Category Archives: Evening Gunfire

EG: Watership Down and Modern Values

Oh boy, where to begin. I’ll admit that when I saw the news headline saying Watership Down was going to be adapted into a tv miniseries I was not terribly optimistic. The article that I read was pretty thin, mostly just listing a few cast members and saying who was funding it.

No alarm bells went off, but, my experience with adaptations, particularly of Watership Down itself (it already boasts two) told me not to get my hopes up.

I was not prepared to find out that my favorite novel was going to be desecrated in the name of modern values.

I’m only getting around to writing this now because it has literally taken this long for me to calm down. The press release wasn’t terribly long, but the information within it was incredibly offensive to me.

Most people who read it will be disappointed to find out they are toning down the violence. I’m not too bothered by that, the movie version added a main character death and quite a lot of excess blood. “Toning down” the violence will probably actually bring it more in line with the book.

I, on the other hand, am disappointed at their need to meddle with the female cast and characters. I say cast and characters because they are giving one male character a sex change in addition to giving the females a dose of “doe power”.

Excuse me while I gag.

Sorry, I’m going to try and keep it together and have this be a logical dissection rather than a ragefest.

I’m going to tackle the decision to turn Strawberry, a male character (buck) in the novel, into a female character (doe) first. Now, I am going to assume that the reporter got the name right and they don’t actually mean Blackberry, who was turned into a doe in the previous tv series (which went far afield of the book anyway). The problems with converting that character are different and much simpler. Which only makes their decision to pick Strawberry all that more confusing. I can only assume they picked him because he is one of the characters with an “effeminate” name.

Oh, spoiler warning to anyone who hasn’t read the book. I’m going to need to discuss in depth character stuff, so I can’t avoid talking about the plot and character development.

In the book, Strawberry is a member of the Warren of the Snares, aka Cowslip’s Warren. He lives a luxurious lifestyle built entirely around accepting death in exchange for safety and good food, this leads to himself and all his compatriots acting strangely because they have to abandon the very things that make them rabbits to live this lifestyle.

Our heroes end up shattering their facade when one of the strongest in the group is nearly killed and they refuse to just let him die. They leave of their own accord only to find Strawberry (who had shown them around the warren when they arrived) is chasing blindly after them.

He catches up to them and begs to join them, revealing himself to be grief stricken over the recent death of his doe. While we know she died in one of the snares, the implication is that she died a few days prior, but he had been going along to get along to help hold up the facade. The heroes leaving broke the hold the warren had over him, rendering him unable to cope with the loss of his mate and destroying his ability to pretend all is right in the world.

In short, he suffers a devastating loss that causes him to reject the fantasy he’s been living in and attaches himself to the group, because he knows he’s too weak to strike out solo.

Choosing to turn him of all characters into a doe, as opposed to say, simply fleshing out any of the preexisting does that don’t get much screentime, is rather baffling to me. If they had to convert a character, Bluebell would have been a much more sensible choice.

I can see them handling the change in one of two ways, playing it completely straight or turning Strawberry into a sassy doe who was never playing along to begin with. The funny part is, both of those is going to draw ire from the very people they’re hoping to appease.

If they play it straight, Strawberry is changed from a broken buck who begs stronger bucks to help him learn to live in the real world, to a broken doe who can’t cope with the loss of her mate and goes running to a bunch of rogue bucks to save her from her own emotional distress. Basically, Strawberry becomes feminists’ most hated trope in the name of feminism. Also, guys, next time a woman tells you you need to be more vulnerable, think of what they did to Strawberry, the most emotionally vulnerable male character in this book.

If they play it the second way, it’s going to annoy the fans of the book because the whole reason the society in the Warren of the Snares works is because everyone plays along 100%. Their entire mindset revolves around accepting death at regular intervals in exchange for easy food and pretending that this is a preferable way to live. If Strawberry isn’t playing along, then why is she still around? Why hasn’t she left or else been forced into one of the snares? The only way that could really work is if she’s being kept under the thumb of her mate or else she just keeps it to herself. The former would destroy everything that was notable about the original character (and make Strawberry a damsel in distress), while the latter would render her a doormat. I don’t think I need to point out how feminists are going to feel about these respective possibilities. Either way she still has to be rescued by the heroes, who are all male.

