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Gender: The ‘Private Practice’ Way

Last week the ‘Grey’s Anatomy / Private Practice’ special hit the issue of religion. This week, Private Practice went for gender as well. There are a number of couples dealing with the issue of what it means to be a man or be a woman in the relationship but I just want to pick up on two.
The issue is precipitated by parents who have a hermaphrodite child. They thought it would be a boy but there’s a 70% chance the child will identify as a girl. It’s too much for the father who storms out, leaving his grieving wife holding the child. He’s later confronted by one of the doctors, Naomi who, struggling with her own grief at being left by her boyfriend, points out to him that, “You have a healthy child and yes, he has issues, but who doesn’t? We all have issues!” As the father responds that he doesn’t think he can handle it, she comes straight back at him – “Grow up and be a man!” And what’s her definition of being a man? “You need to not hurt the woman who loves you.”
The scene immediately cuts to Cooper and Charlotte as she’s telling him that she slept with someone else. Naturally he’s outraged, but mainly because he sees that she has committed the one act that will make him push her away. But “It’s not going to happen” he tells her, “I’m storming the frickin’ castle for you!” It’s at this point that Cooper shows what a real man he is: “You thought I was so weak that I was going to walk away because my pride got wounded? You’re mine and I’m not walking out because you’re scared.”
The contrast between the two men is strong and, I take it by the editing, deliberate. This is also the case with the women. Like the new mother, Charlotte is in tears, but in her case they’re tears that speak of defences coming down. She’s experiencing an intimacy and a trust foreign to her world of sexy tricks and angry silences. And it’s in this world that Cooper is able to tell Charlotte that it’s time for her to grow up too, to choose to commit to the relationship. It’s a huge step to take, but it’s in the vulnerability of this moment, in the safety of relationship with a man who loves her sacrificially that she too can grow. 
This reminds me of Ephesians 5 in which the husband presents his wife holy and spotless in his sacrificial love. And it’s a beautiful picture, isn’t it, of a wife flourishing in the love of her husband? But it’s part of a bigger picture as well of a God who claims an unfaithful people and refuses to walk out, no matter how scared we are. As Charlotte chooses to trust Cooper, what a call for us to trust the one who has stormed for us even the strongholds of death and evil!

Last week the ‘Grey’s Anatomy / Private Practice’ special hit the issue of religion. This week, Private Practice continued the hot topics, going for gender.

The issue is precipitated by parents who have a hermaphrodite child. They thought it would be a boy but there’s a 70% chance the child will identify as a girl. It’s too much for the father who storms out, leaving his grieving wife holding the child. He’s later confronted by one of the doctors, Naomi who, struggling with her own grief at being left by her boyfriend, points out to him that, “You have a healthy child and yes, he has issues, but who doesn’t? We all have issues!” As the father responds that he doesn’t think he can handle it, she comes straight back at him – “Grow up and be a man!” And what’s her definition of being a man? “You need to not hurt the woman who loves you.”

The scene immediately cuts to Cooper and Charlotte as she’s telling him that she slept with someone else. Naturally he’s outraged, but mainly because he sees that she has committed the one act that will make him push her away. But “It’s not going to happen” he tells her, “I’m storming the frickin’ castle for you!” It’s at this point that Cooper shows what a real man he is: “You thought I was so weak that I was going to walk away because my pride got wounded? You’re mine and I’m not walking out because you’re scared.”

The contrast between the two men is strong and, I take it by the editing, deliberate. This is also the case with the women. Like the new mother, Charlotte is in tears, but in her case they’re tears that speak of defences coming down. She’s experiencing an intimacy and a trust foreign to her world of sexy tricks and angry silences. And it’s in this world that Cooper is able to tell Charlotte that it’s time for her to grow up too, to choose to commit to the relationship. It’s a huge step to take, but in the safety of relationship with a man who loves her sacrificially it can be done.

This reminds me of Ephesians 5 in which the husband presents his wife holy and spotless in his sacrificial love. And it’s a beautiful picture, isn’t it, of a wife flourishing in the love of her man? But it’s part of a bigger picture as well of a God who claims an unfaithful people and refuses to walk out, no matter how scared we are. As Charlotte chooses to trust Cooper, what a call for us to trust the one who has stormed for us even the strongholds of death and evil!

Categories: Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.

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