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A post where I get a little Derek Webb with my vocab

May 26, 2011

A friend of mine who knows I have an interest in such things sent me a link to Tim Challies’ post questioning Rachel Held Evans’ post about women and beauty entitled Thou Shalt Not Let Thyself Go.  Evans makes the case that several well-known pastors are contributing to the pressures women face to stay young and trim and chesty and all that.  Challies contends that those leaders aren’t actually that shallow, and that there is some merit to the idea that women, in particular, should keep themselves up. (Challies asserts at one point that men should likewise remain desirable to their mates, but that’s one statement in about a hundred asserting that it’s women’s duty to do so.)

My friend asked for my opinion, and being a woman of few opinions (wink, wink), I bit.  I read Challies’ post and can summarize it thusly: the Freudian nightmare that is John Eldredge-theology strikes again.  I replied to my friend over email and I thought I’d share it with you:

Okay, I’m starting from ad hominem here because I think Mark Driscoll has proved himself to be a total [Becky-censored: troll under the bridge] on these subjects and I think it’s ridiculous for Challies to come to his defense when Driscoll consistently uses female terms to shame men.  That said, I generally find Tim Challies to be overly aggressive and underwhelming in his analysis of some things (as I demonstrated when I reviewed his review of The Shack).

This is another case where men don’t “get it.” They don’t get the tyranny of the “beauty” industrial-complex.  They don’t get that standards of beauty vary by culture (a la weight, boob placement/bras, face waxing, body shaving, etc.) as do understandings of “hygiene” (I’ve heard Oprah’s pal Dr. Oz tell American audiences to stop wearing antiperspirant and even he didn’t make a dent in that norm).  Challies is trying to be a little more subtle than his peers, but he’s still echoing what they are saying and missing Rachel’s point in the process.  And why is he going out of his way to critique Rachel Held Evans?  Could it be because she’s in the progressive, I’d have Rob Bell to dinner, neo-feminist crowd?  Prolly.

I’m all for people staying healthy throughout marriage.  And I do think there’s a tendency to neglect that, especially for women, once kids enter the picture (my mom just started getting annual physicals LAST year because my grandmother’s passing freed her up from her 30-year care-giving role, and there are many stats that about women doing that kind of thing to themselves for the sake of the family).  But many of these guys are the first ones arguing we’re supposed to be mother-martyrs.  They don’t mind if throw ourselves on the altar mothering our kids until it starts to get in the way of us mother/whoring our husbands.

Where are the speeches and posts about how a man’s duty is first to his home?  And I don’t mean some Driscollian exhortation for “girly-men” become Daddy paycheck.  Why doesn’t just ONE of these goofs suggest men take care of their kids (not “babysit” them), so mom can go to the frikkin’ gynecologist without toddlers pulling at the stirrups.  I DARE them to say that.

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