Now to tackle the part that really angers me. The supposed need for Clover and Hyzenthlay to be “upgraded” and participate in “heroics”. Firstly, if you honestly think that heroic deeds are what make the characters in this book noteworthy, I have to question your reading comprehension. There are three main characters, Hazel, Bigwig, and Fiver. The only one who participates in what we typically consider heroics is Bigwig. He’s the muscle out of the trio. Part of what makes the book so interesting is the push and pull between Hazel, a non-fighter who has to take on a leadership role over rabbits stronger and smarter than he is, and Bigwig, a hugely strong rabbit with a temper and a need for direction.

Despite his lack of action scenes (he only really has one and this is later described by himself and others as a very stupid thing), no one doubts Hazel’s courage or bemoans his lack of character development. No one can deny that he rises to his challenges and grows immensely despite his lack of bloodied claws.

Yet people are saying that Hyzenthlay and Clover, who display similar courage and rise to their own challenges, need to participate in more heroics.

Let me explain why it makes me so angry that people think that. It makes me angry because what they are actually saying is that female characters that are truly strong, truly brave, and truly very important characters are worthless in their current form because they don’t have an action scene. They are saying that female characters who are strong in their femininity are worthless for the very fact that they are feminine.

They say that Clover, who decided she would rather brave the dangers of the outside world than continue living in the safety of her hutch, who copes with the loss of her mate while adjusting to a vastly different life, is weak and worthless because she isn’t a sassy action girl. Clover, who has the pride of being the first doe to bear a litter and bring life to a warren that would otherwise die off in a generation, isn’t a role model for young girls because she hasn’t abandoned what makes her female to run with the boys. Because her strength is implicit rather than explicit, they cannot comprehend the fact she is already an excellent character.

And Hyzenthlay, my beloved Hyzenthlay, who I long to be as strong as, is decreed to need a power-up in order to be an interesting character. If they could be bothered to actually read the book for comprehension, they would realize that the great escape from Efrafa would not have been possible without her. Bigwig was in completely over his head, loaded down with the strain of his task, unable to even believe that he could carry out his mission. Without Hyzenthlay’s support, he never would have been able to bear up under the weight of it all. She was his soft place to land when he was surrounded by hostility and danger, separated from his support network and facing a task that was beyond his abilities. And that doesn’t even include the work she did to gather sensible does to take part in the escape or the courage she displayed before Bigwig even arrived in Efrafa.

Her true shining moment comes later though, and this is why she will always have my deep and abiding admiration.

She has finally acquired the life she longs for. She is pregnant, she has literally built a home, she has helped establish a community filled with hope for the future. Then it happens, those she escaped from are coming to take her and the other does back, or kill them all trying.

She is one of the first to find out that the forces from her old warren are coming, yet she does her best to remain resolute. Unlike one of the bucks, she does not advocate abandoning the warren and fleeing. She listens to the other does, who whisper in fear about how the bucks will be killed and they will be forced to return to the oppressive warren they came from. She knows that death could very well be in her immediate future. She is afraid, terrified, just as they all are. And yet,

“Be quiet,” said Hyzenthlay. “The bucks aren’t talking like that and why should we? I’d rather be here, now, as we are, than never have left Efrafa.”

She would rather die in the home she built beside the bucks she has come to love than have continued living an unfulfilled life in near perfect safety. Despite the fact that everyone can tell she is afraid, her announcement helps to spur Hazel and Bigwig to search harder for a way to defeat the incoming forces. While her role on the road to victory is not as glorious as Bigwig’s, it is not unimportant. Just because she did not fight does not mean she wouldn’t have if it had come to that, but it didn’t come to that because the bucks that did fight took it up a notch so she wouldn’t have to. Her strength is the feminine strength of support and encouragement, of helping the males around her face the oncoming storm with courage.

But, instead of praising her for the great female character she is and the strength she has, they instead want to turn her into a pale imitation of Bigwig. Who, I might point out, gets bloodied beyond recognition in his battle with Woundwort. I wonder if the makers of the miniseries are prepared to have her brutalized in the same fashion? If they are not courageous enough to bring this book to the screen without making it palatable to the type of people it was meant to criticize, I highly doubt they will be courageous enough to do that. Especially since they have already stated their intention to tone down the more “brutal images”.

It is such a sad and pathetic thing. They’re so hung up on male strength that they can’t even recognize a strong female character when she bites their hand. Because she doesn’t fit their (oddly masculine centric) definition of heroics and power she is seen as weak and pitiable.

