June 15, 2011

June 14th, 2011

Dear Sofia,

What makes a woman a woman? And how does she develop and retain her femininity when everything around her is screaming for her to be 'one of the guys?'

Feminism is a hot topic around here. Like certain pop stars, celebrityism, "reclaiming" of derogatory terms and other accepted cultural phenomena, I have never bought into "feminism" as it is presented today.

What is feminism? There's a two-part answer to that question: At its inception, feminism was simply the radical notion that women are different people than men. Meaning, they have different needs and wants, thought process, emotional behavior and method of relationship-building.

I agree completely with that theses. It's a very Christian idea, actually. The Bible speaks in terms of differences often, making great strides to convey that femininity is cultivated in a woman, not inborn. We can learn a lot about how God has created women differently from men by reading their biographical stories (Ruth, Naomi, Bathsheba, Mary, Martha, etc.).

The role of the Church in relationship to Christ is explicitly female; as His Bride, she is pliable and encouraged to behave adoringly (but not passively) toward Him. But the Church is not always loyal in her behavior, inviting rebuke from her Lord (who calls her a 'harlot' and notes her promiscuity).

If feminism today were packaged with those ideals - loyalty, steadfastness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, etc. - how lovely it would look!

Unfortunately, these terms in no way describe what women today are encouraged to be. Instead, we see in general secular culture that young women are emboldened to be 'independent' (though the meaning is obscured depending on the situation being addressed), rely on their emotions for decision making, act on a whim, be 'bold' (again, definition depends on the situation), and develop an overall sense of self-sufficiency, making personal desire the axis on which all major decisions turn.

If you think I'm being too hard on the culture-at-large, which does have its tiny glimmers of truth here and there, I need only point to some current examples for emphasis.

The first example is the recent walks being performed in honor of promiscuous women. Participants wear only pants and bras, writing on their stomach one word to signify their sexual wantonness, "sl--." (I don't even want to defame myself by typing the whole word.) The idea is that they will give sl-- a new connotation by being proud of the behavior it refers to. It's a twist on the reclamation of the n word by black people (which is also misguided; why not just phase out the term entirely instead of breathing new life into it?).

The second example is a movie out now called 'Bridesmaids.'* The protagonist (although she does more to antagonize the bride-to-be than be a character one wants to cheer for) is the reluctant maid-of-honor who, because of her self-loathing, seeks to sabotage her friend's upcoming wedding. The characters act decidedly more like men than ladies, lewdly spouting off about all kinds of sexual subjects, as well as grossly embarrassing themselves (and their husbands) with their thoughtless and inward-focused behaviors. Actually, they don't act like men, either; they act like teenage boys.

Apparently the message of the movie is "love your friends out of their behavior," meaning a true friend is one who stands by you through your darkest moments, hoping for you to snap out of it.

You can see the contrast between this picture of a woman - one who is allowed to behave impulsively, childishly until she 'gets it out of her system,' grows up and finds her friends are still anxiously waiting for her on the other side - and God's picture of womanhood - in which a woman is nurtured, chastened and imparted wisdom from those older women in her life who are truly feminine - are in the highest contrast.

Lord, let me be in the latter category, and be a feminine blessing to my baby girl.

*Which I have not seen except for a preview, but have read copious synopses of.

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