you, sir, are wrong. {a response to “an open letter to rey”}

you, sir, are wrong.

I made the mistake of reading Nathan Alberson’s article, “An Open Letter to Rey” at Starbucks, around other people.  To say I was livid would be an understatement.  I wanted to punch something.  Thankfully, I read two responses to the article (Mirriam’s and Jennifer’s), and my anger calmed a little.

HOWEVER.  Because I can’t keep my opinions to myself… I’ve decided to write my own response.  Read it or don’t read it, but this is my personal opinion.  If it offends anyone, I’m sorry, but I’m not backing down.

OKAY.

First of all, I completely agree that men and women have different roles, both in society and in God’s eyes.  Usually, the men are the breadwinners and the women are the… oh, I don’t know, helpmeet-stay-at-home moms.  That’s how it was in my homeschool circles, and I thought it was completely right.  (I still kind of do, even though I’ve learned that there are ALWAYS exceptions to the “rule” or stereotype or whatever.)

NEVERTHELESS.  To put men and women in a box like Mr. Alberson did is a travesty and it’s completely and totally wrong.  Like Jennifer said, the lines between masculinity and femininity are rarely black and white.  I know plenty of girls (including myself) who would rather shoot a gun or get their hands dirty than sew anything, just like I know plenty of guys who like to bake and paint and – GASP – dance.

Sure, there are God-ordained roles for men and women to play, but to say that women are the weaker sex and therefore only suitable for the kitchen or taking care of the kids?

UM, HOW ABOUT NO.

The way I see it, men and women are equal.  Because of verses in the Bible that talk about submission, I totally agree that women should submit to their husbands (not all men, though).  But men have to submit to God’s authority, too, or else they’re abusing their God-given right to have authority (but not total authority) over women (which is why so. many. marriages – especially where both husband and wife are Christians – end up in the gutter).  (See Phylicia Masonheimer’s post on why Biblical submission is dangerous.)

Women aren’t meant to be only there for men to save and defer to their much smarter male lead.  Women aren’t meant to be “protection objects” or “damsels in distress.”  Women aren’t put on earth solely to be a man’s wife or have kids.  Women are not less.  A woman’s worth is NOT defined by men.

And if a woman’s worth is wrapped up in what a man thinks about her, she’s got some work to do.

Women are loved by God just as much as men, and designed by Him for specific purposes in mind – yes, for helping their husbands to raise godly children and being keepers at home, but if we’re going to tout the Proverbs 31 woman, we also need to acknowledge that she’s able to earn money and buy things that will further her income and be hospitable to people other than her husband and family.

And another thing.  These three paragraphs were especially incorrect.

Men lie to themselves and women about the sort of women they want. Women are gullible and believe the lie and become the women they think men want. Then men reject them because men never wanted those sorts of women in the first place.

How is this the woman’s fault?  I. Don’t. Understand.  Women shouldn’t change themselves for a man (because men aren’t worth it) and men shouldn’t reject women because they’re not “their type.”

And men do reject them. Look at the divorce statistics, look at the TV shows and books and articles by women desperately wondering why it’s so hard to hold on to a man. That’s a bigger problem than the purview of this letter, but you fictional female warriors are part of it.

Men rejecting women because there’s more to a woman than the pleasures of her body or her willingness to submit to his whims is wrong – and it certainly isn’t the woman’s fault.  “Fictional female warriors” are definitely part of it, but certainly not for the reason you imply.  (More on that later.)

So stop it. I’m nobody’s idea of Prince Charming, but let me do my little part to rescue you from yourselves.

SHOCKINGLY ENOUGH, MR. ALBERSON… NOT ALL WOMEN WANT TO BE RESCUED.  Rescued by God, sure, but by a fallen, sinning man?  No thank you.

(And I’m going to stop responding to specific phrases because it’s making me too mad.  I need to take a break.  Brb.)

