Despite Beyonce’s claim that girls run the world, the opposite is true, and this is the way it has been since the beginning of time. Men are the top wage earners, they run the government, the churches, the judicial system, and they are the majority of CEO’s in Fortune 500 companies.
Men being at the top of government, churches, courts, and business means realistically that it is men who are making most of the decisions for the lives of Americans. It is men who decide on the laws that pass, it is men who get to nominate people for new positions, it is men who decide who gets hired/fired, and it is men who decide to whom and how the church ministers.
In secular society, women and men are starting to awaken to the systems of inequality within our society; conversations are happening and changes are (slowly but surely) beginning to take place. As a society, we are starting to wake up to the fact that women are smart, they are capable, they are powerful and able to do anything that men can do. In fact, a historic number of women was just elected to congress this week! I may have cried a little when I told my girls about it.
There is a narrative that is pervasive and troubling as women are coming into their own however, and it’s that a powerful woman has to be countered with a stupid man. Multiple sitcoms displayed this idea in the 1990’s (I’m looking at you, Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond, and King of Queens, just to name a few.) My kids have watched many Disney family shows in more recent years that convey the same message, such as; Good Luck, Charlie and Jesse.
I would say that this narrative comes partly out of a deep-seated frustration within women, that our voices aren’t being heard or valued as much as they ought to be. It comes from a frustration that we do SO much work without any recognition. It is frustration that we are not represented in the world for who we are and what we contribute. I also believe that it may be men who lack a proper understanding of what a powerful woman looks like, or how a man should appropriately respond to a powerful woman.
I watched a stand up comedy show on Netflix a few weeks ago (Joe Rogan, Strange Times- Don’t watch it if you are upset by f-bombs.) He was pretty funny, and he claimed to love and support women, but he largely showed his support for women through self-depreciating (or man-depreciating) humor. This is funny, and it can certainly feel empowering for women for a time, but ultimately this is a hugely unfair, and unhelpful narrative. In fact, it contributes to the overall problem of patriarchy in our society.
You may have been taught that the goal of feminism is to take over the world and rule the men. But this is not “feminism”, this is “matriarchy”. I have met many self-proclaimed feminists (men and women) over the years, but I have never met one that is fighting for a matriarchal society. By and large, feminists are fighting for equality and for fairness; for equal representation and equal opportunities in the world as compared to men. We are not asking for men to step back and let us get out in front. We are asking for them to step to the side and let us stand with them.
The last thing in the world any of us would want as we are living our lives is to be surrounded by incompetent men. That is another thing that we don’t have time for! Being dumb is not how you empower women, even though ironically women are often told to appear incompetent in order to be more “attractive” to men. That’s another blog post for another day. We want men who are strong, courageous, smart and competent, AND who are humble and respectful and willing to form a partnership with us.
The idea that women are strong and men are dumb is not empowering. In fact, it is a product of the patriarchal society that we live in. It speaks to the fact that men don’t know how to respond to a competent, powerful woman. Competent, powerful women make them uncomfortable because they have been socialized to believe that women are ‘less than’ them in some way. Less intelligence, less competent, less authoritative, less likely to have leadership skills, less logical, etc. And if men are superior and women are inferior, then you don’t treat them as equals, you treat them as objects. Objects serve us to meet a particular need. Maybe you need someone to take care of your house and kids, maybe you need someone to help pay the bills. Maybe you need someone to have sex with. Maybe you need someone to make you feel like more of a man.
But when we meet a woman who is not useful to a man in some way (doesn’t preform wife duties, can’t have sex with, etc) we just don’t know what to do with her. And within that discomfort it’s easiest to self-deprecate. To make light of the fact that you feel inferior in some way. Self-deprecation masquerades as humility, but it isn’t. Self-depreciation is actually manipulative and selfish.
Instead of acting dumb, in the face of that feeling of discomfort, reach instead for humility. Ask questions, learn something new, listen to a new perspective. Take this opportunity to grow in an area where you need growth. Maybe even admit that you don’t know as much about this as she does.
Competent men and competent women working together, side by side is what God had in mind from the very beginning. This is a picture of the Kingdom come to earth. Not men being superior to women, and not women being superior to men. Men and women superior and equal together.