I came across this article this afternoon: What (Not All ) Women Want. About the ‘finicky femininity of Captivating’ by John and Stasi Eldredge. I was quite delighted with it to be honest. Sure there were bits of the book that were extremely helpful to me at the time I read it, much of it rang true but when I look back now – there was/is something a little bit missing.
I’m not exactly a very stereotypical female. If you know me, if you’ve read this blog for any decent time or read OOCQ where the ‘bagging out’ (I think it’s friendly) of my ‘half male’ brain, you might be able to put a finger or five on that.
Sentimentality doesn’t do a lot for me. I’m much more thrilled to have a brain engaging conversation than be told mass of ‘sweet nothings’ or compliments – however “nice. Again that’s generalising a lot. I am by no means the only female of the kind around -thank goodness. I like being complicated and I like who I am.
I probably don’t define submission quite the way it’s traditionally thought of. I probably don’t think I need to ever lose reason to love someone. I don’t like the infatuation concept. I like books over jewelery. I understand the clothes are usually very intentional in conveying a message or meeting a ‘warmth’/’fit-in/fashion’ need than just the ‘girly thing to obsess over’. I don’t really giggle or shriek, in fact I probably more often snort and roll my eyes. I don’t have any idea where this blog is going but I know I want to say something (maybe because I’m having fun). I don’t always know what to say but then I don’t always sit quiet to get it just right – for it to be sweet and perfect and nice. I’d rather be bluntly truthful than softly recommending. I’d rather sleep the extra 10 minutes than spend it on my hair. I’d rather watch a movie that makes me think than one that tells me the same old ‘boy meets girl, boy gets girl, all ends happily’ deal. I don’t as a general rule bother with make-up, oh look, I don’t think I even really own any. I don’t think cooking and cleaning and keeping a place looking nice is a very large part of my purpose. I don’t think I could manage if I ever hit a point where I wasn’t allowed or couldn’t learn.
I don’t know if the soft feminine side is an outdated concept that we still plug away at just because? Shards definitely remain in the minds of plenty of people although it’s probably not half as relevant an argument as it was years ago.
I don’t particularly like being called ‘unfemale’ – becuase I can assure you I very much am. I like being female! I’m probably a little fed up with the half-male brain comments, however funny. So you narrow-minded (in the nicest way possible) boys who keep pulling them out: *cough John/Paul/Jas/Tony…* . If you could do me a favor and define femininity for me in short essay form (or post size, I don’t think you could get it down to one sentence) post it as a comment or send it too me in an email – this being femininity and not just ‘Bec style’. I would be grateful.
I’m not cranky, I’m just interested.
What is femininity really?
And a slight shift…
Boys will be… wait, where’d they all go? references an article on men in church. Although that I think that the point does need to be put across, that perhaps the ‘everyone fall in love with Jesus/Jesus is your boyfriend’ business is definitely offputting to males, it’d be nice to acknowledge that it isn’t the worlds most thrilling idea to a lot of females.
It is true that females are supposedly wired ‘more relationally’ and I am not trying to equate the genders but we are all relational beings. I can’t help but wondering if church is how it is, then maybe it’s almost more a byproduct of a culture that really wants experience and is lacking significantly relationally – having appropriate relationships. We then over-concentrate this good (best) relationship that’s on offer and shroud it and drown it in sentimental ‘femininity’ to try keep our hold on it. The predominant view of relationships on offer through television, music and movies (which sadly seem to be the primary forms of communication around) is just that – I see you, I like what I see, I am infatuated, I will do anything for you… and more blahish crap. Frankly I think we just misunderstand and misconvey a lot of what Jesus is on about.
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” – Deut 6:5
Is that really all that soft?
When I look at God’s love for his people in the Bible, I don’t see a cushy sentimental love. I see a hard love, a true love, a good love.
Male or female. As part of the church, as an insider I think I can make the observation that perhaps we’ve really gotten a lot of how we do things simply wrong.
Does anyone really relate to the short lived emotional highs that might come with the appeal that intends to ‘tug the heart’ to gain a response. We experience it as an experience only.
“Murrow suggests that men value being/feeling competent (we donâ€™t stop and ask for directions cos we want to be competent navigators) and we donâ€™t feel that competent in a church environment which values qualities of expressing feelings, understanding emotions and singing songs.” (10 male fears about church)
If men so like to drive the compass/steer the ship, why did it slant toward the ‘very female’ angled way we do church in the first place? Is it just the physical extrapolation of misunderstanding around what is love and loving God and church structure and non-structure? I’m also curious, the advocation for ‘song’, for music is definitely not just a female thing. Music isn’t at all gender specific, you hardly need to look very far at all to see that.
“Iâ€™m a man and I really value church but I find myself agreeing that I am not very engaged by it. The most engaging thing about church this morning for me was arranging to go out on friday to drink Guinness and talk theology with another man.” (10 male fears about church)
I am a woman and I really value church, but I find myself agreeing that I am often not very engaged by it. The most engaging thing about church for me is to know I have Wednesday night to drink coffee and talk theology and life with those around me.
So, what about that emotional/relational pit that we’re inaccurately trying to fill at church? Because it is there. It’s glaring from every corner and written all over the faces of those that show up where there are others, even if they ‘don’t particularly like how things are done’. That’s something extends well beyond just church on Sunday.
