Why Can’t We Just Let Guys Be Mentoring, Nurturing, And Protective Without Giving Them Feminine Labels?

There’s been a big push culturally to erode traditional gender roles; to prove that men and women are equal and equally capable of filling roles that were once assigned to just one sex. For example: that women can pursue successful business careers and men can care for children. Or that women can display strong logic and men can be emotional and nurturing.

But somehow this has backfired on us and cultural expectations of gender are just getting more rigid. That statement probably raised a few eyebrows. We’ve come a long way, many will argue. Women are now accepted in traditionally masculine professions. They don’t have to just stay at home and raise children any more. We have freedom, equality! Besides, gender is just a cultural construct and we can redefine it however we want so those roles aren’t so confining.

That’s not what we’ve done though. Take, for example, the problem of people pushing young children to identify as transgendered (which the American College of Pediatricians defines as “child abuse”). If a child displays traits outside the gender associated with their biological sex, they’re encouraged to get their sex changed. Instead of making it acceptable for a little girl to embrace femininity and enjoy “boy things” like superheroes and tractors, she’s told she’s not really a girl. She’s a boy. In a fit of mass cultural insanity, we’re making social constructions of gender more rigid while trying to make a person’s biological sex something that’s flexible.

Stranger Things’ New “Mom”

I started thinking about this topic (at least in the context of this blog post) when I came across this image while scrolling through Pinterest:Why Can't We Just Let Guys Be Mentoring, Nurturing, And Protective Without Giving them Feminine Labels? Looking At Scriptural Mission Statements For People Following Jesus | marissabaker.wordpress.comLike many Stranger Things fans, Season 2 turned Steve Harrington into one of my favorite characters. For those of you not watching the show, Steve was a stereotypical character  in the first season but in Season 2 he got some spectacular character development. He grew from a standard jock  into a hero who has a great relationship with the younger main characters. And for some reason that gets him labeled as their “mom” by the Internet. Continue reading

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Hidden Figures and NT-type Women

Contrary to popular belief, INTJs have emotions. They also express them, though not always to the person they’re having feelings about (for example, an INTJ might tell his best friend he likes a girl, but not tell the girl. Or an INTJ might tell her husband she hates a coworker, but never give the coworker a hint). INTJs tend to compartmentalize their feelings and process them internally, and they hate expressing deep emotions casually or to people they don’t know well.

hidden_ntIf you’re very observant, though, and get to know the INTJs in your life, you’ll start to realize there’s a remarkable depth to their feelings. They’ll even do things, like cry at movies, that are typically associated with Feeling personality types. They might scorn the things that are “supposed” to make you cry (e.g. I’m sniffling at a Pixar film and my INTJ sister laughs out loud in the theater). But then I’ll look over and notice moisture leaking from the corners of her eyes at the end of Hidden Figures (I’ve been informed it was not crying).

Hidden Figures (2016) is a fantastic film about “a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program. ” They were among the first African-Americans and the first women to work in such prestigious technical roles. My sister, about to graduate with a degree in Chemical Engineering, gave me one explanation for her emotional response to the film: “these women and others like them made it possible for me to be an engineer.”

As the character Mary Jackson tells a judge, someone always has to be first. These women proved it’s possible for women to be taken seriously and make important contributions as mathematicians and engineers. But I suspect my sister’s words go deeper than referring to breaking down gender stereotypes about the kind of work women can do. It also has to do with people’s expectations for what women should be like.

hidden_nt_2Only 24-35% of women have a personality type that relies on Thinking as their primary or secondary mental process (according to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type). INTJ and INTP women are tied for rarest at 1-3% of the female population. ENTJs come in a close third at 1-4%. ENTPs tie with ESTPs with 2-4%, just slightly more common than ISTPs at 2-3%. The STJ types aren’t nearly as rare, with ESTJs making up 6-8% and ISTJs 7-10% of the female population.

I’m not going to type the women in Hidden Figures, but having seen the film I think it’s safe to say Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson are Thinking types. Their minds are naturally wired to excel at processing facts, figures, and data — a hall-mark of the fact-checking, analytical Thinking functions that use “impersonal criteria to make decisions.” I’d say Katherine at least is probably an Intuitive type as well, pairing pattern-recognition and possibility-seeking with her Thinking side.

That means she wasn’t just a rarity at NASA (an African-American woman working in a highly technical position). She’s also a rarity in society (a woman using both Intuition and Thinking as her most comfortable mental processes). Thinking traits are so strongly stereotyped as masculine that NT women often don’t fit cultural expectations for femininity. One of the many things I loved about Hidden Figures is that these three women seemed to have figured out a way to balance being wives and mothers with working as groundbreakingly successful mathematicians. They’re also portrayed as real people who are admired and respected for who they are instead of as the bitchy, controlling, or cold stereotype we often get when presented with Thinking female characters (take Sandra Bullock’s character in The Proposal as an example). And the men they’re in relationships with aren’t scared of them or trying to fit them back in boxes.

