Sunday, January 20, 2008

EMB: Storytime and Some Disorganized Ranting About Their Other Books

Every Man's Battle: ch 3, pp 23-25

Fred and Steve share the tragic stories of five men
with us in order to warn us of the dangers of setting out to write a book on a subject when you have not done ample research and have to fill up empty space with several personal stories where only two or three would suffice.

Thad - a guy recovering from drug dependency at a local Christian ministry:
"I want to be free, but I'm becoming frustrated and angry with the church. The Bible says women should dress modestly, but they don't. The women soloists are always wearing the latest, tightest fashions. I look at them, but all I see are curves and legs. You know, that one who always wears the slit way up the thigh? That thigh flashes with every step she takes. I just get enraged! Why do they make it worse?"
I've got to start attending church more often. Now I just want to mention that Fred and Steve are a lot of things, but they are not inconsiderate male-chauvinist pigs who place 100% of the blame on women wearing immodest clothing. I mean, just look at what he wrote about the Rebelution Modesty Survey:

Who can blame the girl who throws up her hands and snaps, I’m through worrying about this modesty thing! Their eyes are their problem, not mine! I certainly can’t blame them as long as we are being so lazy about it ourselves. We must take care of our own responsibilities first by disciplining our eyes and our minds to line up with scripture if we expect our women to line up in modesty. We are men. We must lead in all this.

And that is what I love about the Modesty Survey. It allows guys to take some responsibility and leadership. We can honestly help train our sisters in Christ about where those boundaries lie and, hopefully, as we think through the issue ourselves, we can begin to stand up as men by joining the Rebelution against low expectations.
(emphasis mine)

If anything, Fred and Steve are Sensitive New-Age Male-Chauvinists who place approximately 40-60% of the blame on women.

Howard -a Sunday-school teacher, who describes for us "a life-changing event in junior-high" (aren't they all):
"I was walking home, and Billy and I stopped by the store to pick something up to drink. I didn't really like Billy, but I felt sorry for him. He didn't have many friends, and he was trying hard to make some. On the way to the store, he told me about something called masturbation. I'd never heard that word, and he explained what it was. He said all the guys had been experimenting."

Well, it's not really that much of a surprise that Billy didn't have many friends.

Howard: So, what flavor of soda do you want?


"I couldn't get what he told me out of my mind, so that night I tried it. I haven't gone for more than a week without masturbating for over fifteen years now!"

Here Fred and Steve present masturbation as a trap that men fall into in their teen years, brought on by the evil "flip-side" of puberty. The problem with this is that there are those of us, both men and women, that start masturbating even younger, without even "learning" about it from others. In her The Alchemy of Love and Lust: How Our Sex Hormones Influence Our Relationships, in the chapter dealing with stages in sexual development (ch 2, pg 24-27), Dr Theresa Crenshaw writes:

Parents tend not to understand that children are very much sexual beings from birth; and those who see the sexual dynamics clearly usually don't know how to deal with them constructively. Both sexes masturbate, sometimes in the most embarrassing places -in the grocery cart in full view or in church alongside Grandma. Little boys have erections on and off throughout the night, and more often than not, each time you change their diaper. The original Kinsey Report, written in 1948, describes men who recall experiencing orgasms before the age of five, even though they could not yet ejaculate. Young girls discover sexual pleasure sliding down poles on jungle gyms, or from strategic maneuvering around a Jacuzzi jet...


It is important to note that sexuality among children is different rummaging in the trash or shoving a stick in a gopher hole. It is sexual. They become aroused. In fact, it feels so good they would do it a lot more if they weren't discouraged. But don't confuse a normal child's quest for arousal with sexual exploitation. The sexual abuse of children by children is not uncommon, particularly as young boys achieve puberty. Both sexes can be terrorized by those intent on exploiting them.

From reading a section titled "Watch for Early Sexualization" on pages 91-95 of Preparing Your Son for Every Man's Battle, it appears to me that Steve Arterburn believes that "sexualization" is something that is happens to children as a result of outside influence. Here I will post some brief snippets so you can get the gist, but keep in mind that the thing about Preparing Your Son is that despite containing good advice, it is still an Every Man book and is therefore still serves as an ample source of lulz:

With our society saturated with sexual imagery and content, your job is to protect your children from as much of it as possible. Here are some suggestions for protecting your children from early sexualization:

Do Not Allow Them to See Movies With Explicit Sexual Content
Younger children should be prevented from seeing sexually provocative movies, even when they are not explicit. You cannot depend on Hollywood's standards.

I like the way guys like Fred and Steve here talk about "Hollywood" and "Hollywood's standards" as if entire city had some sort of Council of Nicea-style meeting in Mann's Chinese Theater to decide what all the writers, directors, actors, and producers believe.

