A summary of an article written by Stan Thornburg, Reedwood Friends Church in Portland, Oregon (“Evangelical Friend,” May/June, 1993).
Where are the safe males in this world? Where are the men to whom women can relate in absolute safety? Where are the men who don’t in their thoughts, preferences, or humor, objectify and degrade women?
What exactly is a safe male? I’m only just beginning to find answers. Let me share what I have learned so far, and perhaps you can take it from there.
First of all, a safe male is one who assigns worth to a woman on the basis of absolute value rather than relative value. A woman’s absolute value centers around her being a child of God, loved unconditionally by God, and given absolute value as a human being. A woman’s relative value centers around attributes such as body shape, color of hair, talents, traits, interests, personally etc. A safe male assigns worth on the basis of absolute value.
Second, a safe male is one who keeps his ego in check. He does not try to rescue women nor control women. He receives advice, counsel, instruction, even defeat from a woman as easily as from a man.
Third, a safe male is one who takes responsibility for his own sexual response. For some men arousal is license. Women are blamed if they dress, speak, walk, glance, or behave in any way that arouses a man’s sexual interest. That is as logical as blaming a rich man for getting mugged because he was wearing expensive clothes. Men are always responsible for their own choices.
Fourth, a safe male is one who listens to women—really listens. He strains to understand, empathize, identify, and to understand a woman’s perspective as she speaks. Such a man is much more likely to believe that “No thanks” means “No thanks.”
Fifth, a safe male works to separate emotional intimacy from sexual intimacy. Our culture intimates that emotional intimacy and shared love must find sexual expression to be fulfilled. It is the most destructive of lies. The truth is that we were made with the capacity to love many people. That love is best celebrated in deep friendship and loyalty without sexual expression. Scripture couches sexual expression in terms of permanent, monogamous commitment rather than romantic love.
Sixth, a safe male is one who has already made up his mind about his sexual ethics. I am often surprised to find men unable to answer the question, “Will you ever commit adultery?” with a firm “No!” Often the best they can do is, “I hope not,” or “not unless … ,” or “I don’t think so.” That tells me that many men hold a romanticized view of sexual intimacy and do not realize the deep pain, destruction, and permanent damage that adultery causes. It is never loving, never healing, never noble, never really flattering, never clean, never appropriate … never. It is always destructive, always degrading, always selfish … always. Either that or God is mistaken. A safe male has learned to love women in such a way that to involve them in inappropriate and sinful sexual behavior would be such an affront to their own respect of women and love of God that it is unthinkable.
Seventh, a safe male refuses to stereotype women in terms of their needs and responses. A safe male does not think in terms of “what women like” or “what women want.” Instead, a safe male realizes that each woman brings her own experiences and perceptions into a relationship and that what seems safe and good for one woman may be uncomfortable or threatening to another.
Eighth, a safe male is one who works to encourage safe and appropriate boundaries for women who for some reason have difficulty setting their own boundaries. I am thinking particularly of women survivors of sexual abuse. Many survivors have been conditioned to believe that all love is sexual and that their only value is as sexual beings. Often touch or hugs are frightening or confusing to survivors who are still trying to develop comfortable and appropriate boundaries. Men can be a positive force in healing by providing safe and consistent friendships to these women and by affirming their worth as individuals in ways that clearly have no sexual implications.
If you are still asking, “Am I a safe male?” Let me be a little more concrete. A man who pressures a woman to behave in a way that makes her uncomfortable if she is to feel loved or appreciated by him is not a safe male. A man who encourages a woman to move to a new level of intimacy based on a false assumption about his commitment to her is not a safe male. A man who compares or discusses, or addresses a woman in such a way that suggests her value is primarily in her beauty, or sexual availability is not a safe male. A man who entertains sexual fantasies about his female friends or colleagues is not a safe male. A husband who requires his wife to move beyond her level of comfort to keep or gain his love is not a safe male. A husband who intimates that his love for his wife rests on her attractiveness or performance is not a safe male. A husband who publicly ridicules (even in joking) his wife or her appearance is not a safe male.
Let’s follow in Christ’s footsteps regarding our actions and attitudes toward women. Only then can we reach our potential as men and provide a community that is truly safe for our wives and daughters.
A lot of good stuff in here
At first my wife wasn’t sure about me opening the door for her, because she didn’t want it to make her feel like it was implying she was weak. But she decided that my desire was to honor her in a gentlemanly way, and not belittle her, so she came ‘round.
I have only ever wanted, and am now married to, the one on the right!!
My woman also fails to appreciate my witty comebacks
“Every woman you see, in her kitchen or wherever else, has a secret action heroine in her; just wait till something happens to her children or husband, then you’ll see it.”
Found out about this and had to make a thing about it.
One step forward, two steps back.
Come on, DC. I’m trying to root for you here, but seriously.
This is lame. Superheros are much more engaging if they are believable, and I can’t believe that any woman would fight crime in the outfits they are always drawn in.
A woman doesn’t need to show a lot of skin in order to be sexy… If she’s bad-ass enough, she could wear a burka and we’d still love her.
The one-dimensional appeal to my sex drive in order to get me to read your comics is not only an insult to my gender but also to the content of your comic.
You’re Lovely…. But Evil!
true of all women
CVS has the right idea.
Women have it hard. There’s so much pressure to look good. But… eww
Yeah we is.