PODCAST: Do We Need To Frame Dads As Heroes?

by | Jun 13, 2024 | Parenting Teens, Parenting Young Kids, Podcasts, Uncategorized | 34 comments

father’s day is coming!

And it is a day for celebrating all of the wonderful fathers in our lives, and the work that they do and the love that they show for their families. And what a wonderful time to lift them up. We have several wonderful fathers in our family who we are celebrating. But…

There is this idea sometimes that the role of father should elevate a man to “Hero” status. Not just that he can be a hero to his family, but that he should be treated as THE hero of family.

Which makes the rest of the family his sidekicks.

So let’s talk about how we can get this twisted sometimes, which will include taking a look at the Harrison Butker commencement speech


Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:


In Search of Healthy Male Sexuality

Seriously, Sam’s book is awesome, and you need to check it out! Sam is a licensed counselor who deals with these issues clinically day in and day out, and he has seen how much men have been hurt by the evangelical church’s message about sexuality (as Sam was really open in the book about his own journey too).

And he shows the way forward–understanding the root of shame; embracing healthy sexuality and healthy outlook on the world; honoring our passions and steering them in a healthy way.

I’m so glad to be partnering with so many amazing Christian men who are fighting the good fight with us–Jay Stringer, Zach Wagner, Andrew Bauman, Michael John Cusick, and so many more. We’re not alone! And I hope many pastors and men’s leaders pick up this book for a healthier view of sexuality!

(John Eldredge wrote the foreword too, and I hope maybe he’s listening and changing some of his views as well!).

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

To Support Us:

Things Mentioned in this Podcast:

What do you think? Do you have fathers in your life who are worth celebrating? How can we keep this conversation going? Let’s talk in the comments!


Sheila: Welcome to the Bare Marriage podcast.  I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice for your sex life and your marriage.  And I am joined today by my daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach.

Rebecca: Hello.

Sheila: And we are going to talk about Father’s Day and some of the weird rhetoric that we often hear in church about Father’s Day and just how to approach dads in a healthy way because dads need gratitude, but they don’t need adoration.  Maybe that’s a good way to explain it.  I don’t know.

Rebecca: Well, I don’t know.  I think we all get adoration from our spouses.

Sheila: Okay.  Yes.  

Rebecca: Well, you’ll understand as we talk about it.

Sheila: Yeah.  We have a number of things we’re going to talk about.  We’ve got lots of things I’ve been saving.  We are going to get to the Harrison Butker clip because so many people, while I was on vacation, sent me that and said, “You’ve got to say something about this.”  So when Keith joins me at the end of the podcast, I will be talking about that.  But before we get started, a couple of big thank yous.  As always, thank you to our patron community that helps make all of this possible.  We just have such an amazing group of people.  Hundreds of people in our patron group on Facebook where we can be real and have fun and it’s a great supportive community.  It lets us do our research and provides us some breathing room, and we’re really, really grateful to them.  You can also get tax deductible receipts within the U.S. to help support our work through the Bosco Foundation, the Good Fruit Faith Initiative.  And the links for those things are in the podcast notes.  And I would also really like to thank our sponsor for this podcast.  This is an amazing book.  We talked about it on last week’s podcast, The Sex Talk You Never Got by Sam Jolman.  And I just love how he reframes sexuality.  What he is saying is, look, we don’t need to push men’s sexuality underground.  We don’t need to try to deny it.  We just need to see it in a healthy way.  Passion is healthy.  And it isn’t always sexual.  But when we replace healthy passion with shame, we end up doing a great amount of harm.  And so how can we see sex and the gender roles and how we see women in a healthy way.  And I’m just so glad that there’s men speaking up about this too so that—yeah.  We’re not on our own.  So thank you for that.  And now, Becca, let’s get into some of the weird rhetoric around Father’s Day.  And speaking of our patron group, I want to start with something that was posted in our patron group.  Okay.  Do you want to give the background on this?

Rebecca: I mean this was a handout, I guess, that was sent to families in the area from a Florida church that was—I guess it was trying to advertise their church to people to get them to come.  And they just chose a real choice.  

Sheila: Yeah.  It was a choice.

Rebecca: It was a real choice.  So it’s this little postcard thing.  And on the front, there’s this vintage style picture of a wife, daughter, and son doting on a dad, who is sitting in an armchair with a literal crown on saying, “A place where a dad can be a dad and not have to apologize for it.”  And it’s like, oh, what is this advertising?  Some sort of weird extremist—no.  It’s just a church.  Oh.  It’s just Suncoast Baptist Church in—where is it?

Sheila: Palmetto.  Palmetto, Florida.

Rebecca: In Palmetto, Florida.  So just so you know, if you’re in that area, Suncoast Baptist is weird.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Let’s just read what it said on the back of the postcard. 

Rebecca: Sure.  “In the past, being a dad meant loving your wife and raising your children with good, old-fashioned, American values.  You taught your sons how to shoot a rifle and showed your daughters what to look for in a husband.  However, in today’s world, the role of the father has been reduced to the least respected role.  At Suncoast Baptist Church, we still uphold those traditional American family values, which come directly from the Bible and are what made American great.  We believe in returning to a simpler time when biblical family values where traditional fatherhood and biblical masculinity were the standard and dads could be dad without having to apologize for it.”  I mean, to be fair, my favorite verse in Colossians is, “Teach your sons how to shoot a rifle.”  For America.  For America.

Sheila: I know.  That’s all I could think of when I read that.  So this is supposed to be getting people to come to the church.  It says nothing about Jesus.  It says about nothing about salvation.  It’s just all about biblical masculinity, and it doesn’t talk about God.  

Rebecca: No.  It talks about guns, and it doesn’t talk about God.    

Sheila: Yeah.  And I just wonder what kind of person is this going to attract to the church.  

Rebecca: Well, and what I find so interesting is—it shows who they’re trying to get to their church which is people who are not actually interested in living like Jesus.  They’re interested in living like their culture.  And what are Christians supposed to be?  In the world but not of it.  We’re supposed to be counter cultural.  And instead, they’re like, “Oh, forget all that Jesus stuff.  You want to shoot a gun.”  Anyway, for men because we’re men, for goodness sake.

Sheila: Because we’re men.  But the point of this postcard, which was delivered, I think, last week—so leading up to Father’s Day—is that fathers are under attack.  It’s the least respected role.  And this is what we’re hearing over and over again when it comes to Father’s Day.  We see this on social media all the time.  That dads aren’t respected.  So last year something blew up on social media right at Father’s Day.  And because it was at Father’s Day, I couldn’t share it on the podcast because it happened—it was—yeah.  So I decided I would save it for this Father’s Day.  And Juli Slattery, who hosts a podcast and who used to be one of the cohosts on Focus on the Family, was on Focus on the Family talking about how to encourage your husband to be a hero to the kids.  How to encourage him to be a hero as a dad.  And I just want to listen to the way that they’re framing this two-part conversation.  Okay.  So here.  Let’s just play this short clip of the show.

Juli: It’s probably true.  Yeah.  

Male Host: What have you seen in the last 20 years?

Juli: A lot of change.  Certainly, a lot of change in our culture with technology and the smart phone and the challenges of that with pornography and just being distracted, not knowing how to build intimacy, confusion around sexual issues.  What is intimacy?  What is healthy sexuality?  And then I think also we’ve seen a lot of change just in the empowerment of women, and that’s been a very, very good thing in many spheres.  But I think it’s also made intimacy in marriage more confusing.  As women are getting a voice and getting stronger, I think a lot of times we’re seeing men kind of get in the shadows now of—

Male Host: Right.  We pull back.

Juli: Yeah.  Where’s our voice?  And so that pendulum has kind of swung I’d say over the last 20 years of the typical marriage.

Sheila: All right.  Now I love the way she framed part of that.  She said, “We’ve seen a lot of change just in the empowerment of women, and that’s been a very, very good thing in many spheres.  But I think it’s also made intimacy in marriage more confusing.”

Rebecca: I think there are some interesting uses of words here.  So first of all, let’s just talk about why on earth would women’s equality and empowerment make intimacy more difficult unless we’re defining intimacy as the woman not having an empowered voice.  Right?  If you can only have intimacy when the woman is not empowered, that’s not intimacy.  But that’s a whole other conversation.  When someone says something like in many spheres or in many ways, or they hedge their bets, about something that is pretty universally accepted as a good thing, that is a red flag that one of two things might be happening.  Okay?  Either they are just going with the party line and they don’t actually believe it.  Right?  They’re not willing to say what they actually think like, “Oh, women’s rights aren’t actually good.”  But they’re like, “Oh, I have to say because I’ll get push back otherwise.”

Sheila: And I don’t think that’s Juli.   

Rebecca: I don’t think that’s true either.  

Sheila: I think she truly does believe in the empowerment of women.  

Rebecca: Of course, she’s a woman with a PhD.  Okay?  Who has worked hard to have a solid career.  She’s not living the Focus on the Family dream, right?  The second thing that can happen is that they are trying to appeal and cater to extremists.

Sheila: The Suncoast Baptist Church kind of people.