For instance, the PG-rated Runaway Bride has no nudity, but the film has plenty of sensual joking that is out of place for Christians in light of Ephesians 5:4. How many sexual fires has Julia Roberts kindled by playfully teasing that she'd already "charmed the one-eyed snake" long before marriage.

He used Runaway Bride as an example? Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released in 1988 and was rated "PG" despite containing scenes like this one and Steve Arterburn is harping about Runaway Bride's protagonist using a metaphor to indicate that she is not a virgin?

It's a shame that doesn't have emoticons, because I could really use a "crapping your pants in laughter" one right now. Guess I'll have to do with the next best thing:

Fred and I are appalled at the number of parents who allow their kids to see PG-13 movies that would have been R-rated just ten years ago.

And I'm appalled to see you -Steve, someone offering psychiatric help to hurting people in the name of Christ, using and promoting a quack therapy that a stock-broker pulled out of his ass as a way of disguising his compulsive sexual-obsession as Christian morality (more on that in later entries).

Okay Steve, I'll keep in mind that what you guys mean by that "God's standard" you're always harping on about is the MPAA's ratings standard for a PG film ten years ago. I guess this means I have to wait ten years after it comes out in theaters before it's okay with Jesus for me to see The Dark Knight.

Watching such films reinforces the idea that in boys that women are objects for men to use. Taken to its extreme, such behavior can also plant the idea that boys themselves are objects for men to abuse. The leap from one to the other is not far.

I just want to point out that I did not remove any text between this and the quote above it, you are reading that in context. Steve Arterburn just said that a teenager (I'm assuming that the age of the kids watching the film are between 13 and 17 because "PG-13" mean roughly "13+") watching a PG-13 movie "that would have been R-rated just ten years ago" (never mind what specifically is in the film: story, plot, message ect.) will get the idea that it's okay to sexually abuse women and perhaps even boys.

Yeah, it set off my bullshit alarm too.

Heck, even a seven-year old could watch something rated PG-13 and not get that message. Keep in mind I'm not saying that PG-13 movies that "reinforce the idea" that women and little boys are sex-objects for men to use can't exist, but of all the PG-13 films I've seen, I can't remember one where sexual abuse of women was portrayed as okay (maybe if they took one of those Japanese cartoon-pornos and edited it so it could be aired on TBS).

Keep in mind I'm not saying that I think that parents should let their kids watch anything and everything; I do believe that a kid being exposed to something he or she is not ready for can have negative effects, but not because it sexualizes him or her. Parents need to put things into context and decide what's best for their kid; the "PG" stands for "Parental Guidance" people. Once again, I am merely a ranting humorist, not a shrink or expert in any way. Moving on.

I find Arterburn's protestation that seeing PG-13 films can cause boys to view women as sex objects ironic, considering how in chapter 20 of Stoeker and Arterburn's Every Man's Marriage,* the author (I can't tell if it is Fred or Steve speaking as it doesn't say) goes into a weird passive-aggressive rant on how husbands own their wives' bodies and that women are sinning when they say things like "Oh, I'll bet you're going to want sex again tonight! I'm going to bed before you get home, so don't wake me up and ask for it." and "I'm so tired. Let's hurry up, okay?"**

Steve also gives us this tidbit of advice:

Train Their Eyes
If you are always pointing out certain body parts of attractive women ("Get a load of those -----!")

"Tracts of land"?

you will be stirring up things inside them. You will be feeding their budding interest in sex rather than helping them understand and manage it. Instead of indicating that women are a collection of attractive body parts, help them to look at what a young woman or girl is like on the inside.

Huh huh huhhuh, he said "look at what a girl is like on the inside."

"That's right, religiously conservative and sexually prudish parents who have purchased this book because you read on the back-cover that this book can help your son 'overcome temptation' brought about by 'the sexual onslaught of their culture', don't point at women's chests and shout 'TITOLE BIGGIES!' and then proceed to mimic cunnilingus using your index and middle-fingers. I also can't mention enough how important it is not ask your seven-year old son to smell your fingers after you engage in intercourse. And if you are going use a fried chicken breast to teach your son how to orally-satisfy a woman, at least try to maintain his purity as long as possible by waiting until the day before his wedding."

When young men react to women as complete, honorable creations of God, the chance for early sexualization diminishes.

Uh, no. Children are already "sexual" (biologically, even before puberty kicks-in), they will just learn to respect women and their ownership and agency of their own bodies. That is, unless they are given a cheesy piece-of-crap marriage counseling book with such a collection of such godly homespun wisdom as: "Your wife did forsake her individual freedom in clinging to you, believing you would provide love and strength" (Every Man's Marriage, pg 135), "We're one flesh, so our sin in fact becomes her sin!" (pg 223), "A wife has no right to hold back sexual fulfillment from her husband. If yours does, she's robbing you." (pg 238), and "No wonder we lead such mediocre lives where women take control of their own bodies and husbands are 'forced' to masturbate." (pg 241). Dear God! I think there might actually be men working in the pornography industry that have more respect for women than these guys do!

