Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pepper Spray

Bede Jarrett said, " “The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn’t angry enough.”

Lately, I've been angry with men. I've been scared of men. I've been angry at the world as it is. A world full of rape, murder, crime, and violence. I've spent much of this last semester overwhelmed by reading assignments about rape, or class discussions about violence. I've listened to presentations about sex slavery. Two weeks ago Kirsten Wolcott, a student missionary on Yap was stabbed and left for dead. All around me I've been seeing the world from a dull, hopeless perspective in which it feels like men are causing all the problems. Afterall, it isn't women filling up our jails.

So I sat down--like a good product of therapy--and journaled to sort out my feelings. I started by seeking to define who I was really mad at. Is it all men? Or some men?

I made a list of all the good, wonderful, brave men in my life. People like: my dad, Mr. Blake, Ben Barber, Troy Beans, Doug Tallman, Jim Moon, Roger Walter, Kevin Binder, and many more. Men I trust. They aren't perfect, but they intentionally make decisions to be good men.

Then, I made a list of all the men I have spent a lot of my life fearing. Men? No, more like boys. Boys who, in 5th grade, asked me if I masturbated and if they could watch. Boys who taught me about oral sex and erections, who licked their lips when they looked at me. Boys who undressed me with their eyes and treated me like an object, an item, a pretty face, a nice body. To these boys I was not a soul, I was just something to look at. High school boys who hit on me and made me worthless for anything more than my appearance. In making this list I realized that most of the boys on this list were from my years in 5th grade through high school. Hmmm...interesting.

Two of these so-called "men" were Matt and Casey. Around my freshman year of high school, a friend and I would go to the rec center to work-out and hang-out at the pool. Matt and Casey were funny and friendly guys we met in the hot tub one time. They were in their mid-20s and we were no more than 15. They invited us over to Matt's house one Friday night. I resisted, but she really wanted to go. She would've gone alone I'm sure, but I wanted to protect her even though I was terrified to go.

We lied to our parents. We had friend with a driver's license drop us off at Safeway, where Matt and Casey said they'd pick us up. I felt like a hooker waiting to be picked up that evening. They drove us to Matt's house on a lake outside of town. They talked and joked, they pressured us to go skinny dipping with them. I went along to protect her, but watched uncomfortably from the shore. I remember being left alone with Matt, while she and Casey disappeared.

"Why are you so tense?" he asked. "Just relax. We just want to have a good time." (Is this not the script for every manipulative male you've seen in movies?)

I wanted to scream. I wanted to run. I wanted to cry. I wanted my dad to show up, with a gun, and rescue me. I wanted to strangle my "friend" for pressuring me into this. I remember coming up with some excuse for why I needed to leave and encouraged her to come with me. Matt and Casey were not happy. That night, as I slipped into bed, I thought: Never again. Never will I let myself be put in a situation where men can hurt me.

I've had too many experiences in my life that have taught me to fear men:
-watching the news: crime, child pornography, rape, abuse
-watching movies with violent, agressive men
-being warned in 3rd grade how to protect myself from men who want to "do bad things to me"

-being taught when I was young that if I got lost to seek out a woman, never a man
-being taught to carry my keys jutting between my fingers as brass knuckles
-being taught to watch for men under my car or in vans parked next to me in parking lots
-being warned of pretend cops who rape women and being terrified whenever I saw those blue and red flashing lights in my rear-view mirror at night
-hearing music lyrics by Blink-182, Eminem, and Limp Bizkit
-cat calls from men on the street
-Hugh Hefner
-the Jackass movies
-people who use "rape" or "wife beater" casually in jokes
-female genital mutilation

-people who say "boys will be boys" as an excuse for completely unacceptable behavior

-needing pepper spray
-brothels in Cambodia
-men in Cambodia
-assault in Cambodia

What are we teaching little girls about men? I was taught to fear men. I was told to keep looking over my shoulder since I was in kindergarten.

What makes some men attack women and some men protect them?
What makes some men seek war and other men seek peace?
What makes some men choose violence instead of using their strength for good?

Probably the same ugliness inside of me. The temptation to abuse my body versus respect it. The option to lie or tell the truth. The consideration of spreading the gossip about someone I dislike or resist and keep it inside.

What I want to blame on men, I have to consider lies within me too: sin. (I like the wordweb defintion as, "estrangement from god" whatever "god" is.) Our estrangement from "god" or holiness or the Universe or abundant life. According to mine and Jeremy's definition, sin= our inability to see ourselves as God does. I believe God sees me as perfect. Sure, I've got some serious issues, but I'm loved no matter what. And when I forget that, I lose sight of what is good, what is right, what is sacred.

Emotions are not sins. Anger is not a sin. But what I choose to do with that anger can be. I want my anger to propel me to heal, to change, and to be different. To pave a new way. To create a better world one conversation, one interaction, one lesson at a time.


Carley Brown said...

When I wrote a paper my freshmen year in college, the question was something to the effect of 'how do you think the world could be a better place'

I wrote that the world would be a better place if there were better fathers. With better Fathers there would be better men, and since its a mans world, better men would make a big difference in how the world is operated.

Its sad how disgusting men are, and how horrible our world has become. I don't understand it.

Jim said...

Everybody used to tell me big boys don't cry
But I've been around enough to know that was the lie
That held back the tears in the eyes of a thousand prodigal sons
We are children no more we have sinned and grown old
But our Father still waits and He watches down the road
To see the crying boys come running back to his arms And be growing young

--Rich Mullins

I would certainly agree... the problem with men is sin. It is that thing which ages them. Which robs them of their innocence. Which leads them to believe that intimacy can only be found with a woman rather than in the presence of God. But I guess I have to believe that there is a pure, healthy, and child-like intimacy with my Heavenly Father that can unleash in my marriage the pure, tender, and caring kind of intimacy that both my wife and I long for.

Prayer: O God, make me like a child again. Let me run home to Jesus. O God, forgive every man who has ever brought fear to the heart of a woman. Break their hearts til they are little boys again. And let them run home too. Let me run with them. For you and I both know there are times when my anger and rage have left my family reeling. But I thank and praise You, that you bring healing. I thank and praise You that You are blessing me with gentleness.

PS: HB, here's the words to a little song I wrote before my eldest son was born. Little did I know they would be prophetic. Little did I know I would need Jesus to make gentleness blossom in my life. I believe it's happening. But it's been a journey. A long journey. My son, is now 8:

A Gentle Man
copyright 2000
by Jim Moon

You could have come a conquering King
With brazen sword and fire in Your eyes
But instead you choose swaddling clothes
Infant flesh, and gentleness

Your a gentle man in all your ways
with gentle hands and a tender face
Compassionate eyes and a loving heart
Truly You are, a gentle man

Oppressed and afflicted, You did not speak
but like a lamb ever meek
With nails in Your hands, and thorns on Your head
You remained, a gentle man

Your a gentle man in all your ways
with gentle hands and a tender face
Compassionate eyes and a loving heart
Truly You are, a gentle man

O Gentle Man you've blessed me
with an infant child of my own
but how can You be seen
if my heart is not Your home

So gentle man, take my life
My hardened heart, my stubborn pride
and with one touch of Your healing hand
make of me a gentle man

chorus 2:
Make a gentle man in all my ways
with gentle hands and a tender face
compassionate eyes and a loving heart
that my baby might be...
Your gentle man.