Rebecca: Like the Suncoast Baptist church, the Doug Wilsonites, the people who honestly believe that women’s suffrage was a problem, who honesty believe that the husband should get the final say on everything including whether or not his wife has a credit card, his wife is able—who his wife votes for, all these different things.  Okay.  That’s a problem because it’s one thing if you’re trying to appeal to people so you can correct them.  But if you’re just trying to appeal to people to get money from them and to get support from them and fame from them and you’re not going to challenge them or turn aside, that’s a problem.  So when you’re hearing people say that where you’re like, “Well, I mean they said that it was a good thing,” well, did they hedge their bets or not?  If I said, “Well, of course, rape is usually a bad thing,”—you can’t say that I then said rape is always bad.  When on earth do I think rape is not a bad thing?  Right?  Those are the questions we need to be asking as well.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  Yeah.  So they’re setting it up as women’s empowerment has been good sort of, but it’s also hurt intimacy.  And how do we make men feel better?  And that’s really what these podcasts are about is how do we make men feel better about the fact that they don’t know what it means to be a man anymore because their typical role has been taken away.  And let’s be clear that what’s been taken away is simply the fact that they are in authority and that other people have to bow down to them.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And also a lot of the cultural aspects of masculinity of the past like this whole rifle toting, American, kind of thing.  That’s not as popular anymore because we’ve seen a lot of the negatives of that culture.  Not specifically those things.  You can absolutely hunt and be into classic American culture, and that’s fine.  But the idea that we should be forcing everyone into these bubbles, and a lot of the toxic things that came with that culture has been noticed now.  And so it’s not masculinity.  It’s specifically weird Americana culture.

Sheila: Yeah.  Because this isn’t an issue in the same way in other countries.

Rebecca: In Britain.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And as people, who are outside of it, we do find it a little bit strange.  When I was talking to people in Australia and New Zealand, they really find it strange.  Yeah.  This is not universally Christian.  I think that’s maybe what is sometimes missed is this stuff is not universally Christian.  And so what Focus on the Family seems to be doing in these podcasts and in the post that went viral last year was saying, “Look, men have been under attack.  Men’s voices aren’t heart anymore.”  And that’s what was said in this clip because now “women’s voices are heard and men are wondering, ‘Where’s my voice,’” right?  So men’s voices aren’t heard anymore.  And so we, women, it’s up to us to make men feel better about what they’ve lost, right?  But if you had something you were never supposed to have in the first place, you don’t need to be consoled for losing it.  You need to figure out what—how I can reclaim something healthy.  And that’s not really what’s being talked about here.   

Rebecca: Well, I’m also wondering did they lose their voice.  Did the men lose their voice?

Sheila: Yeah.  So Focus on the Family is claiming that women have a voice now and men are saying, “Where’s my voice?”  

Rebecca: Women are so empowered that it’s damaging to men.  So women now have so much equality and so much authority that men no longer have the authority that they should have.  That’s what they’re saying.

Sheila: And they don’t have a voice.  And they don’t have a voice.  So men are wondering, “Where’s my voice?”  So we decided to look at this, all right?  And are men losing voice—their voice at Focus on the Family?

Rebecca: At Focus on the Family because that’s who is saying men are suffering.

Sheila: Right.  And that they don’t have a voice anymore.  So in Focus on the Family’s executive leadership, six out of six of them are—guess what?  

Rebecca: Women?  

Sheila: No.  They’re men.  

Rebecca: But how are the men losing their voice if they have six out of six in the highest leadership?    

Sheila: Well, maybe it’s because the board is all women.  So let’s look.

Rebecca: Oh, yeah.  That’s true.  The board could be all women.

Sheila: Oh, but wait.  

Rebecca: But wait.  There’s more. 

Sheila: 10 out of 14 board members at Focus on the Family are male.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Those 4 women out of the 16 total people are really terrifying, I guess.  

Sheila: Yes.  Exactly.  So here we have an organization, which primarily ministers to women, which is giving all kinds of marriage and parenting advice, which is—it’s primarily women listening.  And it is almost entirely a male leadership, which is maybe one of the reasons why when we were writing The Great Sex Rescue we couldn’t find anything about sexual pain on Focus on the Family even though it affects almost 25% of women.  So there you go.   Okay.  Well, what about elsewhere in Christendom?

Rebecca: Yeah.  Because maybe Focus on the Family understands and is enlightened to how hard this is for men now that women are so empowered.  So maybe other places in Christendom are really overrun by these bossy women.

Sheila: Yes.  And I do need to say.  We only looked at the evangelical conservative spaces.  So there are plenty of Christian spaces where women do have a voice.

Rebecca: Absolutely.

Sheila: But let’s look at The Gospel Coalition.  Okay.  The Gospel Coalition, the board members—guess what?  

Rebecca: 12 out of 12 male?

Sheila: 12 out of 12 male.  And when you look at their council members—there’s 36 council members.  How many do you think are women?

Rebecca: I mean it’s The Gospel Coalition, so I think 0.

Sheila: Yes.  You’re correct.

Rebecca: But I would love to think that it’s closer to half and half.  

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  What about The Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics named after Tim Keller?

Rebecca: Oh, that’s actually interesting because they are typically touted as more moderate.  

Sheila: Yes.  They’re the ones who are trying to win over our culture to Christ.  So they are trying to be culturally relevant.  Okay?

Rebecca: Okay.  I’m going to guess that they are 30% women.

Sheila: Okay.  Well, among the executive staff, 4 out of 4 men.  Yeah.  And among the fellows, 20 out of 24 men.    

Rebecca:   Okay.  So yeah.  Nowhere near 30—because 30% is still a minority, but it would be enough that they could virtue signal.  Yeah.

Sheila: Do you know of all the things that I looked at do you know which ones had the most representative of women?  

Rebecca: Which one? 

Sheila: The SBC Executive Committee.

Rebecca: Oh, that’s really funny.  Oh my gosh.  That’s really funny. 

Sheila: So the Southern Baptist Church Executive Committee is 65 out of 83 male.

Rebecca: Yeah.  That’s really, really funny.

Sheila: So they have 17 women.  No.  18 women.  18 women.  Okay.  CRU.  Known as Campus Crusade for Christ.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And in Canada, it’s Power for Christ.

Sheila: Power for Change.   

Rebecca: Power for Change.  Right.

Sheila: Yes.  The U.S. field team, 8 out of 10 men.  And the global leadership is 12 out of 16 men.  So there are some women at least in the leadership.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Some.

Sheila: But very few.

Rebecca: Again, nowhere near half though.

Sheila: So are men actually losing their voice?

Rebecca: Yeah.  Exactly.  

Sheila: So anyway, interesting question.  All right.  Let’s go back to the premise though here is that we—it’s women’s responsibility to frame the dad as a hero to their kids.  Okay?  Now I want to ask you something, Becca.  When you were younger, did I make you think of your dad as a hero?

Rebecca: I mean you did.  Genuinely, I did think my dad was a hero.  I don’t think that you ever said, “Because he is male, he is the hero.  Because you are female, you are not the hero.”  You, obviously, never did that.  But I very much felt like my dad was a good person, was a hero.  I mean it also—I’m going to be really honest.  It did help that my dad was also a pediatrician constantly saving babies.

Sheila: And I was going to say.  I think that’s when I talked about your dad in heroic terms.  I talked about him as a great dad.  But I didn’t talk about him as heroic in terms of his fatherhood.  He was just wonderful.  He was just loving.  

Rebecca: He was just a good dad.

Sheila: He was just a good dad.  But I would often—when he was away for 36 hours on call and then he was sleeping, I would tell you, “Yeah.  Because it was a 24 weeker, and dad had to go in the ambulance to Kingston with him.  And it was really touch and go.  But he’s okay.”   So yeah.  

Rebecca: So I will say a little bit of an outlier experience as a child.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And by 24 weeker, that’s short form.  We just mean a premature baby born at 24 weeks.  Yeah.  I don’t think that I ever set out to say, “You need to think of your dad as a hero,” as in someone—because when I think of framing your dad as a hero, it’s like he is—he deserves our adoration more than I do.  It’s not like we’re partners.  It’s like everything revolves around—

Rebecca: Yeah.  It’s like I might be the one who makes all your meals and does all the day-to-day care because dad is at work, but he’s really the one who is holding the ship together.  That’s what hero seems to me too.  It’s like the guy who comes in and saves the day versus someone who is just part of the family.

Sheila: And is a really good, active, loving part of the family.  But yeah.  He wasn’t the main thing.  Yeah.  Okay.  So that’s some of the things we saw were wrong with what they said, and Keith is going to come on and talk in more detail about that too.  But what I wanted to talk to you about before you leave the podcast today is what’s the truth in what they’re saying because we’ve kind of been bashing them.  But there is some truth here.  And so what would you say are some of the true things that we do need to remember?

Rebecca: Yeah.  Well, I think the idea that women’s empowerment has quote unquote hurt men in some spheres is just not true.  It’s not women’s empowerment that has hurt men ever.  It’s not.  What happens though is—okay.  Imagine if you grew up in a mansion that—you thought you were massively rich, okay?  And then it turns out that your dad and mom actually were conmen.  And when you’re 16 years old, you lose everything, and you move into a tiny apartment.  And you’re used to having a butler and having—being able to order in food whenever you want.  And you went from living like millionaires to just kind of living like a normal person.  