In their attempt to pander to women, they reveal what they really think about them. Not very complimentary, is it?

I won’t be watching the miniseries. I don’t want to be insulted or see one of my favorite female characters be ruined. Besides, if the makers can’t understand the book well enough to realize Hyzenthlay and Clover are already solid characters, then I don’t want to see their interpretations of the book’s meatier aspects.

And I definitely don’t want to see what they will do to Hazel.


EG: “It’s Good to Have You Home”

I’ve been away from this blog so long I practically feel like I need to reintroduce myself. I’ll skip that though.

Some of you may or may not know that I did acquire a job around a year and a half ago. It took me awhile to get up to speed and it was tough work, but I liked it. Then, this year rolled around and I started to experience difficulty handling the job. One day in May I came home exhausted beyond comprehension and the summer was similarly hard. I worked only one or two days a week generally, but I got sick with some sort of respiratory issue every single time. During that time there was a potential threat that surfaced. My husband said, “You need a new job”. I began to look and alerted my boss I was looking. Eventually my car broke down at work due to a dead battery and after the ordeal (it was my birthday no less), I admitted, “I was really hoping the breakdown was serious enough I would have to quit” and my husband agreed. The last straw occurred when there was a tropical storm blowing in and my husband sent me a text saying “If it gets dangerous, go home”. I realized that I couldn’t obey his order and I did not like that. The growing realization that the money I was making absolutely did not make up for the stress I was inflicting on myself and my husband crystallized. Neither did it make up for all of much more important things I could not do because I was working. Everything I legitimately cared about was suffering mightily over less than $500 a month on average.

I searched frantically for a new job, but couldn’t find one.

So I did the only thing I could. I handed the reins over to God and walked over that cliff. I handed in my resignation. I still worked for four more weeks, wrote my thank you cards and said goodbye to the community I had been serving. When I got home that afternoon, my husband hugged me and said, “It’s good to have you home”. It is good to be home. I am praying hard that God will make a way for me to stay home and attend to what is actually important. I am thankful I worked that job, if only for the fact that it made me realize my place is at home serving my husband.

Of course, no one I talk to really understands that. Everyone has some reason or other to insist that I ought to keep working in some fashion. It’s been hard enough to argue them down to just suggesting part time work to me. The biggest concession I’ve gotten is from my mother, when she agreed to pray my husband gets a better job first and then pray for me after that. It really is exhausting wanting to do something that is outside of modern norms.

I feel like I need to write some sort of (preferably pithy) conclusion to this, but as it stands this whole situation is far from concluded. I’ll just have to wait and see what door God decides to open. In the mean time, your prayers are appreciated.

EG: The Redwall Books

In honor of the anniversary of the author Brian Jacques passing, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite childhood series: Redwall. It’s funny how I so recently decided to pack up my books for the future, only to suddenly want to unpack them and read them all over again. These are very solid books for older children, full of good triumphing over evil after a long and hard struggle. They contain role models for both genders, though boys will probably find the books more interesting over all. They are fun, relatively easy reads whose similarity in plot will only bother the most cynical (and least comprehensive) of readers.

It’s difficult to address a series as a whole, especially when I haven’t read most of them in entirely too long. I’ll give you an idea of what they are like by talking about my favorite, which I’m currently enjoying in dramatized audiobook format. The Taggerung.

You have the basics of every Redwall book here, evil vermin, the peaceful abbey, certain problems that need solving and threats that need guarding against. However, if one can ignore the basic plot, you will find a very poignant message. The message being that we are more than the people who raised us and it is ultimately our choice who we will become. The book is about leaving behind poisonous upbringings and breaking cycles of abuse. It is about overcoming challenges to become a better person. It is about leaving behind what others (who don’t have our best interests in mind) want us to be and becoming what we are supposed to be. I’d give you a more detailed synopsis, but I honestly don’t want to give anything away.

If the Redwall series teaches anything at all, it is to be courageous in the face of the cruelest of hardships. It may also teach strength and nobility of character, appreciation for simplicity in life, and the importance of community and friendship. It may also make your kids want to learn to cook (and perhaps even eat their vegetables), since the descriptions of the food are always a joy.

The books can be read in any order, but if you want, here is a list of the books in chronological order (as opposed to publishing order).

