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Woman Where Art Thou?

May 21, 2011
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Woman Where Art Thou?

I am exceedingly perplexed by the continuous societal defining of a man yet the complete – to the point of extinction – degradation of the roll, calling, and description of what it is to be “woman”.

Throughout the ages, through historical and literary account, through commercial and artistic media we are told men are: Hard-working, rough, strong, rugged, champions, sportsmen, noble, brave, charming, successful, passionate, protective, leaders, loyal, lovers, sacrificial, chivalrous, warriors, conquerors, so many examples and descriptions. We’ve even edited out the characteristics of womanizing, abusive, apathy and abandonment. They still exist but they are not looked upon with favor by our society. These ideals and attributes are consistently found throughout the pages of history, literature, art, and society – ancient and modern. Added to these are feeling and sensitive – not bad trimmings.

The feminist movement has actually been more effective on men than on women: there are definitely more males who are now feminine. Boys to men, it may be tolerated, but it is not favored, and usually is made fun of; we don’t consider effeminacy a character quality of the quintessential man.

Woman though, what is she? Who is she? We, again, describe femininity, but is that all that there is to a woman? The above description has elements of masculinity but that isn’t the sole basis for the length and breadth of man. A mother – that can’t be the width of her work – it certainly isn’t accepted as such in our society. Was it in the past? Even the Proverbs 31 woman isn’t merely described as “wife” and “mother”. I would say you could broaden that to “industrious”. But, this is still just descriptive and characteristic of her “roll” and dare I say “function”. Notice in the man definition I didn’t list, “father” or “husband” – because not every soldier, every, gentleman, every noble knight, or even Marlboro Man is such. But every father or husband is esteemed if he is a man. Where does a woman find her esteem?

I don’t have an answer! I am honestly posing the question and, at the same time, expressing my exasperation at the thought: what is a woman? – With the answer being on par and in relation to how and why we define and admire a man.

Part of the problem as I search seems to me to be pyramidal. No, not the business scheme, the conundrum of how the Ancient Egyptians built the Great Pyramids. Nobody knows! That information is lost to antiquity. It is the Yahweh factor perhaps. No one knows the actual name God gave to Moses because the Israelites revered it so intently they wouldn’t spell it or say it so, like Grandma’s sacred pickle recipe it went to the grave in secrecy forever. Is that really what God intended? Why would you give your name to a people only to have it forsaken? I think that was not his purpose; it was their consequence and now our loss. Why would you keep such an amazing recipe for bread and butter pickles so selfishly, in such a limited glory as your own little life, so that future generations cannot bask in its wonder and credit you forever with such a gift? The loss was not your intent, but its effect is our lot. Is this what happened to woman?

Has the meaning of woman been lost through poorly placed reverence or malappropriated? Where did we lose the essence of our definition? Was it at the Fall in the Garden? Our orientation certainly was perverted there. But Man didn’t lose his self-understanding and God credit’s him with the transgression: through one man sin entered the world… (Rom 5:12) Where is our list of adjectives, ideals, and archetypes of noble girth? I tell you I do not know. Every instance of a female ideal I see as condemnation and unobtainable. Men, please don’t chime in here and say, “That’s how we feel!” Women do put false expectations on men all the time, but the above list is evidenced in men everywhere ever day by men of every nation, tribe, and tongue. It is a list of ideals and character qualities, not boxes to check off.

That is what is given to women: boxes to check off. Beautiful – THIN, young, physically attractive; check. College educated; check. Career – because “job” isn’t even good enough any more; check. Independent; check. Loving, sexual, devoted wife; check. Amazing home organizer – to include, cleaning, cooking, and budgeting; check. Mother – never yelling, always baking, taking kids (2.4) to soccer, and making school projects; check. BFF; check.

Am I missing anything? This is the “model” of the Modern Woman. Where are the attributes? Where is the character or the ideals? That list amounts to Blinged Crap, my friend, BeDazzled all to hell crap. And it still stinks. And the only ones eating it are the dogs; the rest of us are still choking on it.

How can we return to a better standard if we can’t find it? Back to my original point. I hate our definition now, but I have nowhere to go. Maybe that is why we can’t get out of our bad female theology: we don’t have anything else! What happens in a vacuum?

Noble, sacrificial, warrior, leader, successful, chivalrous… not once, when reading words like these do we think: woman. I don’t want to be like a man; I want to be what I am created to be: a woman. I just need to know what that is.

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