Sheila: Right.  Mm-hmm.

Rebecca: That would send you for a loop.  Is it the problem that the justice system doesn’t allow for conmen to have—no.  That’s not the problem.  It’s that you lived outside of what your family was actually able to have for so long, and now there’s, in essence, a culture shock of realizing where you should have been all along, right?  And there’s a mourning there, right?  And I think something similar.  We see from the stats something similar seems to be happening with men currently, right?  So we know that the suicide rates are way higher currently for men and boys than they are for girls.  Now it’s still really high for women as well.  But it is higher for males, and it’s also—suicide attempts are more likely to be—and I hate this term, but this is the technical term.  They are more likely to be successful.  So when a teenagers attempts suicide, it’s more likely to actually result in a death if it’s by a boy versus by a girl.  Okay.  So those things show that there is something going on where boys and men really are suffering in our current culture.  Again, is it because women were empowered?  No.  It’s not.  There’s a lot of things that are going on.

Sheila: Well, and I would even argue that it’s got the same root.  The same root that put men over women is actually one of the contributors to male suicide rates and the high rates of mental illness because men haven’t been allowed to share feelings or be vulnerable.  And there’s been so many expectations on men to be stoic and to succeed and to have it all together, and that can be quite stifling.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  And on—yeah.  Exactly.  So there’s that side of it, which is very serious.  And we also recognize.  There’s also more fluffier in between things that are going on where—I will be honest.  I looked at a lot of the research and the studies and the numbers on how the education system treats, specifically, boys, who are more hyperactive.  And it’s not a great system for them currently, and it does seem to be a system that’s catered more towards how girls tend to have their strengths.  It’s something that I’ve seriously considered as we do have a young boy, and we’ve decided to homeschool.  That’s not me being—if you’re triggered by that, that’s not—no.  Don’t lump me in with all those homeschoolers.  But there are genuine issues and genuine concerns that I have as someone who has a very stereotypical young boy where I’m like, “Yeah.  It’s unfortunate that we do have systemic things that are not currently seeming to be in line with how they learn.”  And, again, this is not just a male thing.  It also doesn’t work for the girls, who have those traits.  It’s just that they’re more likely to happen in boys.  So this is not a thing where it’s like it’s only boys who are suffering here.  It’s just that my boy happens to align with the gender stereotypes there.  So there are certain areas where it does seem like right now there are men and boys who are being left in the dust whether it’s educationally, whether it’s mental health wise.  The issue is that, once again, the answer is not to go back to women’s subjugation in order to make men feel better.  We don’t need to say, “Well, we have to choose boys or girls then.”  That’s not it.  We can just work to find a system where people are actually—everyone can thrive.  And everyone can succeed, and that’s going to also have to come with undoing what we learned in the systems where—that taught men you can’t talk about your feelings, that taught young boys you have to be stoic, and, if you’re emotional, that means you’re a girl.

Sheila: Yeah.  And if you’re not at the top of the pack, you’re nobody.   

Rebecca: Exactly.  Yeah.  And there’s a lot.  And we have so many other problems in our culture.  Porn and just time wasters and brain rot and all of that which also tends to affect boys more than girls because girls are socialized and spend time with their friends more than boys are, right?

Sheila: Yeah.  And men are falling behind economically because the education system isn’t as good.  And as the workplace rewards people who can work cooperatively and team work and are more emotionally intelligent, men tend to fall behind because there’s fewer manual labor jobs.  And so there’s all kinds of systemic issues.  But, again, the answer isn’t to go back.  

Rebecca: The answer isn’t, “Ah, giving those women the vote, that’s where it all started.”  No.  No.  We can be reasonable.

Sheila: Yeah.  So there’s definitely—yeah.  There’s a lot of changes happening, and that can be really difficult to navigate those changes.  But it’s not up to women to make men feel better about losing some of their privilege, which they probably shouldn’t have had in the first place.    

Rebecca: Well, I also don’t even feel like men are losing their privilege.  Because as long as you learn to work within the current society, you still do better.  The stats are still showing.  Men still get jobs more often than women do.  Men still—it’s not—it’s just that you have to now actually work the system.  You actually have to try to learn the new skills, which is, by the way, what women have been doing the whole time.  And so it’s—anyway, there’s a whole thing.  You’re not even losing privilege as much as just shifting focus.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  Exactly.  Okay.  So let’s turn to marriage for a minute.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Sure.

Sheila: And how this affects marriage.  So I think what happens in a lot of marriages where they have had this men in authority over women is that women can actually get angry if men are not performing the leadership the way they want to.  And that’s actually something that Juli Slattery goes on to talk about in this podcast, and I will put a link to the podcast that we’re referring to in the podcast notes.  It’s a two parter.  The second one focuses mostly on submission and why women should submit.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Same old, same old.

Sheila: Yeah.  The first part she’s saying that women can be quite manipulative because you want your husband to behave a certain way, and then you end up manipulating him and criticizing him if he doesn’t.

Rebecca: Of course.  Yes.

Sheila: Okay.    I actually think this—I actually believe there is something to this.

Rebecca: Oh, I fully believe it too.  I just think that they started the fire.

Sheila: Yeah.  But here is what happens.  Okay.  So a lot of women say, “I just want my husband to lead,” and they’re really upset that he’s not a spiritual leader.  They’re really upset that he’s not stepping up.  And they’re like, “I need,”—and Juli Slattery makes the point that women’s biggest need is for protection.  One of women’s biggest needs is for protection and to feel protected by their husbands.  And I want to push back on that because I think this is the way that a lot of women phrase it.  But I don’t think what they need is actually protection.  I think they just want a partner.  

Rebecca: Security.  Security and protection are not the same thing.  You can be single and have high levels of security.  And a woman could be married to a man, who is able to physically protect her from people trying to break into the house or if someone was trying to attack the family or something but there’s no security day to day, right?  That woman still feels like she’s not quote unquote protected.  But I think that’s the issue is we talk about this thing like protection because we try to frame it in gendered terms instead of just saying what it is.  And that’s what makes me really mad.  And I say this over and over again in the patron group.  If you’re not in the patron group, you haven’t heard it.  But you all need to read Politics in the English Language by George Orwell or A History of the English Language.  What’s it called?  I should figure it out.

Sheila: We’ll figure it out, and we’ll put it in the podcast notes.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  It’s one or the other.  But it’s an essay, and I read it all the time.  Obviously, I never read the title.  But it’s such a good one about this idea of how we have a breakdown of communication anytime that we use words to fill in for greater meanings, where we skip over definitions for ease of prose and for us to sound smarter.  So we do this when we say, “Oh, women just need protection.”  Well, what do we mean?  What does that mean?  Because it doesn’t mean she wants her husband in full phalanx armor with a bunch of his friends around her and the kids like bison trying to fend off a wolf.  That’s not what she means, but that’s one type of protection.  What does she mean that she wants him to stand up against her friends, who are kind of bullying her?  Because that’s a different kind of protection.  Does she mean that she wants financial protection?  Because that’s a different kind of—what do we mean?  Because we don’t actually mean protection.

Sheila: No.  I think what she means—I think what women want is a teammate.  They want someone in the trenches with them so they don’t feel like it’s all on their shoulders.  

Rebecca: They want security. 

Sheila: They want security.  They want to feel like the responsibility is shared.  If things go badly, it’s not all on me.  He’s actually paying attention to what’s happening to the kids.  He’s actually paying attention to what’s happening to me.  So I’m not in this alone.  So what she needs is not protection.  She needs a teammate.  That’s a very different thing.  But when we live in a world where we’re taught that men are over women and submission, the way it’s expressed is she needs protection.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Because you have to express it in masculine terms.    

Sheila: Right.  And I think a lot of these issues have a common root.  When we are taught that you need your husband to be a spiritual leader, right?  So you need him to lead the devotions.  Then when he doesn’t, you can feel disappointed in him.  He has failed.  He’s not living up to his role as a husband.  But what if that was never the way it was supposed to be in the first place?

Rebecca: Or what if they’re getting mad about devotions because what they—they aren’t allowed to get mad about what they’re really frustrated about?  Right?  Because I think a lot of times too, if it’s that she’s carrying all the mental load on her shoulders and he’s not even doing devotions—and it’s like, well, do you actually want him to do devotions?  Or do you want him to wash dishes?  What do you actually want, right?  Because I think we see that a lot where we get messages from women.  People talk to me in personal.  But you talk to women, and they talk about wanting a spiritual leader.  They talk about wanting him to do devotionals.  Then you dig and you dig and you dig.  And really what they think is that if he’s doing devotions then that’s going to kick start him taking initiative in other areas too.  You couldn’t actually care about devotions much.  You care about it because it’s been presented to you as a thing you should care about.  But they would also be fine if they just were fun to be around again and actually pitched in and took initiative, and she didn’t have to book every single one of the kids’ appointments.  That kind of stuff.  And I think that what we’ve done is because we’ve had to make this all gendered we can no longer ask for what we actually want.  We have to put it in these weird, politically correct terms instead of just saying, “Hey, I don’t like doing chores.  I’d like to do less of them.  You do none of them.  Maybe we could figure something out here,” right?  I think that that would be a much better way.  And it would end up with her feeling so much more seen, so much more taken care of, so much more protected.  But it’s not sexy to protect your wife by folding laundry.  It’s not sexy to protect your wife’s mental health.  It’s only sexy to protect them in a Braveheart, John Wayne way. 

