gender differences.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve read three totally unrelated blogs about femininity from three totally different perspectives. The first was Elizabeth Esther who guest-posted for Matthew Paul Turner. Elizabeth writes from the standpoint of being raised –and freed from- a fundamentalist Christian church that she sometimes refers to as a cult. She calls herself a “Whitewash Feminist”. The second was a guest post by Shauna Niequist on Donald Miller’s blog. She was raised by a father who wanted his daughters to be strong leaders and skilled learners and makes it clear that she disagrees with raising girls as and teaching them to be ‘princesses’. And then today Sarah Markley, another one of my very favorite bloggers, addressed the issue of being a woman raising women as a mother of two little girls. “Except for my husband we are all women in this home; even the dog and cat are each females,” she writes. While there were points on which I agree (and disagree) with Elizabeth and Shauna, which has more to do with the difference of our raisings, I mostly relate to Sarah.

I was raised in the middle of my two sisters by my mom and her six sisters. We were the only grandchildren on my dad’s side, thereby we were spoiled all our needs were met and we were always referred to as the ‘little girls’, even to my grandparents’ death in 2002. And then I went to a women’s college. Do you see where I’m going with this?

I only know how to be a woman. I love being a woman.

I love celebrating my femininity. I love wearing pretty dresses, putting on make-up and getting pedicures. I love getting my hands dirty in paint, soil and clay. I love to dance. I love to sing. I love using a hammer and nail. I still haven’t put batteries in the power drill from the tool kit I asked my dad for for Christmas a few years ago. I love like tolerate work out. I love my long hair but think short cuts look super-cute on the right body and facial types. I am mad about color and anything that sparkles, shines or is made of glitter. I appreciate having the door opened for me and walking on the inside of a sidewalk. I want to feel protected. I put gas in my own car but I take it in for an oil change. I was afraid of the ball growing up (still am). I hate to clean. I love to cook. I actually enjoy going to my (ahem) woman-doctor. I don’t want to be president of anything; I make a better assistant coach. I appreciate my curves. I don’t mind asking for help from a man who is better able than I am to move furniture or lift heavy boxes but I have sliders in case I get a whim to redecorate. I have paid my own bills since I graduated from college. I have a weakness for shoes and purses. I love to entertain and throw parties. I have a gift of hospitality. I am generous with my heart, time & money (when I have it). I am fiercely independent when it comes to being self-sufficient but depend on my friends and family an appropriate amount. I will gladly become co-dependent (in the positive sense of the word) when the time is right for that. My favorite movies are either rom-com or ones that make you think or cry; I close my eyes and scream at violence and blood. I love to play kitchen with my niece and try not to act nervous when she says, “I yove ‘nakes” and tries to pick up “wizards”. I wear my pearls and say “yes ma’am” and “no sir” not because I have to but because I can.

But I am not fragile. And do not call me weak.

I am strong and soft, sweet and sensitive, capable and compassionate.

My boss is a woman. I admire Hillary Clinton. I adore Audrey Hepburn, as much for her humanitarian efforts as for her beauty and talent. I think women can be presidents, leaders, pastors and truck drivers if they want to be. I am not a man-hater. In fact, I love men. I don’t want to be a man. I want you to be a man. I am woman no matter what. I can’t be a man. I think there are genetic differences between us that make you a better man than I could ever be. I believe there are certain gifts and tools we are given as men and as women but I do not believe in using my sexuality to get what I want simply because I shouldn’t have to. I don’t believe men should use their physical strength toward a woman to get what they want. It angers me when a woman is disrespected, disregarded or mistreated because of her gender. I am not responsible for your security as a man. I love the strength of an emotionally healthy man. I want to know his opinion. I will honor him. I believe that women, if appropriately built and emotionally or intellectually equipped for a particular duty, can be just as capable as a man but I’m not going to shoot for a job for which I know I don’t have the skill or mindset, gender or otherwise. Because I don’t have anything to prove. I’m confident in my abilities, gifts and talents related to and independent of who I am as a woman. I am not a princess but a queen.

For these reasons, I would call myself a feminist.

Because I love being feminine.

More than anything, I am a humanitarian. I am a supporter of people. I am a cheerleader for the underdog and a believer in hard-work. I can’t support laziness or indifference. I respect respectable women and men. I love it when men and women alike live into their giftings and do the thing they are most passionate about doing, the thing that makes you uniquely you.

What about you? Where do you stand with gender differences? What do you love about being a woman or a man? What do you appreciate about the unique design of the other?

