Tag Archives: #likeagirl

First things First

5 May

#likeagirl A gaggle of  3rd-6th grade girls and I are seated on the floor of the church’s freshly painted, second floor youth room. We stare at a sloppy outline of the upper body, a headless upper body. The androgynous torso, as we are soon to find out, symbolizes the female’s role in a biblical relationship. The children’s minister launches into his lesson, pointing above and below the chalked torso. “Girls are not to rule over or be trampled on by boys.” That’s reasonable, I think to myself. Even though these girls are young, it’s important to start thinking about boy-girl dynamics. But then the lesson takes a sudden plunge into ‘M’ word territory. “If God’s plan is for a girl to be married, she is to be with only one man for her entire life. If it isn’t God’s plan, that’s OK. No encouragement to pray for a future husband, that’s good, I think. But being single…he makes it sound like being God’s leftovers. And then there’s the takeaway message. “Whenever you’re thinking about dating a guy, just remember this image.” You know, of the shapeless torso. I don’t disagree with anything that was said in the lesson.  I do, however, take issue with putting the cart before the horse. Nine to twelve year old girls should not be thinking about marriage, Bride Groom Cake Topperexcept in that ethereal, fairy tale sense which is inherent to us, then slowly corrected by reality. Before marriage comes singleness, and it is not a leftover state. Young girls are particularly fragile. Rather than explain future events that may or may not happen to them ten plus years down the road, shouldn’t we instead remind them of their infinite worth and value to God?

It’s easy for girls to feel worthless. Verizon’s Inspire Her Mind commercial ends with the slightly heartbreaking statistics: “66% of 4th grade girls say they like math and science. But only 18% of all college engineering majors are female.” Girls are discouraged to pursue ‘boy’ activities, like using a drill, and as a result eventually lose interest in ‘boy’ careers, like engineering. As Always illustrated with their #LikeAGirl commercial, to “run like a girl” or “throw like a girl” or do anything else “like a girl” carries a learned, negative connotation. One young girl, when asked what it meant to run like a girl, responded ‘It means to run as fast as you can.” Meanwhile, grown men, older girls, and even younger boys, when asked to run like a girl, made floppy hand movements and wiggled their hips. I witnessed a mother enforce this negative connotation just this past weekend. I was at a craw fish boil, and kids were of course making generous use of the host’s pool. One little girl performed a particularly splashy cannonball. Her mother immediately chided her, saying, “Swim gentler. Swim like a girl, swim like her,” pointing to a more docile girl swimmer.

Fortunately, the Bible has an incredibly affirmative view of women. Christ broke through barriers to reach women treated as second-class citizens in ancient Middle Eastern culture. “Praise be to God. He has not created me a woman” was part of the first-century Jewish male’s daily prayer. Greek men frequently omitted their daughters when asked how many children they had. A Roman man could divorce his wife if she went out in public without a veil. In contrast, a woman was chosen to bring Christ into the world. Women observed Christ’s death on the cross, and were the first to witness his resurrection. Jesus defied cultural norms when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. Much more could be said about the Bible’s affirmation of women, as is done here, here, and here. My point being, our heritage as Christian women is rich, whether we are single or married. Let us first remember and be grateful for this heritage. What would you prefer, the freedom to run outside, in shorts and a t-shirt, or to be married to a man who treats you like one of his cows? I’ll take the former any day. Martha Stewart sure does cook and play house ‘like a girl.’ I’ve adapted her surprisingly delicious sweet potato and cauliflower gratin for today’s post. The full recipe can be found here. However, I left out the sage leaves and used 1% milk, and it turned out just fine. Enjoy!

Advertisements