It was really wonderful to see characters that embraced femininity on their own terms. While I do believe God created the two genders to be different and complementary in the roles we fill, I also think there are stereotypes in our culture that do both genders a disservice. One of those is that women are or “should” be more emotion-driven than analytically-minded. There’s room for both. And, as Hidden Figures reminds us, we would do ourselves a terrible disservice if we tried to keep these women hidden.click to read article, "Hidden Figures and NT-type Women" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

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Not Ashamed of Modesty

Feminism constantly tells women we have no reason to be ashamed of our bodies, our desires, our gender, our career goals – of anything really. We can do and be whatever we want and nothing should hold us back. It sounds good in theory, but like many things humans do it can be taken to extremes.

Take the Women’s March from a few weeks ago as an example. If you want to march around with what one blogger I follow delicately called a pink taco on your head I won’t stop you. But those of us who don’t do things like that aren’t any less “women” than you are, nor are we less interested in being treated with dignity, respect, and equality. In fact, that’s a big reason we express our notions of feminism (and femininity) in different ways.

click to read article, "Not Ashamed of Modesty" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Photo credit: “Day 68” by Quinn Dombrowski, CC BY-SA via Flickr

Today, I’m going to take society’s claim that there’s no need to feel shame about the kind of woman you are to heart and say I’m not ashamed of modesty. Depending on your background this word may have provoked a strong reaction. Perhaps you think modesty is a repressive, old-fashioned list of rules telling women how not to dress and act. Or maybe you think modesty sounds safe – a way to hide from attention you don’t want any more. But modestly is about so much more than a set of rules for covering yourself up. It’s more powerful and – dare I say it? – sexy than we often think.

Let’s start with a working definition of modesty: Modesty is concealing what you do not want everyone to know or see so that you can reveal yourself only to someone you trust. It’s typically associated with the idea of sex and how much skin you show, but it has to do with other things as well. For example, you might also exercise modesty by not calling undue attention to yourself or by reserving certain parts of your personality for people you know well. Continue reading

Wanting Children While Single

You snuggle babies every chance you get, longing for the day when you might hold your own child. Or perhaps you don’t hold babies any more because the ache of wishing they were yours is just too much. That’s the kind of grief and longing we associate with women in relationships who want to have a child and can’t get pregnant. Yet this desire isn’t confined to women with a man in their lives whom they love.

I’ve always felt guilty for how much I sympathize with the barren women of the Bible. As far as I know, I could have children if I found the right guy to marry and it seems rude to compare myself with women who are physically unable to have children. It also seems out-of-order to long for children before meeting the man I’d want to be their father.

I’m not alone, though. A woman I met through this blog while working on The INFJ Handbook shared her desire for children by asking why so many children are born into broken families while we, who would make good moms, are left barren. Since then, I’ve come across other women who feel the same way. If you’re committed to not having sex before marriage and/or not having children without a man in your life, then single women can know the pain of empty arms that long to hold a child.

Cultural Back-lash

Longing for children is unpopular in today’s society. We’ve become so obsessed with the fact that women are more than “baby producing machines” that the notion of being a mother has becomes synonymous with female oppression. Instead of seeing motherhood as a beautiful thing that many women desire, we’re told kids should take a back-seat to your career, your other desires, and your empowerment as a woman. And if having kids is actually one of your top life goals? well, clearly you’re still living in the pre-feminism dark ages. Continue reading

Transgenderism: So Much More Than A Bathroom Debate

I’m late to the topic of Target and Transgenderism, but at least that gives me the benefit of seeing how the Christian boycott and other reactions are playing out. To date, the AFA boycott pledge has 1,301,411 signers and American Thinker estimates the boycott has directly cost Target upwards of $9 million (though Target’s CEO denies this).

Describing the boycott as “Christian” isn’t entirely accurate, though. There’s been plenty of mixed reactions within the faith as well, ranging from extreme to apathetic to somewhere in between. We have a Bible-waving woman walking through Target yelling, “Are you gonna let the devil rape your children?” and a straight, conservative preacher’s wife still shopping at Target. There’s no consensus even here.

Transgenderism: So Much More Than A Bathroom Debate

While I don’t like the idea of a man walking into my bathroom, I think the whole transgendered bathroom debate is distracting from a larger issue. Society treats transgenderism as a lifestyle choice, but it’s not. It’s a mental disorder, and pretending this is a civil rights issue rather than a psychological one robs people of the help and support they need. Continue reading

Mighty Women

It seems odd to me that I’ve read the “virtuous woman” passage scores of times without bothering to look up the word “virtuous.” The Hebrew word, chayil, was mentioned in the first message given as my Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) site this year. I even had it in my notes, but forgot about it. God brought it to my attention again at the end of the Feast, when a man handed me a booklet titled “A Mighty Warrior: The Hebrew-Biblical View of A Woman” by Dr. Frank T. Seekins. I can take a hint — one Bible study/blog post coming right up!