So what’s Mr. Alberson’s point?  Why does he think that Rey and Katniss and Leia and Black Widow and River Tam have no destiny other than… what???  He doesn’t even give his readers the courtesy to explain what he thinks women in these movies should be doing instead of being the strong heroines that they are.

(The only thing he says is that women are put on earth to be rescued by men and that women having the indecency to be anything more than that “robs men of their dignity.”  How egotistical is that?!  Men and women were put on earth for many more reasons than to simply fulfill one another.  If a man or woman’s identity is wrapped up in what the opposite sex – or anyone else – thinks of them, they have some serious work to do on their true identity.  REVELATION: Maybe – just maybe – that’s why people are so unfulfilled???  Shocking, I know.)

Every. Single. One. of the women were pulled out of their comfortable environments by outside circumstances and into something greater.  Rey wanted to wait for her family to return for her.  Katniss didn’t want to be Reaped.  Leia didn’t want her planet to blow up.  Natasha didn’t want to work for the Soviet Intelligence.  River Tam wanted an education so she could help people.

These women were made stronger because of the complex circumstances they were pulled into.  They weren’t destined for what they wanted – they were destined for making their world a better place, even though they went through struggles and incredibly hard trials.

If Rey hadn’t been pulled into helping Finn escape the Alliance,  she wouldn’t have discovered the truth about her family or saved Finn’s life and helped the Resistance fight against Kylo Ren.  If Katniss hadn’t been Reaped, Panem wouldn’t have escaped the tyrannical rule of President Snow.  If Leia hadn’t been kidnapped by Darth Vader, she wouldn’t have known the truth about her family or met Han Solo or {eventually} become chief commander of the Resistance.  If Natasha hadn’t been tracked down by Clint because of her status as an assassin, the aliens would have overtaken earth and Tony probably would’ve died and so would Steve and Bucky and SHIELD/Hydra’s information would still be secret.  And don’t even get me started on River.

It’s so ironic that Mr. Alberson would pick all of these characters because the stories that they’re involved in would be so different if they were doing what they’d originally wanted to do.  (See the previous paragraph.)  They all pass the Blechdel and Sexy Lamp tests.  They’re strong, well-rounded, and important to the plot.

MUCH LIKE REAL-LIFE WOMEN.

In my opinion, the world needs more characters like this – characters that prove to women that they’re needed, wanted, and important.  This is why I write books with strong female leads.  Too many female characters in books and movies are whiny, one-dimensional, flimsy girls whose only purpose is to further the male lead’s storyline.  (See almost every action film ever, especially the highly-irritating Mission Impossible II.)

That’s what movies are telling girls, Mr. Alberson – that they’re unimportant and only suitable as pretty companions for the uber-ripped male lead.  And when directors make movies that tell girls anything other than that, they should be applauded, not condemned.

So, ladies, keep watching movies with strong female characters.  You weren’t put on earth to define a man’s dignity or satisfy him.  Guys, you could definitely benefit from it, too.  Women aren’t your playthings – they’re precious individuals made by a God who loves them dearly.  JUST LIKE YOU.

Ladies and gentlemen, your worth is found in Christ alone, and not what anyone else thinks about you.  You will never be satisfied until you discover that.

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31 thoughts on “you, sir, are wrong. {a response to “an open letter to rey”}

  1. Pingback: year in review: 2016. | inklings press

  2. Hey I know this is late, but I’ve been thinking about it for a while because it’s been bugging me so much. That one part where he’s all like “None of those passages have as their points that women are weak or unfit for certain manly responsibilities. It’s assumed. The book of Exodus doesn’t spend twelve chapters explaining why the parting of the Red Sea was a miracle—everybody knows how seas act. Nor does Jeremiah explain why warriors of Babylon are pathetic when they act like women—everybody knows how women act.” Yikes. But the most annoying thing is that if you read the verses he quoted with CONTEXT in mind, it changes everything. Sure, I can understand that some references to people “becoming as women” could mean having less physical strength. But so many times when this comparison is used, it’s said that they will become as a woman in travail-aka a woman experiencing childbirth! It’s to demonstrate the extreme amount of pain they will experience as a result of wickedness-pain so intense that the comparison the prophet used was delivering a child. Which is a pain only experienced by women. He didn’t compare it to a wound suffered in a battle that a man would probably normally suffer-he compared it to the most painful thing he could think of which can only be experienced by a woman! I don’t think that paints a picture of women as weak and in need of rescue by a man at all! Just the opposite, in fact! Yikes. Okay I think I’m done for now, but I could seriously go on for a long time. UGH.

