One of the most inspiring passages to me since my teenage years has been Proverbs 31:10-31. In this day and age, this is a somewhat awkward thing to admit since these verses comprise the classic virtues of a good wife passage in the Bible. That sounds like a fun topic, right?! Meditating on the passage as a whole in our current cultural climate is an endeavor of unmitigated risky business. So I am holding off on a meditation on the passage itself for now. Instead, I’d like to talk about something that stirs my thoughts when I read the passage, namely, that men and women are different. But at times some radical forms of feminism seep into our way of thinking and being. No longer is it safe to differentiate between male and female roles. In an obvious kind of way, this is very strange to many of us.
So are we trying to say that men and women are no longer (or have never been) different from one another? Are we trying to say that men and women are not wired differently (in some ways, very differently!)? Is there not another way to look at this perchance? It would be unsafe for those who value truth much at all to assume that, on a general level, men and women are precisely the same. This is not to take away from the fact of our commonly shared nature which is endowed with exactly the same dignity. If I may, I would like to assume men and women have the same incredible worth. It is simply a fact that, while we share an equality of dignity, we are not put together the same way.
Case in point: I have a dog. It is a Yorkshire Terrier AKA a “purse dog.” To compensate, I have named him Hercules. In defense of why I own such a creature I will simply say that he was a stray that was going to be taken to the pound, and I thought I might be able to muster just enough of a nurturing spirit to care for his basic needs. Needless to say, to this end, the struggle is real. Now, you can point fingers at me all you want and say that I just don’t care enough when I let his hair grow too long (and go ungroomed), when I don’t brush his teeth frequently (Yorkies have notoriously bad teeth), and when I don’t bathe him as often as a good mama should. But I guess this is all to my point: nurturing is really hard for me. Sorry. I have to choose it very deliberately; I have to think about it in advance and collect my will power very consciously. I have had the dog for three years with no major health problems (so I guess I’m doing something right), but, in all honesty, Hercules could probably use a more commanding force of nurture in his life.
So, to point out some of these differences in a way that will elucidate the meaning passage a bit, shall we look to other passages in the Bible? Nope. Let’s try science. So this is the claim: men and women are wired differently and therefore, on a general level, we can expect them to go about things differently. Try these articles (if you’re crunched for time, the first one will suffice):
So science points to some major differences in how men’s and women’s brains work. And I, for the sake of argument, think that’s pretty important. If you didn’t actually read the articles, I will summarize briefly:
According to science, men’s brains tend to send signals unilaterally up and down each separate lobe. Why does this matter? Welp…“scientists say” this is why men are better at focusing on things like reading maps, spatial tasks, and muscle memory. On the other hand, women’s brains send a whole complex network of signals between the hemispheres of the brain (how am I not surprised?). Scientists attribute female superior relational, verbal, memory, and intuition to this interactive brain pattern. Here’s an interesting (and important) point about women’s brain from the first article listed above: “‘Intuition is thinking without thinking. It’s what people call gut feelings. Women tend to be better than men at these kinds of skill which are linked with being good mothers,’ Professor Verma said. Autism, which makes a person focus on purely logical patterns with little to no ability to show empathy toward others, is 5 times more likely to develop in men than women.” Perhaps men are not as easily disposed to being empathetic as women are? I haven’t noticed that!
To conclude with the science part, it is interesting to note that when the brains are seen together, the entirety of the human brain is pretty much accounted for. This fact led to this scientist quote: “‘It’s quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really are,’ said Rubin Gur of Pennsylvania University, a co-author of the study.” I suppose science will say next that men and women are complementary in another way?! I can’t think of anything right now, but I will certainly wait for science.
In the end, women becoming men is not feminine (thus not feminism). Women being women is true feminism (and femininity is beautiful and awesome!). Men being men (hopefully honorable men of goodwill and virtue) is fine too. Okay, actually, it’s awesome. We need to accept that as well. Men and women are awesome. YOU are awesome. In general, men and women go about things differently. We think about things differently. We are different. We should generally have different expectations for each other, including being open to the idea that there are certain roles that are a better fit for the make-up of a woman or a man. I really don’t mean to offend anyone; I just think there’s a reality to our differences. At the very least maybe we can change our expectations for how a woman or man will go about a particular role because it will most likely be different based on their being male or female.