On respecting men

Posted on October 27, 2011 by


(Note: I am discussing formal deference or honor, not admiration or appreciation.)

I tend to treat men more respectfully than women, in general. This is for numerous reasons, some of them conscious, some of them purely instinctive.

Men are:

  1. of a different sex, and are therefore slightly “foreign”,
  2. generally larger and stronger than I am, and are therefore intimidating (and, yes, this even carries over to virtual interaction),
  3. potential protectors or aggressors, so I don’t want to get on their bad side,
  4. indicative of my social ranking, as the amount of male attention I receive reflects upon my relative importance among women,
  5. often extremely clever and moralistic, and therefore my intellectual superiors,
  6. representative of the Christ,
  7. in a higher rung of Church leadership (above lay women, as they are the heads of their house churches).

That last one weighs especially upon me, and it is nearly palpable when interacting with men during theological discussions. I like to debate theological points, but I am absolutely loathe to correct or dispute men’s arguments if I know that they are orthodox Christians. I sometimes think this is a natural reaction that reflects the passage from St. Paul:

Womenshould remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

This blog is not a church, but I do sometimes feel like I’m doing something unnatural when I’m lecturing my “online congregation” on moral principles. Is there anything more pretentious and ridiculous than a mere woman lecturing grown and educated men on morality? I am grateful for my female readers, who allow me plausible deniability. I’ve decided that I’m actually lecturing mainly to the women, and that the men read here at their own risk.

I do somehow feel that men are closer to a complete understanding of morality, because of the masculine talents of judgment and ethical discernment. I am under the impression that my own abilities in those areas are quite advanced, but I usually “hang out” with men who are even more advanced (as is the case for most women), so I sometimes struggle to feel comfortable debating them. How to avoid that on a mixed-sex philosophical blog run by a woman? Impossible. Struggle through regardless.

I suppose I have specific classifications of people for whom I have a default-respect level, and they have to prove themselves unworthy to receive less, and worthy to receive more. Younger-aged women start out with -10 respect points, similar-aged women with 0 respect points (they are my equals), Christian men with 10 respect points, my husband with infinite respect points, and everyone else takes up their place somewhere in-between.

This is pure instinct (or training?) on my part, but it is something I am more conscious of now that so many women have complained online to me about the perceived unfairness of it. It is true, I give the men a wider berth. They can lead me or hurt me, so I prefer to leave some space between us, and I expect the same from the women I interact with. Don’t take it so personally, ladies.

Posted in: Relationships