    • It really sticks in your mind, doesn’t it? I’ve still been talking to friends about it and arguing with people. XD

      That passage is especially irritating. While I agree with where he may be coming from (if you dig deeeeep down in the article), when he uses insults from the Bible to back himself up… nOPE. But I totally agree – men can’t deliver children for a good reason. Every single guy I’ve talked to about childbirth (whether before or after or whatever) is always so astonished by how brave and strong women are. I haven’t read the verse in context, though, so I can’t say whether the “men are as women” is supposed to be a compliment or not – but it sounds like an insult to me. Gosh, it’s been, what, two or three weeks, and I’m STILL irritated?! XD

  3. I’m so tired of Christian men not taking responsibility for their masculinity and purpose because they only feel macho and dignified next to someone else who’s weak and whimpering for help. Just… yuck. I understand men have a God-given need to protect and provide, but THIS man’s article is really off the mark. I’m with you, Eowyn!!! ❤

  4. Okay, so I read Miriam’s letter several weeks ago and never actually read Mr. Alberson’s post until today.

    (I would insert an over-exaggerated comment here about me smashing something here, but I wouldn’t want to offend any male readers who would be rendered weak by my ability to do something with my hands other than bake.)

    That post may have had good intentions, but it was a) not at all Biblical, and b) only succeeded in hurting us delicate females. We really can’t handle being told that we should be helpless to boost the courage of men, can we? *rolls eyes*

    Anyways, before I decide to switch from sarcasm to caps lock, thank you soooo much for this response and, like, all the ensuing comments. ❤ I don't know anyone else who thinks like Mr. Alberson, but it's nice to have his opinions countered. I absolutely want to be the type of girl and woman God created me to be, I'm pretty sure being helpless and insecure is not part of that plan. 😀

  5. WHAT. IS. WRONG. WITH. PEOPLE.

    How can you POSSIBLY argue that it’s somehow “wrong” or “dangerous” or “unbiblical” for a woman to be strong and capable and work alongside her male friends to save her people???? HOW??? And if we’re talking biblical standards, may I point out ALL the women in the Bible who did the exact same thing? Deborah, Rahab, Judith, Esther . . . arrrrrgggggggggggggggggg.

    You know, I really do feel that it can be extraordinarily dangerous for us Christians to take specific stories in the Bible out of context and use them to “prove” that God wants us to behave a certain way. Just because certain behaviors or customs are RECORDED in the Bible doesn’t necessarily mean they have God’s stamp of approval. Jacob had four wives, but that doesn’t mean men today get to have four wives. So the mere fact that many women in the Bible tend to take a more submissive, passive role (due to the culture of the times) doesn’t necessarily mean that God wants all women to act the same way!!!!!

    Also, I know that the Bible (St. Paul, specifically) tells us that women are to be subordinate to their husbands; but I believe that just means that, when a family has to make a decision and the husband and wife simply can’t agree on what to do, that means they go with the husband’s wishes. Just because of the mere fact that “families are not democracies” and SOMEBODY sometimes has to be “in charge” for things to go smoothly. BUT. That absolutely does NOT mean that men are “better” or “more valuable” than women, or even that husbands get to lord it over their wives and make all the decisions for them. A Christian marriage really IS supposed to be a partnership, and there’s no way around that fact.

