Tuesday, June 19, 2012

P4E.241 Chauvinism - 3 of 4

The third obstacle in the relationship between a human and a horse that Pat Parelli tells us about is chauvinism. Chauvinism is an exaggerated, bellicose, unreasonable belief in the superiority of and partisanship towards one's own group. So, whether it's humans and horses or the French and the English or men and women, the one thinks they're better than the other. You might think, "Chauvinism? Really? In this day and age? This is the 21st century!" But, when it comes to human nature, things don't readily change. Notice that humans are the common element. 

Now, to the point of this blog, Christian husbands and their marriages. It, unfortunately, cannot be denied that Christianity has a history of male dominance over women. Seen in a certain light, Christianity, Judaism and Islam all share a paternalistic and in some ways misogynistic history. In his book, Male Chauvinism! How It Works, Michael Korda says that chauvinistic men believe “that women are to be bullied, or humored, or charmed, or ignored.” Do we men start out any given day saying to ourselves, "I'm going to bully my wife today"? No, but does it happen? Yes, it does.

Chauvinism can be subtle to us men, though the women in our lives are well aware of it. It is the vehicle that helps us to justify being served when we should serve. It is what allows us to put our needs, desires and values above those near to us. So, we watch the TV show that we want to watch. We go to the restaurant that we want to go to. We rest and let others do whatever work there is to be done because we are better and deserve to rest while others, less worthy, work.

Chauvinism is what drives the humor that you will sometimes hear even from the church pulpit. It goes like this, "You know those women. (Pastor rolls his eyes) Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em!" (laughter from the congregation) "You know we'll never understand them. They're from Venus and we're from Mars." (concurrence in the form of applause).

Sometimes to put ourselves first, we must denigrate others. ("That's women's work!") We put them down. We call them names. We figure out ways to believe that they are less than us and we are better than them. Chauvinism propels us to develop negative stereotypes about women. They're over-emotional, stupid, soft, weak, hysterical, gullible, bitchy and talk too much. Pornography is the ultimate example of male chauvinism.

The unique thing about humans among mammals is that we have the ability to examine our own behavior and decide to change it. A polar bear does not think to himself, "You know, all this fur makes my butt look fat. I think I'm going to skip on the next seal and eat some seaweed instead." An ape does not say to himself, "I've been losing my temper a lot. That's not good for me or those around me. I'm going to enroll in an anger management class." But, we humans can and do perform self-examination and can act to change. However, we also have the ability to ignore our own behavior, and just act naturally.

Our belief in Christianity compels us to let our light so shine before men (more specifically, our wives) that they feel attracted to the One behind the universe. We are encouraged to let them know we are Christians by our love. This means we must be open to being changed by God. To allow Him to work on our hearts. And, finally, to fly solo and love like Christ in the form of self-sacrifice.

And, that is why I continually pray, "God help me."


  1. To me, you seem so very rare among men. Why is that?

  2. Charis, It's because I'm getting old and closer to death, so I'm trying to butter God up at the last minute into letting me through the Pearly Gates!