EG: The Time and Place for Hierarchy

This is a quick thought inspired by an episode of The Twilight Zone. I won’t spoil the episode, because it is quite excellent, I will simply say that a man complains that his superior officer has brought the “chain of command and the book” into a place where it didn’t belong, a crisis situation.

This made me stop to think. The hierarchy within any given group is not meant to be abandoned at the first sign of trouble. Times of trouble are when that hierarchy is needed most. Why did you bother figuring out who was the best leader if that weren’t the case? Times of trouble are when leaders must lead the most unapologetically and followers must follow most obediently. That is not the time for hesitation or refusing to obey. Being able to have faith in your leader is a great comfort in times of trouble. For the leaders themselves, being given the faith of their followers and being allowed to concentrate on the task of bringing everyone through in one piece is the most basic help they can be given by their followers.

I had a very small example of this recently. I was getting worked up over something minor, as I occasionally do. NSR was trying to help me through it and I was initially being difficult. Then as he instructed me to do something and a very unsubmissive thought began to enter my head, I shouted myself down inside my head, thinking “SHUT UP and TRUST HIM!”. I did so and calmed down almost instantly, despite the fact that the matter didn’t get resolved at that point. Respecting the hierarchy and having faith in the man I chose to marry helped me deal with the situation.

Someone else around here had and excellent post up about this recently but I can’t for the life of me remember who. When I remember I’ll update with a link.

Wives, you must take a minute to look at your husband and commit to trusting him. It will help you more than you expect. To the women who are seeking husbands, set aside your checklists for a moment and evaluate whether or not you can trust this man when the going gets rough. If not, break it off early and save the both of you a great deal of heartache.

EG: Talking About Age Gaps

Some of my fellow bloggers have been discussing age gaps in marriage lately, which is something that I have a lot of personal experience with. I’d like to talk about my experiences, maybe dispel a few qualms, and give people an idea of what it is actually like to be in a marriage with a substantial age gap. Of course, except for one study brought to my attention by femininebutnotfeminist, all the information will be anecdotal. I’m mostly going to explore this in the context of concerns voiced either to me or in general about a young woman marrying an older man. Some of these apply to a young woman getting married period, since there is a general resistance against women marrying young. Before that though, I would like to open with this statement to my fellow young women who are considering marrying an older man.

Things will be different for you than for women marrying men their own age. However, it will only be harder for you if you let it become that way. Part of my reason for wanting to write this is to extend my hand to women like you and give you the tools you will need to handle those differences. I also want to give you pause and consider whether you can shoulder this particular cross. Deciding to marry is always a big decision, one that must be carefully and prayerfully considered. With that, let’s move to the concerns.

He’s been a bachelor so long he won’t be able to adjust to being married.

I got this one quite a bit. For those who don’t know NSR and I have an age gap of roughly 22 years. The idea with this is that he’s had his own space and own way of living for so long, that he can’t hope to adapt to caring for someone else and sharing space. Well firstly, you have to look at the individual man. Has he lived alone all this time or has he had roommates? Has he had pets or had to care for a relative? Just because he had been a bachelor all this time doesn’t mean he has been living as a selfish loner. NSR has adjusted just fine to being married. There are things he had to give up, but he has been more than happy to trade those for the various benefits of being married. Of course, no concern expressed for me having trouble adjusting to being married and having to give up certain freedoms. Not that there was any need, I took to marriage like a duck to water.

You should live alone for awhile before getting married, decide whether it is what you really want.

This one always baffles me. How is living alone going to prepare me for being married? Also, living alone is not going to magically make my desire to be a wife and mother vanish. Neither is it going to help me remain chaste. It’s inviting more evil than it could ever hope to prevent. In the long run it would hurt my chances of reaching marriage a virgin and only make my adjustment to married life more difficult.

You need to get a job/work experience just in case he leaves you/divorces you/dies/gets sick.

Now, NSR did tell me to get a job just in case one of the latter two happens. However, I wish people would think for a few seconds before saying the first two. Human beings have personalities and free will, divorces and spousal abandonment don’t just happen by chance. I will note that no one ever mentioned these concerns when NSR was in the room. Probably because they knew they were being decidedly unfair. They also have no knowledge of how toxic divorce courts are to men. If anything, based on the fact that most divorces are initiated by women, they should have been warning him off of me. This also tells me that the people giving this particular advice will offer no help if any of those things do happen, other than to say “I told you so”. If they have legitimate reasons for thinking the man in question is flaky, they should warn the woman away from the man altogether, not tell her to construct a safety net. Same goes for if they think the woman is flaky. Warn the man away altogether.