    And I’m super, SUPER uncomfortable with the idea that there are certain fixed models of “masculinity” and “femininity” which men and women MUST follow in order to be good Christians. You know what? YOU CAN’T PUT PEOPLE IN BOXES LIKE THAT. I feel that as long as you try to truly “be yourself,” while listening to what God wants for you, you’ll be absolutely fine. We shouldn’t have to worry about conforming to somebody else’s idea of “femininity.”

    In fact, being a good Christian really means the same thing, whether you’re a man or a woman—it’s about following God and being submissive to His will. Yes, you heard me right, Mr. Alberson—SUBMISSIVE. BOTH MEN AND WOMEN. It’s not that women need to be “meek,” while men need to be “strong” and do what they want and get what they want. No, we ALL need to learn meekness and humility.

    “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like Yours.” Right???

    Okay . . . I’m sorry about this longer-than-the-original-post comment. But I needed to get my thoughts and feelings out 🙂

    • I KNOWWWWWWWW. Women are just as capable as men. UGH.

      OH I KNOW! The Bible condoned a few things that would be improper today – like polygamy. YAAASSSSSS. You’re totally right – we’ve got to think about it within the culture of the time. I think that’s where Mr. Alberson went wrong.

      YES YES YES. (I think they should try to talk about it as much as possible and then come to a compromise if they can’t agree, but it varies with each situation.) E X A C T L Y. That’s totalitarian dictatorship and I wouldn’t want a part in that marriage for all the money in the world.

      YAAAAASSSSS. Boxes don’t exist – and if they did, we wouldn’t have homosexual people. I think Mr. Alberson believes that the world is always black and white… and it’s just not. Conforming to somebody else’s idea of “femininity” could be disastrous. People aren’t cookie-cutter and they’re not clones. They’re people with different talents and preferences and strengths and weaknesses.

      SO TRUE. If men expect women to be submissive to them, they should first submit to God. (SEE THAT ARTICLE THAT I LINKED TO BECAUSE IT EXPLAINS ALL OF THIS SO MUCH BETTER THAN I COULD.) So many things go wrong when the husband is in complete and total control of the wife and aren’t meek and humble before God *themselves, first.* YOU ARE SO RIGHT.

      Haha, it’s okay. GET IT ALL OUT! XD

      • Absolutely 🙂 Oh, yes, I think that’s kind of what I was trying to say–the talk-about-it-and-compromise thing. It can be difficult to describe what you mean properly sometimes, haha. But yeah, bottom line–NO totalitarianism in marriage. My dear sir, it just wouldn’t work. Just. Would. Not. Work.

        And along the lines of men rescuing women, and all that–it is EXTRAORDINARILY ironic that the guy titled his rant-post “An Open Letter To Rey.” Because, you know, if you actually pay attention to the actual plot of “The Force Awakens,” you know that Finn DOES end up coming back to rescue Rey. Like, seriously. The girl IS rescued by the guy anyhow, so what on earth are we complaining about????

        You know, personally, I often do really enjoy stories where guys risk their lives to rescue the girl they care about–just because it’s such a cool way of showing how much they care 🙂 But just because we ENJOY those stories is absolutely no reason to ask women to “make” themselves weak and helpless just so guys will have more opportunities to rescue them. Trust me, we live in a hard and dangerous world and there will be PLENTY of chances to sacrifice yourself in caring for the person you love. But you also need to let that person develop into a strong, capable, independent individual in their own right, or else you don’t truly care about them.

        Oh, yes, I did check out that article you linked and it was GREAT! Thanks so much! 🙂

        • Definitely. I’m all for that. 🙂 I don’t like being bossed around (a problem that I’m working on, lol), and definitely wouldn’t tolerate it AT ALL. XD

          OH I KNOW, RIGHT?! Plus, Rey actually WANTED TO SIT AND WAIT FOR HER FAMILY TO COME BACK. So it’s not like she was actively looking for dangerous situations. I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE COMPLAINING ABOUT. And where’s the “ugh” emoji when you need it?!?!?!

