As always, it would be petty to point out how petty this is.
As always, it would be petty to point out how petty this is.
I pointed out a few weeks ago that the concept of courtly love has thoroughly changed how we read stories like Gen 29 in the Bible. Where the Bible describes a very raw sexual passion, we see a modern romance story. For just one example of this, see Bible.org’s 4. Never Satisfied! – The Story of Jacob and Rachel. This piece is a chapter out of a 1978 book by Dr. Richard L. Strauss originally titled Famous Couples in the Bible. Long time readers will recall Dr. Strauss as the originator of the theology of Women as responders.
When a man claims that his wife doesn’t love him anymore he is unwittingly admitting that he hasn’t loved her as he should have.
Strauss has clearly had a huge impact on modern Christian thought about marriage, which explains why his ideas are still taught by Bible.org. Strauss’ teaching on Gen 29 comes straight out of the Book of Oprah, so it isn’t surprising that it is so well loved. Strauss frames Jacob as a sensitive new age guy who wasn’t afraid to express his emotions, unlike the brutes of the 1970s:
…“Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept” (Gen. 29:11). The emotion of the moment overwhelmed him. The miracle of God’s guidance and care, the thrill of meeting his pretty cousin, the prospect of what the future would hold—all of it filled his heart so full that he wept for joy. Our culture frowns on a man expressing his emotions like this, but honestly expressing one’s feelings might promote greater emotional health and greater marital stability.
Strauss continues, warning that Jacob’s expression of 1970s emotional vulnerability might not be enough to keep this marriage together. While an emotionally vulnerable husband is essential, for a marriage to last what is needed most is true love:
It seems as though this romance was off to a blazing start. The neighborhood beauty and the new boy in town had found each other. But from the beginning we are a little dubious about the match. We know that a relationship based primarily on physical attraction rests on a shaky foundation. Hollywood has given us some good evidence for that thesis. And the marital misfortunes of the proverbial football hero and homecoming queen bear it out too. They can make their marriage succeed, but it will take a little extra effort, and they will need to make their relationship grow far beyond the physical magnetism that got it started.
But when a man is enamored of a woman, he does not want to hear those things. He is going to have her, and nothing else matters. It was only one month after Jacob arrived in Haran that Uncle Laban approached him to see if they could work out a mutually acceptable wage arrangement. The Scripture says that Jacob loved Rachel and offered to serve Laban seven years for her hand in marriage (Gen. 29:18). He had nothing to offer Laban for his daughter, so his labor was promised in lieu of a dowry. Now we are even more dubious. One month is hardly sufficient time for us to get to know someone well enough to make a lifelong commitment, and it surely is not enough time to learn whether or not we are in love. True love requires thorough knowledge. To profess to love someone we do not know intimately is merely to love our mental image of that person. And if he does not measure up to our mental image, then our so-called “love” turns to disillusionment and resentment, and sometimes to hatred.
But Jacob thought he was in love. When Rachel was near, his heart pounded faster and a wonderful feeling swept over him. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes on, and he felt life without her would be worthless. That was enough for him. “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her” (Gen. 29:20). That is a remarkable statement. In fact, they are about the loveliest words ever penned of a man’s feeling for a woman. Seven years is a long time to wait, and I think Jacob really did grow to love Rachel during those years. The physical attraction was still there, but he could not live in such close contact with her through a seven-year engagement period and not learn a great deal about her, both good and bad. This marriage was to see hard times, but had it not been for this long engagement and Jacob’s deepening and maturing love, it probably would not have survived at all.
This perversion crept into our theology long ago, and no one seems to have noticed. One of the criticisms about my posts on courtly love has been that I’m making too much out of an 11th century literary movement. The problem is that these ideas have so thoroughly changed our thinking that they are now just how we see the world. We don’t think courtly love changed our thinking because we think the moral teachings of courtly love come from God, from the Bible.
However true that may seem on the onset, in reality, no man has the right to say that. Personal femininity is defined by each woman for herself and of herself; even if what’s staring at her in the mirror has developed a man face — five-o’clock shadow and all.
Even the seemingly gnarliest of females have an aspect of femininity. As long as she has a va-jay-jay and all X chromosomes, she could make a vintage cigar store Indian look like Cameron Diaz and somewhere in there is going to be a vestige of what makes her feel like a girl.
