One of the ribs’ functions in the human body is to protect the body’s vital organs; one of the most important being the heart. In the book of Genesis, we are given the picture of the first woman being formed from the first man’s rib (Genesis 2:21-22). Regardless of whether or not you think these two statements, in actuality, have anything to do with each other, you might at least appreciate the poetic value. The societal norm of most cultures would say that it is predominantly a man’s job to protect a woman; given that they are physically stronger than women are. Yet in this picture there is a kind of reversal of roles; that women might hold the great responsibility and honour of protecting the most vital part of men – their hearts.
There is a heartbreaking identity crisis epidemic in our generation. Although it effects everyone, I’m particularly focused on young women who desire a sense of belonging, validation, intimacy and love. It is completely natural to desire these things – I believe it’s part of human nature. However, in our struggle to find them, have we been compromising the emotional wellbeing and integrity of the men in our lives?
I’m aware that it’s an unpopular opinion in our society to think that women might have to feel responsible for how their actions effect men. Ironically, the people who push this agenda also strongly promote love and kindness. So, what if we stopped thinking about this matter as one of gender norms and misogyny, and instead started thinking about it as a matter of loving and taking care of others?
If we realized that we have been given the power and mission to protect a man’s mental wellbeing – the protection of their inner-most self – how would our perceptions and behaviours change? Would we think about the way we talk to and act around men? Do we too often make flirtatious gestures or misleading statements in order to satisfy our own craving for affection, with no intention to pursue any meaningful connection? Do we purposely dress in a way to elicit compliments or attention at the expense of a man’s integrity?
In all honesty, I know I have in the past. I’ve tried to find validation and significance in places where not only is it impossible to find, but at another person’s expense. Sometimes even still I want to act or talk in ways that I know will catch the attention of an attractive man, only to satisfy my selfish desire to be desired. Yet I would hate it, and feel used, if a man did that to me. Do I want to make another person feel that way? There’s too much tension between men and women these days, with each party looking for a chance to accuse the other of sexism. Let’s make an effort to heal this divide. Let’s think about how what we do affects another, and act intentionally with how we speak, act and dress, to protect their heart.