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Wifey Wednesday: Why We Are Not Interchangeable

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

Today I want to talk about the glaring stupidity of some otherwise intelligent people.

For the last few decades in academia there's been this idea that men and women are interchangeable. Give a boy a doll and he'll grow up to be a nurturer; give a girl a truck and she'll grow up to be a mechanic. The reason that girls are "girly" and boys will be boys is because we treat them that way. Treat them the same, and they'll grow up virtually the same.

I was immersed in this thinking in university in my Sociology courses. It was all about the Sociology of Gender, and how gender is merely a "social construct".

No, it's not.

Boys are boys. I've known boys raised almost entirely by women to be pacifists who desperately want toy soldiers for Christmas. I've known girls raised to be tomboys who secretly play with Barbies. We are different.

One woman, whom her parents androgynously named "Jesse", reports on growing up in a gender-neutral household.

When I was 2 years old, my father started building a big house behind our tiny starter house. For days leading up to the arrival of the giant trucks and backhoes coming to dig out the foundation, my mother tried to get me excited. "Don't you want to watch the big trucks?!" she'd tease. When they finally arrived, the neighborhood boys parked themselves on our property, transfixed. I glanced out the window and immediately turned back to my toys, ignoring the commotion. As my mother recalls, "It was really a wake-up for me."

This now-infamous family anecdote wasn't the first time my parents tried to shake off gender stereotypes. As a toddler, they dressed me in overalls and cut my hair in an androgynous bowl cut. I didn't have Barbies; I had wooden blocks. Even my first name is evidence of their experiment in gender neutrality. You can't imagine how many times I've had to explain, "No, not Jessica, just Jesse. Like a boy."

...But my parents' little project in gender neutrality (namely, me) was, from the get-go, a total failure. As soon as I could speak, I demanded they replace my overalls with a long, pink, lacy dress. Far from gender-neutral, I was emphatically, defiantly a "girl."

And no where is that more evident than in our sex drives. We are motivated by completely different things. Men are far more visual than women are, which does not mean that women never ogle; it simply means that men are more likely to (women are becoming increasingly attracted to the visual lately, too, but I think that's in part a reaction to our pornographic culture which has started to rewire women's sexuality, rather than a typical reaction).

Anyway, I was thinking about this when I saw this article: Women March Topless in Portland. A bunch of women (and some men) got together to march through the downtown completely topless to show that we should respond to topless men and women in exactly the same way. We shouldn't sexist and make women cover up; we should see it all as equally natural and not think twice about it (or stare, either).

Not everybody got the memo, apparently, and several men did ogle.

Ty McDowell, who organized the march, said she was "enraged" by the turnout of men attracted to the demonstration. The purpose, she said, was for society to have the same reaction to a woman walking around topless as it does to men without shirts on.

I'm not sure why women want to be treated in exactly the same way as men, but it's completely unrealistic and shows a misunderstanding of male sexuality. And it's an implicit "blaming" of men for being who they are. There's something wrong with men, in this line of thinking, for wanting to look at naked women (I do think there's something morally wrong with that, but let's not kid ourselves that men aren't naturally drawn to it, even if they should resist the temptation to stare).

So what does that mean for us as wives? Realize that your guy is not the same as you. He honestly is tempted by what women look like. It doesn't mean he's evil if he struggles; it simply means that he is a man.

We can use this to our advantage: it's always fun to buy some pretty lingerie, and most of us feel much more confident with a little bit of satin than completely naked anyway. When we take time to "visually" get ready and prepare ourselves, he usually appreciates it!

At the same time, I do think women need to be careful about modesty. So many fashions today are very revealing, especially of cleavage. With summer coming, let's watch what we wear. Don't wear anything too form fitting in church. Watch what your teenage daughters wear, and if you have any influence over the youth or young adults at your church, talk to them about modesty. Don't be judgmental, but help young women understand it's not only about being "pretty"; it's also about being kind to our brothers in Christ by not providing a stumbling block.