          Oh, I do, too! That’s probably why I loved Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and my siblings didn’t – part of his mission was to get his wife back, which I L O V E D. I just don’t like heroines who faint all over the place and are completely helpless. (Like Marguerite in the end of The Scarlet Pimpernel {the book}, when Percy shows up, in worse shape than she is, and she basically faints into his arms and lets him carry her home. I’m just like, “GIRL. He’s been BEATEN with a CLUB. YOU should be carrying HIM!!!” But back to what you were saying, THANK YOU. I don’t like female characters who need saving and have no storyline other than that. They’re BORING.

          Isn’t it? You’re welcome! 🙂

          • Right!! You can write a good story about a girl who’s actually in danger without having to portray her as being all helpless and scardey-cat-like. I’m currently working on a novel about WW2 and the Holocaust where the heroine is a Jewish girl and the hero is a Dutch Resistance guy trying to make sure she doesn’t get found by the Nazis. She legitimately NEEDS him to rescue her, but that doesn’t make her “weak”–she’s got quite a strong will, plus a good head on her shoulders 😉 I’m rather fond of her.

  6. There’s a difference between being a feministic “women are better than men” character, and a strong female character who can defend herself and her friends and family when thrown into a dangerous situation. I don’t like the feminist type, but I don’t have a problem with a girl who’s willing to fight to protect those she cares about. That’s where I feel Rey is, where Katniss is. They’re survivors. They’re not ultra feminist. I don’t feel like being strong and able to defend themselves makes them not feminine. And like you said, they didn’t choose their situations. They made the best of what they were given. Maybe they WOULD have liked to be rescued. But they didn’t really have a choice. I’d like to be protected, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want the ability to protect myself if need be. I mean, girls DO take self defense classes. Guys who care about the women in their lives will make sure said women have the means to protect themselves should the need arise, because they know they won’t always be there to protect them. That doesn’t threaten guys’ masculinity and it doesn’t threaten girls’ femininity. Girls are people too, and we don’t exist solely to be protected and rescued. Being a helpmeet means we have a job to do too. It’s not exactly the same as guys’ jobs, if it was, there wouldn’t be any point in being women, but our job is not to just sit around and wait to be rescued.

    And you know, no one gets between a mama bear and her cubs unless they have a death wish. Does that make papa bear less of a fighter? 😉

    • EXAAAAAACTLYYYYYYYY. Guys should care about and protect women, but that does NOT mean that they’re better than or more capable than them. YEP!!!

      Exactly!!!

  7. So I chose to read the article before I read your post, and it was at that point I wished my family owns a punching bag because I would have made such good use of it. I also wish I had known about this at the time I had a rebuttal essay assignment for English because I totally would’ve rocked it. While my parents have always taught us against the idea that the woman belongs in the kitchen, many of our circles in the past and even now have been of those homeschoolers who believe that’s all a woman should do. While I personally am not completely sure of what I believe at the moment, I know I disagree with the article. And I agree with everything you say.
    *turns on rant mood* SO. The first wrong thing he does (besides his patronizing style which entirely makes women feel so wrong and weak and inapt to understand the world) is say that God generalizes women in the Bible. WHAT??? Those first three examples he gave were purely worded because of the culture of the time. It was an insult of time and culture. And the second verse, just because the woman is weaker, does that mean she can’t fight? I agree, women are weaker than men. We have different bodies with different physiological cycles than men do, but does that mean we can’t tone our bodies enough to be able to do “manly” things? Also what amuses me with these anti-feminist articles is that the authors never mention women of the Bible like Deborah or Rahab. Deborah fought, like, lead armies and was in the middle of battle, and she is known as a godly woman of the Bible. Rahab was essentially the one who “rescued” the spies, and it was God who rescued her from the destruction of her city.
    And that’s another thing. I could be wrong, but the thing that men’s role is to “rescue” women is nowhere in the Bible. Sure, the concept of Christ rescuing the church could be one, but it’s symbolic. The Bible is full of women who were obedient to their husbands, but they are still independent from them because they chose to serve God above men. They chose to find their safety, love, truth, from God. Abigail, Deborah, Rahab, Ruth — they are served God over men. And they were all different. Not all of them kept the house and carried babies.
    It was a while ago, but in English class we once discussed a part of Mary Wollstonecraft’s essay “Vindication of the Rights of Women” from the eighteenth century. And in it, her point is that women should not be regarded as to how pretty and cute and pleasurable they are, but should be judged according to their virtue. I think the same thing applies to women now — and it’s certainly virtuous to stand up for justice, to help the oppressed, to fight against evil, to speak out for those who cannot, like these fictional ladies (or at least what I know of them) do. And they aren’t blood-raged berserks who slaughter everyone left and right either. They have compassion and kindness and a thirst for goodness. And they have weakness. As long as a fictional lady has all these, even if she’s an action hero, I will deem her a good character.
    Oh dear, I’m typing out a novel here, I’m sorry. xP Gosh, once school ends and I have more time I should write my own post about this. So yeah, as you said, as long as a woman looks to serve a higher good (God, truth, justice, whatever the highest good in a story might be) she is completely fine. I see nowhere in the Bible women not being allowed to fight, as the article says.

