False Narratives About Women’s Careers (Part 2)

being womanThis quote here? It never ceases to drive me up a wall.

This quote nails everything that is wrong with patriarchy, anti-feminism, and even part of liberal feminism today. It promotes a narrative that there are chiefly two kinds of people: men, and women. In this limited taxonomy of all humanity, personality traits, interests, work, and spheres of influence divide neatly into “masculine” and “feminine.” Any time a man or a woman expresses interests or personality outside of this gender binary, or any time a man or a woman pursues a different kind of work or the same work in a different sphere of influence (say, a NICU nurse wanting to be a stay-at-home dad or a women’s Bible teacher stepping into a pastoral role), he or she is said to be outside his or her male or female nature. He is doing what women were created to do. She is doing what men were created to do.

Since there isn’t a huge stampede of men wanting to watch babies and be pre-k teachers and manage the home, we see experience this as a uniquely female transgression — women are constantly trying to be like men.

Poor women. It’s all feminism’s fault, really. Feminism has confused women about who they are. Women feel like they can’t be valued as women; they feel pressured to be like men. That’s why we’ve got all these women abandoning their children to the godless public schools and struggling with the double curse of parenthood and breadwinning. That’s why women can’t have it all: they’re trying to be men as well as women. If only our culture would affirm the uniqueness of women, women would stop being so confused and burned out.

Let me say this loudly and slowly, because most people just don’t get it: Women are not trying to be men. They are trying to be themselves.

They are not busting their butts off at work only to come home and almost single-handedly raise the kids and take care of the house just to “prove” something. They are not spending time, money, and effort in earning Bible and theology degrees they’re barred from using just because they thought it would be a spot of fun. Their pursuit of work in spheres and roles prohibited them are not feminist side hobbies, just to keep them “busy.” They struggle for banned opportunities not because they are duty-bound by the feminist agenda to take over men’s jobs, but because this is who they are as women.

This is their uniqueness. That “man’s job” is this particular woman’s job. That “thing men were created to do” — this particular woman was created to do it.

This is how it has always been. These modern women interested in “men’s pursuits” are not feminism’s Frankenstein, a grotesque amalgamation of masculine and feminine traits zapped to life by hatred of their “unique feminine natures.” They are the most natural, normal, and unadulterated creation: women.

Women (and men, for the record) have always naturally been a mix of traits, skills, interests, and callings that run up and down the masculine/feminine spectrum, sometimes congregating more towards the “masculine” end, some more to the “feminine,” some in the center, and some spread out in both directions. Tell me a person’s sex, male or female, and I can tell you only what they’ve been told they are — not who they are actually.

Women have always been interested in things beyond home and family life. Women have always been intelligent. Women have always possessed “masculine” traits. Women have always possessed “masculine” skills. Women have always been capable of a “man’s job,” because it was never only men’s to begin with. They were her unique interests, capacities, traits, skills, and callings too.

Women are not trying to prove that they can do what men can do. They’re trying to prove that they can do what women do — and that we’re not one wit less of a woman or more like a man in doing it.

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