That said, this is something that women marrying older men must prepare for. Especially if he has additional health concerns. A man of any age can die in an accident or of a disease, but obviously older men are more likely to die sooner. A woman needs to discuss this with her prospective husband and decide what they want to do to mitigate risk and financial burderns should something happen to him. That said, the man being older does not guarantee that he will die first. This study, brought to my attention in this comment by FBNF, indicates that a woman’s life expectancy suffers when she marries a man of a different age, older or younger. This is another thing to consider. Knowing this before I married NSR would not have altered my decision to marry him, but for some this may be too much of a risk/sacrifice.

You’re too young/full of promise/haven’t lived enough life yet to make a big decision like this.

I didn’t get this, but it is common enough in churches and elsewhere. If I hadn’t been so “mature” one of my (secular) professors would have taken this line, but he made an exception for me (which irked some of my also-soon-to-be-married classmates).  This one has quite a number of erroneous assumptions packed into it. Young people are too inexperienced to make good decisions; people can be less mature than their age, but not more; careers are more important than families; you can’t mature or gain life experience once you get married; fun things are less fun when you are married; life experience is a necessity for marriage, etc. And people will say these things even when the situation suggests that marrying young is the prudent choice. In BF’s situation, now may be the only time she has to be married. In my situation, being a wife and mother is what I want out of life (and my math skills are so cripplingly bad that it would cause me no end of issues trying to live solo for ten years).

What really needs to happen is a discussion on what the couple wants out of life. Does the woman want a graduate degree and a career or does she want to have a part time job and keep a home? Does she make good decisions in other circumstances? Taking age completely out of the consideration, will this man be a good husband? Take a look at the actual situation before making a blanket statement.

The age gap will cause conflict.

No, the age gap will not cause conflict. A massive gap in maturity will cause conflict. Some people live more life in fewer years than other people do. Part of my enjoyment for NSR’s company came from the fact that I didn’t have to hide from him, dumb things down for him, or avoid talking about certain things because it would gross him out. He’s old enough and lived enough life that he can handle what I need and want to talk about. Likewise, he likes to talk to me because I’m intelligent and mature enough to relate to or at least understand what he wants to talk about. If I was a teenybopper, giggling headcase it wouldn’t matter if I was born the same hour he was, he wouldn’t be here. Likewise, if he was immature and whiny I wouldn’t have married him.

In many ways the age gap has been rewarding because he gives me a perspective on the past a man of my same age could not give me. We had a lengthy discussion about Ender’s Game, Nirvana, and Generation X awhile back. Without the age gap we couldn’t have had that conversation. It comes down to compatibility of personalities, values, and to some degree, interests.

Here,  more or less verbatim and with context is the only “conflict” we have had on account of the age difference:

Me: *looking at pictures of NSR aged 28-30* I still would have married you back then.

NSR: *pauses* Unfortunately I can’t say the same for you.

That’s it. Seriously. Seven months of marriage, a single, two sentence conversation.


Now I want to talk about a few things that I wish people could have/would have asked if I was prepared to handle.

Can you deal with the fact that people will stare at you and make uncomplimentary assumptions about the two of you?

A friend of mine recently asked me “Do people still stare at you?”, to which I answered, entirely seriously, “Yes, especially when we go into lingerie shops”. Our age gap is substantial and is exacerbated by the fact that he looks a bit older than he is and I look a fair bit younger than I am. At first, people don’t assume we are married, then as they see us get affectionate, they begin to get concerned looks. Is she a golddigger or have daddy issues? Is he a pedo or a kidnapper who brainwashed her? People stare. People get uncomfortable.

That dissipates as soon as they get to know us, and many find us to be a charming, lovely couple. We don’t get to talk to everyone who sees us though, so we just have to live with there being people who make extremely unfair and untrue assessments of us.

Can you deal with carrying your ID everywhere with you?

