Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: femininity

The empowerment of women

For as long as most people now alive can remember, abortion has been considered a means of empowering women. The inconvenience of an unexpected pregnancy can be quickly eliminated and the woman can carry on with life as she pleases.

But it is precisely the motherly trait of womankind that men stand in awe of, because we are not capable of it. We do not have the tenderness and warmth that draws a child to a motherly woman and makes that child want to please her. I am not speaking merely of the biological function of carrying a baby to birth and nourishing it, though both aspects are part of being a woman.

But when an unborn baby can be treated as some kind of horrible internal carbuncle to be removed and discarded, women also discard that motherly mystique. Abortion diminishes, rather than empowers, a woman.

Henceforth, a certain type of man regards a woman as merely a sex toy to be used at his whim and discarded with no regrets. The number of men of that type seems to have increased in proportion to the supposed empowerment of women.

All men are not savages. Most of us treat a woman with respect, no matter how she presents herself. Neither do we blame the victim when a scantily clad woman is sexually assaulted. Girls and women of our day live in an atmosphere where that type of dress is the only norm that they know. Those of us who are Christian men appreciate modesty in the appearance and bearing of our wives, sisters and daughters, but we believe all women are worthy of respect.

Some years ago, during Vacation Bible School, an emotionally troubled child fell and skinned his knee. He was in pain but wouldn’t let anyone touch him. One of the teachers, barely out of her teens, scooped him up, held him tight on her knees with one arm while cleaning and bandaging his knee with the other. It was over quickly and the boy hardly knew what had happened to him, except that now he felt better. I stood in awe of the young lady who seemed to instinctively have the right combination of firmness and tenderness to take charge of the situation.

That feminine aptitude is what empowers a woman. It will be apparent in whatever type of work she does, as long as she is at peace with her true nature.

Anorexia of the soul

I once knew a Christian lady whose husband was self-centred, domineering and prone to uncontrolled fits of rage.  She, on the other hand, was unselfish, capable and self-controlled.

At some point she developed an interest in fasting.  After a time it became apparent to brothers and sisters in the faith that she had become extremely thin, even emaciated.  We admonished her that this was not a healthy way to live, she needed to keep up her strength to care for her children.  Her response was that she felt so much closer to God when she fasted.  She felt that she was really much more spiritual than the rest of us; we were all much too ready to satisfy our carnal appetites.

After much counselling from a group of brothers and sisters, she began to let go of her attachment to fasting.  I felt at the time that the reason it was so hard for her to let go was because her out of control husband was making life miserable and this was one thing that she could do to feel she was in control.  And we were trying to take that away from her.

In Girls on the Edge*, Dr. Leonard Sax writes about anorexia among teenaged girl;s and young women.  The cases he describes sound very much like the situation I just described.  Girls say that when they don’t eat for a while their mind becomes really clear; they feel calm, relaxed and at peace.

Dr. Sax also writes about girls who cut themselves.  When a friend of my wife’s first talked about this, it seemed so outlandish that I could hardly fathom that such a thing could be happening.  Yet is has become an epidemic among teenage girls, with estimates that upwards of 30% might be doing it.

Dr. Sax says that many girls report feeling a sense of dissociation from their bodies, not really feeling the pain, but rather feeling a sense of euphoria.  Apparently the cutting releases opiate-like chemicals in the brain that give this sensation.

The mother of one of Dr. Sax’s patients described what was happening to her daughter as “anorexia of the soul.”  I have borrowed that phrase for the title of this post.

Anorexia and cutting are not social activities.  The girls that do these things are feeling anxieties and pressures and don’t know how to cope with them in any other way.  They don’t want others to know what they are doing.

Girls growing up today are pressured by the zeitgeist in many contradictory ways.  From a very young age they are pressured to dress and act in a sexually provocative manner, yet the nurturing side of femininity is disdained.  They are taught that their sense of worth needs to come from achievements at work, thus they are expected to be high achievers in school and at work.  Women who choose to dedicate themselves to home and family are almost viewed as being contemptible.   Is it any wonder that girls are confused and stressed beyond their capability to endure?

For those who are able to cast off the blinkers of the zeitgeist, it should be obvious that a Christian stay at home mother makes a greater contribution to the well being of our society than a career woman.  Mothers who are there when their children need them are rewarded with honest, conscientious young men and women who will not be a drain on the budgets and resources of the police services and social service agencies.   As Christian men we should be letting the women in our lives know how much we value their contributions.

* Girls on the Edge, © 2010 by Leonard Sax.  Published by Basic Books, New York

 

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