Gender bender!

November 11, 2006

In my post 2 days ago the male readers became defensive over society’s understanding of what it is to be male (or female).  In years gone by women were seen as the weaker sex and men the strong ones, particularly physically.  Women were said to have pastoral prowess, intuition and above all an ability to multitask.

However in recent times the innate differences seem to have merged and people talk of the feminisation of men, and also of women trying to take on roles previously deemed only appropriate for males. 

Dare i suggest that having pastorally aware men is a good thing, but that women trying to be equal to men strips men of an opening to fulfil their role as a man? 

This morning i was talking to a nun – she’s a professor of gender and the New Testament in Nigeria.  She told me that she thinks we’ve misunderstood what it is to be male and female in God’s eyes (according to scripture) and that if we re-visit it many of societies struggles may be solved!

I wonder if we make too many assumptions and generalisations with regards to gender?  What is it to be male and female?  Can we learn that from scripture?  Mmmm.  A weekend musing!


17 Responses to “Gender bender!”

  1. helenl said

    “Dare i suggest that having pastorally aware men is a good thing, but that women trying to be equal to men strips men of an opening to fulfil their role as a man?”

    Of course you may suggest this. But what does “an opening to fulfil their role as a man” mean? Does it mean men ought to make higher wages, even when men and women do equal work? Does it mean women in the military will undermine men’s macho-ism? Or that we might find some other ways to solve conflicts?

    The nun sounds like she’s talking good sense. Perhaps we should revisit scripture in our definiton of gender roles. Men and women are clearly different. But how sounds like a lifetime study, not “a weekend musing.”

  2. christiekk said

    Hum, i’d like to throw in a piece of thought.
    A woman can be capable of doing many things that have been traditionally categorized as “men’s jobs”, yet retain her inner feminity. Also,there are many women who have had to take the ‘protector’ or ‘provider” role because the men baled out.
    Even so,there is still an inner desire in *most* women to be pursued, and led by a man(ahem, i’m talking within a marriage), and in men to be in charge. I think that when the husband loves his wife and the wife respects her husband, gender problems rarely occur.

    God bless

  3. Mel said

    “I hope you dance” is a song by Lee Ann Womack. Look it up if you haven’t heard it, the lyrics are great. 🙂

  4. Not going there tonight. That’s a subject that I could spend hours on and I can’t do it tonight.

  5. Amen on looking back to scripture. If we would just live by its standards things would be a lot easier. Thanks for the post. There you go again making us all think more. I love it!

  6. david said

    thanks for the visit.
    as a man I dion’t likr thinking about this too much, just doing it is hard enough.
    Thanks for coming by to visit

  7. Eilantha said

    Hi Maria, I lately enjoyed reading your blog a lot! When reading your last post I struggled with your view (and the other’s view as well) on scipture as the only important reference.
    Finding our identity is so important but why only go back to scripture? There are some passages in the bible (for instance Eph or the creation) but that’s not always enough.
    God also gave us our reason, our bodies and our experience as men and women but it sometimes seems like the only standart for our lives is the bible. And I don’t want to be heretical and I really don’t want to say that the bible isn’t important but there is far more than that.
    I strongly believe that God teaches us a lot through our daily life and through those who lived before us (that’s what the catholic church calles tradition) and that we have to face questions which are not answered clearly from scripure.
    Going further than the words in bible means for example: We can take a look on one important characteristic of women, the fertility: what does fertility for a woman mean not only in an external sense but also in a spiritual sense or regarding relationships in general.
    I hope you can understand a bit what I tried to say. God bless!

  8. After witnessing m wife through pregnancy & childbirth, I *know* the female sex is strong! Emotionally & physically, but in a different way than men are strong.

    I don’t know how much value we get from making binary comparisons of men & women. And if we look at this from God’s point of view… we are each created by God, unique and for a purpose. We each have strengths given to us by God, so maybe the right thing is to allow ourselves, and others, simply to be what God created.

  9. donna said

    the trends of today are so far off scripture that it will take Jesus’ return to end the disparity. Come quickly Lord Jesus. Amen

  10. timglass said

    A great resource on this topic is JPII Theology of the Body teaching. It’s straight from scripture, in Genesis. Great teaching.
    His blessings this day.

  11. Father Joe said

    I think the distinctions that arise from nature still have meaning, even if modern life makes the physical strength and aggressiveness of men less necessary. The role of mother and father, even if only in potency and/or spiritualized, also speak to our roles and identity. The Church’s teaching on THE THEOLOGY OF THE BODY (Pope John Paul II) and a traditional Christian anthropology also come into play. Scripture is quite valuable, but here especially it must be read as the Church understands it. Often the various sides of the so-called gender wars can be quite selective in their bible selections. One side will stress the “no slave or free, Jew or Gentile, male or female” in Christ and the other that women should “remain silent in the churches”. One side will stress the maleness of Christ in the incarnation and the fact that only men are counted among the twelve. The other polarity will mention the singular faith of Mary, the Mother of God, and add to the list wonderful women like Martha and Mary and the Samaritan woman at the well.

    It is often treated like a competition, and such is how the genders are often given expression in contemporary society. Political and economic equality might give us the false appreciation that we must strive for a mathematical equality on every level. Those who argue for women priests subscribe to this notion as if a vocation is simply an item on a social justice agenda. True equality is complimentarity between the sexes. God created men and women to work and live together. It is a profound partnership intended to chase away the clouds of loneliness and to provide the foundation for the family.

    Anyhow, these are just a few of my random ramblings. Peace, everyone!

  12. Steve said

    I hope and try to be pastorally aware man I have even been to Bible collage to do Pastoral care. However there are times when I know that I can’t do the things that my wife can do. And I thank God that this happens. I often call upon my Blessed wife for help in a Pastoral situation. God uses us both equally and I again I think that it is in his plan that it should be that way.

    God Bless You Maria in you Work.


  13. The Amenta said

    It would be nice if the bible were a reliable source to find how man and woman should function together in society, unfortunately it is not. Women have been discounted as “the weaker” sex in part because of the bible. We must reach back past the writings of the bible to gain a greater overstanding of woman and her greatest creations including giving life, creating societal structure and the family structure. This is why we understand Mary as the Mother of God, as she is truley the life giver even unto life unto God.

  14. The Amenta said

    I am glad I found your site it is very thought provoking.

  15. mmog37 said

    interesting stuff….

  16. Jack said

    Hi Maria,

    Christianity in the U.S. is finding out the hard way what the feminization of men is doing for it. Churches are noticing that the gender mix in churches is about 60/40 female/male with the male population ever decreasing. Also recently there was an article that indicated that testosterone levels are decreasing in men–can you believe that?! A link to the article is on my other blog at

    God bless,


  17. Jennifer said

    I agree with you! Great post!

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