Do gender stereotypes help or hurt?
It’s time for a new episode of the To Love, Honor and Vacuum podcast! I hope you all will listen, but if you don’t have time, I’ll have some links and rabbit trails below so you can read all you want as well!
And consider this podcast “extras”. If you want to go deeper into what I talked about in the podcast, here are some more things to help you.
But first, here’s the podcast:
Main Segment: Gender Stereotyping Needs to Stop
I’m going on a little bit of a rant here and talking about how we do far too much gender stereotyping–“Men are like X” and “Women are like Y.”
Now, there are some definite differences between the genders, and I go through some of the biological differences, like women having better and more acute hearing, while men have better spatial ability (on the whole). The problem comes, though, when we extend these biological differences to personality traits or character issues.
So I explain how not all men are logical and not all women are emotional. And then I go off on a rant about the concept of “biblical womanhood” and “biblical manhood”. Ever notice how people talk ad infinitum about biblical womanhood, but they so rarely talk about biblical women? When you look at actual biblical women, they rarely match these ideals of biblical womanhood.
And why does this matter? Because so much marriage advice is centered around gender roles. When people tell you that there is only one way to be a woman, don’t listen to them. Instead of trying to reclaim womanhood or manhood, I think we’d do far better to reclaim Christ. All of us are supposed to act like Christ, not “act like men” or “act like women”. And all of us are unique, with a unique part in God’s plan. So that’s okay to be you! And it’s okay if your marriage doesn’t fit the mold, either!
Rebecca and I continued this topic into the Millennial Marriage segment (with a brief interlude from Connor. 🙂 )
Intrigued by the personality differences talk? You may like these as well:
Reader Question: Why do I feel guilty for wanting better sex?
A woman asks:
My husband and I have just started going through the 31 days to great sex course. I instigated it because I am dissatisfied with our sex life, but my husband was very willing to participate and is enjoying it so far. My problem is as I put forth the effort for improving our sex life, I have feelings of guilt. Guilt for spending time, money, effort, etc on something that is purely for my pleasure. Thoughts come into my head that there are so many more important things that I could be spending my time and effort on. I think it would help if my husband would be the instigator and would be asking for more or better sex, because than I could rationalize it as putting forth the effort to please my husband and that would be worth it. His idea of a good sex life is a once-a-week “hey, you wanna?” He always makes sure that I climax as well, but it is boring for me. So, therefore I am the one that is always pushing for more, and I feel guilty for that. I could be using my energy to be a better mom and housewife, have a stronger prayer life, or solve world hunger. But nope, I want better sex. And that just seems so selfish.
Love this question because it’s so honest! I give two very quick thoughts in the podcast, but I’ll sum them up here, and then let you talk about them in the comments.
- Why do women have an easier time working on sex if it’s “for the husband” instead of “for me”?
- When your sex life is wonderful, it energizes every other part of your life. God meant for this to be amazing; don’t feel guilty!
Need to reconnect with your husband in a FUN way?
Comment: I learned how to stand up for myself!
Today’s comment comes from a listener in an African country (I won’t say which one to protect her privacy, but I’m so happy that I have so many readers from so many countries! Around 10% of my readers are from the African continent, and I’m glad they’re here. Anyway, she wrote this long comment which pretty much speaks for itself:
Two years back I had read Love and Respect and promised myself I’d do all that was in the book when I got married to my now husband. When I got in I thought I was being a ‘perfect’ wife. I was following it to the letter. But my husband only became hateful, resentful, selfish, deceptive and all. I tried all that sweet, ‘baby this is how I feel’ then don’t bring it up again nonsense, it never helped. I cried myself to sleep most nights. Yup, married less than 5 months and I was already an expert at crying quietly in bed so as not to wake him. (He had to work the next day, you know, so why bother him now.) He didn’t care about my sex drive, treated me badly in front of his friends, got defensive when I mentioned it and when I asked if I had done something wrong to ‘warrant’ his harsh behavior toward me, (you know, because disrespect is what causes unloving behavior) he’d start shouting at me saying nothing is wrong, (the irony of shouting that nothing is wrong) and when I’d insist, ask if I wanted him to make something up out of the blue.
He became more and more abusive everyday, until finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I left. 6 months in. I was done. I prayed, I cried, I asked him to change then waited patiently ‘on The Lord’ like the ‘respectful wife’ I was. But I was depressed. And I couldn’t live like that. Surely God would understand… or maybe not. My relationship with Him was messed up too because I was too busy trying to please my husband and it didn’t feel like God’s peace was on my side any more. He loved my husband more than me, and I should stay and pray (classic Christian pat answer), well I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to my sister’s but didn’t tell her why, and during my stay there is when I came across your post on signs of emotional abuse, and that if it’s happening I should do something about it, not be an enabler.
You see that photo of the woman hugging her husband but he was busy on his phone behind her back, that was me. Then I saw your series against the Love and Respect book, and story after story was talking also about me.
He begged me to come back and had a list of changes he promised to make. And he’s kept them. But I know it’s because I came back with a different mindset toward myself, marriage, submission and respect, all thanks to your God-ordained blog, otherwise we’d just have sunk back back to the cycle we were in before. So thank you for teaching me that marriage is for growing in godliness, that God doesn’t condone abuse toward women and that I should do what God requires of me (and it brings so much joy) over what will make my husband happy as he gives in to his selfish, carnal nature.
Let me highlight that last bit: “So thank you for teaching me that marriage is for growing in godliness, that God doesn’t condone abuse toward women and that I should do what God requires of me.”
That’s exactly it. And that’s the danger of gender stereotypes. Instead of pointing us to Jesus and telling us to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, they tell us that our lives can only look one way. And that’s when we get into all of these troubles!
If you’re one of the nearly 45,000 people on my email list, you would have received a copy of our report on our Love & Respect series last week, with all of the comments that we received analyzed. I also sent out a sample letter that you could send to your church or any organization that you’re concerned features the book. You can download those things on the bottom of any of the Love & Respect posts now!
So glad this dear woman found this blog, and I hope it helps you, too!
A Better Way to Honour God in Your Marriage:
One last thing about gender stereotypes wrapping this all up:
Sometimes when people use gender stereotypes it’s just laziness or ignorance. Their marriages are one way, and they assume that everybody else’s are as well.
But sometimes it’s about power. If people can tell you that there’s only one way to be a good woman or a good man, then they can label you as “bad”. If you’re in that kind of a relationship or that kind of a legalistic church, get help. That’s toxic. And it will never end well!
Are gender stereotypes hurting your marriage? Do you fit the mold or break the mold? Let’s talk in the comments!