The newest member of our family is due any day now. We have opted for “Team Yellow” with this one, choosing to keep the gender a surprise. Our conversations, therefore, have hovered around the various aspects of possibly parenting two different genders. We realize that there will be differences between how we parent our son and how we would parent a daughter, though some things will remain the same. We know for a fact that we want our sons to be gentlemen and our daughters to be ladies, but how do we cultivate that within these young individuals?
Masculinity and femininity have nearly become bywords in our liberal society. Women who choose to set their career aside to stay home with their little ones have to frequently justify their decision, if not apologize for it. Unexplained guilt comes with the confession that “I am a stay-at-home mom.” Opening doors, giving up seats, and carrying heavy items are practically insults to the independent, self-sufficient girl or woman should a man dare to reveal a hint of old-fashioned chivalry. To be masculine is to be a mindless, muscled brute with only guns, beer, and sex on his mind. To be feminine is to be empty-headed, weak, and only capable of housekeeping and diaper-changing. At least, those are the definitions that I inferred from college classes, trending TV shows, and the news. From my perspective it seems like women are trying to prove that they can do whatever a man can do: fight on the front lines in battle, enforce the law as a police officer, fight fires, body build, wrestle, tackle the corporate realm, enter politics, etc. I’m not saying we can’t; I am asking if we should? What is the price of such gender-centric, egomania?
For women to climb the corporate ladder or shatter the glass ceiling they have to prove they are more capable than the men they are competing against. They have to show they are just as tough, just as ruthless, just like a man. In the process, they are losing the gentle, nurturing spirit that rocks cradles during the night, snuggles tiny, sobbing bodies with scraped knees, listens to rambling preschool stories, cooks favorite birthday meals, and soothes tattered teenage hearts. No, these precious duties of motherhood are sacrificed on the altar of feminism to the principle that to be feminine is to be less than. Ironically, in an attempt to master the man’s world, feminism has demonized the very gender whose roles they covet. He is either stupid and incapable or sex-crazed and violent. This mentality permeates what our kids are reading in popular literature, viewing in cartoons, and hearing in music or in the conversation that they overhear. Girls learn that they have to show up the boys and do everything by themselves; boys learn that girls do everything better and faster than they ever could. If a boy helps a girl out he is accused of thinking she can’t manage without his help; if he ignores her and does his own thing he is accused of being a bully. The end result is that we have a society of men who are not gentlemen and women who are not ladies that are bemoaning the lack of gentlemen.
I realize that I have made some drastic generalizations here and that there are exceptions. My generalizations have come from years of observations in the college classroom as a student and in my middle school classroom as a teacher. I have tuned in to the underlying messages on the news, in movies, and in literature. I have spoken with men in the military, the police force, and the corporate world in order to get their take on how feminism affects them. Their testimonies are not positive. It’s becoming a perilous world for men of chivalrous character, actually, for men in general. It’s turning into a lose-lose world for them. They are reprimanded for doing good and being gentle; they are penalized (rightly so) for being vulgar or doing nothing.
So how will we raise our sons and daughters in a gender-skewed world? By teaching them God’s standards for men and women: each has God-given roles and responsibilities that are different but equal. They should fulfill those roles and responsibilities with diligence and honor, knowing that doing so will bring them security and peace of heart. They will learn to treat one another with dignity and respect for they are all created in the image of God. They will serve one another and respond to the service they receive with gratitude and humility. Our prayer is that the conduct they practice in our home will become habits that will bless all whom they meet.