On the evening of Wednesday, January 3, 2018, my wife and I were settling in for the night. We were both on our iPhones checking the evening’s notifications after putting our children to bed, chatting as we did. At a certain point, I received a notification from a Facebook page I had joined some time back titled Christian Homeschool Families.
Being just one of 32,000 members, and with many members posting stories, comments, questions, or concerns every day, I have been getting notifications constantly since I joined. Usually I do not pay much attention to these notifications, and I have never posted in the group. Perhaps twice in a year I have commented on someone else’s question or concern to lend my two cents. But in the past month I had paid just a fraction more attention, what with having time off for the holidays. And in that span of time, I noticed two instances of women – and all the content posted on the page seems to be from women – describing problems they were having in their sex lives with their husbands.
In one case, a woman was lamenting about her husband’s high libido. She wanted to know if there were any herbs she could take to level the playing field because her own was relatively much lower than his.
Another woman was having the opposite problem. Her husband works a lot and comes home very tired. He is so tired, in fact, that he recently fell asleep mid-act. What should she do about that?
Call me old-fashioned, but both instances made me uncomfortable. Yet I bit my tongue and moved along, electing to ignore rather than confront. Yet on the evening of January 3rd, as I chatted with my own wife, I brought the matter up.
I asked my wife. “Have you seen what some of these women post on this page?” She had. She proceeded to tell me that what I was referring to happened often. And she thought it was weird and inappropriate. And I would be very glad to know she does not do that, and would never.
This, of course, was a great relief. But it went without saying.
Yet it occurred to me, as I was talking with her, how embarrassed I would be if I found out she had been airing the details of our intimacy in front of 32,000 strangers. I felt a great deal of discomfort on behalf of the husbands whose wives were discussing them like this. I was vicariously embarrassed for them. It seemed an injustice that seemingly no one – not that I had seen, anyway – had spoken up on behalf of these men.
Feeling a bit ornery, I told my wife I ought to post a one sentence wake-up call to the group. And then, as I was joking about it, I convinced myself. So, the words of my post were exactly as follows:
“I don’t want to hear about you and your husband’s sex life, and nobody else does either!”
I hit ‘Post.’ In five minutes, half a dozen women had commented. Most of them told me I was free to keep scrolling past content I disliked. Two in a row posted the exact same GIF of Britney Spears making an incredulous face. They apparently either disliked my post or had no idea what I was talking about.
I tried replying to one comment somewhere between five and ten minutes in, but I received an error. Refreshing the page, I found that my post had been deleted.
The Gauntlet Thrown Down
If I was feeling ornery before, now I was beside myself. “What?!” I told my wife someone had deleted my post. “Why on Earth would they delete my post?” I started searching the page for a way to contact the administrators and ask for an explanation.
It was then that I realized that the page has a half-dozen or so administrators, and one moderator. And of that bunch, there is only one man. He is something of a celebrity, it appears. Anyway. I elected to message the one man because I recognized him as a mutual Facebook friend of Voddie Baucham, Curtis Bower, and a third non-celebrity friend of my wife and mine. Hopefully if anyone would understand my plight and sympathize, it would be this man.
I messaged him explaining the situation, stating that surely there must be some misunderstanding. Perhaps my initial post was a little overstated, okay. I could write something more careful, respectful, and delicate if need be. Only I should like to know it would not just be deleted as quickly as it was posted. And, of course, it went without saying that something needed to be said by someone, right?
By this time, it was after 10PM. My plan had not been to get into a big kerfuffle this late, but here I was. And suddenly I found myself all tense and fired up. Why had they deleted my post? How dare they?
Throwing the blankets off myself, I climbed out of bed and headed for the door. “I have to write something more substantial before I can sleep tonight,” I told my wife as I went downstairs to the sitting room where my desktop keyboard would enable me to tap something out quickly.
And what I wrote was as follows:
To Whom It May Concern
If I may respectfully try this a second time, I would like to share my two cents as the husband and father of a Christian homeschooling family who is a member of this very large group.
Twice in the past week – though I admit to not paying close enough attention to have spotted if there were more instances I missed – I’ve seen posts in this group from women talking about their sex lives with their husbands. I would like to remark on this in at least two aspects:
This group is called Christian Homeschool Families. When I was invited to join, I believed it was a group about homeschooling. And I think most of the posts I’ve seen are pretty closely related to that topic, though some admittedly and up-front admit to being only distantly related.