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sharon O
    Aug 11, 2010 @ 11:18:15

    This is an awesome ‘blog’ today. I also read Sarah’s blog and I loved it. I have a daughter and it was always my goal to raise her to be a lady as well as independent. You can be both. She now has three daughters and it is equally important that I keep teaching them all to be ladies with good character and also be independent in the process of being dependent.
    I am slowly learning to be ‘feminine’ more not in a ‘radical’ feminist point of view but just appreciating the person who God made me to be. Coming from a ‘home’ where our mother was critical and not encouraging it was hard to ‘be a girl’ and feel good about it. Because her own self esteem was low she could not teach us… her three daughters to feel good about ourselves. We had to learn it on our own. I hope this makes sense.
    I feel as a mom and as a grandma it is my responsiblity to teach my girls to love the Lord… and LOVE who they are as who God made them to be. The flip side is ‘our sons’… Our son is an awesome man raising two sons and they are LEARNING to be boys… like John Eldredge says… boys are hard wired to protect… to be care takers to be ‘boys’. To be mighty men and leaders or warriors in the home.
    It is the responsibility of us all to help ‘the little ones’ feel good about WHO they are and who we see them to be in the future.

    • mary kathryn tyson
      Aug 11, 2010 @ 11:22:44

      oh, sharon, i LOVE this. yes, you make PERFECT sense. believe me when i tell you that i deleted two entire paragraphs about the home in which i was raised, just trying to focus on where i am now and not making anyone in my family uncomfortable. but it sounds like we were raised in the same home. :)

      i love that you brought up independence and dependence – i may have to go back and add something about that! because, yes, it is definitely important to strike a fine balance between the two.

      you could have summed up my entire point in what you said, “just appreciating the person who God made me to be”.

      yay, sharon! i think you are wonderful!

      xo

  2. Lou
    Aug 11, 2010 @ 13:31:29

    I don’t remember writing this…hmmm..but surely I must have.

  3. QSB
    Aug 11, 2010 @ 15:34:48

    Hi Mary Kathryn (or is it just Mary?),
    I was follow Doug Miller’s blog and had a few things to say. I too feel that being physically beautiful is marginalized to the point of women hiding their beauty. Particularly Christian women. I believe that Satan has distorted beauty to the point of it becoming ugly. Hiding the sparkle in your eyes, or the twinkle in your smile discredits God’s creation in you. My sister teases me about this, but I have been encouraging more femininity out her by encouraging her to wear more feminine clothing (i.e. no “man” shirts), thinning her eyebrows, doing her hair and so on. Even though we tease about this, she agrees that she is showing poor self-image (physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally) by wearing clothes that hide her body. She wore her hair up the other day and she looked so pretty. And she felt more confident in her womanhood.

    BTW, I had started a blog on WordPress and unwittingly called it the same thing. Funny.

    Best

    • mary kathryn tyson
      Aug 11, 2010 @ 15:46:43

      q,

      thank you for coming over! :) yes, it’s mary kathryn. or mary. or mk. (whichever you are most comfortable with; i introduce myself as mary kathryn. thank you for asking.)

      amen, amen & amen.

      and amen.

      p.s. i just wasn’t sure what else to call this post, though i debated. did you post yours? i’d like to read it. i love everything that you said. (i used to be your sister, afraid of my feminity because of the rules of my church. on her behalf, thank you :) )

  4. QSB
    Aug 11, 2010 @ 17:57:48

    Hi Mary Kathryn,

    Thanks for the encouragement. I haven’t actually posted anything on my blog (onegirl4god.wordpress.com if you want to check it out) about Don’s blog yet. I am mulling over some ideas concerning views on showing weakness and being a victim.

    I have been using Is. 63 1-11 as sort of a banner over my life lately, what inspired you to use verse 3?

    Best,
    QSB

    • mary kathryn tyson
      Aug 12, 2010 @ 09:06:42

      q,

      this is hilarious! read isaiah 63:3…are you sure you don’t mean isaiah 61:3? :)

      i chose it because i love crystal lewis? :)

      i chose 61:3 because it seems to be my life’s story. years ago, like you, i felt like the lord gave me exactly the verses (i think) you are talking about – for myself. and then, after all the work that he did in me (the ‘year of the lord’s favor’ lasted a few years), it became clear that it’s now intended for others. in summary, though, that my story can help them find their own beauty within their ashes. so…that’s why i chose it.

      i can’t wait to go to your blog! (even if you don’t post anything about gender roles. :)

      xo

  5. QSB
    Aug 12, 2010 @ 13:57:42

    Yeah, I meant Is. 61. A little slip of the thumb there. :)

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