Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My thoughts on Women's History Month and traditional gender roles

Some of you may know that March is Women’s History Month. I just found out today at chapel, and it definitely got me thinking. In some ways it’s a little offending that women have to have a special month to be recognized as part of history. When is Men’s History month? There isn’t one! Strange? I think so. In my mind history includes all people groups: men, women, whites, blacks, Native Americans, all age groups, and all belief systems. They’re all a part of history and we should recognize them altogether. But, our society feels the need to separate these groups, so we have Women’s History month.
Because we women have a special month all about our history, it makes me feel that perhaps society doesn’t think our contributions were significant enough. Like I was saying, there isn’t a men’s history month…we don’t question whether or not men’s contributions were significant. So this is where a lot of women get all riled up, and feminism comes into play big time. And I am NOT a fan of feminism, at all. I’ve seen women take great offense when a man opens a door for her or offers to help her carry something heavy. The look of shock on those men’s faces is disheartening to me. Women constantly complain that men are mistreating them, yet when they try to care for women they get the door slammed in their face. What’s a man to do? Feminism makes it very hard for men to follow the Lord’s commands to care for, respect, and love women. I think women need to make up their minds here! Are we going to be angry that men often mistreat us, or are going to take offense when they try and care for us? 

Now, I’m all for individuality and women taking care of themselves, but there are plenty of men out there who want to take care of them too. And I don’t think opening a door is saying, “I think you’re the weaker sex so I need to do everything for you.” I think it is a kind gesture, an act of respect. And who doesn’t like being respected? So I just really wish women would make up their minds and help our brothers out!

Women’s History Month has also gotten me thinking about traditional gender roles. In my house, my mom did the laundry and most of the cleaning. My dad helped cook and did dishes. My mom sewed, did most of the comforting and patching up when we were hurt, and she did most of the household shopping. My dad took care of the yard and garden when we planted one, and spent Saturday’s pulling weeds in the summer or shoveling snow in the winter. I’d say my family was pretty traditional in following society’s gender roles, but not always. My dad did more cooking and dishes than most fathers probably do. And my mom enjoyed mowing the lawn and pulling weeds as well. While they generally stuck to the roles society said they should fill, they were okay breaking those “rules” once in a while. I imagine that’s how it will be in my household. I know Ben is capable of scrubbing bathtubs and doing laundry, but I feel I do it better! What’s the old saying…? If you want something done right you have to do it yourself? I’d have no problem asking Ben to throw in a load of laundry or to clean the bathroom…but in all honesty I’d rather do it myself because then I know it will get done the way I want it too. And just like my mom, I probably won’t have a problem mowing the lawn or shoveling once in a while, but I’d rather Ben does it. He’s stronger. I know I could do it just fine, but Ben could probably do it faster and more efficiently. That’s just the way it is, and I’m fine with it.

So it really bothers me when people get so angry about our “roles.” Men and women are perfectly capable of performing the other sex’s duties, but is it a bad thing when we stick to them? I’m not going to yell at Ben when he doesn’t do his own laundry…at least I hope I won’t! I know I have a better idea of what clothes together, what temperature to wash them at, and I am certainly better at folding clothes than he is! I’ve seen his folding jobs…it is not pretty, people. Not pretty. I simply do it better, so I will do most of the laundry. I am useless with tools and will never be able to fix a leaky pipe or decide what is causing the dishwasher or washer and dryer to not work. I just can’t do it. So I will expect Ben to be able to take care of our home and yard because I can’t do it. Just because Ben will do the more manual labors in the home doesn’t make him the stronger sex. He’s just better at it! And we’ll hopefully be sharing some duties, too. We’re excited to learn to actually cook together, and dishes will be a shared job. We both ate off those plates, why should one person be responsible for the mess? It will probably be trial and error with some tasks. It will take us a while to find a comfortable rhythm.

I will never believe that Ben “rules” over me or that he is the boss. I do believe that men are called to be spiritual leaders for their families, and that is what I expect from him, and he knows this. Genesis 1:27 says that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” He never says he created man above women, to be their rulers. This comes of course after the fall. But again I don’t believe this gives Ben the right to rule over me and make all the decisions. We’ll work together and make decisions as a team. I believe that Ben is to “live with his wife in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life…” (1 Peter 3:7). And in a certain way, as the Bible teaches, I will “submit to my own husband, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its savior.” (Ephesians 5:22). Above all, I believe that husbands should love their wives, and wives should respect their husbands. That’s how God created us to live and treat each other.

But don’t think I won’t be reminding Ben of this important verse:

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper just right for him.”

He needs me. Teehee. I’m not ever going to let him forget this. J

1 comment:

  1. If you have time, look up the Hebrew meaning for helpmate. It's really good. Of course I can't remember what it was and am too lazy to get out of bed to do it. It means far more than I ever expected.