Contemplating the nature of men and women I am forever being reminded that we exist almost as mirror reflections of each other. Sometimes talking to men is a bit like looking in a mirror and seeing myself, but completely reversed. It can be a little disorienting. I tend to have to translate things into man-speak and women-speak because words and phrases can have entirely different meanings depending on which gender is using them. It has to do with subjective and objective reality. Words can have multiple meanings and the intent of the person is important.
I joke about interspecies communication, not because I believe men aren’t human, but rather because clarity came to me one moment during my marriage when I had the thought, “sheesh, sometimes I don’t even think I’m married to the same species!” Bingo. It’s not that my husband was wrong, it’s that he and I were speaking two different languages. There’s a book called, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” There’s some truth to that. Not that one way of perceiving the world is superior to another, just that we are very different and how we perceive things is different. The yin and the yang.
There are many stereotypes about women being more emotional, more intuitive, and men being more rational, more reason oriented. There is some truth to these stereotypes, but there is also a whole lot of variation among people. Women are quite capable of being logical and men are more than capable of being emotional. Our resting state however, the neutral we like to exist in, often leaves us perceiving the world in our own way and speaking different languages.
Biologically speaking, women aren’t supposed to operate simply on reason and logic. No offense to men, but following men who seem to have this issue with asking for directions, is not exactly logical. Deciding to have children, a decision that is almost guaranteed to be extremely painful and far from cost effective, is not exactly rational. If women were ruled by logic and reason alone, I suspect the species would have ceased to exist long ago.
There is a really complimentary aspect to men and women, however. We exist in this complete symbiosis, not just biologically, but spiritually, emotionally, creatively. It is a remarkable design. Sometimes I think it resembles a balancing act. Leaning too much in one direction or the other tends to deliver negative results. Not just in marriage, but in the culture at large.
I suppose it requires some humility before you can look at the other gender and acknowledge the fact that they are capable of seeing things that you simply cannot. It’s probably becoming harder for women to do these days, because we are being pushed towards “equality,” and observing the fact that men can sometimes see things in ways you can’t, is not politically correct. It is however, true. For women, once you acknowledge this, it is awesome. Suddenly men become like a resource, another pair of eyes.
What sent me plunging through the looking glass this time is the horrible, no good, very bad, and most oppressive, Christian idea of men in positions of leadership within the church, within families, within marriage. Nothing tends to bring on the accusations about Stepford wives and being oppressed and existing as a kind of mindless automatron, faster. I do get offended sometimes, although there are some amusing moments. “You’re awfully fierce for a submissive,” kind of cracked me up.
Women, at least in the Western world, can do pretty much anything men can do, but the one thing we can’t do is to perceive the world through their eyes. There are biblical precedents that support the idea of men being in positions of authority, of leadership within the church, within the family. It’s actually a complex and remarkable design. Rather than oppressing women, it frees us up to be who we were intended to be, and that is such a vital and valuable thing in the world, that the entire system has been designed in a way that makes that possible.
When women are always trying to compete to walk in men’s shoes, we wind up depriving ourselves of the freedom to walk in our own.