Now that I got through my sidetrack about marriage, we can return to the previous discussion about gender norms and the nonsense views so many folks seem to have about them (though that marriage theme is far from being fully explored).
Previously I talked about how gender is not a spectrum. One is either a male or a female, behavior, tastes, preferences, or personality traits do not determine gender. We live in a culture that wants to make a big deal about these things. We no longer accept that tomboys are female or (insert word for the male equivalent of a tomboy)’s are male. In our world, they must be somewhere in the middle or are in fact the other gender.
This woman perfectly describes this change in our culture. She grew up a tomboy, rough and tumble, doing “boy” things. Her parents didn’t read into it anymore than they had to. They didn’t lash out and push her into a more “girlish” mold. They accepted her as herself and let her eventually grow up to be (surprise surprise) a well adjusted and clearly female woman.
It’s funny to me that she specifically points out her preference for being unshod. When growing up I didn’t know any men who enjoyed being barefoot, only females, so my preference for it led me to think I was slightly girly.
Which leads me to this point: even our stereotypes are different depending on the family we grew up in. Those who grew up in more “conservative” homes are going to define the genders a bit more black and white than those who grew up in less strict atmospheres.
Unfortunately those conservatives are the ones who write the Christian mommy/homemaker blogs. Those blogs tend to make women who don’t fit the mold feel marginalized and a bit less of a woman. “You mean you don’t worship your perfect kids or make your husband feel like royalty?” “You have an interest in deep theological matters and think rationally rather than living by emotions?” “You’re not a multitasker who can handle cooking a big meal and hosting a dozen other women once or thrice a week, and then cleaning up after them, all while homeschooling your eight beautiful children and ensuring that your husband’s bedroom needs and laundry requirements are met to a ‘T’?” “What do you mean, you don’t really like spending all your time with your loinfruits?” “You don’t shave? You don’t like makeup? You’d rather not get dressed up to go shopping? You don’t like shopping?!!”
Even when these aren’t explicitly stated, when one reads enough (and I have) one begins to sense a trend. If you (or your wife) doesn’t live up to these perfect women’s standards, perhaps they aren’t women at all. Perhaps God made a mistake, He made them with the wrong parts. These women are describing “Biblical womanhood” are they not?
It’s not just women who get fed this steady stream of “if you’re not like this you aren’t Godly”. Men too have to endure the world of “Wild at Heart” and are always the subject of conferences pushing them all to be bold leaders and macho men of God. I personally get whacked with these stereotypes all the time.
Often it comes in the form of “men do x, while women do y”. Roughly 75% of the time in my marriage we are completely the opposite. The most recent example I heard was a description of how men and women pack for trips. Men pack only what they need. Women… Well. They pack for every possibility. I’m not saying the generality doesn’t fit the rest of the world. I’m saying we need to stop making those outside the generalities feel like sinners for being a little different. I am not trying to be a woman because I tend to overpack any more than my wife is trying to be a man when she leaves for a week with a Walmart bag of clothes and probably no toiletries.
I tend to be emotional, my wife rational. I tend to be social and extroverted, my wife is very much an introvert and has social phobias. Neither of us are too keen on shopping though she is probably more of a shopper just because I am a miser. We both hate sports. She is a bit more mechanically inclined than I am. I clean better, cooking is a draw, and she’s the disciplinarian of the children. She likes video games and cards, me not so much. Her mind is much more focused and she tends to be the one sucked into a screen or a book while I am panicked over the kids.
She hates makeup. She doesn’t shave. She does knit and crochet She hates cooking, but loves baking. She likes lifting heavy things. She likes spiders and reptiles. She is not a fan of mice but does not panic about them. She keeps a cool calm head under pressure and is quick to jump into leadership when a group is faltering. She often craves sex more than I do. She likes to work on cars. She detests the idea that a woman serves no other function than be a pretty decoration on a man’s arm, completely dependent on him and always concerned with appearance above all else.
Looking around the internet at most of the Christian blogs one gets the impression that all Christian women are monolithic. There is just not a variety out there, at least not when it comes to Reformed women or women that write blogs. And those who don’t fit the mold end up being the odd woman out so to speak.
I’m going to put this out there. My wife is all woman. Just because she doesn’t fit some cultural idea of how a woman should be doesn’t mean she is not a woman. And just because I don’t fit the typical male described on these sites does not mean I am not a man.
Watch your implications, folks. Those who write, don’t imply that you are the definition of a godly woman. Those who read, don’t let those implications make you feel less like a godly woman. You are a woman. Your non-stereotypical husband is in fact a man.
All you need to know one’s gender is what’s between their legs.