    • Good order! And, yeah, I wish we had a punching bag, too. UGH. A woman does belong in a kitchen… but so can a man! And I think women can do other things, too. SMH.

      HIS PATRONIZING STYLE WAS ABSURD. I CAN’T EVEN DESCRIBE HOW TICKED IT MADE ME. Of course, he called women the “weaker sex” so he obviously had to dumb it down for us. *shakes head* Totally agree with everything you said. AND WHAT ABOUT JAEL, WHO HAMMERED A TENT PEG INTO THAT GUY’S HEAD?! Irritates the CRAP out of me. UGH.

      EXAAAAACTLYYYYYYY. God has total authority, men don’t. (And because my parents are counselors, ALL of the stories I’ve heard about women submitting COMPLETELY to their husband {enabling him to lead a two-faced life} turn out BAD.) GOD. OVER. MEN. THANK. YOU.

      That’s so true! People are people and shouldn’t be judged by how pretty they are – but by their characteristics. Both women AND MEN want this, so why the double standard??? You’re right – strong women don’t have to fight and kill and be monsters (but I see no problem when, faced with an obstacle, they leap over it as best they can!). YES YES YES.

      I muchly approve of your novel. 😉 OOH YESSSSSS. If you write a post, send me the link!!! AMEN.

      • YES JAEL I FORGOT ABOUT HER. Gosh. Every example of godly women in the Bible is in stark contrast to what these people believe.
        Also what about that verse that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but one Lord over all??
        Yes! Why should we wait around for men to help us get over obstacles? The Bible implies that the healthy Christian needs maturity and responsibility, and why should we women go around like children, waiting for someone else to do something we can do ourselves?
        I most certainly will send you the link when I do! I haven’t really gone controversial on my blog before, so this’ll be interesting. 😀

  8. Women are PUT ON EARTH to be rescued by MEN?!!? Excuse me, Mr. Alberson, while I go destroy something.
    I think he had a few good intentions. When I skimmed his article, I agreed with some of what he said (out of context- I was just skimming). But I’m not a fan of the Ultra-Submissive Created-To-Wash-Dishes Mentality anyway. (where’s my blegh face emoji when I need it.)
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • I KNOW, RIGHT?! We should be so grateful that men were put on earth to save us!!! *destroys something with you*

      He had REALLY good intentions, but I think that everything he said was WAY too extreme. (Sent it to a friend and she said she thought he was “disgusting.” I kind of totally agree.)

      I’m not a fan of the hyper-wife, either. I know some people who are and that’s great for them, but I have so much more that I want to do with my life!!! *insert UGHHHHH emoji*

      Thanks for reading them!

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