Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent, Day 2: In which the top of my head shoots off.

OK, I have to get this off my chest. Sorry it's such a long, rambling bit of nonsense. If it's too long and rambling and nonsensical, I won't be offended if you skip it. ;)

Fellas: you are misinterpreting data, to your own frustration and the frustration of many, many single women around you. In 2011, a woman who has a career and a college degree (maybe even an advanced degree) and a mortgage, who pays her bills on time and takes her own car to the mechanic and hasn't lived with her parents in ten years is not necessarily, by definition a raging feminist who thinks she needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. Nope. She is NORMAL. Got that?

Tip: that's the summary. If you're sufficiently convinced, feel free to stop right here. Need more persuasion that you oughta change your mind? Read on, my friend.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, women in the business world were rare. The average age of a first marriage was still in the early-mid twenties for both men and women. And the message from Western culture was loud and clear: Sisters, get into work. You can still decide to have children later, after you've gone up the ranks in your job, after you've accomplished something "real."

Add to this the shame that generation of feminists heaped on men: you're irresponsible, power-hungry, insensitive; you're someone to be resented and competed with, boxed in, restricted, pushed aside, stepped on. Those power-suit-wearing, marriage-spurning, child-hating career girls -- even then, the stereotype was developing!

But, guys? That was thirty years ago. Somehow, it seems, too many Christian men are still being taught to see career, mortgage, and financial stability in a woman and interpret that as "feminist, not wife material, run far far away"!

I grew up being taught not to waste time or money sitting on my hands, and that it was ungodly to waste my gifts and opportunities. You know who taught me that? Not just my mother, though she certainly did. No, it was the women who had, thirty years ago, bought the lie that they could subjugate their God-given desires, that those desires were wrong, that "wife" and "mother" were not the most honorable titles they could seek, but that they were rather titles to be avoided. These women, who learned through bitter experience, taught me to cherish my God-given desire for marriage and motherhood, but also to seize whatever opportunities the Lord put before me. They passed on their experience and wisdom, and started to break down that paradigm.

In my bitter moments, I want to sock every Christian single guy who whines about modern women being overly independent, and tell them that, if they didn't propose to a girl in college, it's their own fault there are all these career women running around. But in my better moments, I just want to be helpful.  So let me help you.

Most of us, brothers, are working, paying our bills, getting promotions, working on our degrees, and all those other things, not because we  don't  want to get married and have children.  It's because we had the opportunity to use our gifts in a job, or use our finances more wisely by buying instead of renting, or develop our skills with an advanced degree, or whatever... and haven't had the opportunity to get married and start a family. Most of us would happily re-arrange any or all of those things for the right man, if given the chance.

If I have one word of caution, it's this: guys, you tiptoe toward slandering your sisters when you silently accuse them of selfishness, unhealthy independence, and unbiblical attitudes toward femininity just because they have careers and mortgages -- love, after all, believes the best about people. You are misinterpreting the data, and coming to wrong conclusions. Don't be put off by a woman who makes a decent living at a job she's good at, a woman with an advanced degree, a woman who owns a home. Don't assume the worst about her.

Thirty years ago, a power suit and a mortgage might reasonably have meant this was a woman who didn't want marriage and family. It doesn't have to mean that anymore. Got it?


wren said...

Yay!!! but power suits are very unflattering for my body shape. i keep it feminine in a dress or a pair of heels. i know you are in full support.

Laura said...

Totes. ;)