Today is International Women’s Day which is a big thing in parts of the world like Europe. The first time I heard about this celebration was when Deb and I lived in Russia back in the mid 90s where IWD is a huge deal. The roots of this movement began in the early 1900s on the heels of the industrial revolution where women experienced great oppression and unfairness. In 1908, some 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights. This movement continued in other countries and the first official day of celebration was held in Austria in 1911 and followed in the US with the 19th Amendment in 1920. On this day of celebration I’m remembering some influential ladies in my life and am thankful for them, but I’m also a bit saddened at the agenda of the modern feminist movement. Is this because I’m opposed to women’s suffrage and really am a chauvinist at heart? No. Rather, it’s because I am totally for women and sense that what has arisen out of this healthy and right call for equality has now morphed into a recipe for tears. The problem that many may not grasp is the mistake of equating equality for sameness and thus a drive to purposefully remove any difference between the genders.
Yes, I believe that ladies can rise to any job or position they want and I believe that Margaret Thatcher was a perfect example of this as the first female Prime Minister of the UK. I like Maggie and her conservative politics and would have voted for her if I were a Brit. I believe in equal pay for equal labor.
This is all good, but it does not remove the differences of our gender. Only women can have babies and nurse them. Typically, most men draw their confidence from a drive for career while women usually do better at relationships. It’s also interesting that in Russia, where feminism reached its heights under Communism, that ladies are still given flowers on IWD. Interesting, as one would not normally give a man a flower on Father’s day and he’d much rather have something a little less delicate anyway. For the most part, flowers are associated with beauty and the connection is naturally made with ladies because of their gender of a softer, elegant, glorious, and more nurturing nature. Exceptions? Sure, but this does not negate the fact that in creation God made female and male as equal in value but yet different in nature. The scriptures are clear that there is indeed a difference in male and female and to fight against and deny the difference between the sexes is to deny the glory of womanhood. This is a phenomenon that the misguided efforts of feminist in the 60s and 70s and some of the post-modern Christian feminist thinkers of today have not connected the dots on. The mix up is one of thinking that if the two sexes are different that one must therefore be inferior to the other. Such is not the case in the eyes of God at all. I often point out that in creation; Eve was not merely the final act of God’s design, but the height of his master plan. I often tell people that Eve was the zenith of God’s creation. Eve brought and brings wholeness, completion, and beauty into the world. What most people just don’t see is that denying this reality will actually work against women. Maybe the best way to illustrate this is again from our time in Russia. I remember countless occasions where I would step onto the subway system and witness men sitting down while women stood. Very rarely would a man stand up and give his seat to a woman. Why, because the Soviet culture had worked very hard to remove any and all differences between the sexes. The experiment worked great and the “female of the species” had to fend for themselves just like the males with no differences at all.
On the other hand, when our differences are noted and celebrated, womanhood takes on an entirely new glory. When we all see God’s design, then even men begin to treat women with respect and honor. That’s why I still teach my boys to open doors for women and not burp at the table when ladies are present. (when it’s just us guys though they let it rip) When ladies find their worth in who they are despite whether or not they have a high power career, then they begin to shine with a mystery and glory that men simply cannot achieve. Truly there is something good about femininity which many in our modern Western Culture have lost. So some thoughts on how we can realize something better.
1. Men . . . stop being jerks. Rise to be the men that God has created you to be and then treat women with the honor and respect they deserve.
2. Ladies, don’t be afraid to be women. By that I mean to ignore the lies of culture and the evil one that says you are of less value than men. This is simply not true. Rejoice in who you are as feminine. If you want to pursue being the first female President of the United States, then go for it. Just make sure you’re on that path because God has called you to it and not out of a fight for self-worth and validation.
3. For all of us, if we’re going to live out the Kingdom of God on earth, then let’s find our value, roles, and expectations in the Word of God instead of Cosmopolitan, Hollywood, or other media outlets which ignore God; the author of both female and male.
What else would you add?
Here’s a few other resources:
-Deb’s blog post on IWD
-Recent interviews on Focus on the Family. Modern Feminism and the Gender Blur.
– ‘Manning Up’ by Kay Hymowitz: Has the Rise of Women Turned Men Into Boys?