Sheila: From a bullet.  Well, Emerson Eggerichs always says that women have to give unconditional submission and respect because one day he might have to take a bullet for you.  So she has to sacrifice every single day 24 hours a day because there’s an off chance that—  

Rebecca: That he might have to take a bullet for you which is ridiculous.

Sheila: One day.  Which is really funny because who is it that actually sacrifices their life for the family?  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Women.  

Sheila: Joanna almost died from a miscarriage.

Rebecca: I had issues that if I was not in the hospital would have been bad.  Yeah.  

Sheila: Anyway, it’s just weird.  But I do think that there is this thing where when women expect husbands to live up to this leadership stereotype women can become quite manipulative and can have a lot of contempt for their husbands for not doing that.  And so what I would say to women like that on Father’s Day is just ask for what you want.  But if he’s not living up to a stereotype that probably he wasn’t supposed to anyway because it’s okay for you to be strong in some areas and him to be strong in others and he doesn’t always have to be strong in the spiritual ones, if you could get over that, that would probably help your relationship a lot.

Rebecca: Yeah.  If you’re mad about it because you’re specifically mad about the devotions and prayer thing, then yeah.  If you’re mad about it because he’s just not pulling his weight anywhere and you think this is going to be a magic bullet for it—sorry.  I won’t say magic bullet because now I know that’s a sex toy.    

Sheila: I know.  I remember when I told you that I had a magic bullet, and I meant—

Rebecca: No.  No.  It was the other way.  I told you I had a magic bullet, and you were like, “What?  I don’t need to know that.”  And I was like, “No.  It’s for smoothie.”  And you’re like, “Oh.”  Anyway, no.  But if you’re hoping that the devotionals and the prayer and all this quote unquote spiritual leadership is going to be some magic spell that makes him suddenly do cleaning elsewhere and stuff, just don’t use your energy getting mad over that and just have a real conversation about what needs to change.  Because trying to say, “I bought another devotional, and maybe you could do with the family,” and then he doesn’t do it and then give him the silent treatment for a week—

Sheila: Yeah.  I find this really strange though—the number of women who are in complementarian spaces like Juli Slattery.  When she talks about how she used to manipulate her husband, it was all this.  I wanted him to take leadership.  And it’s like you’re upset.  You’re in a complementarian space, and then you’re upset because he isn’t living up to the complementarian.  And it’s like maybe he was never supposed to in the first place.  So yeah.  Talk to him about it but also realize your expectations may be skewed.  Okay.  Now there’s another element that I think we need to talk about which is what about the women who are so angry about sexism that they see it everywhere in their husband even when he’s not being sexist.  Because—okay.  So he does the dishes.  And you’re like, “Well, I don’t need to thank him for that because he should be doing the dishes.”

Rebecca: Yes.  Exactly.  Mm-hmm.  I think there’s a real tendency when we are met with a large problem, a societal problem, that affects us, right?  It’s easy.  We’re talking about sexism, right?  As women, if we’ve been able to recognize how unfair things have been for literally all of history, to recognize how society socializes us differently so that, in essence, you kind of never—it’s so rare for marriages to be truly equal from the beginning because of societal influence and all these things.  It can make you really, really angry even if you’re married to one of the good ones.  And I think it’s important for those of us women, who are really invested in quote unquote the fight, the mission, whatever you want to call it, to realize that your husband doesn’t need to die on the altar of other men’s issues, right?  So I’m not talking about the husbands who are the problem.  Okay?  But there’s a lot of things where you’re not going to fix sexism by being mean to your husband, right?  So yeah.  If he does something, “Well, I don’t get—no one thanks women for it, so I’m not going to thank him,” okay.  But do you want a world where people thank women for it?  Because if so, then thank him for it and make that normative in your marriage. Thank each other for stuff.  We don’t teach our kids that you only say thank you when it was above and beyond what they were supposed to do.  We teach our kids that you say thank you for everything.  My kids thank me for making lunch and breakfast and dinner on my days when I do that.  And it’s very cute.  And I’m not like, “Well, it was my job, so don’t thank me.  I don’t want to get entitled,” right?  No.  That’s just a nice thing to do.  And if I am at home because I—Connor and I work half half, right?  So if I’m home and Connor comes back and says, “We went to the park.  And we found caterpillars, and we talked about how they make cocoons.  Then we found them little leaves to eat.”  And Connor is looking me like all the caterpillars are dead I’m sure because the four year old has been manhandling caterpillars for an hour.  But if we’re talking about this and Alex is excitedly telling me about everything that they did and he had taken them up to the park for two hours, then come home, I can sit there and then just be like, “Oh, okay,” and then move on because, “Well, that’s what I do when I have the kids,” or I’m supposed to anyway.  And we can pretend like, oh, well, you don’t deserve thanks or praise for that because that’s just parenting.  Or I can decide to be grateful and focus on, “Wow, that was amazing.  And great.  We don’t have to—that was a great science lesson for today.  We talked about the life cycle of caterpillars, and we got to see it in action.”  

Sheila: Well, except for the dead ones.

Rebecca: Well, you know what?  That’s part of the life cycle.  But there’s two options here, right?  Where you can either—you can get kind of cold hearted towards each other where it becomes a tit for tat measuring like, “Okay.  But did you get enough for me to think that you did well,” versus for those—for people who are in marriages where it’s actually pretty good.  You’re working on the mental load stuff.  You’re moving in good directions.  You enjoy each other’s company.  But you’re just overwhelmed by the larger issues that’s happening outside of your marriage it can be really easy to kind of get into this really unhealthy measuring game.  And if you can manage to kind of step back and realize that for people who are in good marriages—and that’s the caveat here—people who are in good marriages.  That overall are making their life a better place, that are on a good trajectory.  It’s actually really good for your mental health, for your relationship, for your partner as well, if you actually do, in essence, give the benefit of the doubt and are more effusive than you need to be.  Yeah.  There was that study we talked about awhile ago where—  

Sheila: Yeah.  I found this study.  We used it in our marriage book, which we’re now on the copy editing phase for.  So I’m excited.  It will be out next spring.  But basically, if you’re in a good marriage and there’s something that bugs you, it’s good just to not worry about it too much.

Rebecca: Little, little, little things.  Not issues like—

Sheila: If it’s little things, just see it in a good light.  Yeah.  You can talk about it, but you don’t need to make it a huge issue.  Right?  On the whole, believe the best about your spouse.  But if you’re in a bad marriage, overlooking things and believing the best about your spouse can actually make your marriage worse in the long run.  It makes it better in the short term, but in the long run it makes it a lot worse.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And we’re not saying the whole toxic thing that you hear all the time where it’s like, “It’s just socks.  Don’t say anything.  Just be grateful there’s socks on the floor.”  That’s not what we mean.  What I mean is if we fold towels a different way, but the towels are still getting folded.

Sheila: Yeah.  Just be grateful.  Don’t worry about it.  Yeah.  So those are the good things.  And those are the things that I think that we do need to listen to about this message about seeing the best in your husband and praising him.  Those are the things to remember.  But now I want to talk about what’s wrong with that message.  And to do that, I’m actually going to bring your dad on.  So I’ve got my husband, Keith, on the podcast now.  Hey, babe.

Keith:   Hey.

Sheila: So we are back.  It is great to have you back after our vacation.

Keith:   Yeah.  New season.

Sheila: And people love hearing from you too.  So I’m sure they want your feedback on all of this.  And I have so much that I want to talk about in this segment with you.  But I’m going to start by throwing this to you.  Okay?  So when you hear women told that they need to frame dads as the hero, what do you think?

Keith: I think agenda.  My alarms go off.  Agenda, agenda, right?  Because kids see their parents as heroes generally, right?  So when you talk so much about framing the husband as the hero, I think that there’s something that they’re trying to get across there.  There’s a subtext that they’re not really being honest about because dads are great.  And dads are good.  And why do we need to make them be like Marvel characters in order for them to feel special?  It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Sheila: Yeah.  Because they don’t tend to say that women need to be heroes.   

Keith: Yeah.  It’s very unidirectional.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And it’s like men need to be the hero almost as if you can’t expect him to do the normal, everyday, good things unless you make him feel like he is absolutely better than everybody, and he’s this amazing thing.  So if you make him feel like he’s this amazing thing, then he might show up and do the basic things.

Keith: Yeah.  Because they talk about framing your husband as the hero or things like that as opposed to recognizing the good in your husband or things you talked about earlier talking about seeing the good in people and that sort of thing.  It’s framing them as the hero because the most important thing is for him to feel really, really powerful and strong regardless of what he’s doing.  It doesn’t make any sense.