In this age of kidnapping hysteria, widespread knowledge of Stockholm syndrome, and just general helicoptering and nosiness, you need to carry your ID with you. I would also say that you need to change your last name to match his. You should to begin with, but it becomes even more necessary the larger the age gap gets. You need to do it to protect your husband from having the cops called on him or even arrested due to suspicion or misidentification. I pay more attention to missing persons alerts than I used to, because I want to check and make sure I don’t resemble the missing woman and that NSR doesn’t match the description of the alleged kidnapper. You have to realize that we live in a world full of paranoia and hatred of men in particular. There are certain professions that look for signs of abuse or abnormality in marriages and report it to the police, men can be arrested for no substantial reason. Keeping your ID with you and being known to people around you as a healthy individual and couple will help prevent this.

And I just get carded a lot.

Can you accept his sexual history if he has one? Does he test clean for STDs?

One of the more realistic concerns about older men (which I’ve only heard voiced by red pill men BTW) is their (almost) inevitable sexual history. You need to find out, accept whatever facts you find out, and either forgive him for it or leave him. Have this conversation as soon as is reasonable and in private. Don’t share after you find out and respect him and thank him for his willingness to come clean. Same for any other sinful history. Likewise be open with him. Starting your marriage with secrets like that is a bad idea.

Can you accept the fact that your time together will be shorter than most other successful marriages?

This is perhaps the most important question and it feeds into two other important questions: Are you prepared to care for him in his old age and are you prepared to limit your childbirthing years to try and ensure he is around to see all of them reach adulthood?

If you cannot handle these things, don’t marry an older man. Full stop.

A wife leaving her husband for stupid reasons is always sinful and always hurtful to the man, but leaving him because you can’t handle caring for him or don’t want to stop having kids is even more hurtful.


Marrying an older man is not for every woman. Marrying an older man is neither better nor worse than marrying a man your own age from a Biblical point of view. Or most other points of view really. It boils down to individual circumstances and people. Consider it carefully and prayerfully.

I think I will wrap up here. However, if anyone has questions or has heard other age gap based concerns please feel free to leave a comment. If you wish to contact me privately, you can find my email address on my About page.

EG: Response to “Teen Girls Define “A Real Man””

“Lori Hainline & Rebecca Chandler co-authored this list at the respective ages of 19 and 17. Their closing comment: This list is not exhaustive and men like this do exist!”

Well, that’s a great start. Having (presumably) unmarried teen girls describe what a real man is. As opposed to married women or actual men. That said, I do agree with them that men like this do exist. I’ve gone to church and school with men like this, problem is the girls aren’t dating them! So what do they say?

“…values and carefully handles the scriptures. (2 Timothy 2:15)”

“Carefully handles”? Does that mean, “doesn’t throw his Bible around” or “doesn’t interpret Scripture in a way I don’t like”?

“…isn’t embarrassed to worship God and pray in a group setting. (Mark 8:38)”

A real man has to be extroverted and sinless. These girls probably wouldn’t like a man who actually prays out loud about his struggles.

“…takes leadership in a self-sacrificing way. (Ephesians 5:25-28)

Oh, yay! The self-sacrificial leadership pops up in the third set of descriptors. Bowing to the woman’s desires and mutual submission are implied. Because good leadership is naturally self-sacrificial, only people who have never led don’t know that. They just assume being a leader is awesome and means you get to sit back and relax, when in reality you have a Sword of Damocles over your head. When you are the leader, if stuff goes wrong, it is automatically your fault and you have to fix it. Not cushy at all.

“…not only respects but appreciates a young lady’s purity and innocence. In our culture innocence isn’t retained by accident. (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)

…values his purity as much as he values a young lady’s purity. He is not ashamed to live and act differently from the world in order to guard himself. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, Ecclesiastes 7:26)

…can look a girl straight in the eye without communicating any impurity. (Proverbs 20:11)”

The first one is potentially dangerous but better than I’ve seen it phrased elsewhere.  The second one is good if living that way didn’t automatically turn women off, a man announcing he’s a virgin has never dropped any panties among young women. The third one is impossible because that depends entirely on the interpretation of the girl. If she decides he’s making bedroom eyes at her, he might as well be. Sexual harassment is a matter of the opinion of the person on the (perceived) receiving end.