But the author’s greatest disgust is reserved for the men who find such women attractive:
Interestingly, there is a subculture that finds these extreme cases of masculinized women attractive and/or desirable. We tend to label these people “schmoes” — men who sexually fetishize female bodybuilders.
I used to look at these men in disgust for their perverse nature, booking private sessions for “posing” and “wrestling” and other general kinkiness. But, in respect to the female bodybuilders out there still intent on pushing the envelope, I’m going to change my mind.
These guys have shown their worth in saving some semblance of the upper echelon of female bodybuilding by putting their money where their whack-off lube is.
The disdain for schmoes is common in the industry. Even the women who dedicate their lives to being hugely muscular are disgusted by the kind of man who would find hugely muscular women attractive. From a Muscle Insider column Schmoes in Bodybuilding:
Go to any top bodybuilding show and hang out in the lobby near the female bodybuilders, and you’ll see them swarming around them like ants near a picnic basket! My first encounter with a schmoe was many years ago at a top bodybuilding contest. I was talking shop with a very muscular female pro bodybuilder who was in all the magazines at the time. All of the sudden she grimaced, tried to hide behind me, and cursed under her breath. Unfortunately, a schmoe had her in his sights and was making a beeline straight for her.
Even a post from femalemuscleblog trying to salvage the view of schmoes admits that schmoes are most commonly seen as disgusting for being turned on by women with large muscles:
The term schmoe is a term used describe hardcore fans of female bodybuilders. They should not be confused with other men who just likes muscular women. Schmoes like a certain type of muscular woman. They like the most muscular, strongest, and athletic woman. Although schmoes are fans of the female bodybuilding in particular, they also enjoy fitness, figure, bikini, and physique competitions. Feelings about these types of fans are divided in the fitness industry . Usually, the term has a negative connotation. Stereotypes range from schmoes being perverts, awkward, pathetic, fetishists, or men with some form of mental defect…
…The idea of schmoes being mentally disturbed is repeated constantly. Liking muscular women can hardly be described as a mental disorder. It would be ludicrous to say so.
When researching my recent posts I came across a 2013 blog post by “Word Warrior” Barry Jacobsen titled CHIVALRY IS DEAD, LADIES: AND IT’S (PARTIALLY) YOUR FAULT!
Jacobsen took the sinking of the Concordia as an opportunity to position himself as the only real man in the room (emphasis mine):
…I have led what most would consider an enviably active and adventurous life; leading some of my friends to call me the “REAL most interesting man in the world” (forget that aging Latin lothario!). So it is with some degree of authority and an even greater degree of disgust that I say: I am sickened by my fellow men today.
As a man raised by a WWII veteran with a strong sense of chivalry (particularly toward women), I am disgusted with what passes today for manhood. So many men are mere shadows of what their gender represented in generations past. Military service members excepted (which include an amazing collection of very fine young men) most men today aren’t fit to carry the water of the “Greatest Generation”, my father’s generation; much less the dauntless knights who originally defined “chivalry”.
Like Lowry, Jacobsen was deeply troubled that men evacuated alongside of women and children in Costa Concordia (emphasis mine):
But I was strongly reminded that by modern standards I am a veritable John Wayne compared to most men today; by what happen on 13 January 2012; when the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Tuscany.
When this occurred we were treated to the sickening sight of men elbowing women and children aside in their frantic, rat-like scurry for the life-rafts. When the first of these life boats arrived on shore, aid workers were expecting to see them filled with women and children. Right? Instead, they saw lots of burly Tony Soprano-wannabes accompanied by their well-dressed wives and “goomahs”!
After a few paragraphs explaining what a proper shipwreck should look like (the Titanic), Jacobsen gets back to how much better he is than other men:
When I look at today’s young men I see a bunch of pierced, tattooed, slovenly louts. These are not men: they are “manlings”. Boys that never grow beyond their toys.
A beautiful 29 year old acquaintance of mine complains that her husband spends much of his time at work (in his parents Real Estate business) playing online poker. He then comes home, eats the dinner she has prepared for him, and then flops down on his Lazy Boy and plays X-Box most of the night! Never mind that his very sexy wife has needs of her own. When he is too tired to continue playing, he goes to bed and passes out.
Not a man: a manling.
