Last week, actor and self-appointed culture warrior Kirk Cameron, while promoting his newest film Saving Christmas, took to his Facebook page with a very special message for the women-folk. It boiled down, more or less, to: stay home to cook, decorate, and be extra joyful… unless they were seeing his movie, which, of course, they were encouraged to do.
In a video entitled “CALLING ALL MOMS!” he exhorted women to:
… Let your children, your family, see your joy in the way that you decorate your home this Christmas, in the food that you cook, the songs you sing, the stories you tell, and the traditions that you keep. Invite your whole neighborhood into your Christmas and invite the world into our story of our King and his Kingdom.
Lest there be any doubt where this is all leading, he ends with “Join me, and go see Saving Christmas November 14.” Because, you know, Jesus. (Ka-ching!)
Cameron also had a video for men, in which he urged
Our example in our family’s life is so important at Christmastime. So be all in this year.
Reminding men that “Jesus came to serve,” he encouraged viewers to “support the women in your life” by helping out and even giving your wives foot massages. Also…
… Take your whole family and see Saving Christmas this weekend. That would be awesome. You got this!
Because Jesus is the reason for the season. (Ka-ching!)
At any rate, some people took this idea of Dad doing the dishes (rest assured that it’s the “really manly” thing to do!) and Mom cooking, decorating, and singing to mean that Cameron was embracing “traditional gender roles.” In other words, he was implying that women should be stay-at-home moms who decorate, cook, and clean while men are somewhat-awkward-but-supportive of that housework-stuff. Which, really, sounds like a pretty fair representation of both videos, considering that he encouraged only select behaviors from each gender.
Or, put another way, people were “twisting” Cameron’s words. At least, so it was decided on Fox News’ Outnumbered, in an interview with Cameron.
The first part of the discussion revolved around praise for the “purity” movement and the Duggars, but it quickly turned to the reactions to his Facebook comments. Sandra Smith, one of the hosts, reassured Cameron that she “knows what [he] meant,” but did wonder, at first, if he had a problem with working women (he shook his head “no”). She asks him to explain, specifically, “what did you mean?”
This would have been a great time for Cameron to clarify how, exactly, his comments were taken out of context.
Instead, the nearest he came to an explanation was to note that his stay-at-home wife works with him on movies. He then spent some time complaining about the “offensive” nature of implying that a mother staying at home “is somehow less than [a woman] carrying a briefcase and having a job professionally.” Which would have been a perfectly serviceable response to a different question. Alas, here, it was squandered on a straw man, as the controversy didn’t involve belittling stay-at-home moms at all. Rather, the criticism was aimed at the seeming implication that only stay-at-home moms were doing right by their families. Which his response did nothing to address.
The fact that Cameron didn’t actually explain what he meant didn’t seem to bother his hosts, however. They continued as if he had addressed the concerns, assuming his critics had maliciously “twisted” his words. This culminated in an inquiry as to whether or not he thought the “misrepresentation” of what he had said was “intentional, or… a misunderstanding.” He answered in fine, smug form:
So the tenet of my faith says “love your enemies,” right? “Treat others the way you want them to be treated,” right? That’s the bottom line. And so I want to give them [people “misrepresenting” his comments] the benefit of the doubt, and say, “yes they just misunderstood.” But it’s really hard.
Which, really, is an admirable reply, if only for how neatly he bundled both piety and persecution into one response: uppity women are making his life difficult as he fights for Jesus, but, Lord knows, he’s trying to forgive them!
Now if only he could have remembered to add that he was praying for them…