“I do not say that they always ignore sexual differentiation itself, but that the significance of it escapes them entirely. And the woman who ignores that fundamental truth ironically misses the very thing she has set out to find. By refusing to fulfill the whole vocation of womanhood she settles for a caricature, a pseudo-personhood.”
~Elisabeth Elliot (Let Me Be a Woman)
What does it mean to be a woman? I have spent much of my life in search of it. It once seemed that being a woman meant being a man in high heels. In response to the 1950s housewife era, we were told to do whatever a man tends to do, but be sure to attract him while doing it. Pssh.
If you can look cute while climbing the corporate ladder, being pregnant, or working out, you will be plastered on a magazine as an icon for females everywhere. Be successful and be sexy. But now, in this age of deconstruction and so-called redefining that is more akin to undefining, it seems that the search for womanhood (or manhood) is murkier than ever. We play with semantics and we play with God’s plan. We pretend that the sexes were our idea, our choice. But who are we actually?
What does gender mean? What does it mean to be male; what does it mean to be female? Has our societal structure completely molded our perception of how the sexes are supposed to function on a daily basis, or is there something deeper, something more? We know that a little girl does not have to wear pink or play with dolls to be considered feminine, but then again, what does feminine mean, anyway?
Words like boyish or girly seem to draw out daggers from certain crowds. They would prefer us to completely neuter our children—that is, they would prefer us to let our children decide to act however they want with no restraints, no guidelines, other than perhaps, ‘don’t hurt people.’
While the overarching stance of this group makes me cringe, there is a bit of merit. Children are bound to have different gifts and preferences, and there are certain things our culture deems appropriate for one gender rather than another, and it is just not so. My husband does not enjoy sports, but he does enjoy the arts (everything from painting to ballet). He is not less of a man because of it.
Here’s the thing, I want my daughter to know how to fix certain problems on her car, and I want my son to know how to help care for a baby. These are good things to know. These are people things to know. And so, with a hesitant sigh of surrender, I give the ‘genderless camp’ this admittance.
But ultimately, they look at the world in way that does not allow for God’s plan, His plan for the family, His plan for individuals. In giving us equality, He also gave us different roles so that the family, and the world at large could run smoothly, and could be a picture of who He is to us as both our Father and Groom.
And yet, as I look around, I see womanhood, actual womanhood playing out before me—single women who serve God with grace and gusto, married women who love their husbands, supporting them with determination and wit (whether or not they primarily work outside or inside the home). There are mamas who love their children and smile through the fatigue on their faces, and widows who bear loss and learn to live again.
These women are rarely heralded as noble by anyone outside of their immediate acquaintances. But they do not live for accolades or spots on the cover of People magazine. Many of these women would, perhaps, enjoy a taste of validation, but are not completely dependent upon it.
I have not fully figured out what it means to be a woman (you can probably tell). But I do know that it should be first be based on my conviction that God made me and He made me a woman. And the more I seek Him, the more He will lead me into the freeing and beautiful realilty that is living for Him.
Elisabeth Elliot said, “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.”
If you are a woman, discover God and then discover womanhood. If you are a man, discover God and then discover manhood. Do not settle for a pseudo personhood. Be complete.
Keep the Faith,