Sexism and equality are two words in our society that trigger immense argument, especially online. As I have gotten older however, and the more time I spend with guys and online I have started to realize just how messed up gender relations are in our society. In my mind what bothers me most are three intertwined issues that are all very prevalent in our society, especially online and those are sexism, equality, and ignorance of gender difference.

Firstly let me say that I am not a feminist. I have always hated the term and viewed feminists as crazy women who hate men and supportive undergarments (although I now realize that is not true). Once coming to college I was not ‘liberated’ and I did not have any kind of epiphany about the truth of my gender identity. What has happened to me is that I began to learn the reality of what being created feminine means, what my divine purpose is as a woman and what God created women to be. Contrary to what I assumed being raised in church, (read previous post on women) I have learned that my role is not as a servant to be dominated by men, but contrarily I do not think that men are idiotic beasts beneath me. I think there are some serious issues that have numerous causes between genders in our fallen world and the created intention of two different beings working together in harmony to create joy and beauty has fallen into a twisted broken war between men and women for power. The enemy has truly succeeded in breaking apart the team God sent to take care of the earth.

Sexism. I really don’t know that much about sexism except that it sucks. Going over to our friend Wikipedia I learned that sexism “involves hatred of, or prejudice towards, a gender as a whole or the application of gender stereotypes”.  While we as Americans would like to say that sexism is not an issue, unfortunately it is alive and well today. I have heard of various cultural practices still in effect in other countries that are vulgar, violent and destructive. However, seeing as I have no real education about such issues I would like to speak to you about sexist language. First of all, I realize that much of what I hear both online and from my male friends and relatives is intended for humorous purposes. However, I would like you to realize that this has a two-fold effect. The damaging effects of humor like this are very obvious in my everyday life where too often both on and off-line I hear my friends and brothers brush off issues of gender equality as women being too sensitive, or having feminist agendas. A woman claims video games are sexist because all the women are incredibly disproportionate, semi-nude and/or trophies to be obtained? She is obviously a crazy over-sensitive feminist who needs to grow thicker skin.  Someone claims that sexist jokes are offensive? She obviously is just too sensitive.

Well I have news for you men. WOMEN ARE SENSITIVE. AND ITS NOT A BAD THING. I am sick of the attitude I have seen where if someone wants to spoil a guy’s fun, points out an error or something that needs to be changed, oh its just all those overly sensitive women. They’re so crazy who knows what they’re thinking?

Women in our media have been reduced to nothing but vending machines, where men have to figure out the right buttons to push to get what they want.

If you think I am being overly sensitive let me ask you a question, what are the consequences if I am right? Women are being exploited, hurt and disrespected. A continuing break-down of the relations between two genders that were created to work in harmony. Failure, brokenness, hurt, pain and shame. That’s right, shame.

I have lived, up until about a month ago, being ashamed of having feelings. I grew up in a culture where taking things seriously was just not cool. People who took things seriously were naive, crazy or just simply pathetic. All of the mocking of self-proclaimed emo kids taught me that being sad, that feeling deeply was stupid. Hearing my brothers and male friends joke about how women were crazy for being emotional stuck deep in my subconscious. While they never intended it what I learned was simple, men don’t like emotions. If you want them to like you, you have to stop caring. There is this horrible connotation in sexist humor that women are stupid, inferior and just plain bad for being relational, emotional beings.  For the sake of getting a laugh I have been taught by men that women are scary, otherworldly beings and the only things we are good for is housekeeping and sex. But oh no, if a woman wants to actually talk with you? Have a relationship? Express herself? Better watch out, that’s crazy feminist talk.

The way men are expressing themselves now is damaging to both the girls and boys growing up in our country. Boys are continuously being taught this macho creed that if they want to be worth something its all about bravado and muscles, that emotions are for sissies and women are weak for having them. And women, are growing up hearing that the way they are, the way they think, feel and interact with the world is not only wrong but also bad.

Let me illustrate this with a story from my childhood. Growing up, my two brothers and I would often gang up on my little sister. We would always chalk her tears and sensitivity up to the fact that she was the baby of the family. We would tease her, jokingly saying things that were hurtful to her and when she burst into tears we all got busted. We demanded that we were only joking, that she was too sensitive. Looking back now I am ashamed that I helped teach my sister that her reaction was wrong. To my sister, if we had stopped, that would have meant being a little more confident, giving her life, courage and support, knowing her siblings loved her. The price we would have to pay? Stop saying mean things to get a laugh. Not really that big of a sacrifice.

I clashed with my little brother often on this issue. How many times he has told me I am a bad driver simply because I am a woman I cannot count. How many times have I told him to stop being so sexist I can’t remember. His answer is always the same, he’s only joking, don’t take it seriously. I can’t. While my brother thinks he is only making a joke, he doesn’t understand how painful what he’s doing to me is. He doesn’t understand how much damage is being done by repeatedly hearing from my own brother, someone who is supposed to love me and support me that I am in some way broken and inferior. Even worse it’s because I’m not a man, something I have no control over. Can you understand? Hearing from someone you love that who you are is wrong? That you are inferior? It doesn’t matter whether the intention was ever to hurt me or not because the fact is that it did.

And let me ask you: Why should I, a woman, deny my feminine identity of have a sensitive spirit so that you, a man, can shirk off your responsibility of protecting me? In no way am I stating this as an equality statement or to take responsibility off myself but part of the masculine identity of a man is to protect. And a huge part of protecting is understanding how what you are protecting works, and what its weaknesses are. If you were guarding a fortress, wouldn’t you want to be aware of the weakest parts of the building? Where the enemy can easiest slip in and wreak havoc? In Lord of the Rings, the way Saruman’s army got into Helm’s Deep was not by raw power or by negotiation but by finding its one weakness, a drainage grate in the base of one of the walls. So how are you living that protective call out in your life as a man? My call to you is not to “man up” and be tougher. It is much harder than that. I want to challenge you to really think about what it means to protect, to support women. What that entails.

Too many times I have been treated like a dude by my friends and brothers. I’m not. I am a girl and I am not strong enough to be treated like a man. I cannot take a punch and I do not like our entire conversations to be sarcastic insults at each other. That doesn’t support me. That doesn’t help me. That doesn’t give me life. It breaks me down, leaves me feeling not only hurt but alone. If nothing else, please think about my words. About what I have to say. Men and women are different, but we were created to understand those differences, to compliment each other by being strong where the other is weak.

So do you want to bring harmony, unity, redemption, joy and life to your relationships? Or do you want to ignore the brokenness inside your heart and everyone around you? Your choice.

Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”