While Jacobsen desperately wants the ladies reading (including perhaps one very sexy married lady) to know that he is a real man unlike the man-lings they are wasting their time with, the point of the post is that women are partially to blame for the fact that other men aren’t as amazing as Jacobsen is:
But women must accept at least some of the blame for the current deplorable, degraded state of modern manhood.
Not to blame the victim here, but consider: Its women, after all, that raise men (all too often without a man in the house). It’s mostly young female teachers that teach our boys in their most formative years. And, ultimately, its women who accept and give themselves to “manlings”; rewarding thuggish, uncouth behavior by going out with and marrying such cretins.
Were women to choose wisely in their mates, picking the “nice guy” over the “bad boy”; then the old adage that “nice guys finish last” wouldn’t be so sadly true. Were women to demand that the men in their lives not treat them like slutty sex objects; but instead commit to them and family before mating, than many more boys would have involved fathers providing male role models in their lives.
Were mothers to raise boys to be gentleman with a sense of honor, they would grow up into men those mothers could be proud of.
Feminist politics, political correctness, and (most importantly) lack of male role models has left this generation of men with no clue how to behave as MEN!
The obvious part he leaves out is that women aren’t just making babies with sexy badboys who then don’t stick around. Very large numbers of women are marrying honest (but boring) men, having children with these men, and then kicking the men out of the home. How is it that Jacobsen hasn’t noticed this? Has he lived a sheltered life, away from the dysfunction of our modern family structure? How can he not see the anguish of good fathers having their children ripped away from them?
This brings me to Jacobsen’s bio page. According to his bio he is ex Special Forces, and likes to Live Action Role Play (LARP) as a medieval knight:
I’ve been a medieval combat reenactor for 35 years; and a Knight and Count within the Society for Creative Anachronisms since 1978 and 1980 respectively. It was within the Society that I formed the Spartan Warband in 2004, a national combat group that recreates the warrior culture of ancient Sparta.
While some men merely daydream about being a white knight, Jacobsen walks the walk and dresses up as one.
But this doesn’t explain how he hasn’t noticed that women are kicking good fathers out of the home. This is after all an epidemic. At the end of the bio we learn:
On a personal note, I have 3 amazing children (with two amazing ex-wives).
This of course leaves us with two options. Either Jacobsen is one of the man-lings who impregnate women and then either abandon them or are kicked out due to abuse, adultery, etc, or he has been cast out of his children’s lives for no good reason by not one but two “amazing” women.
My guess is the latter, since this would be most in line with his LARPing Sir Lancelot. Lancelot’s corrupted sense of honor lead him to cover for the crimes of an adulterous woman. The legacy of this corrupted sense of honor is all around us. Calling women to account is difficult, and feels terrible. While changing the focus to men allows a white knight to avoid what he fears while positioning himself as heroic. In this sense chivalry really is about protecting the weak, in the form of weak men protecting themselves. However, this self protection comes at the expense of both women (who are suffering due to a lack of moral leadership by men) and the truly weak and innocent, the children.
By way of Encyclopedia Titanica, the words of Titanic survivor Mrs. Emil Taussig as reported by the New York Times on April 22nd 1912:
“Only twenty women were near the boat, and these were put in. My daughter Ruth was among the first, but I said that I wouldn’t go if my husband did not accompany me. There was room for fourteen more after the last woman had found her place, and they all pleaded to let the men take the empty seats.
“But the Captain said that he would not allow it. I was frantic. There was that boat, ready to be lowered into the water and only half full. Then the order came to lower. The men were pleading for permission to step in, and one came forward to take a place next to his wife. I heard a shot and I am sure it was he that went down.
“Then the boat swung out from the deck. I was still with my husband, and Ruth had already disappeared below the deck. I gave a great cry—I remember perfectly calling out the name of my daughter—and two men tore me from my husband’s side, lifted me, one by the head and one by the feet, and dropped me over the side of the deck into the lowering boat. I struck on the back of my head, but I had furs on, and that fact probably saved me from greater injury.
“The terrible thing was that we had so much room left for the poor men who were snatched away…
According to the biographical page for Mr. Taussig on Encyclopedia Titanica, he did not survive.
Mr Taussig escorted his wife and daughter to a lifeboat (number 8) before standing back. He was lost in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.