Stand Guard Against Molestation
I never dreamed that this one would have to be one of my major goals as a parent, but it is.

"I always thought I would be one of those parents that sell their kids' bodies on the street for crack-money."

But seriously though, Steve is spot on here. Molestation does harmfully affect children.

You must talk to your children about this, but you must also help them avoid situations where molestation could occur. The impact of this level of sexualization is lifelong,

So close. Molestation does not "sexualize" the child (God-willing there's a semantics mix-up going on here that can explain all this, but I just don't know), it negatively affects the child's sexual, emotional, and psychological development; resulting in depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, re-victimization in adulthood, and other negative effects (check out this piece by the American Psychological Association for more info).

and your vigilance is worth the trouble, especially considering the research reveals that a good percentage of homosexual behavior begins with early male-to-male sexual abuse.

"Yeah sure, child molestation's negative effects include depression, sexual dysfunction, relational anxiety, guilt, suicidal thoughts, and the tendency to hurt children as an adult, but that's not important. What's important is OMG YOUR SON'LL BE GAY AND HE'LL WEAR CHAPS AND WATCH SEX IN THE CITY WHILE DRINKING MARGARITAS AND SUCK AT SPORTS LIKE BASEBALL AND FOOTBALL AND PENISES!!!!"

Sorry, Steve, but according to the American Psychological Association what Fred and Steve said there about child-molestation turning boys gay is, well, let me just allow the good Dr Cox to explain:

What causes Homosexuality/Heterosexuality/Bisexuality?
No one knows what causes heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. Homosexuality was once thought to be the result of troubled family dynamics or faulty psychological development. Those assumptions are now understood to have been based on misinformation and prejudice. Currently there is a renewed interest in searching for biological etiologies for homosexuality. However, to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality. Similarly, no specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse. Sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual.
(emphasis mine)

Also notice how Arterburn does not tell us exactly how much this "good percentage" is. But then again, Steve Arterburn might have read the that somewhere but have had must have had trouble finding the exact numbers. I mean, it's not like he's in a profession that provides therapeutic counseling services to people where such information is important. Oh wait, he's the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries. Oh well, I guess he had to leave it out to make room for one of Fred Stoeker's tortured football analogies.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, Every Man's Battle.

Joe- A fan of women's sports who has dreams that involve hot nekkid chicks volleying his balls:

"Heavy with guilt, I wonder where my wife is, sure she has left me over this affair and wondering how I could have done such a thing. Finally, as the cobwebs clear, it slowly dawns on me that it was just a dream. But even then I feel uneasy. You want to know why?"

I'm guessing it's because you were raised and/or indoctrinated into a sub-culture where sexuality was vilified, causing you to feel immense guilt for natural and involuntary sexual functions like erotic dreams.

"Because while I know it was just a dream, I'm not certain it wasn't some form of adultery."

In one of my dreams I saved my 1st-grade elementary school from a T-Rex by using shooting lightning at it from a magical popsicle-stick. By your logic, I deserve a parade.

Wally- who is afraid of hotel rooms because, well, they allow you to order movies like Co-Ed Slumberparty, Naughty Nuns 3: The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and Forrest Gump:
"I'm flooded with lustful thoughts and desires. I stare wide-eyed at the ceiling. I see nothing, but I literally feel the bombardment, the throbbing desire. I have no way to get to sleep, and its killing me. So I say 'Okay, I'll masturbate, I'll have peace and I can finally get to sleep.' So I do and guess what? The guilt is so strong I still can't get to sleep. I wake up totally exhausted in the morning."

And you should feel guilty for committing the sin so horrible that God didn't mention it in the Bible as it would give us ideas.

And then there's John, who whacks off to exercise vids. But enough about that, lets move on.

These men are not weirdos but your next door neighbors, your fellow workers - even your in-laws. They are you. They are Sunday-school teachers, ushers, deacons. Even pastors aren't immune.

You know, in hindsight, maybe I shouldn't be so negative about Every Man's Battle. I mean, I'm pretty sure that these guys can receive the help they need by paying over a thousand bucks so that Fred and Steve can guilt them for watching Forrest Gump.

EDIT: I want to apologize to Steve Arterburn for what I wrote about his criticism of PG and PG-13 programming.

Clearly he was in the right and I was in the wrong.

*I picked up the book on my Christmas break. I know, I feel horrible.