Sheila: Yeah.  And for the kids to think of him as this great superhuman person.  And I do have a problem with that because I think that’s a little bit of gas lighting.  And I said at the beginning of the podcast that there was something that went viral a year ago, and it was actually this post where Focus on the Family did this quote from—I think it was from Juli Slattery where it basically said that you need to frame the dad as the hero to the kids.  And I wrote something about that.  And I want to just read it because I’m afraid that I won’t remember it exactly right.  But here’s what I wrote at the time, okay?  I said, “One of the best gifts you can give your kids is the ability to see truth and speak truth.  Many men are not heroes.  And if you tell your kids that they’re supposed to think of their dad as a hero when he is not, you’re actually gas lighting your kids.  You’re telling them your experience of your dad isn’t valid.  The feelings you have with your dad aren’t valid.  You need to think of him as wonderful regardless of how he treats you or makes you feel.  This primes them to think they can’t trust their feelings.  This primes them to ignore red flags.  And as we showed in She Deserves Better, this actually primes girls to get into abusive relationships.  If your husband or ex-husband is treating your kids badly, it’s okay for this to be acknowledged in your family.  We need to stop spreading messages like this one from Focus on the Family without any caveats.  It isn’t okay, and our kids need to know they can see the truth and speak the truth.  And they’ll only know that if we model it.”  Because that’s one of the things that really did bother me about that post is it’s not making room for men who are actually actively being bad dads.  And I grew up with a dad like that.  He wasn’t abusive.  He was just absent.  He lived on the other side of the country.  He didn’t phone me.  Very rarely wrote letters.  I saw him once a year.  And my mom didn’t—my mom never gave me a litany of all the bad things he did.  She didn’t say bad things about him.  But she also didn’t tell me that he was this great man, and I needed to love him regardless or anything like that.  It was just, “Yeah.  He is what he is.”  And that really helped me because then I didn’t have to wrestle with cognitive dissonance.  I knew that he wasn’t a great dad.  I knew that I had other people in my life who were good, and I could focus on them.  But I was allowed to believe the truth.  And I think we’re allowed to be truthful with our kids.  And you don’t have to frame someone as awesome who isn’t awesome.

Keith: Well, and, again, it’s really the—that’s why I said agenda.  There’s an agenda here.  And the agenda is preserving male authority and male power.  That’s really what the issue is because most dads are really good dads.  They care about their families.  They care about their wives.  They care about their kids.  They’re going to do a great job.  And we celebrate those dads.

Sheila: Yeah.  And millennial dads are doing a way better job than Gen X dads are doing.  The younger dads are really showing up.  It’s really great to see.  

Keith:   Mm-hmm.  Yeah.  But we celebrate those.  But then when you say something like, “Well, some dads aren’t good,” you get called anti man when it’s a fact, right?  But they say, “All fathers should be framed as heroes,” with no caveats, no exceptions, no cautionary stuff.  Somehow that’s allowed.  They’re allowed to say that.

Sheila: Yeah.  And I do want to say Juli Slattery gave caveats in the podcast.  But in the post that Focus on the Family put up, they didn’t give any caveats.  And that was really the issue to me is—yeah.  He doesn’t need to be a hero.  And even then, framing him as a hero when he is not—because that—like you said, that whole idea of framing him as a hero makes it sound like he’s not one, but we’re going to make him look like one, right?  So framing him as a hero when he’s not acting like one does not suddenly make him one.  But that is one of the big things that they were saying.  Treat him like a hero, and you might suddenly get the hero that you wanted.  It’s like it doesn’t work that way.  Because when someone is not stepping up to the plate, when they’re actually being lazy, when they’re not fulfilling their responsibilities, when they’re not taking initiative to praise them as if they are actually enables bad behavior.  It doesn’t suddenly make someone want to be good.

Keith: No.  And that kind of manifestation theology is everywhere in the evangelical church.  Just praise the things you want to see in him and then they will come forth, and you’ll see them.  I mean Josh Howerton said, “Give him a crown, and he will act like a king.”  That kind of stuff.  That’s out there.  And I think it’s so incredibly dangerous.  But the other flip side for the guys is it’s like these expectations.  You’re supposed to be some superhero.  Why can I not just be a decent dad and a good husband?  Why can I not just show up, do my part, pitch in, do my part of the things, and give everything I have to this marriage and be okay?  It’s a double-edged sword because it cuts men too.  We make men up to be these amazing things that they can’t live up to.  And when they don’t live up to it, we don’t say, “They’re failing.”  We say, “Make them feel like they’re living up to it anyway.”  It’s crazy.

Sheila: Yeah.  And no wonder guys have imposter syndrome.  Seriously.  It’s not only guys who have imposter syndrome.  But yeah.  I think that’s a big contributor to it for sure.  Okay.  There’s something else I want to talk about it, and that’s the Harrison Butker commencement speech.  So many people sent me this.  It dropped, I think, when we were on vacation.  Maybe when we were just about to leave for vacation.  It was bad, right?

Keith: It was early on.  Yeah.

Sheila: Did you hear it?  I know you watch Instagram Reels more than I do.

Keith: I heard the first part of it.  I heard about his advice to women.  I haven’t heard all—the whole speech.

Sheila: Okay.  Well, we’re going to play a couple of clips.  And to set this up, he—Harrison Butker is an NFL player.  And he was invited to give the commencement speech at a small conservative Catholic university.  And so that is where this is from.  So I want to play first the remarks that went viral when he was talking to women.  Okay?  So here we go.

Harrison: The world is enlightened by your example.  For the ladies present today, congratulations on an amazing accomplishment.  You should be proud of all that you have achieved to this point in your young lives.  I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you.  How many of you are sitting here now about to cross this stage and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career?  Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.  I can tell you that my beautiful wife, Isabelle, would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother.  I’m on this stage today and able to be the man I am because I have a wife, who leans into her vocation.  I am beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl a met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all, homemaker.

Sheila: All right.  What do you think?  

Keith: Crazy.  Exactly.  So this whole thing is—basically, my problem is this is they couch these things and they talk about being pro family, but they’re really not pro family.  They’re pro a very specific way that family is supposed to run.  And basically, it depends upon a worldview where men do stuff and women help men do stuff.  And I’ve said this before.  It’s like the man is the main character, and the woman is the sidekick.  And this is the way they see the world.  It’s like homemaking is so incredibly important for you women to do so that I can go out and do the important stuff that I need to do as a man, right?  Because I can’t do all that stuff and still get all this great stuff done.  So thank you for doing all this stuff so that I can do this stuff.

Sheila: Okay.  I’m laughing because this reminds me of one of our favorite movies.  And I don’t know that our listeners are going to believe this, okay?

Keith: I don’t know we should admit this is a favorite movie.    

Sheila: Maybe we shouldn’t admit this publically.  I think this movie is hilarious.  I love the movie The Other Guys.  We both do.  With Mark Wahlberg and—

Keith: I know the scene you’re talking about.

Sheila: – and Will Ferrell.  And they play these cops that are put together as partners, who are polar opposites.  A lot of comedy comes from that.  But at the beginning of the movie, there’s this other set of cops.  Two cops.  Who are heroes.

Keith: Super cops.  

Sheila: Super cops, who are always in the news.

Keith: By the way, there’s a lot of language in this movie.  And we’re not trying to endorse this movie.

Sheila: No.  There’s parts that I think are quite funny.  Anyway, so these two super cops played by The Rock and—

Keith: Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne, “The Rock”, Johnson.

Sheila: Dwayne, “The Rock”, Johnson.  They have this scene where they’re thanking all the little cops.  

Keith: All the underlings.

Sheila: Yeah.  And there’s a lot of swearing.  So I’ll just paraphrase.  But they’re like, “Thank you for doing all that stupid stuff that we don’t want to do so that we can do all this important stuff,” right?  And I get this idea so much from—when people say things like this because they’re trying to make it sound like they really revere the things that women do in homemaking.

Keith: Yeah.  It’s so important for you to do.  

Sheila: It’s so important, but, at the same, they would never do it themselves.  And so if they think it’s so great, if they think it’s so important, then why don’t they say something like, “Homemaking is the most important thing that anybody can do.  And so figure out what works, and then be—and then show up.  And whatever works for your family, do this.”  But no.  It’s just that women have to do it so that men can go do the important stuff.      

Keith: And this is the thing I find so ironic because the people who—people are saying Harrison Butker is getting criticized for having a pro family viewpoint, right?  And it’s just their particular view of the family.  Because Harrison Butker did not get up there and say, “Raising a family is really important, so both men and women should really step up to the plate and bring everything they have to that job.”  He’s putting forward a view where the woman does all the homemaking so the man can be absent from the home and go do other stuff.  How is that pro family?  It’s pro industrial revolution, right?  It’s pro modern, Leave it to Beaver, kind of fifties family.  But it’s not pro a family where both parents are engaged, both parents want to spend time with their children, both parents are involved and know their children and care for them on a daily basis.

