Friday, January 11, 2013

On Gender and Giftings

I was thinking about gender roles as they relate to gifts and callings, and I thought about the following conversation that I heard recently:
(Older relative to young woman) : you know, dear, with your analytical mind you should have gone into law instead of music; you should be your brother's legal assistant or office administrator or researcher! 
(Young woman) offense, but if I did go into law it wood not be with the expectation of playing second fiddle to anyone, least of all my little brother! 

I don't think that the young woman meant that she was too egotistical to work for anyone, but that she wouldn't put limitations on where she would go with her career before she had even begun it. Why wouldn't she be a lawyer herself? Why wouldn't she have her own law office, instead of working for her brother in his? 

Hello. My name is Mary, and I'm a feminist. =) Here's the thing- While I will fight patriarchal or rigid gender roles, I certainly think that there are differences between men and women, and not just the really obvious and really fun ones. What I will say is that they don't, or at least don't have to, determine behavior, at least not to the oversimplified, socially-constructed extent that some people think. =) Also, and this is important- just because something is statistically probable among a group does NOT mean that it is true in every case. (and also- what's a hermaphrodite to do? If gender roles were such a God thing then He wouldn't have made some people without gender. God does not create rules and roles that are physically impossible for some people to follow and then punish any one who doesn't follow them.) Again- while there are obvious physiological and perhaps also psychological differences between the sexes, this does not translate to the "women are more emotional" or "women are more nurturing" or "men are better in high stress situations" schtick. There are also enormous differences between individuals, and certain things that we are pre-disposed to- I think that it is no more ok to say that I can be all emotional and crazy all the time just because I'm a woman than it is to say that because of my personality (INTJ to use a popular system of determination) it is ok for me to be critical, reclusive, emotionally stunted, or overly perfectionistic.

SO- I'd be in favor of ditching gender roles as much as possible. They're pretty ridiculous, for the most part. Sure, my husband can beat me in manual labor and aimed peeing, and I can birth and breastfeed, but that really has nothing to do with our actual jobs. (government bean counter/tech expert and pianist/teacher/composer) I also think it's offensive to assume that a woman would automatically go into a career expecting to play a supporting role just because of her gender. Seriously. Or to assume that I can't be called to preach or called to leadership because I'm female. It's almost as if some people think that a vagina is nothing more than the magical place that all the logic, power, and testicular fortitude leaks out.

I don't believe God gives gifts and talents based on gender. Really. And so I don't think that gender should be the determining factor in our career choices. I think that a full-time, part-time or home-with-kids job is acceptable for either gender, and that each person and each family should choose their life path with ministry, family, and personal desires in mind. 

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