“Pursue no woman to her tears.”
I found these lovely words in a poem called The Honor Men by James Hay, Jr. More about that below.
Today’s pervasive global culture is largely misogynist: men act like brutes and women are driven to tears.
For the most part, life in every culture is lived out against the backdrop of “It’s a man’s world.” Male is superior, female inferior. In sexist cultures this leads to the crushing of the female, in radical feminist culture to the disappearance of the female.
Too often, instead of reaching the high standard of honoring women, many men are “male brutes” who routinely bring women to tears.
Globally, females are often unwanted before birth, and often aborted. If given birth, girls are often neglected and malnourished, denied an education and healthcare, forced into child labor, molested, raped, sold into prostitution, or married at a young age. Grown women are often malnourished, overworked—even while pregnant—and under recognized, violently treated and humiliated by husbands and other men, murdered by husbands or fathers, and abandoned as widows.
Rape on American college campuses
In the US, sexual indulgence in our cities and on our college campuses has reached such a level that violence against women seems inevitable. An illustration of this is found in an article by Vigen Guroian and William Wilson, “Sex and Danger at UVA: An argument for the university’s complicity in the destructive culture of sex.” They speak not only of the norm of sexual promiscuity and violence against women, but also expose how the university itself is complicit in fomenting a culture of abuse and the behavior that follows.
Sex pervades almost every aspect of dorm life that I have experienced. I have seen “dorm incest” (the entire floor hooks up with everyone else on the floor), [been] “sexiled,” by my roommate having sex on my dorm bed, and witnessed date rape . . .
The godless environment and corresponding moral relativism created in modern society has supported the violence against women so prevalent today. See Sex and Danger at UVA.
On another front is the theology of rape promoted by ISIS and other Islamists that justifies the exploitation of women. Rukmini Callicachi wrote a profoundly disturbing article in the New York Times on the Islamic theology of rape. The author recounts the violation of a 12-year-old girl by a Jihadist:
In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.
He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her.
When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.
How are we to respond to such evil? What is the Christ-follower to do in the face of this routine abuse of women—on university campuses, by Islamists, and in misogynist cultures?
I have long been burdened with the profound need to change the male mindset from seeing women as objects to treating them as subjects, from abusing them to honoring them.
For all who decry the mistreatment of women, all who would engage the culture to roll back these evils, I offer two literary phrases, words that set a higher standard for men’s relationships toward women.
- Pursue no woman to tears
- Put women and children first
These words, from another era, could redeem male behavior. Here is a call to be men of honor. To treat women with dignity. To honor them as women.
And to pursue no woman to her tears.
It is ironic that James Hay, Jr. penned his poem, “The Honor Men,” at the University of Virginia. What a different UVA cultre in that era! Hay calls his fellow students to noble character and virtuous behavior.
And track no man to his undeserved hurt;
And pursue no woman to her tears.
This hauntingly beautiful line, “Pursue no woman to her tears,” could help to shape a renewed culture of honorable men.
The second literary phrase is, “Women and children first.” This line established an historic code of conduct. In the 19th and 20th centuries, ocean-going ships typically did not carry enough lifeboats for all those on board. Who was to use the scarce lifeboats? What policy determined the order of priority of those who would be saved?
Women and children first!
This code was first modeled at the sinking of the Royal Navy troopship, the HMS Birkenhead. Thomas Hemy’s painting (circa 1892) shows soldiers standing in place on the sinking ship while women and children can be seen getting into the life boats.
The phrase was first penned in the 1860 William Douglas O’Connor novel, Harrington: A Story of True Love. The line was spoken by the ship’s captain, Harrington, to the crew of his sinking ship:
‘Back from the boats,’ [Harrington] shouts, catchin’ up the hand-spike. ‘The first man that touches a boat I’ll brain. Women and children first, men.
This code of conduct was most famously modeled in the 1912 sinking of the Titanic.
“Women and children first” established the honorable man’s way of dying. His integrity was proven by sacrificing his own life to save the lives of women and children.
Today’s male brutes can be transformed into men of honor. For this we need a new mind, a new culture, and new behavior.
In modern times, Dr. Ted Engstrom, for many years the president of the humanitarian organization World Vision, contributed to the renewal of the concept of the man of honor in his poem, The World Needs Men.
The world needs men
- who cannot be bought;
- whose word is their bond;
- who put character above wealth;
- who possess opinions and a will;
- who are larger than their vocations;
- who do not hesitate to take chances;
- who will not lose their individuality in a crowd;
- who will be as honest in small things as in great things;
- who will make no compromise with wrong;
- whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires;
- who will not say they do it “because everybody else does it”;
- who are true to their friends through good report and evil report, in adversity as well as in prosperity;
- who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning, and hardheadedness are the best qualities for winning success;
- who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth when it is unpopular;
- who can say “no” with emphasis, although all the rest of the world says “yes.”
Men of honor pursue no woman to her tears and put women and children first!
If you are a man, what can you do to be more honorable?
If you are a woman, what can you do to encourage the men in your life to be men of honor?
- Darrow Miller