Betty White, Gender Roles, Comedians, & Language

randomlychad  —  May 8, 2012 — 11 Comments

20120506-133803.jpg If you’ve spent any time on the Internet recently, you may have seen this photo (or the quote contained therein). While it embodies certain truths, it unfortunately appears Betty White didn’t actually say it. A cursory search shows the genesis of the phrase lies with a much younger comedian.

The ironically named Shen Wang.

I’m not here to poke fun at his name.

I’d like to highlight the truths I see embodied within the admittedly shocking quote. Beyond the obvious sexual connotation, there is of course childbirth, too. (Let me ask this: if, for instance, it were possible for both males and females to get pregnant, but at the time of intercourse it was a crapshoot as to which parent would, you know, actually get pregnant–how many less babies would be born?).

I would in fact go so far as to say that women in general are far stronger than we men, and society collectively, are willing to admit.

Which leads me to: how are women considered weak? Yes, they are usually smaller than men in stature, and are generally more “feelings-oriented,” more sensitive. But I’m not quite sure how this connotes weakness? It seems to me to be more of a quiet strength.

If I had to boil it down to its lowest common denominator, I would say that because women’s strengths are different than men’s, rather than taking the time to understand these differences, it’s far easier to label them as weaknesses. It’s the path of least resistance.

In fact–and I’ve written on this before–nowhere is this seen more clearly than in how language is used. We all know that one particular slang term for vagina, right? The one that is associated with weakness? When that epithet is hurled at someone, what are we really saying? We’re saying they’re weak, cowardly, afraid… In short, womanly.

It doesn’t compute. If being thus is bad (then so, by extension, is having one), why is getting some good? Why do we objectify that which is different from us?

And why is that having “balls” is somehow inherently “good?” That a man of courage is said to have stones, balls, etc.? And a weak man needs to “grow a pair?”

Going back to the quote: “Balls are weak and sensitive.” Anyone who thinks otherwise has either: never been hit there, or seen a man get hit there. In fact, a Chinese man died recently when his were squeezed during a street side altercation.

Think about that: he died. Because someone squeezed his testicles with such force that the resulting pain likely put him into cardiac arrest.

So the question to me is: being so sensitive, how did “balls,” or having them, somehow become a symbol of strength? The obvious answer is that they are uniquely male–women don’t have them. And we men are usually quite proud of our penises–thus the phallus is a symbol–the symbol–of manhood, strength, virility.

What’s interesting to me is this: what message is God perhaps sending us (men) by making this source and sign of our virility so weak? That which we are (often) arguably proudest of?

I would venture to say that, in God’s economy, that which we perceive to be our greatest strengths are often our greatest liabilities, our weaknesses.

As the Scriptures say: “Pride comes before a fall.”

As for me, I would say (as it also says in the Scriptures) that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female: for all are one in Christ Jesus.”

Which says to me that we–men and women–while being differently endowed, are nevertheless equal in the eyes of God.

What do you think?




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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers.

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  • Yeah….I don’t have a password

    • Yeah, I screwed up. Fixed now.

  • I have no idea, Chad.

    • I’ll bet you do--have an idea, that is. 😉

  • Michelle Woodman

    Interesting thoughts, Chad, to be sure. And God does often turn our crazy notions all upside-down, doesn’t He?

    I would agree that our differences don’t make anyone of us better/worse than the other, particularly across gender lines. As you said in your post, we simply have different strengths. And it’s amazing when we come together with those strengths, how much stronger we are a unified pairing or group. My pastor has said for years something along the lines of when we come together in unity, our combined strengths cancel out our respective weaknesses. That’s a pretty cool thought . . . and would be quite the reality to live in. (I think the church in the Book of Acts had that one figured out.)

    • Isn’t that truth, Michelle? We’re stronger together than we are apart.
      The Apostle Paul wrote of the church being the body, and that all parts are essential for the good of all. None can say to any other “I don’t need you.”
      It’s amazing the unity the Lord can build when we let Him. Marriage, for instance, can be a picture of that.

  • I wish I had a thought Chad. I kind of started freaking out and holding myself when I read some guy died from having his balls squeezed so hard.

    Seriously, you are probably right. What we think of as our biggest strengths can work against us. I’ve seen several friends who work in the church and that becomes an issue because they don’t know how the real world is; they only know the “church life.”

    We are all children of God and I honestly don’t believe God plays favorites with some and not others. He loves us all the same (mind-boggling isn’t it!!).

    • Totally! I’ve learned do much lately from reading Brennan Manning. Getting that all settled (being “accepted in the beloved”) in my heart is the challenge.

      The notion of strengths being weaknesses was brought home to me in a powerful this past Sunday: heard a message that included the passage from Revelation with the letter to Laodicea. Basically, everything Jesus says relates to things the Laodiceans were proudest of; for instance, they were renowned for their black wool--and He told them to get white robes.

      I didn’t link to it, but there’s a good write up on Gizmodo about that poor Chinese man.