I just read a blurb for Steve Harvey’s book Act Like a Lade, Think Like a Man, his dating advice to women. If you know me, you’re probably thinking, “Shanna, why would you ever do such a thing?” I know, but the title and author combination piqued my curiosity. The publisher’s blurb indicates that this book explains to women what men think while in a relationship; according to it, Harvey claims that men will always start lining up other women if his woman won’t have sex with him enough, and apparently discusses “independent–and lonely–women.” Finally, the blurb admits, “feminists and the easily offended” are not likely to appreciate the book. And, furthermore, a customer review indicates that Harvey explains that women should keep the house clean and take care of the kids, women should give up hobbies their husbands don’t want to participate in, etc. I bet he likes to have dinner on the table when he gets home from work and a wife in peals and heals attending his every need. You can probably see by now why this is offensive (if not, save yourself from my wrath by commenting to the contrary). Of course, if you want more explanation of why I am offended by this, I’m happy to oblige.
I feel like this books is offensive because of the roles it expects women to play and because of the way it essentializes male behaviors (the “it’s just the way men are” mentality), but more than offensive, this book is damaging for both of those reasons. It says to women, “If you really want to make a relationship work, you have to ignore your own needs and desires and think and act the way your man wants you to.” Women have done that for centuries, but for the first time ever (that I’m aware of), generations of girls are growing up hearing that they can be anything they want to be. That they have options for their life that don’t necessarily end in marriage, motherhood, and household duties. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for women choosing to stay home and raise their families, but the key word is choosing. Don’t you want your daughters, sisters, cousins, nieces, friends to grow up knowing that they have options? That their talents and gifts and minds are worth sharing with the whole world, just as much as boys’ are? That their ideas and opinions are just as valuable? Maybe most importantly, that their hopes and desires and dreams are worth fighting for? And for your sons, brothers, friends, nephews, don’t you hope that they’ll grow up valuing everyone and seeing women as their equals? That if they do get married some day, they’ll find wives who will challenge them to be better men? Wives who are filled with passion and possibility instead of quiet resignation? I do.
I am grateful to have been raised knowing that I am valuable, and that what I want out of life is important, but I think that many women are afraid that being independent will mean, as Harvey says, a life of loneliness and they fear loneliness more than they want their dreams. But independence and loneliness are not synonymous for a person who seeks fulfillment in Christ. Where I am independent in worldly terms, I am dependent on God, and I claim for myself the promises He makes in the Bible, that He loves me and values me and desires for me to serve Him with the talents He’s given me. “Delight yourself in the Lord,” says the writer of Psalm 34:17, “and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When you allow yourself to be made whole in Christ, you find that the deepest desires of your heart, the ones that your head often misinterprets, are met in abundance. So don’t mistake my independence or aloneness for loneliness. And don’t take dating advice from someone who is seeking fulfillment in all the wrong places.