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Friday, January 30, 2009

Spiderman and The Romantic Male, Twilight Part II

by Susan Fox
"As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you." (Isaiah 62:3-5)

My husband didn't like the music playing. "Why?" I asked? "What's wrong with it?"
"There's no romance in it.," he answered.
What a shocking answer. I was naive. I thought only women were romantic and men put up with it.
But a subsequent discussion with my husband revealed this isn't true. Listen up ladies, men don't typically reveal this stuff. It turns out that men are as deeply romantic as we females. It's just the reverse of the female orientation, in fact, our complement. Women want to be treasured. Men want to treasure them -- to protect them.
It's why boys like tales of daring adventure, knights slaying dragons and . . . Spiderman. It is the reason men become priests and husbands, and women become sisters, nuns and wives. Remember in the movie, Twilight, when Bella tries to guess the source of vampire Edward Cullen's strength, she thinks of the most romantic male character, Peter Parker, the comic book superhero Spiderman created in 1962. "Radioactive spiders?" she asks Edward. That was the source of Peter Parker's powers. Spiderman, a movie based on the 1960s character, is highly favored by my 20-year-old son and his friends -- college age men.

And why? Spiderman -- like all comic superheroes from the '50s and '60s -- is very chivalrous. That's why the villains always want to kidnap his girlfriend Mary Jane when they want Spiderman's attention. They know he will jump into the worse danger imaginable just to save Mary Jane. And isn't that just so thrilling for Mary Jane? It reminds me of an old Mighty Mouse cartoon I used to watch when I was four years old. The lady mouse dressed in scarlet with beautiful blond hair was tied to the railroad track by the evil villain. What a waste of gorgeous lady mouse! But before the train could hit her, Mighty Mouse -- a sort of mouse superman with yellow leotards and a red cape comes flying out of the sky singing, "Here I come to save the day!" (That means that Mighty Mouse is on the way.)

"The highest form of masculinity," according to my husband, Lawrence, " is chivalry."

"The height of male-female relations is the Middle Ages?" I asked myself. Oh Oh. Then that means relations between the sexes are deteriorating. And the true image of man is being obscured.

In fact, you can listen to it happen on XM Satellite Radio. There's a station for music of the 1950s, one for the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s and so on. I'm in Louisiana this week so I plugged those stations into my rental car radio and listened to each decade's music. It starts with"Sweet Little Sheila" and Herman's Hermits still holding hands under an umbrella, and ends with songs whose refrain is "s-e-x" or "I can love you better than him," (Hard to Handle '91, Black Crowes).

"There was still permanence in relationships in the music of the '50s, but by the time to you get to the '90s, the permanence is lost," Lawrence, my husband, mused.

There is another -- more caveman aspect of male masculinity emphasized in the '90s. True to his chivalrous nature when we were courting 26 years ago, my husband asked permission to hold my hand the first time. I said, "Yes." I asked him the other night, "How did you feel when I said yes (to holding hands the first time)?" His answer was interesting: "I'm in." In the '90s the music is all about conquering women -- the big score, another notch on your gun. There is even one charming '90s song by Aqua called "Bumblebee," where the female vocalist is a flower and the male vocalist is a bumblebee. The female flower welcomes the bumblebee, but warns him, "You gotta be faithful." His response is that while she's his favorite flower when they are together, "one flower is not enough for a bee like me." The flower sings poignantly, "I know I'm not the only flower you see, but what can I do? You're such a good looking bee."

So I asked my husband about this aspect of masculinity and he said, "A man who deliberately goes from one flower to the next is a brute. He has no compassion."

The popular music of the '90s is definitely more brutish than the '50s. But I know so many young people born 1988 and after who are still searching for this permanence in romantic love -- a permanence leading to marriage.

Desperate Housewives be damned. The human heart has not changed. It still longs for permanent faithful romantic love. I remember in the 1980s I lived in an apartment with two other girls in Arlington, VA. The couple in the apartment downstairs were older and unmarried. Apparently, the male in the relationship did not believe in marriage. She was the saddest woman I ever met.