Sheila: Yeah.  No.  It really is funny.  And then there’s the glaring problem of the fact that a lot of women will not get married and to make it sound like women’s main role is as a wife and a mother is just so horrendously terrible.  And especially to give this message—

Keith: I’m sorry I’m laughing.  But he gave this message—

Sheila: At a commencement when women had just finished graduating.  It just—very, very tone deaf.  So yeah.  Lot of issues with this.  I think it is so funny because we know a lot of your colleagues where the wife is the main breadwinner.  She’s the physician.  The husband does a lot of the homemaking.  We have that in our own family, in our own extended family.  And it’s great.  It works for them.  We know families who do things in all different ways.  And when people figure out what works best, it tends to work best.  It doesn’t need to always be one way.  I mean you look at Rebecca and Connor, who are able to totally split it 50/50.  And I think they have—that’s amazing.  We did that for six months, remember?  After you graduate residency for six months, I worked on programming databases, and you were on the helicopters.  The medical helicopters before we came to Belleville doing the transports.  And it was great because we both got to be with the kids, and we both got to do intellectually stimulating stuff.

Keith: Yeah.  I was on shifts.  So when I was off shift, I was doing the kids.  And then when I was on shift, I was at work.  And you were doing—we were flipping, right?

Sheila: Yeah.  We were each working half time.  And so this idea that—yeah.  That only she can be a homemaker and trying to make it sound like we respect this so much, but, at the same time, we would never do it ourselves is just—it’s just so problematic.  It really is problematic.  Okay.

Keith:   And, again, it’s the whole idea of what does it mean to be a hero, right?  I could never do what I do without her.  She’s taking care of the home, so I can go kick a football, right?  So it’s like but that’s the thing that we value.  And that’s what I find really upsetting is when we start dividing things into only men can do this and only women can do that then watch.  Because the next thing that happens is the list of things for men gets valued and raised and lifted up and extolled, and the stuff that women is relegated to women gets put down.  And it’s not that important, and it’s less important.  Oh, but then we have to raise it up every once in awhile because we don’t want them to stop doing it.

Sheila: Yeah.  So we say how much we appreciate them, but we would never actually do it ourselves.  Yeah.

Keith:   Yeah.  But if we, instead, said, “It is very important to raise your kids well.  It’s very important that you run your home well.   It’s very important to do these things.  And you, as a couple, should figure out how you’re going to divide those responsibilities up between the two of you in a way that works for you,” that would truly be pro family.

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  Exactly.  Okay.

Keith: But a lot of people feel that you can’t be pro man unless you’re at some level anti woman, right?

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  And that’s what he’s doing is he’s pitting against—he’s pitting them against each other by giving very different messages to both men and women.  So do you want to hear what he said to men?

Keith: Yes.  

Sheila: Okay.  Let’s play this clip.

Harrison: My vocation as a husband and father and as a man.  To the gentlemen here today, part of what plagues our society is this lie that has been told to you that men are not necessary in the home or in our communities.  As men, we set the tone of the culture.  And when that is absent, disorder, dysfunction, and chaos set in.  This absence of men in the home is what plays a large role in the violence we see all around the nation.  Other countries do not have nearly the same absentee rates as we find here in the U.S.  And a correlation could be made in their drastically lower violence rates as well.  Be unapologetic in your masculinity.  Fight against the cultural emasculation of men.  Do hard things.  Never settle for what is easy.  You might have a talent that you don’t necessarily enjoy.  

Sheila: All right.  So I actually agree with some of the things he said.  Okay.  I don’t agree with how he framed it.  But I do agree that men are important in society and the family.  And I do agree there’s a big problem with absentee fathers.  Absolutely.  But he’s setting up this fallacy that people are saying men don’t matter in the family.  No one is saying that.

Keith: Yeah.  Yeah.  It’s the motte-and-bailey fallacy we talked about last season, right?  So he’s making a point that no one can disagree with.  Men are important for society.  And then he’s making the argument that, therefore, men should be in charge of everything, right?  And it’s crazy.  And it doesn’t make any sense at all.  And this comes from a mindset, like I said earlier, men are the ones who do things.  Women are the ones who help men do things.  That’s the mentality.  And when you have that mentality, then if women are empowered, it is a detraction from men, right?  It’s a zero sum game.  So when women gain, men lose.  And that’s the way they see it.  And it’s ridiculous because that is not the way the world works, right?  Rising tides raise all ships, right?  So when women are empowered and when we give women the abilities and the opportunity and the support to do what they can do really well, we all do better.  Societies where women are empowered, where women are educated, where women are allowed to vote, those societies do better, right?  We’re all better off if we’re better.  But this idea that men can only be men if women know their place and they get back into the homes and let men do all the important stuff out here.  It’s crazy.  It’s so harmful.

Sheila: Well, and that’s really what he’s saying because he’s arguing against the emasculation of men.  

Keith: Yeah.  And how have men been emasculated in modern society?  How have men been emasculated?  

Sheila: Yeah.  It’s because their power has been taken away, and they’re told, “Hey, you’re supposed to be equal.”  And when you define being male as being superior to women and being over women, then any time women are empowered you feel like masculinity is under attack.  

Keith:   Yeah.  Well, and also your definition of masculinity is skewed.  It’s like we talked about in one of the last podcasts of the last season too, right?  That men need to be monsters but under control, right?  You need to be dangerous to be a true man, right?  And so masculinity is under attack because I’m not allowed to be toxic and abusive.  That’s really what’s happening, right?  Because they define masculinity as being in charge and ruling with an iron fist.  And you’re taking that away from me by letting women vote and have credit cards and do stuff like that.  And so, therefore, I feel attacked.  And so I say that masculinity is being attacked.  Most guys don’t have a problem with this.  I mean I work with women—most of my colleagues are female, right?  In pediatrics, right?  I think it’s amazing.  I celebrate their success.  I think it’s wonderful.  The idea that I would say to my female colleagues, “It’s really great that you’re doing all that, but you really should be back in the kitchen because that’s where women are supposed to be.”  Why would I want to say that?  What benefit does that have?

Sheila: Yeah.  I know.  It really is crazy.  And I want to—

Keith: And it shows a lot of insecurity, right?  If you have no idea of what masculinity means unless it means being in charge and being over women and not letting women run me, then that’s a very deficient view of what it means to be a man.  

Sheila: It really is.  It really is.  I want to say something else.  Okay?

Keith: Sure.

Sheila: So he was saying at the beginning of that that the reason that we have absentee fathers is largely because our culture has decided men aren’t necessary.  Now our culture never did that.  What we did do is say, “Hey, single moms can be good parents,” okay?  Because so many moms are single moms.  But no one has ever said that a mother is better than a mother and father together.  We have said that a mother alone is better than a mother and father, if there’s abuse and toxicity for sure because studies show that.  But in an ideal world, a mother and father work best together.  No one wants to parent on their own.  So no one has ever said men are superfluous.  It’s just that men are leaving.  But here is the thing.  He is blaming this on our culture, which is empowering women.  Okay?  So he’s saying we have absentee fathers because we’ve decided men aren’t necessary, and we’re empowering women.  But what does the data actually say?  

Keith: Yeah.  Exactly.

Sheila: Okay.  So let’s bring some data in here.  So I took a look at a ranking of gender equality and single parenthood.  Okay?  So where do we see absentee fathers?  Well, the United States—where he is talking, okay?  Is really bad.  So out of 129 countries that they’ve ranked in terms of single parenthood, the United States is 10 out of 129 of the worst.

Keith: So near the top of the list.

Sheila: Yeah.  As in the top bad.  Okay.  Now a lot of the countries where there’s really low single parenthood rates are also highly Muslim where divorce is very difficult.  So let’s not compare it to that.  

Keith: We don’t know that those are healthy marriages.

Sheila: Right.  But when we compare it to western nations—to other western nations, what you’ll find is that the more gender equality the less single parenthood.  So countries like Denmark—I’ve been talking about Denmark on the blog last week.  Denmark, Canada, New Zealand.  They all have single parenthood rates that are about two-thirds of the U.S.  So the U.S. is 50% higher.  Yeah.  So it’s like it’s not gender equality that is causing single parenthood.  It is continuing these narratives of manhood where men entitled.  So men are entitled to women’s bodies, so they get women pregnant.  And they don’t stick around.  Men are entitled to do what they want, but women are left with—to pick up the pieces.

Keith: Yeah.  When I’m the center of the story as the man—I’m the center of the story, right?  And things aren’t going my way it’s—the natural sense is, “Well, she’s not giving me what I need, so I don’t owe her anything.”  Right?  “She’s not living her part of it.  So I’m just going to take off.”  It’s entitlement.  The idea that because we’ve empowered women men are not being engaged in the families, okay?  Think about that.  What that means is that men, as a whole, are seeing women doing better off and going, “I don’t like this.  I don’t think it’s fair that I don’t get the special treatment I used to get.  And so, therefore, I’m going to leave, and I’m going to abandon this woman to a single parent life because she’s not giving me the respect that I’m due as a man because I’m born a man.”  And our solution to that is to say, “We better be nicer to men.”  Our solution should be to say, “Grow up.  That’s not what manliness is.”  And if we’re preaching a manliness where we—that’s your idea of what masculinity is that’s the problem with causing this kind of situation.  Teach men to not feel entitled, and they will stick around and be better dads.

Sheila: Yeah.  And that’s what the data shows.  And so this whole rhetoric around Father’s Day that we see so much in the church about how manhood is under attack, masculinity is under attack, we need to get back to real manhood, it’s like okay.  What if we get back to the Bible?  Just a thought.  Just a thought.  But what if, instead, the church talked about getting back to the Bible rather than enforcing this kind of hierarchy where men are over and superior to women?  And what about if we actually had the mind of Christ?  And what would that look like?  So here.  I’m going to pass you a Bible.  Do you want to read Philippians 2 for us?