Mighty Women | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Into The Hebrew

Chayil (H2428) carries the basic meaning of “‘strength,’ from which follow ‘army’ and ‘wealth'”(Theological Wordbook OT, entry 624). It’s used about 20 times of God’s might or power, and about 85 times to describe an attribute of people.

When chayil is used of people, there’s a marked difference in how it’s translated for men and women. For men, we find translations like “mighty man” or “mighty men of valor.” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament notes, “The individual designated seems to be the elite warrior similar to the hero of the Homeric epic.” For women, however, “it is translated ‘virtuous’ (ASV, RSV ‘worthy’ or ‘good’), but it may well be that a woman of this caliber had all the attributes of her male counterpart.”

While Biblical women were not typically warriors and did not serve in the army, we do have the example of Deborah acting the part of a “mighty woman of valor.” We also know from passages like Ephesians 6:11-13 and 2 Timothy 2:3-4 that all Christians are spiritual warriors. God’s women must be just as valiant as His men!

Your neck is like the tower of David, built for an armory, on which hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. (Song 4:4)

O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners! (Song 6:4)

Both these passages from Song of Solomon are descriptions that the male lover, who represents Christ, uses toward the female lover, who represents the church. Great men aren’t frightened of strong women; they embrace them as allies.

A Little More History

You might wonder why English translators decided to use “virtuous” or “good”for chayil when the Hebrew leans more toward “strong” and “mighty.” I suspect there were two reasons. Firstly, the original meaning of “virtue” in English was closer to chayil. It arrived in English around 1200 from Old French with the meanings, “force; strength; vigor; moral strength.” Originally, the Latin virtatum meant “high character; goodness; manliness; valor; bravery” (Online Etymology Dictionary).

Secondly, with prevailing attitudes of gender around the time early Bibles like the 1611 King James Version were released, translators were probably hesitant to call women “mighty” or “powerful.” By the 1590s, “virtuous” was losing the more martial aspects of the meaning, shifting toward moral characteristics. In reference to women, “virtuous” became used as a synonym for “chastity.” In the King James Version you can still see this word used for “power” in the New Testament passages where dunamis (G1411) is translated “virtue” (Mark 5:30; Luke 6:19, 8:46). In the New King James, references to Christ were changed from “virtue” to “power,” but the “virtuous woman” in Proverbs 31 only changes to a “virtuous wife.”

It’s true that high moral standards are essential for godly women. Commands regarding modesty and chastity are recorded elsewhere (1 Tim. 2:9), and the character of the Proverbs 31 woman is beyond reproach. But there’s more to being a “virtuous woman” than we might assume from what we’ve grown up hearing about “traditional gender roles.” The word “virtue” has suffered a similar fate as “meekness,” which our culture thinks of as synonymous with “doormat” while the original meaning carried the idea of strength submitted to God.

Mighty Women | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Allies in Battle

God created men and women to fight for Him together. They’re both supposed to be strong and they’re both supposed to support each other.

Men and women were created by God to be allies. As a culture, we have lost the concept of powerful allies; the very thing that Proverbs 31 is telling men to value. …

When a woman’s power is undercut, a situation is created where men and women become enemies. Instead of supporting each other, we battle and undermine God’s call to reflect Jesus relationship with His bride, the church. …

The Biblical concept is clear — A woman of power is to be valued and supported. It is God’s call for women (and men) to become mighty and powerful. (Seekins, p. 2)

I think many women balk at the Proverbs 31 model because it seems so domestic and submissive. “I don’t want to be a stay-at-home barefoot-and-pregnant good little wife,” some protest. “Why would God ask for such an outdated model of femininity?” But when we look closer at Proverbs 31, we find that’s not actually what it’s saying.

The first two descriptions show a woman who does her husband “good and not evil,” and who has earned his complete trust (Prov. 31:11-12). Her husband is respected by all, and it’s implied this is in no small part owing to her support as his ally (Prov. 31:23). In addition, she cares for the poor and needy, practicing the command to “love your neighbor” (Prov. 31:20). She’s respected by her children, husband and the community, and her opinion is highly valued (Prov. 31:28-29, 31).

The Proverbs 31 woman is shown actively doing productive things. She works with her hands, engages in trade “like the merchant’s ships,” and oversees workers in her household (Prov. 31:13-16, 19, 22, 24). She’s not full of anxiety because she has confidence in her ability to care for her business and family (Prov. 31:18, 21, 27).

Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. (Prov. 31:25-26)

It’s still an intimidating picture to try and live up to, but there’s no reason to reject it as demeaning to women. If anything, this “outdated” model is far more powerful than anything modern women’s empowerment movements have come up with.

When a woman understands her calling to be a mighty warrior and a perfect ally, she will conquer and control life. She will remember that the men in her life are not the enemy; her weapons are not meant to be used against them. The weapons of her strength and power are to be used against their enemies (Seekins, p. 23).

God calls all of us to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10). Both men and women need to recognize this, and embrace our roles as “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7), fighting as allies for and alongside the Captain of our Salvation, Jesus Christ.

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