Still on the Hot Plate

I heard a great comment on the radio about Sensitive New Age Guys.

"SNAGS put themselves down to appease the major human being in the relationship."

It was said very gently, but we can feel the bitterness that lurks in the statement. The major human being…

Maybe this is why the snag thing doesn't work. Obviously some guys are just play acting, and deserve the scorn the stereotype pours on them. But others really try. "Love your wives as Christ loved the church," said the author to the Ephesians. That is: to the death! Lots of blokes, many who wouldn't dream of reading the Bible, have a good try at this. It's as though we get the message that males are so bad that the only way to atone is to cease becoming male altogether. So we end up as this weak appeasing thing that drives (all but the wife who wants to be a domineering bitch) women mad.

(Regarding Ephesians: Chapter 5:21-33 is written against a backdrop of male dominance far more extreme than today. The whole text is to be read in the context of verse 21 (Be subject to one another.) Although the book is clearly assuming a male superiority it is striving toward mutuality.)

We get the message somewhere that to be male is to be a CHOP. Chauvinist (or crude), Horrible (Hagar, Hun, hurtful), Old Pig. We look at some of the old blokes we see, and to our credit we recoil. We also recognise some of the insensitive Hun in ourselves, and recoil from that!

But to go the way of the SNAG- wait for the horrible pun! is to stay on the same hot plate. CHOPS feel the heat these days. But SNAGS do too. If they are not driving their partner mad, and reaping her scorn and frustration, they still end up getting 'grilled' because the SNAG is an artificial being. It is not the better or authentic male, or man, that it purports to be. It does not really address the heat feminist consciousness puts on us.

It is not male in the sense that most of us are not like the stereotype at all! We feel, we are sensitive, we do care. But we also have a wild streak… testosterone, if you like! I know some gentle blokes… musicians, artists… but they're not snags. They're men! They are different from women. Snags seem to be a feminine parody, or poor imitation of true sensitivity, meant to appease feminism.

To get off the hot plate that feminist consciousness presents us with, we need to become men. We need to find our feelings, we need to learn to listen. But we need to do it in a way that honours our humanity and our 'mannishness.'

Honouring our humanity means that we can't become sensitive in a way which effectively says we are the minor human being in our relationship. Whatever feminism offers us (much!) it is immediately wrong if it says that men are the inferior gender. It is then just patriarchy in a dress. I think the SNAG approach to relationships does say this, if only by default. It dishonours our humanity and eventually leads to dangerous resentment on our part.

Honouring our 'mannishness' is hard, as we are way behind the decades of learning for ourselves as men, about men, what the women's movement has learned for women. But we are different. We face different issues of health, of employment, of feelings. We are taught from earliest days not to feel (except for sex and rage, perhaps!) Being a man is about feeling the world differently from a woman.

So we listen, we feel, and we seek to be gentle. But even if becoming a SNAG is not an appeasement of the 'major human being,' it is still a wrong path. It will leave us on the hot plate just as effectively in the end, as if we let ourselves grow into a CHOP.          Jan 


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