been asking myself, “Why the change?” The advertising industry, which keeps its finger to the cultural wind, giving it a good read out on the mood of the nation, might be detecting a change. Could it be that the “anti-male” emphasis of the feminist movement has gone too far? I wonder. After all, for a culture to function as God intended, there has to be both the healthy male and female. As one observer noted, “The movement (feminist) has morphed into something that is less about equality and more about the oppression of the group who have historically oppressed women. Namely men.”
Could it be that we might be coming to a stalemate in the gender wars? Our culture desperately needs a healthy masculine presence. If this is to become a reality, I want to repeat what I have said often in this blog. Men are going to have do their “soul work” enabling them to become secure in their masculinity, so they can be both “strong and tender.” I say this in the light of the recent remarks of Hillary Clinton. “Despite all the challenges we face, I remain convinced that, yes, the future is female“. That phrase first appeared on a t-shirt back in 1975. It reappeared again in 2015. “The shirt,” noted a feminist, “is about a reaction to a misogynist and patriarchal culture that affects a lot of people. People are re-contextualizing it – trans-women, men and moms with sons.”
Men if we are ever going to break the stalemate we will need to have a servant heart expressed in love and humility. Paul reminds us of Jesus’ attitude. “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what” ( Phil 2:5-6 – Message). What matter is not our status as men, but our servanthood, especially toward women.