“…has no desire to be gross in order to impress other men. He doesn’t burp, swear, or tell disgusting stories. (Proverbs 13:5, Ephesians 5:4)

Really? He doesn’t burp? Last time I checked that was a natural body process. If they suggested being discreet or saying “excuse me” afterwards, fine, but “doesn’t”? Good luck ladies. Not swearing I can see, there is an actual biblical precedent for that. Also, the rudeness of burping depends upon culture. In some cultures it is a compliment. Whether a story is disgusting or not is a matter of opinion. I think a story about someone getting a face full of horse…hocky is funny as heck. To others it is super gross. NSR has a lot of stories that are gross, but these are stories he has collected organically by living his life. He didn’t make them up for the sake of being gross or impressing others. They are the stories he has. Men should not be seen as terrible men just because their life has brought them gross or awful stories and they choose to laugh at them instead of shrink away.

“…is pleasant and expresses joy rather than feeling that it’s masculine to be sullen. (Proverbs 21:29, 1 Thessalonians 5:16)

…can accept correction (Proverbs 12:1, Proverbs 29:1)”

Real men have a “pleasant” personality, apparently. It’s not like some men are just more reserved because that is the way God made them, or that God made men less emotionally expressive than women overall. This is funny because later on they say a real man should be able to handle life’s hurdles logically. He also has to be able to accept correction…from his prospective wife or women in general. Or feminism embracing pastors.

“…expresses himself with intelligent words rather than using “street talk”. (Proverbs 17:20, Titus 2:6-8, 1 Peter 4:11, Ephesians 4:29)”

“Real men” own a thesaurus. Not to say I’m against men speaking in a decent, educated manner. Well-spoken men don’t necessarily have women crawling all over them though.

With all that said, this is a pretty decent set of suggestions, all with biblical context. You can read the whole thing here. However, we have to consider reality. Men are told they have to be perfect and amazing to capture a “Daughter of the King”, they do their best, and they are sneered at in favor of Bad Boys who absolutely do not adhere to this list or any other Christian list. That is, until all the young women aren’t so young anymore and want a baby above all else. To reiterate what I said at the top of this post, men like this or at least realistic versions of this, do exist. Some of them post around here. The problem is not their rarity, it is the fact that women blatantly ignore them.

I guess the TL;DR version of this is: Lists like this do not help. Men are constantly being beat on by our churches to be perfect, and women already have lists of expectations that are unrealistic and don’t match up with who they’re dating anyway. So give it a rest. Encourage men and tell women to be realistic instead.

EG: Watership Down, an Anti-feminist Novel

I first read Watership Down by Richard Adams as a sixth grader, the book was a gift from a houseguest. I loved it immediately and since then it has been my favorite book. Once, several years later I looked up the Wikipedia page (and the Sparknotes, which notably has errors) and found that there was an accusation that the book was anti-feminist in nature. Being young and not knowing what feminism was really about, I became incensed. That was ridiculous, the does (female rabbits) are valuable characters and the only human girl is intelligent and kind. There was nothing inherently anti-woman about it. The article referenced a segment where the author explained that the bucks (male rabbits) did not see the females of their kind in the same light as human men see human women, that they had no real understanding or use for romance and could view the does as breeding stock. Not that this keeps them from being very devoted to their mate of choice, including grieving their deaths. So basically the author sets it up that their relationships are more straight forward with less froofy, stupid romance.

However, now that I know more about feminism and having read the novel at least a dozen times, I can see it is in fact anti-feminist. Not because of that passage though. It’s because it embraces the idea of gender roles and that women are happier when fulfilling their traditional roles of homemaker and mother. Let’s take a look at a few passages.

“Long ago
The yellowhammer sang, high on the thorn.
He sang near a litter that the doe brought out to play,
He sang in the wind and the kittens played below.
Their time slipped by all under the elder bloom.
But the bird flew away and now my heart is dark
And time will never play in the fields again.

Long ago
The orange beetles clung to the rye-grass stems
The windy grass was waving. A buck and doe
Ran through the meadow. They scratched a hole in the bank,
They did what they pleased all under the hazel leaves.
But the beetles died in the frost and my heart is dark;
And I shall never choose a mate again.

The frost is falling, the frost falls into my body.
My nostrils, my ears are torpid under the frost.
The swift will come in the spring, crying “News! News!
Does, dig holes and flow with milk for your litters.”
I shall not hear. The embryos return
Into my dulled body. Across my sleep
There runs a wire to imprison the wind.
I shall never feel the wind blowing again.” (Adams, pg 321-322)

This is a poem spoken by one of the does, Hyzenthlay, who is an intelligent doe who recognizes the issues of the totalitarian, overcrowded warren she is in. But let’s ignore the narrative for a moment and look at the poem as it applies to life in the modern Anglosphere.

