Last semester my advisor told me that there were only two girls in my Biblical Studies major. This semester, my friend did not come back to school. At first, I feared feeling lonely in my Biblical Studies classes this semester. But, I was surprised to find that after a couple weeks of class, I had more friends in my class of nearly all guys than in my class of all girls. They treated me like one of them, joked around, but respected my ability to learn Greek as well as they could. The professor told me early in the semester to, "make sure they treat you well, or I'll beat them up for you." It felt great to know that I could do the same work guys could do and be respected while doing it. But, it's understood that they are studying to become pastors. And I'm not.
I'm not in Biblical Studies because there aren't many women in that major. I'm not there to prove to the guys that I can do just as well as they can. Neither is my sister in mechanical engineering to prove she can do engineering just as good as any guy. Nor is my brother planning on being a nurse practitioner to show that men can be nurses too. It's not about proving anything to anyone.
Outside of school, I enjoyed playing coed indoor soccer. I enjoyed playing with the guys, and while I may not have been able to keep up with their speed, I was just as tough as they were. If knocked down, I could get up faster than any guy. No one could get in my head, discourage me on the court. But, I didn't play to prove I could. I played because I enjoyed it.
I enjoy being strong. Working hard and getting stuff done, makes me happy. I rock climb every week with a friend of mine, and I love being able to do maneuvers on the wall that require a lot of strength because I can do it. Over the past couple weeks, I've learned that I enjoy weight lifting. I just love feeling strong, both physically and intellectually.
And, here is where I hear culture applause.
But, I have a problem with how feminists define the application of strength for women.
And, there the applause ends.
Many quotes I found encouraged women to be "b---chs", bossy, rude, get "sh-t" done. Women are told to do whatever to get what they want, to forget about everyone else in their life that might cause them hurt, inconvenience, or damage to their dreams. Feminists want women to define themselves and their purpose in life.
But, what about being a wife and a mom. That takes a strong woman. It takes a strong woman to look to a future marriage so she can make wise decisions. It takes a strong woman to look at her husband and say “I respect you and chose to follow your wisdom and leadership.” It takes a strong woman to work and provide things and food for her household. It takes a strong woman to wake up early and get what needs to get done, done. It takes a strong woman to put her own desires and opinions aside for the sake of her family’s wellbeing. It takes a strong woman to prepare her family for the future. It takes a strong woman to speak and act with grace through hard days and harsh criticism.
Our culture fails to tell us this. And, if our society fails to attribute strength to the role of wife and mother, perhaps it's because there is this assumption that being a wife and a mom is easy. We too easily assume that every women is born knowing how to be a fantastic wife and mom. It's a job, that takes work to learn, and strength to do well.
Allow me to let you in a little secret: it doesn't take a strong woman to speak her mind. It doesn't take a strong woman to think about herself. It doesn't take a strong woman to be independent. Those things, believe it or not, are fairly easy to do.
Feminist movement, I'm sorry to tell you, but you aren't the first to praise strong women. God praised strong women long before the current culture existed. I encourage you to look at the life of Deborah, Abigail, or Ruth.
My intention in this blog post is not to criticize the individuals that make feminist claims. My intention is to bring to light the flawed application of "strength" in women. I hope you are challenged to think, and encouraged to be strong, embracing the God-designed differences between men and women. Men and women are created to fulfill different roles in this world, yet completely equally in the image of God. I choose to look at this fact and get excited, knowing that I was created for a particular job and given the ability and tools and strength to do that job in a way that brings glory to God.
~ Alyson Schroll