The visual input we receive every day about who women are or should be is overwhelming. The messages we receive in our churches are much more subtle, but often still difficult for many. How can a woman confidently find her unique identity in the flood of conflicting images? The following is a re:view of a previously-written post about the reality of “other” women.
I’m constantly intrigued by the various portrayals of women in our culture. It appears to me that – in culture – there are three very narrow categories for women:
1. Hyper-sexualized women – the stick-thin Barbie dolls with enormous breasts. They seem to exist mostly as objects of men’s pleasure or fantasy.
2. Feminism – Women are the same as men, so men are unnecessary.
3. TV charicatures – married, usually smart but leading a pointless life with a juvenile, incompetent husband.
Then there are those categories better-known in Christian circles:
4. The Proverbs 31 woman – Married to a high school sweetheart, homeschools her kids, bakes, sews, grows vegetables, leads a women’s Bible study and secretly wears an “S” under her shirt.
5. Women who are nothing without a man. The helpmeet, the lonely rib, the half-person whom marriage makes into a whole.
That’s not criticism of the last two. I value the varied creative gifts of women in whole marriages. But I wonder if there isn’t another category, an “other,” less defined, certainly less stereotyped category, made up of seemingly “average” women who just try every day to live a life that pleases God. It may include women who cross over from the categories above. The “other” category understands the truth inherent in all five.
“Other” is both young and old, because age is irrelevant when you’re comfortable with the woman God created you to be. “Other” refuses to be reduced to an object, or a charicature, because she understands that sexuality isn’t what makes her attractive. “Other” is confident enough to be feminine, remembering her equality in God’s image, and respecting men for the same reason. “Other” recognizes the God-given gifts that are uniquely hers, and celebrates the diversity of women’s abilities. And “Other” acknowledges that we all must use these abilities in the individual life to which God has called each one of us – married or single, young or old, career or homemaker, providing encouragement to all in their respective journeys.
I actually know a lot of “other” women. I’ll bet you do, too.