Keith: I can pull this one out.

Sheila: Yeah.   Starting in verse four.  I don’t have my reading glasses, so you’re going to have to read this, babe.

Keith: Okay.  This is Philippians 2 verse 4.  “Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others.  Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited but emptied Himself taking the form of a slave being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore, God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven and earth and under the earth and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”  

Sheila: Yeah.  That is the mind of Christ.  That He had everything, and He humbled Himself.  He gave it up.  He willingly stepped down to live among us.  And that’s the kind of attitude that we should be having.  Not oh my goodness.  All my power and privilege has been taken away.  How can I get it back?  But, hey, how can I serve?  How can I lay aside the power and privilege that I have for other people’s benefit?  That is having the mind of Christ.  And that is not being preached enough.  And if that was preached enough, we would have better families.  So I just want to say to the guys out there thank you for showing up.  To the guys out there who are doing the dishes, who are playing with your kids, who are Googling how to get my picky eaters to eat veggies or how to get my kid not to wet the bed, thank you to all the dads, who are showing up, and all the guys who are just being great partners.  You matter.  You’re changing the world.  And you don’t need to be a hero.  You can just be a normal guy, who is walking with integrity and who is doing is job and is being responsible.  That’s what we want.  That’s what really makes the world a great place.  And so thank you for those of you who are doing that.

Keith: Yeah.  And thank you for not listening to the—those whispers that they say.  You can’t be a man unless you are above other people.  You can’t be a true Christian man unless you’re somewhat dangerous.  Thank you for rejecting that nonsense and just living a Christlike life.  

Sheila: And if you want to learn more, please—again, we thank our sponsor, Sam Jolman’s book, The Sex Talk You Never Got, which is a great look at how we can have healthy male sexuality, a healthy view of what it means to be a man, a healthy view of masculinity, just a wonderful, wonderful book.  I’m so glad there are men standing in the gap with us and doing this work with us.  So do check out that book.  The link is in the podcast notes.  And we will be back next week.  We are going to do a deep dive—Johnna Harris from Bodies Behind the Bus is joining us.  And we’re going to do a deep dive into the book Lies Young Women Believe because we’ve been asked so much to cover that.  We did Lies Women Believe last season.  But so many people have said, “Hey, our youth group is working through Lies Young Women Believe with the girls.  So please tackle that one.”  So we’re going to.  So join us next week for that.  But as we are ending this podcast, a lot of people have asked me what I would have said at that commencement speech.  And so I wrote something really short, and I thought I would just read this to all of you as we are going out.  “Our society will tell us that everything is a fight.  That our position is precarious and others are vying to take the power we have.  But life is not about preserving power.  Life is about service.  Stop viewing others as out to get you as the other and view others as people, not caricatures.  Serve.  Love.  And respect.  Now to all of you, you have the chance in what you choose to do both in your career and in your volunteer work to change the world.  That is a high calling.  Do it well.  Show up.  Walk with integrity.  Use your gifts.  Speak out for the marginalized.  But remember that all of the accomplishments in the world will not bring you the peace or be as meaningful as your relationships.  Don’t neglect people.  Some of you will marry and have children.  Remember that parenting is a job that nobody else can do for you.  Never put your kids second.  Cling to your families.  Love your spouse.  They matter, and they need you.  And all of us will be called to be friends and neighbors.  So take risks and be vulnerable.  Let your guard down.  Choose intimacy because that’s what makes life worthwhile.”

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Jo R

    If you’ve ever watched a baseball game, you’ll routinely see that after catching each pitch, the catcher moves his mitt to the center of the strike zone. He does so to (sub)consciously influence the home plate ump to call the pitch a strike even if it was a ball. You’ll even hear the announcers compliment a “nice frame” when an obvious ball is called a strike.

    A catcher’s framing is nothing other than an attempt to, well, deceive. To obfuscate the truth of what just happened. To tell a lie.

    Telling a wife to help her husband THINK he’s good in bed EVEN WHEN HE’S NOT is nothing but framing. Telling her children that her lousy husband and their bad father is really a hero is nothing but framing.

    When someone sets up a situation to get a completely uninvolved person accused of a crime, what do we call it? Framing the innocent.

    So what are all these people REALLY asking for when telling women to “frame” their husbands as heroes? To deceive. To obfuscate the truth. To lie. To set up the innocent (herself and the kids) to prevent the guilty from being treated accordingly.

    There’s a very simple way for a father to be a hero to his children. Do the d@mn work of being an involved father, of being the second adult in the home who actively runs the household and raises the kids, instead of just being a sperm donor who thinks a paycheck is all the contributing he needs to do.

    • Jo R

      Here’s some gold from Zawn and her commenters. (No naughty language currently, but it’s always a possibility.)


      I particularly liked what Lorna said in her response to Bethany. Let me grab my 🍿 too! 🤣

      (And for the not faint of heart, find her substack article [where she’s just zawn] from February 15 whose title begins with “welcome to motherhood.” I don’t want to link it because the title continues with, well, you’ll see! 😉)

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is really good. Exactly. Framing means to deceive!

    • Just Me

      Tell it! The selfish attitudes of most/typical husbands Sheila and posters like Jo R expose here is truly shameful and very validating to all the wives who have to put up with them.

    • Just me

      You just gave me a great idea. Let’s call it “Sperm Donor Day” instead of Fathers day lest they get overconfident thinking they should get special treatment for a day just for doing something IVF can do perfectly well without their active participation.

  2. Nessie

    Re: Julie Slattery clip-
    1. Men have just as much voice as ever. Won’t they don’t now have is blind compliance.
    2. I think many women say “lead” when they actually mean they wish their husband would “participate.”

    Re: commencement speech- Homemaking and being a SAHM can be great- if that is what one feels called to be. But to prioritize that at a college commencement speech right after minimizing women’s potential dreams of careers and promotions that they have just worked really hard to earn a chance at achieving… how inappropriate, condescending, and self-aggrandizing!

    I think those who claim men are being emasculated are the ones inadvertantly giving women power. If women simply getting voices is that worrisome and affecting to men’s standing as “real men,” then women must be truly powerful indeed!

    BTW, love your little squirrel friend who came in at 1:07:08 mark to listen to you a bit! 😄

    • Laura

      2. I think many women say “lead” when they actually mean they wish their husband would “participate.”

      Very true. Whenever I’ve asked women what they mean by “lead,” they cannot seem to give me a straight answer. Some responses go like this, “that he [my husband] would pitch in with housework, errands, and helping out with the kids.” Um, ma’am, that’s stuff you already do, so does that make you the leader in the marriage? (Hint, sarcasm) So, basically women want their husbands to be engaged partners but why do they have to frame that as “leading” just to get the husband to help out?

      I’ve found that many Christians in my circle just parrot what they hear pastors, Bible study teachers, Christian authors, politicians of their liking, and news media of their liking say without even thinking about what these people may mean. Language matters and we need to know what people are talking about and not just relying on Christianese buzz words like “lead” when it comes to men or “submit” when the Apostle Paul was never specific on what he meant by wives submitting to their husbands. He never said anything about submitting meaning do whatever your husband says and that he makes the final decision. Ephesians 5 never says for husbands to lead. Love your wives like Christ loved the church.

      So, couples just need to communicate what they want and need. Stop beating around the bush and using Christianese buzz words.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        It really is just a buzzword with no actual meaning. Absolutely!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely! And giving that speech at a commencement really was insulting.

    • Reply

      2. I think many women say “lead” when they actually mean they wish their husband would “participate.”

      I know we’re just supposed to treat men are horrible on this site without any introspection (so I apologize in advance), but if I may. I experience and I see (mostly in the church) a lot of wives criticize/condemn/complain about their husbands doing things with the kids and around the house early in their marriage and parenting, just not doing “the right thing” or “the right way” (aka, the exact way the wife/mother would do it). Then, throw in that the wife considers her upbringing as the gold standard and implies his thoughts/feelings/convictions on child raising aren’t important because she has “motherly instincts” and he doesn’t.

      The kids get bigger/older and she wonders why he isn’t participating as a parent as much as she wants him to. It must be “entitled patriarchy” and “toxic masculinity” culture. Ya, you nailed it.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        This certainly is a problem for some. Not for most. It’s interesting how you would post this with no citations.

        In our marriage book coming out we give the full results from our matched pair study, and what you’re saying is simply not people’s reality. What IS reality is that women are doing far more of the share of childcare/housework, even when they work outside the home.

        You may also want to look up some journal articles on weaponized incompetence. Because it’s been shown to be very real and very common.

        You can keep believing what you want, of course. But it isn’t in line with most people’s realities.

        Also, if a husband really was an involved dad, why would he STOP being involved because she criticized him? Why wouldn’t he fight for the kids? The fact that he stopped being involved actually shows that your theory is wrong. He wasn’t involved in the first place then.

        Seriously–nothing my husband could have said would have stopped me from being involved with the kids, and vice versa. Men who stop being involved with the kids don’t value time with their kids.