The first stanza conjures the image of a mother with her children playing outside. Not something anyone sees much anymore. These days it is unusual to see children playing outside at all. Why is that? Well, first there is an obsession with helicopter parenting, so parents aren’t about to let their children do anything without supervision. Add to this the fact that both parents tend to be at work and you have a bunch of kids who are trapped in school and daycare because their parents aren’t home to supervise them. Mothers are not home to raise their own children, they are not there to read to, play with, and love on their children. This leads to a certain amount of frustration. You don’t have to look far to find polls that show that mothers would rather work less and care for their children more.

The second stanza conjures the image of a happy couple that is beginning their life together, doing as they please, but also approaching the relationship in a dedicated manner. It’s certainly still possible to do that, but at the same time it is unusual. You don’t have to be an expert on relationships to know that the divorce rate is high and the never married group is growing quickly. More and more children are being born out of wedlock because their mothers are simply choosing not to get married, citing “no good men” as their reasoning. Women who want to marry get cautioned by their parents and peers that they need a career “just in case he leaves”. Essentially no one operates under the assumption that marriages will last…or should. After all, people have divorce parties these days.

The final stanza can be looked at from a two perspectives. It could speak the truth about the damage done to women who choose to have abortions. It could also speak to those trapped in the late marriage and abstinence conundrum. These are the two options that most women face these days. While the former is more feminist than the latter, they both have the mark of feminism on them. Both are damaging to a woman’s psyche, in quite similar ways. Delaying or outright destroying children is unnatural, and if a woman makes the mistake of delaying too long only to find herself permanently childless, the heartache is incredible. I’ve seen it in women I know, that grief and the attempt to accept that they will never have a child of their own. It’s bad enough to watch. I can’t imagine what it is like to experience. One way or the other, the final stanza speaks to the truth that most women long for children of their own, that being a mother is what her heart cries out for.

Let’s look at another passage.

“Biwig realized that he had stumbled, quite unexpectedly, upon what he needed most of all: a strong sensible friend who would think on her own account and help bear his burden.” (Adams, pg 330)

The “her” being spoken of here is Hyzenthlay again. Bigwig has been given a seemingly impossible task of liberating some does, until he decides to approach the task by bringing a doe in to help him with the plan. In this small phrase we see the incredible importance of the wife in a man’s life. She gives him a place to come and rest, a confidant who will listen to him and help him. She gives him a concrete reason to do what he is doing and when he calms her fears, he calms his own. This single sentence embraces the idea that a man and a woman can do more together than apart.

Another small, subtle piece:

“”But you’re Efrafan. Do you think like that, too?”

“I’m a doe,” said Hyzenthlay.” (Adams, pg 390)

Men and women are different. They think differently, they act differently, they need different things. All summed up in one matter of fact statement from Hyzenthlay. I’m starting to think I should do a write up on Hyzenthlay as a feminine role model.

One final, longer passage:

“The warren was thriving at last and Hazel could sit basking on the bank and count their blessings. Above and under ground, the rabbits fell naturally into a quiet, undisturbed rhythm of feeding, digging and sleeping. Several fresh runs and burrows were made. The does, who had never dug in their lives before, enjoyed the work. Both Hyzenthlay and Thethuthinnang told Hazel that they had no idea how much of their frustration and unhappiness in Efrafa had been due simply to not being allowed to dig. Even Clover and Haystack found that they could manage pretty well and boasted that they would bear the warren’s first litters in burrows that they had dug themselves… The contentment of the does spread to everyone else,” (Adams, pg 395-396)

Before analyzing I will quickly note that earlier in the book it is established that does are the ones that dig the tunnels of warrens and bucks don’t much care for the task. Not that this needs much analysis, it’s written rather plainly as it is. The warren thrives because the bucks and does are living in interdependency as they were meant to. The does are happy because they can carry out their natural roles. Homemaking and being mothers are marks of pride. The scene painted here is the very thing that feminists have selfishly set out to destroy. So yes, Watership Down is in fact, an anti-feminist novel and I’m proud to call it my favorite.

All quotes are taken from the 2001 Perennial Classics edition of the book.