Yet some woman’s sex life with her husband is not on topic – not even remotely.
Maybe there is a Christian Homeschool Mother’s Cosmopolitan Facebook page out there for those discussions. I just don’t think this is the proper place for them.
If I may speak as one man among seemingly a multitude of women who perhaps don’t all realize there are also men on this page, I would say that I think it a tad unfair, and even disrespectful towards the men and husbands – especially the husbands whose private sex lives are being discussed publicly – that women’s private sex lives are being sprinkled in here and there. I certainly would feel embarrassed if I found out my wife were talking about our sex problems in front of nearly 32,000 other people; even though she is not, I still feel embarrassed on behalf of other women’s husbands who are being discussed.
And besides all that, I really don’t want to know about your private sex life. And I don’t need to see your problems with intimacy popping up in my Facebook feed, nor did I think that’s what I was signing up for in joining this group.
If this kind of feedback is not welcome, just realize that it may mean also that men do not feel as welcome or comfortable on this page, and they will be less likely to join, remain, or participate in discussion even if they do remain.
In closing, if I may kindly, humbly, gently, but also clearly and directly encourage the members herein, I will do so toward the end of us all keeping such discussions private and discrete, perhaps among trusted friends, family, or counselors, or else on some other Facebook page which befits the topic.
Once this was sent, I felt better. Yet I was still tense.
Shutting off the computer and lights, I went back upstairs to my bedroom to read what I had written to my wife and get her take on it.
“What do you think?” I asked.
“I think what you wrote was good,” she said.
By now it was 10:30PM. We were both fading fast. My phone was dinging with Facebook notifications from reactions to my post. In the span it had taken me to read to Lauren, ten people had liked and loved my post, and a few had commented supportively and appreciatively. That much was good at least. Yet I braced myself for the potential wave of hate I might wake up to in the morning.
I turned my phone off and set it aside.
When I picked it up the next morning, there was good news and bad news. The good news was that a hundred people had liked and loved my post. And about a dozen had commented their hearty thanks and agreement. Yet around midnight, one of the page administrators had turned off comments to prevent additional discussion.
Yet one administrator had herself commented very snippily to ask at what point I had tagged a moderator or private messaged them to alert them of my concern. There were far too many members of this group for the moderators to catch everything, and they could not reasonably be expected to do it all on their own.
The moderator must have turned commenting back on at a certain point because I started getting notifications of other people’s comments again, including another by her. She had turned commenting back on long enough to post a link to a post from her back in June.
Arguing The Point
Back in June, where I had not seen it amidst the hundreds or thousands of others since, this administrator had written a short post telling members to not create new threads complaining about the content of other threads. But if there was objectionable content, members were supposed to tag an admin or moderator in the comments, or private message them. Posts complaining about other posts would be deleted for causing drama.
Seeing my chance, I replied to her first comment. “The administrator last night was apparently paying close enough attention to delete my first post in five minutes, and to turn off commenting on this post within two hours.”
I then began typing up a reply to her second comment. “How is anyone supposed to see a post with the rules from back in June when there are sometimes dozens of additional posts a day over the past six months in which to bury that instruction?” I hit ‘Send’ but received another error. The administrator had turned commenting back off again.
I private messaged the admin with my objection, as well as a suggestion that this rule be included in the page instructions pinned to the top of the page, since it currently was not.
While I awaited her reply to my private message, I read through other comments on my post from members who had been able to slip in before commenting was turned off again. Now the post was up to 140 likes and loves. Another half dozen had commented their thanks and appreciation.
One woman was calling for the page to have some men as administrators too, not only women. To this suggestion, the admin replied curtly, “We have one, but he doesn’t have time to read everything.” To which the suggester replied, “We have one?”
A Dressing Down
About this time the admin replied to my private message. “What part of ‘Tag an admin or moderator” is not clear to you?”
I said, “Wow. Okay. Hold on a second.” I objected to the irritable tone she was addressing me in and tried to state that I had not meant to step on hers or the other admins toes by posting my initial post.
Yes, I could see how my initial post was unnecessarily inflammatory. I had overstated things by saying ‘nobody’ wanted to hear about a woman’s intimacy problems. But I rectified that in my second post. I did not understand the need to turn off comments.