  3. Graham

    I really appreciated this episode. Personally, I don’t relate to the feeling of masculinity being attacked. Maybe there’s something out there that is truly against men. But anything I see as being anti-masculinity is actually just anti-unhealthy masculinity.

    I think a similar problem to what you discussed can happen regarding mothers. I believe it comes from a good place of wanting to honor the role of mothers especially when society can sometimes treat motherhood as less-than. But, there can be a tendency to put mothers up on a pedestal as if they are these angelic people who do no wrong. But mothers are humans too and don’t always love and care for and encourage their children as well as they should.

    Let’s stop putting people on pedestals or calling people to a standard that no one can meet. I wonder if we would have healthier families and marriages is people weren’t so focused on trying to meet an impossible standard and instead focused on serving well within their limits and gifts.

    • JoB

      I agree. For years it has bothered me when people in certain professions are automatically labeled “heroes” — soldiers, first responders and the like. Yes, they are unique jobs that we want to appreciate, but they are also JOBS, that come with salary, benefits, often union protections, etc. They also come with quite a bit of power, and bullies can hide behind their label of being part of a heroic brotherhood.

      Yes, it would be better if instead of looking for certain titles or positions to gush over and idealize, we emphasized that everyone can and should practice integrity, faithfulness, courage, unselfishness, etc. and that no one does it perfectly, but we try to help each other achieve it.

      • Graham

        Indeed! Heroism is about behavior not position.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I completely agree. The idea of treating moms like angels and like moms are always perfect is toxic too. we simply have to give our kids permission to see and tell the truth.

  4. Angharad

    ‘my favorite verse in Colossians is, “Teach your sons how to shoot a rifle.” ‘

    I laughed so much at this. But that postcard’s message really highlights how American churches seem to be treating Christianity and patriotism as one and the same thing. Maybe they need to realise that the command to avoid worshipping other gods doesn’t just mean little wooden or metal idols. It can mean anything which is set up as being equal to or more important than God. And it sounds like this particular church is worshipping ‘traditional American family values’ instead of Jesus.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is very strange for those of us outside of the US to watch.

      • Lisa Johns

        It’s not exactly comforting for those of us inside the US to watch. :/

  5. Laura

    Excellent podcast! Just like I do NOT enjoy going to church on Mothers’ Day, I don’t enjoy going on Fathers’ Day. One of the reasons I do not enjoy going on Fathers’ Day is because my dad has been gone for 11 years now and it’s just a reminder that he’s not here on Earth anymore. Other reasons I do not like attending church on Fathers’ Day is exactly the things mentioned in this podcast about how we need to elevate men and the pathetic woes of men who think they are being emasculated because women finally get to vote, own credit cards, have a voice in the marriage, etc.

    Years ago, I remember attending a Fathers’ Day service when the pastor whose church I got saved at in 1994 spoke. He had always been a male chauvinist as he would not let his wife cut her hair, wear red lipstick or blue jeans, and he never let her see the bills. In this sermon, he lamented at how fathers on TV shows were not being respected like they once were on shows like Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best. “Fathers deserve respect” was something I heard him say in this sermon. I don’t remember much else, just that I was like, “Here we go again.”

    In another Fathers’ Day sermon from a church I used to attend, this pastor talked about how husbands or fathers are the priests of their home. But he never explained what he meant by being “the priest of their home.” Another Christianese buzz phrase that is never mentioned in the Bible but many Christians I know echo this phrase as though it is in the Bible. Thankfully, I watched this sermon on YouTube (this was during COVID) and just turned it off after the pastor went on about fathers as priests.

    I’m also tired of Christian men (and even secular men) complain about how men are being emasculated. You all said it well on this podcast. Men are NOT really being emasculated; their power (that they never should have had) has just been taken away from them and they hate that they have to be considered equal to women. If men are really being emasculated, then all these male-dominated organizations would not exist. Women are still not getting paid equal to men, yet men are being “emasculated”?

    Around the time I broke things off with my ex-fiance, his roommate had told me that when I disagreed with my ex on a particular house to buy, that I “emasculated” him. My ex never said that because he never used words like “emasculate.” The roommate was just a male chauvinist who claimed that the man is supposed to be the decision-maker. So, it was not acceptable for me to disagree with my ex about a big purchase? Apparently to this roommate disagreeing means “emasculating.”

    Rant over. I am married to a wonderful man who is nowhere near a male chauvinist and as much as I want to help in the fight for equality, I must remember he is not one of those men who thinks he’s being emasculated.

    • Angharad

      Also, if men are such super-awesome and mature beings with innate leadership skills, how come women speaking up is emasculating them anyway? I mean, if you’re a leader…you lead.

      Guys who bleat on about how they are meant to be in charge but women won’t let them are like toddlers, throwing temper tantrums because they can’t get their own way. Meanwhile, the men who have true maturity are just getting on with life, because women having an opinion is not threatening to them. Because they ARE mature men, not spoiled little boys. They are confident in their own identity and don’t need to be constantly propped up by the women around them.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        So, so very true. This is what Keith says all the time!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think your last paragraph is really important. Like Rebecca said, we don’t need good man to die on the altar for other men’s chauvinism. We can just appreciate good men!

  6. Andrea

    I’ve commented about Juli Slattery here before, specifically about how she has recently revealed that sex was horrible (painful) for her for DECADES. It really bothers me that during that entire time she was counseling other women and to now hear her speak of women’s empowerment hurting intimacy, well…. cringe. Talking about how women need protection from their husbands? What are the chances her house will get broken into and her husband will be able to protect both of them successfully? But over 20% of evangelical women experience vaginismus, and how is it protective to insist on penetrating your wife when you know you’re hurting her? I think she is dealing with her own trauma in the same way Elisabeth Elliot and Dannah Gresh have, their platform allowing them to traumatize others in turn. Let’s also remember Juli has slightly changed her messaging under the Sheila’s influence, though she refuses to acknowledge her and Focus on the Family deleted hundreds of comments that pointed out where “obligation sex” came from. As Julie Roys reported, “Focus on the Family Reverses Position on ‘Obligation Sex,’ but Deletes Author Who Exposed Message’s Harm.”

    • M

      Regarding Harrison Butker…

      I read the parts of his speech where he addresses men and women. I appreciate that he encourages men to be involved in the home and community, but if women are steered towards homemaking, that leaves double the work for men since women are expected to not contribute to the workforce. It also irks me that this kind of lifestyle is always held up as the pinnacle, but never acknowledged as a bit of a luxury. There are so many families that would be in poverty or debt or homeless if the mom/wife didn’t work. Around 25% of single black moms live below the poverty level. They HAVE to work. Can you imagine a black woman in the audience who has worked her butt off and is so excited to get her degree so she can get her kids out of poverty, and this guy comes up and basically tells her to go back home?

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Exactly. If a large portion of the population couldn’t practically live up to that ideal, then is that ideal actually “Christian”?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I really think Juli is trying to change. She’s just so deeply into that culture. Even in these two podcasts that I was quoting from, she was saying it was really important that women have boundaries and speak up, but at the same time she was urging women to submit and be under the husband’s leadership.

  7. NL

    I love your commencement speech!

  8. Shoshana

    I read most of Butker’s speech so I don’t agree with the stuff he said to women who worked hard for their degree. However, I find what he said to men more alarming especially the part about the absence of fathers in the home causing most of the violence in our country. How many homes don’t have fathers because the father was violent toward the wife and kids? I know that is why my mother divorced my father. And men set the “tone of our culture”? Yeah, sure, that’s why we have toxic masculinity all around us. If there is any truth to his statements, there is also truth that is opposite to what he says. I get sick of this stuff being oversimplified to “if only men were in the homes”. What I see is toxic masculinity invading all spheres of our culture including the church which is why I cannot bring myself to go to church at this time.

  9. Lisa Johns

    I just love when people keep saying that men need to be the “protectors” of women.
    From what, exactly?

    Do we need to be protected from singleness, is that it? Or from not having an extra kid to clean up after when the guy gets home from work? Or maybe from the boredom of not having to cook a meal for a guy who doesn’t want to heat up the leftovers? Huh.

    • Willow

      Lisa, I’m guessing this is some great sarcasm, but in all seriousness, men say they need to protect women against other men. I work with 95%+ men and they say this all the time. The good men need to protect women against the bad men. I hear it kind of like the good guns protect against the bad guns….when really, it’s just a lot more bullets flying and a lot more dangerous crossfire. But they mean it quite sincerely – even the “bad” ones.

      Allies are great, but a lot of the “protecting” isn’t true allyship. It’s more like macho posturing for self-aggrandizement.

      • Shoshana

        Yeah, they’re doing a great job of that in the church where male church leaders are telling women to reconcile with abusive spouses, telling them to submit more, etc., while not holding those guys responsible. Same in the legal system. Toxic masculinity is all around us.

        • Lisa Johns


      • Lisa Johns

        You are correct, this was entirely sarcastic. And I love your analogy of just many more bullets flying around — so true! Also very true about “macho posturing for self-aggrandizement.” Totally agree. I don’t actually want protection offered by these guys, I just want to get the heck out of the room where they are!


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