And later doing door-to-door evangelization, I found a Filipino woman who believed she couldn't return to the Catholic Church. She was living with a man and depended on him for financial support. She told me she had been married, but a priest had told the couple they could use birth control. That led to divorce. And now she was in worse condition than before. Of course, nothing is impossible with God. God makes all things new, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (if you sin after Baptism.)

"So Lawrence," I asked, "What led to the decline of our culture and the increasing brutishness of men and the sadness of women?"

"Birth Control," he answered. (He's written to Dr. Dobson to try and help him on this issue as Dr. Dobson -- as wonderful as he is -- doesn't recognize that Artificial Birth Control disfigures the image of God in man, and makes men more brutish. )

And finally I understood that a man asking his woman to be always available sexually without any commitment was an extremely brutish act. Even with commitment, it is a brutish act. He is asking her to risk illness, cancer, spontaneous abortion for his selfish pleasure. Poor little flower, what could she do -- he was such a good looking bee.

But what about the poor man, whose selfish act is disfiguring his own male human nature. He is no longer Spiderman, but one of the monsters Spiderman must battle. And believe me, good men -- even ones who may have bought into the lies of our culture -- are uneasy about this. Think of the vampire Edward Cullen in the movie, "Twilight." Asked why he didn't drink human blood, he answered, "I don't want to be a monster."

The men in our culture don't want to act like monsters. But sometimes the women are to blame. Women -- not understanding the need men have to be chivalrous and to protect them -- often use birth control because they think it is a loving act. God help our culture when one partner believes that allowing another partner to be selfish is a form of love. We are truly confused about the nature of love in that case.

Now what happens when men become used to the convenience of birth control and an unplanned pregnancy occurs. They may expect their consort to have an abortion. My husband was counseling a friend whose marriage was on the rocks. My husband thought it was the woman's fault because she treated his friend so indifferently. But then he found out that his friend had asked his wife to have an abortion. He later changed his mind, but his wife had it anyway and then left him. Larry told his friend that when he suggested the abortion, in effect he killed the relationship with his wife in her eyes. Abortion is the ultimate act of brutishness.

And what about divorce? We have a friend whose husband is divorcing her and trying to take away all the means of support for her and her three children. They are beautiful children and it causes my husband no end of anguish to see them and wonder why any man could give up such beautiful children, let alone his gorgeous wife. But this woman's husband is the Bumblebee. He's is addicted to adultery. Abandonment is the ultimate end to chivalry, my husband said.

For the female, it is a denial of her need to be loved and cherished, and for the male it is the end of his chivalrous nature. Either way, the trinity of evils -- abortion, birth control and divorce -- destroy man's image made in the likeness of God.

If you were raised in a household without a good father or lacking a mother, you may not know how to find a chivalrous husband or a loving wife. Luckily, you can find proper models in Holy Scripture. Read the Bible. The Old Testament is full of God's chivalry. "Know that He, the Lord is God. He made us, we belong to Him, we are His people, the sheep of His flock. . . He is faithful from age to age." (Psalm 100)

And in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the most romantic man in history. The cross is the most chivalrous act ever offered for man or woman. "God so loved the world that He gave his only Son. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."

Perhaps for me there is no other more romantic passage of Scripture than Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. He rides in as is foretold on the back of a foal of an ass. He comes as a king, but humbly -- not in a brutish conquering manner, not like earthly kings. And when the people praise Him -- who comes in the Name of the Lord, the Pharisees recognize that He is being hailed as God Himself. They ask Him to silence his disciples. But He answers, "I tell you if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!"

And as He draws near the city of Jerusalem, He weeps over it, saying how many times would He have gathered us to Himself as a mother hen gathers her chicks. But we refused. We would not let our Bridegroom cherish us.

Wives, let your husbands love you. Husbands, love your wives. Mankind, allow your God to love you. God, please show us your mercy and love.

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