Why the Guys in the Mechanic Shop Wore High Heels for the Photo Shoot

Asphalt &Rubber, a motorcycle industry news website, published an article about motorcycle mechanics (all men) in poses mimicking those of a model in a recent photo shoot. As the article explains, after the photographer finished shooting a female model with a Ducati 1199 Panigale motorcycle at a Portland dealership, the men who work there turned the camera on themselves. The resulting side-by-side shots will change the way you look at models, mechanics, or motorcycles, and perhaps even all three.

11th of 12 side by side model and mechanic photos (click here to see the rest)

The photos made me reflect on how we view men and woman in the body of Christ. Are we bound up in gender roles to the extent that as long as a woman is not taking on what men are supposed to do and vice versa, we are going to look the other way when it comes to excesses? That’s how some people see the modeling in those photo shoots. A female model poses awkwardly – yet seductively – in order to sell a piece of mechanical equipment designed to move a person from one location to another and that’s OK, but if a man does it then it’s not OK at all.

False Roles of Women and Men at Church

In some churches, people see women and men having such divergent and separate roles that a man taking on a woman’s “job” is looked at oddly. Relegating women to the nursery, children’s ministry, serving food and similar chores is fine. But let a man work in the nursery or kitchen and not only is his masculinity questioned, the whole order of all-things-church is threatened.

Step back a bit, though, and you will see that it’s really not OK either way. It’s not merely that men should not be discouraged from engaging in whatever work in the body of Christ they are suited for; the problem is compounded because relegating women to “women’s work” (as a friend once unfortunately called it) causes the church to see women as less valuable members than men who do “men’s work”.

Here’s a visual example. When you look at the men in that photo shoot, your first thought might be that they don’t make very good models but they might if handled differently by the photographer. When you look at the original model in that photo shoot, though, is your first thought that she could make just as good a mechanic as the men? I doubt it.

That’s what often happens in the church. When women are seen only in supposedly traditional women’s roles, no one thinks of them as also capable of the roles supposedly reserved for men – teaching, preaching, elders, leadership. Some churches won’t even let women be ushers; after all, that would mean leading a man to an open seat.

I’d rather be one of those men posing awkwardly on a motorcycle wearing ill-fitting clothes than be in leadership in a church that restricts roles for women.

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[This originally appeared as a guest post I wrote for The Junia Project.]

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11 Responses to Why the Guys in the Mechanic Shop Wore High Heels for the Photo Shoot

  1. Aimee Byrd says:

    Hey Tim, what an interesting photography project/statement. It does make us think about how we view men and women. And we should. I did want to comment that although my position is that only certain men are appointed for ordination, our church doesn’t divide the rest of the work into men/women’s roles. Men serve in the nursery and the kitchen happily and women are ushers. So even where there are theological differences with the pastorate and eldership, I do agree that we need to value our distinction as men and women and yet not stereotype “men’s work” and “women’s work.”

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Aimee. I grew up in a house where there was no distinction between work done by men or women (or boys and girls. where us kids were concerned) so maybe that’s why this struck a chord with me.

  2. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for this, Tim. It always bugs me when the “women’s work/men’s work” division is brought up. Inevitably, if women start encroaching on the men’s supposed territory, people (and not always men!) will worry that men won’t want to do that task anymore because of women’s contaminating effect. (After all, what man is going to want to be a greeter if women start being greeters too??) So the question of whether a woman is capable of a role or not is almost seen as irrelevant because men’s fragile sensibilities take precedence: we wouldn’t want to scare them off. I know I sound a bit sarcastic here but I do tire of these arguments.

    • Tim says:

      It’s as if people see women passing the offering tray and think the money people give us somehow tainted because it wasn’t collected by male hands. Sheesh.

  3. IN some churches even for women to be ushers, they have to meet certain physical criteria. I know of one case where a woman was declined to be an usher because she was considered overweight.

    • Tim says:

      I wonder what the ministry philosophy behind that was. The only physical criteria I can think relevant is the ability to make it up and down the aisle to help people to their seats.

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Why the Guys in the Mechanic Shop Wore High Heels for the Photo Shoot

    My first (and simplest) explanation was “They went ‘Let’s be weird!'”

    After seeing the accompanying pic, that shifted to “Let’s spoof the real pics!”

  5. Melissa says:

    One day when I was sweeping up after the fellowship time following the church service, a deacon told me that his father-in-law (a church elder) would not sweep because he called it “women’s work.”

    I replied, “If Jesus was willing to wash his disciples’ feet which was the work of a slave, then maybe _______ should not object to doing ‘women’s work’.”

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