**Warning – I know most of you are over the age of 18, but if by chance you aren’t, it’d be great to let your parents read this first to see if they’re okay with you reading what I say***
I’m not a huge fan of romantic comedies. I used to inhale Christian romance novels, see the latest chick-flick, and dream of being Allie from “The Notebook.” As I got older and there was no dashing prince to sweep me off my feet, I started to become disillusioned by men. Granted – holding any man in general let alone high school boys to a standard of the heros in romance novels is unfair at best. I also started to become very aware of how affected my guy friends were by the porn industry. I naively assumed Christians were exempt from struggling with it. More of my Christian guy friends started confessing their struggles with porn and lust. It shocked me as well as my female friends. However, one of them pointed out truthfully, the fantasy in porn fills a need in men that chick flicks fill a void in women. My world was rocked. As I processed through more of that statement, I realized how true it was. Chick flicks, romance novels, and the like have become a female version of pornography. It sets an unrealistic expectation in the minds and hearts of young women. The majority of the time, our desires are not fulfilled through shirtless men, the most ruggedly handsome guy we see in a magazine, or the idea of seeing our boyfriend in a swimsuit. Our longings are filled through the words we long to hear, that we are beautiful. At some point in the movies, books, or magazines, these men affirm our worth through a character. They say all the right things even when they don’t and do all the right things even when they don’t. Realizing the vulnerable nature of my heart, I started becoming more protective of the movies I watch and the books I read. It becomes a temptation to escape into the fantasy of a character who usually is imperfect but ends up getting the girl. It’s not often that the most attractive, rich, well educated man gets the girl. It’s usually the underdog. Why? Because to women, it doesn’t matter as much. The majority of women would rather be told they’re lovely and special, then be given the security of a wealthy man. We are wired differently and Hollywood has recognized that. They have capitalized on an acceptable form of porn. As a woman who loves the Lord and wants to offer the wholeness of her purity, I have to be incredibly careful what I allow into my brain. It is rough for men today to be men. We don’t let them. They are bombarded with sexual images just going to the grocery store. We as women need to take a stand and help our men be men by setting them up for the win. I want the men in my life to feel proud of themselves when they go out of their way to affirm or honor me. I don’t want to hold them to a standard they most likely won’t reach. It’s the same as when I get so frustrated that they can’t see past the fact that I don’t have perfectly toned muscles, no wrinkles, and nothing that jiggles. Because those women don’t – and they set me up for a fail. They set me up to never fully fulfill a man’s expectations of what a woman should be. She takes away something special from my relationship, just like I let a man in a romance novel take away something from my relationship. I’m not ragging on chick-flicks or trying to make anyone feel guilty for watching them. I’ve just realized in my few years that the over-indulgence of anything never leads to a healthy lifestyle. All that being said, I think some quotes from M. Knight Shamalayn’s movie “The Village” does a beautiful job of describing our (women, and me included) attempt at leading relationships and setting unrealistic expectations.
Ivy Walker: When we are married, will you dance with me? I find dancing very agreeable. Why can you not say what is in your head?
Lucius Hunt: Why can you not stop saying what is in yours? Why must you lead, when I want to lead? If I want to dance I will ask you to dance. If I want to speak I will open my mouth and speak. Everyone is forever plaguing me to speak further. Why? What good is it to tell you you are in my every thought from the time I wake? What good can come from my saying that I sometimes cannot think clearly or do my work properly? What gain can rise of my telling you the only time I feel fear as others do is when I think of you in harm? That is why I am on this porch, Ivy Walker. I fear for your safety before all others. And yes, I will dance with you on our wedding night.
The delivery of these lines in the film are poignant. Ivy is simple and carefree but also strong and independent. Lucius is a quiet man in love with a blind woman (Ivy) who loves to speak her mind and take a stand. These simple remarks made without malice or manipulation lead Lucius to decide he’s had enough. Because, let’s be honest, deep down inside, below all the feminist “I am woman hear me roar” BS, we desperately want a man strong enough to lead.
Ladies – my challenge to you is to take stock of the movies and books you’re feeding your mind and heart with. Does it set your future or current husband up for a win? He won’t ever be Edward Cullen, or Noah, or Mr. Darcy. But you CAN help him be the best version of himself. What more could you want?
Men – help us. Help us encourage you to be MEN. Admit if you’re struggling with porn and realize that you’re stealing our self worth by looking at other women. It’s not harmless. You are hurting your future or current wife. Once you start admitting and walking through it, the darkness no longer has control. Don’t be ashamed. Allow men in your life to hold you accountable. You’re doing the manly thing by working through that. And we will respect you for that above anything else.
So there’s my soapbox. Thoughts? Disagreements? Complaints?