**Their words, not mine (Every Man's Marriage, pg 238). I also want to bring attention to the fact that the rant occupies pages 237-242. A five page rant. But -once again focusing on the positive- keep in mind that they also warn the man not to be inconsiderate of the needs of his fragile, dependent, little wife (pg 247):

She [the wife] must open her most intimate private place to a man who not only has kept her from blossoming in marriage, but who has picked on her weaknesses and selfishly asserted his rights at every turn. This person sounds more like a prison guard than a husband, which means sex can feel disturbingly close to being raped by a prison guard. After all, she has no right to say no, and the guard enters frequently at his whim and pleasure. So when our wives are asked to submit their bodies to us, God knows He's calling them to do something that may be brutally difficult for them. As a husband, it's your job to make sex easier for her by building oneness with a bondservant's heart.
(emphasis mine)

I agree the Fred& Steve here. Ladies, if a your husband "builds a bondservant's heart" by following the advice of Fred and Steve in Every Man's Marriage, sex won't be like getting raped by a prison guard. It will be like blowing a prison guard that smuggles in drugs and smokes for you.

What an age we live in. A man can go to an erotic boutique and pick up a book on how to please both you and your partner in bed that was written by some fornicating heathen feminist, or he can go to a Christian bookstore and pick up a book written by a Pure, Godly, wife-honoring Christian man on how to make sex feel less like rape to his wife.


Anonymous said...

the last sentence made me lol hard. Cheers, keep up the good work.

Geds said...

So, uh, you get the impression that they're kind of pissed about the whole feminism thing because they think that if they didn't own their wives they'd never get any? It's got to be a lot easier to force the wife to give it up in the name of god than to actually, y'know, give her a reason to want to have sex.

Something tells me you won't be reviewing a chapter on that topic at any point in the near future. I mean, except for the prison guard rape stuff...

The Cynic Sage said...

Hey Geds.

As I said before, I don't think that Fred and Steve are cruel, burtish, Male Chauvunists; I think they are Sensitive New-Age Male Chauvunists.

EMM is a pretty weird book when you look at how it is written. Most books on marriage are written for both sexes but EMM appears to be written predominately for the men to read (except for the odd part and Brenda Stoeker's (who has a writing style very similar to Fred's, IMHO) creepy "Open Letter to Wives" to guilt them into putting out more (and implies an importance to faking interest and perhaps even orgasm to keep him from "feeling like a little boy depending on mommy to give" him "candy" (EMM pg 277)) on the.

The weird thing about that in the book they tell they reader that as a man they own their wife's body, then guilt him for acting like he does. It's like the book was written by a Christian marriage counselor version of Gollum.

"Weeses are heads of households, wife is help-meet!"

"Wifey is master, weez have no rightseses."

"But nots in a way where she gets final say. We is chief-tiebraker, we gets final say. We is captains of marriage."

"But weez must only be chief-tiebreaker at right moments, not trampling her essence."

"But if weez have higher 'Spiritual tempurature' than wife, weez can take charge. To gets higher 'Spiritual Tempurature' man must be betters than woman at worship, forgiveness axing, and Bibles trivia BECAZ HE IS LEADER!"


In some way, it's like there's some part of them that want to treat women properly, but they are afraid that if they treat women as equals the marriage will explode or catch fire or something.

I might do a riffing of the rant at some point in the future, but not anytime soon.

The Cynic Sage said...

Just edited the entry.

Rachel said...

If that isn't enough to put someone off marriage. *crawls away to be sick*

Geds said...

But nots in a way where she gets final say. We is chief-tiebraker, we gets final say. We is captains of marriage.

One of my close friends is about to get married to a girl who went to the fundie church I grew up in. He was Catholic, but then "converted" (or whatever) to the Baptists, which I now see as a downgrade. Their marriage counselor is my old high school youth pastor. I lost a lot of respect for him when I found out that at the very first session (first time the pastor/friend ever met), my pastor was already trying to convince them to start having kids immediately because, "You wouldn't want to tell god to delay your blessings."

My friend and his fiancee think that's a load of B.S. But whenever the topic of who's in charge comes up, he'll talk about how he wants her to be able to make decisions and whatnot, but when push comes to shove, he's the man and the man has to be the one who makes the tough decisions. No matter what I do I can't get him to realize that's an inherently misogynistic stance and it's pretty stupid to boot.

My friend has never read any of the Every Man's... books, but I'd be willing to bet my old youth pastor and any number of the various Baptist/fundie types he's known have. Of course, you don't actually have to read those books or even know about them to get that sort of attitude in certain circles of Christianity. It's part of the reason I left.

Lord DoomRater said...

Oh, and if you think you can stomach the content in the documentary "This Film is Not Yet Rated", the guys do some research... I mean stalking of MPAA people to find out who's on the board, while simultaneously comparing similar content videos to each other and trying to figure out why they got the ratings they did.