Is it our fault if men ogle? No. That's their choice. But you wouldn't wave a bag of Oreos in front of a friend who is trying to lose weight, and similarly, we should be careful how we dress near other men. Your body belongs to your husband, not anyone else. So don't show it off to anyone else. That line is always difficult to find, and I do struggle with balancing modesty with fashion. But the struggle is worth it. It shows we respect and understand men. And that's important.

Now, what advice do you have for us today? Have you ever had to confront your fantasies and throw them aside? How did you do it? Or do you have something else to tell us? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!


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At 8:00 AM , Blogger Teri Lynne Underwood said…

EXCELLENT post, Sheila! I especially appreciated your thoughts on the effect pornography has had on women and the way it's changed us. I believe we have, as a culture, vastly underestimated the horrific damage pornography will have on future generations.


At 8:43 AM , Blogger Sheri said…

Good morning lovely Sheila! You know I briefly read about that march but it literally went in one ear and out the other (Or in one eye and out the other as the case may be). For some reason it didn't register with me at all. Pardon me, but really, what dolts! LOL


At 9:27 AM , Blogger Tami Q. said…

Oh, Sheila! You've said exactly what I've been trying to put together from my own thoughts recently!


At 9:37 AM , Blogger Myra @ My Blessed Life said…

AMEN! Fabulous post!


At 10:09 AM , Blogger Katrina said…

Great post! =)


At 12:29 PM , Blogger Kristine said…

I have two daughters and when they were small I always bought dresses and barbie dolls. Interestingly, both of them (around the age of 13-14) went through a time when they wanted to be more masculine. They dressed like boys, would have nothing to do with the color pink, and tried to identify more with their "guy" friends. Eventually, both found their way back to their "girlie" roots. They've never told me why they went through that phase but I've often wondered if they had not been influenced in some ways by our cultures insistence that men and women are exactly the same.


At 1:42 PM , Blogger glenda09 said…

VERY well said! We should always have our brethern in mind when it comes to how we dress at church or anywhere for that matter. I have been saved for 1 1/2 before I was saved I really liked men looking at me (I wasn't married) and when I gave my life to Christ there was a bit of that flesh that I had to stuggle with and then I realized the guys at church were not looking at me the way the other men did...I talked with my cousin and she told me they are men of God, but they stuggle too... I became ratical for God and even got convicted wearing as much makeup as I did (foundation, powder, 3 colors eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, blush, lip gloss). I wasn't wearing it to wear it but I have always worn makeup (since 20yrs) for men to look at me (even when I was over weight) I started to just wear powder and mascara. God really did a change in me since before I wouldnt even check the mail without all that on. Still men looked at me and I didn't want that. I had to realize it wasn't just me it was them (unsaved men). I didn't want to be a stumbling block for any of my brothers since I love them in Christ.

The way the world is now is just horrible. I feel this trying to treat little boys and girls the same is damaging to some kids. Have you seen how many gay individuals there are now? I know this is a touchy subject but it is a sin just like any other. I don't hate the sinner but the sin and a lot of parents don't know what they are doing when they treat their little boys like girls. Not all of these kids will grow up gay (All the ladies that I know who were treated like a boys are fine but all the boys that were raised gender neutral are not straight)but a lot of them end up doing so. My husband and I watched this thing where it said there was a school that was wanting to do away with boys and girls bathrooms for the transgender children! Oh Lord help us! I know I have gotten so of subject and I'm sorry if I did but this post just sparked some thoughts and feelings.

I really love your blog and will be following you if you don't mind. Next time I will do my best not to write you a book instead of a comment and not to go so far from the subject!


At 1:38 PM , Blogger Tiffany said…

This has been a struggle for me since having my son. Dresses/outfits that were once modest, are now immodest when I am holding a squirming 1 year-old! Several outfits have been moved to the back of my closet until he grows up more!

However, the sad thing I see as I look around is that many young girls are learning to dress immodestly by watching their mothers! We have to get ourselves in order so that we can teach the next generation...ours or other people's children.

Thanks for the post!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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