Today, I had some good talks with friends about sexism. The thought that I came away with was helpful—roles do not define personality. I don’t think this is talked about enough in the Church, although I do think many Christians believe it.
On average, males and females have biological tendencies, but they can vary depending on experiences and the environment. A woman who didn’t grow up in a nurturing home may not be the most nurturing person, but a man who grew up without a father and with a nurturing mother might have a more nurturing disposition. Personalities can develop differently.
We also have some Biblically-mandated roles in marriage, and these marriage roles don’t overshadow personality or sensible, mature conversation. Men aren’t required to be authoritative, and women aren’t relegated to silence. We are to strive for peace in all circumstances, and this entails compromise and understanding. If people can’t make decisions together, then their problems lie deeper than failing to conform to biblical standards.
It’s not a new idea for women to work outside the home, as lots of women in the Bible did, including the Proverbs 31 woman. I think most would agree that it’s not responsible to let work monopolize time or affect harmony in the home, even to a small degree. This should also apply to men. Both husbands and wives contribute different, but important things, to the household. Marriages should be a priority. Children should be a priority. It’s fallacious to blame the work; the problem lies with priorities.
I think it’s sad when men are criticized if they aren’t “manly” (or macho) enough. Effeminacy and sensitivity shouldn’t be lumped together. Likewise, it’s not right for women to be censured for assertiveness. Not all women are timid or complacent. I think all of us, regardless of our backgrounds, have a little bit of sexism in us. My role as a woman does not control my personality, nor does it diminish my (potential) effectiveness. There should be a little bit of boldness and a little bit of sensitivity in all of us, regardless of our sex. The degree to which they are expressed is up to our personality.
On a side note, my friend over at To Make Common said this: “When you make sex characteristics/roles opposite, you usually destroy chances for equality, and you get into the whole princess/warrior dichotomy”. Not only is the Knight-in-shining armor romanticized, but it is also promotes a mindset that diminishes the woman’s role, making her appear to be less capable and resourceful (which is contrary to Biblical teachings) and promotes a macho or chauvinistic mindset for the men…and none of it is grounded in reality.