Her reply to this was still ruder. She did not have time to copy and paste the page rules to me. I should go read them for myself.
To this I asserted that I had. The rules said nothing about women not publishing their sex lives, nor about posts like mine getting deleted or having comments turned off.
As someone who has moderated discussion forums, written for a blog for several years, been an administrator on more than one Facebook page, and participated in many, many online discussions in my life, I said I understood their challenges. But if they had rules, those rules should be pinned to the top of the page clearly, not hidden in a post from back in June.
What I had written the second time had by now garnered 200 likes and loves, and only 3 angers. All the comments but hers were supportive and appreciative.
Yet here she accused me of causing drama. “What if everyone acted like you are right now?”
I was incredulous. “I’m not behaving inappropriately!” My post had been a public service announcement.
Off The Reservation
In the end, the administrator told me I had wasted her time and she would reply no further. Disgusted, I replied sarcastically thanking her for being such a peach about it all, and for the unrelenting hostility, condescension, and dismissiveness.
Being that I had other business to attend to, and had been checking in on our conversation off and on throughout the morning by this point, I walked away from my phone to do something. Yet when I returned half an hour later and attempted to check another notification of still more likes and loves on my initial post to the group, I received an error. The page was no longer visible. My post had been deleted. I had been removed from the group entirely.
A wave of disbelief and anger washed over me.
Yet on considering it for half a moment, it occurred to me that I had been about to leave the group anyway if this was the way it was going to be conducted.
It has been roughly a week since then. The one male administrator for the page who I messaged initially, I messaged back with an update after I received the rude treatment from his fellow female admin, and after I got booted off the page. He has yet to reply to me at all, and apparently is either entirely disinterested in my complaint, or else is a total non-presence on the page despite being an administrator. Perhaps he is merely a token so the page can say there is at least one man.
Shame On Christian Homeschool Families
I am still incredulous. In my estimation, the words ‘Christian’ and ‘Families’ in the name of the page need to be reconsidered for whether they really reflect the group’s values.
There was nothing Christian in the way the administrator addressed my concerns. It is not that she disagreed or objected to what I said. It was the entirely disrespectful and dismissive way she spoke to me at every turn.
And what does the group have to do with families when husbands and fathers are nowhere to be seen, except in the profile pictures of the women who make up one-hundred-percent of the page administrators and active members? No, let me correct that. The husbands and fathers also show up in women sharing about problems in their sex lives.
Yet when I, a devout and serious Christian husband and father want to have a seat at the table, I find that seat pulled out from under me, and myself ejected from the building. Clearly, the most objectionable thing was not that women were oversharing the details of their sex lives, but that a man dared to assert the right to respect and privacy for himself and other men.
It reminds me of so much that is wrong with American Christianity. How many women come to church without their husbands? How many more women than men attend church?
One thing I have observed: criticizing, complaining about, embarrassing, and denigrating men is perfectly acceptable in every social circle – even, apparently, Facebook pages for homeschool groups.
Yet objecting to, disagreeing with, criticizing, or trying to correct the bad behavior, attitudes, or assertions of women – this earns swift and immediate hostility and expulsion.
The Emasculation Of Men
How many times have you heard the sit-com husband say “Even when I win, I lose”?
Where George Bailey in ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ glances confidently at the sign that says “Ask dad, he’ll know!” Now husband and father are idiots. The wife and mother reign supreme. Or at least that was the case with sitcoms when I was growing up.
And there is something subtly, then again not so subtly, emasculating about watching men publicly dressed down, mocked, and ridiculed day in and day out the way our culture has chosen to in recent decades. So, men naturally retreat, and are diminished. But that, after all, is the entire purpose of treating them this way in the first place. The incessant hen-pecking leading to the dethroning of men is not coincidental.
Yet men are still somehow expected to rise to the occasion and have an influence despite this. It reminds me of something C.S. Lewis writes in The Abolition of Man.
“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise… laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst… castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
And the women in the church – not all of them, mind you, but a sufficient number – are no different. When I consider all the churches I have visited across America in my thirty years of life, I feel like many of them resemble an elderly woman’s living room rather than any kind of manly space. So, naturally, the men come in feeling out of place with everything smelling of lilacs and decorated in pastels.
I dare say it is not only unfortunate. It is Satanic.