Sundays in Saugatuck: Reflections on Gender

mascfem

Ashok and I ran our long run today in Saugatuck. I packed a change of clothes so I could make an afternoon of it. Initially, I hadn’t planned on coming here. I met a friend for coffee in the other direction, but I found myself wanting to keep to my routine of the last month. I’m running up to six miles now, and I get bored running the same routes in St. Joe. I don’t have time during the week to seek out new scenery, so I may as well do it on the weekend.

On the way up, I listened to The Daily, one of my favorite podcasts by the New York Times. They interviewed twin girls about scouting. One of the twins is a tomboy and wants to be in the Boy Scouts, and the other enjoys the Girl Scouts more. Times are changing that’s for sure. I wondered why we ever thought that girls couldn’t be interested in camping and archery and why boys wouldn’t be interested in cooking and crafts. I, myself, was a tomboy interested in baseball and fishing. Was it nature or nurture that turned me into a more girly-girl in my teens?

The girls’ father was interviewed, too, and it was really refreshing to hear absolutely no judgement about the differences in his girls’ interests. The tomboy just wanted to do the things that the boys did in Boy Scouts. She didn’t like the crafts the Girl Scouts did. She wasn’t interested in equal rights or trying to press some kind of political agenda. And her sister liked hanging out with the girls. She wasn’t just trying to fit in. Hearing them talk made me wonder why we ever forced girls to do crafts and sewing and cooking and boys to do woodworking and outdoors activities. What does gender have to do with any of that?

And we have the shocking cultural upheaval around sexual harassment that is happening currently. I have been discriminated against at work because I’m female, and I’ve been sexually harassed as well. I can’t imagine any woman my age that hasn’t had to deal with that BS. But I will say that I’ve been blessed that what I experienced was never to the level of what I’m hearing about in the news. Times are changing, I hope. I hope that this awareness of the crap that women have gone through just to go to work in the field of their choice will open some eyes and change some hearts.

gender-role-stereo-types

I know many may disagree, but I welcome a world that is more gender-neutral. Both the masculine and feminine exists in all of us, and we should all be able to be who we are without fear of alienation. Men have been disadvantaged because they can’t access and feel their emotions because it’s considered weak. And women have been robbed of our power because we are considered the weaker sex. None of it is truth. I used to think each sex had its own strengths and weaknesses, but honestly strengths and weaknesses are part of the human condition NOT an aspect of our gender. God is both masculine and feminine. If we are made in the likeness of him, both are magnificent energies.

We are in a time of great chaos, but I’m seeing growth and healing for our civilization. I grew up in a world where women were considered the weaker sex, and our emotional expression was a liability. Men worked and stuffed their feelings until they couldn’t even connect with their children or their wives. Women put up with infidelity and out-of-control anger and addiction because it was their job. Men were forced to find approval through work or affairs or to numb out with alcohol or drugs. Children were robbed of a masculine role model and instruction on managing their emotions. Our society needs men and women that are whole. I hope this younger generation can pull it off. We sure screwed it up.

This week is a time to be thankful. There’s a lot of pain and heartache in the world. But if I look a little deeper and trust that God has a beautiful plan, I might see a silver lining to the current cultural storm. It may be time for us to crack wide open and bleed as a culture so that we can envision a new day ahead – a day where we are all equal, the beauty and riches of the world are open to all of us and where evil gets its due.

Have a great week, y’all. And just be yourself, please. We need ya just like you are.

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