No one wants the temporary. The love lust that’s so transient it makes a memory that we are ready to replace as soon as the next option comes along. We want the real deal. The thing that shows us up, that meets us face to face regardless of whether we are male or female.
That’s Jesus right?
So what should church look like?
Bravo! I love this post Bec – felt like giving a round of applause at the end of reading it all…yeah I know I actually got to the end of it…now I’ve got lots to think on : )
Love the more sterotypical feminine Twin
Hey Bec, interesting article: What (Not all) Women Want…it made some very good and some very valid points, but reading through I felt it was just a little bit bitter. As well as a fair bit of out_of_context quoting or paraphrasing it also headed towards glorifying the less feminine side…hmmm. Obviously there needs to be a balance.
as for you, you’re hardly unfeminine.
I like what you say about love, it should be hard and true and good.
the little blister xo
Rebecca, nice post…for most of it i had a little smile on my face. which i thank you for! can’t say i really relate to the whole ‘male feardom at church’…but i can see it, its slightly frustrating that chaps seem to feel think way, and perhaps they lack social skills, but if that is the case then they really need to improve them. i can’t seem to grasp how they could whinge about not being ‘accepted’ at church when they don’t put in the effort and take a lunge to become more social with those at church. really.. who cares if you feel awkward or feel like a dickhead (excuse the bluntness) for a moment. it’s all about taking a step, and if it should fail…it’s not their loss!!!
i’m not about to travel down the path of “what is femininity” far to broad and im not sure any answer given would sound the way i wish it to or portray my exact idea of the term.
as for that part of your brain…if there is something that im facinated by it’s the brilliantness of God and the uniqueness of us all, and im pretty sure you’re the only Rebecca ……. in the whole world and i think you’re a marvellous indivual just the way you are 😉
check ya wednesday
Great post Bec! It would seem that we have things in common other than blogging! I would not see myself as a terribly stereotypical female either. I can’t recall shrieking ever…! I likewise can’t be bothered with boy meets girl flicks, I can’t stand Who magazine or any of its equivalents, and love nothing more than a heated theological debate over coffee. An interesting thing to throw into the mix re church and men and their difficulties in engaging is this: Who actually leads the church? Is it not predominantly men? So if spirituality is “feminised” either perceptually or actually, men who lead churches do so in this manner. I think also that part of the struggle is in how we understand God. We refer to him as male, and acknowledge female attributes – usually attributed to nurturing images. However, our socially constructed understandings of gender just don’t cut it when trying to come to terms in our limited way of who God is. Sorry to rant – you have just hit on one of my favourite topics!
I donâ€™t think I can define femininity, but I know it is not limited to the silliness the Eldredges claim it is. My friend gave me Captivating after raving about how it changed her life and would definitely change mine. I read it with anticipation but within a few pages my heart was pounding in anger and concern over the misuse of Scripture. Eve was not “the crown of creation”, nor God’s final and best creation, after which He could rest. I have no business to look at the world around me and proclaim, “this would all be incomplete if I didn’t exist”. Scriptures were often taken out of context, and interpreted in a way that they would apply to women and the recovery of the ‘truth’ that we were made to express beauty. Quotes were taken from songs, movies, novels, and other secular sources, and used as proof that these ideas are true, but not from the Bible.
Also, the universalism of the message was emotionally exhausting. I never cared for makeup, dresses, twirling before admirers, and being told I was beautiful. I loved books, and building things, and deep existential discussions, and writing short stories, and being appreciated for the person I was INSIDE.
I felt very condemned by the message of this book. The Eldredge’s maintain that every woman, yes EVERY, is longing to be rescued by a Prince, pursued and romanced by a man, and told she is beautiful and accepted, OR . . . she is unaware that she wants these things. There is even the example of a woman who (in their words) put up walls to hide these truths from herself, but as she denied wanting them, the walls came tumbling down and she began weeping in a room full of people.
I have never wanted those things – I wanted to be the hero who risks her life for a grand noble cause and saves the day, or the village, or the entire human race! The more I read this book, the less beautiful I felt because I started wondering if I was a defective woman. There was no room for women like me in their personal brand of theology.
In the end I chucked it and decided to be the woman that God made me to be – intelligent, interested in the deep things of life, and the even deeper things of God, and absolutely bored by shopping, fashion magazines, 8th grade conversations about crushes, and Julia Roberts movies. And do I think I’m feminine? ABSOLUTELY. I’m feminine because I live as authentically as I can. That to me is the closest definition I can come up with. A feminine woman is one who lives as close as possible to the person God created her to be.
Thanks Tina! Love what you’re saying. Wow old post. There’s some really interesting discussion on femininity at the moment over on Ameteur Theology http://www.ameteurtheology.org
Oh Bec…I’d never seen this post before (I’ve never come across that book either) and I’m so glad I read it today. I’ve been told I’m a “typical lawyer” one too many times in the last few months, and it hurts – mainly because I never hear that accusation thrown at men, it’s only ever thrown at women, and because when used as an accusation, it encapsulates many of the characteristics you speak of: not being silly and flirty, but being serious, of being interested in intellectual conversations, being strong, valuing reason and rationality (although I’d say I’m also extremely relational).
I find it fascinating observing/hearing the stereotypes that constantly float around me, the things that I am ribbed about which a man would never be ribbed about. Most of the time I can laugh, but sometimes it gets wearing – it sounds like you know what I’m talking about!!
Rebecca Claire! amAteur! Tina, you’ll find the aforementioned discussion over at amateurtheology.org