Simply Put, I Have a Problem.
No duh, right?
More specifically, I have a problem with the insistance that many in the pseudo-philosophical communities have with splitting humanity up into the two categories of “Male” and “Female” that are separated by more than physiology. The rather confidant stance of “Men do ‘X'” and “Women do ‘Y'” has an ultimate breaking point in that it categorizes people without respect to their individual identities, quirks and abilities. For whatever reason, humanity has this unnerving drive to so thoroughly understand the world around us that we no longer need to be out in it. If this dichotomic split was legitimate, I should be able to walk down the street, look at someone’s phyiscal gender, and know everything about them that I need to know: what their dominant personality type is, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what it is that they want out of life, etc. The problem is that if you are around people for any length of time, it should become painfully obvious that that is impossible. There are too many women in this world trying to become doctors, lawyers and politicians to say that “all women long to feel safe, be cared for and bear 40 children”.
Now, certainly, I’m exaggerating a touch for the sake of my argument. But the point is no less valid. I have sat in a number of psychology-type discussions where there has been some kind of summary statement of what defines “Masculine” and “Feminine”. Almost every time I have been raging inside after that discussion was over. The reason? Everyone should have the capacity to do those things that define both “Masculine” and “Feminine” in almost all of those discussions. Some have gone so far as to say that everyone DOES have both the masculine and the feminine in them, but the question is which side is dominant. If that’s true, couldn’t we scrap the “Masculine/Feminine” terminology and call it what it really is–Human? Let me give some examples.
You cannot be a responsible leader (“masculine” trait) until you have learned to be a good follower (“feminine” trait)– people who lead without knowing what it is to follow become tyrants or fools… inexorably. Objective judgment (“masculine” trait) devoid of subjective perception (“feminine” trait) leads to injustice and poor decision-making– no one advocates executing a child for accidentally shooting their friend, even though it is murder. You cannot bestow (“masculine” trait) unless you have received (“feminine” trait)– as musician Aaron Weiss said, “A glass can only spill what it contains.” Most of the world’s greatest (greatest= influential/governmental; uber-masculine trait) Orators (orator= speaker; speaker=talks a lot; talks a lot = uber-feminine trait) were men. During WWII, one of the largest demographics in the manufacturing industry (uber-masculine trait) were women… partly because the men were off dying.
The point of this inquisition isn’t to rally the troops to some ultra-neo-feminazi cause of “We’re all the same!!!” Rather, the polar opposite. We are all so radically different in our “sameness” that any kind of blanket generalization about humanity is near-impossible. If I walk down the street and see someone that I want to know about, the only solution is to talk to them… or their friends, depending on how comfortable I am being creepy. Why are women capable of starting businesses? Because they have the same humanity that men do. Why are men capable of staying home and raising children? Because they have the same humanity that women do.
I hear someone asking, “what about the Bible?” I would counter that by asking where the Bible states what the natural division is between men and women. The only answer I can come up with is Genesis 1-3, and the clear distinction between them is their part in reproduction. God makes Eve for two reasons– the first is that Adam has named all the creatures of the earth and has found that he is the only thing like himself. The second is summed up in God’s first command to humanity which was to multiply and subdue the earth. Even Adam himself does not produce a philsophical wounderment about the difference between male and female–opting instead to declare that she is “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”. Translation: “She’s just like me!” In fact, the Bible only claims a direct difference existing between two sets of people groups– the line that the Old Testament establishes between Jew and Gentile and the division between the believer and the unbeliever in the New Testament.
Ultimately, I believe that these dissections of the human psyche into “masculine” and “feminine” need to be dropped. If we can begin to look at our various qualities, abilities and tendencies as more “human” than gender specific, it gives us hope that we can all conform to the pattern of Jesus himself. I (as a man) need to be more humble, more emotionally connected and a better nurturer… because that’s what it means to become like Jesus.