Image by Val-J
By Erin Odom, Contributing Writer
When I was still teaching school, I met a little girl I will never forget. Instead of sporting pigtails and donning dresses, she looked just like a little boy.
Her parents cut her hair like a boy, dressed her in boys’ clothing and wouldn’t let her play with dolls or other gender-specific toys.
But it was clear this little girl was very feminine. She wanted to look like a girl. She loved to dance and twirl and have tea parties. She gravitated towards the other little girls, although she looked more like her male classmates.
When her teacher asked her mother why she dressed her like a boy, she said: “Oh, well, she’s the youngest of four girls. We wanted a boy, but we got her.”
This saddened me.
And it sickened me.
Here was a little girl who wanted nothing more than to embrace the feminine characteristics and longings God had created in her.
Yet her femininity was stripped from her.
That little girl should be middle school by now. I wonder how she’s coping through puberty.
Image by randomart
Teaching gender roles is quickly becoming taboo in today’s world.
In an effort to break down traditional gender stereotypes, western culture has gone to the opposite extreme and is actually denying little boys and girls their God-give differences.
I recently read about Egalia (link to article: http://www.windstream.net/news/read.php?id=18665101&ps=1018&cat=&cps=0&lang=en&src=email), a public-funded preschool in Sweden that touts itself on teaching gender neutrality to 1-6-year olds.
Instead of using the pronouns “him” and “her,” teachers use a made-up gender-neutral pronoun. They refrain from making references to “girls” or “boys” and instead denote the children as the genderless term “friends.”
In an effort to obliterate gender stereotypes, this preschool is doing exactly what the little girl’s parents did—squelch the God-given gender characteristics to children at an extremely vulnerable and impressionable stage in their lives.
“The kind of things that boys like to do—run around and turn sticks into swords—will soon be disapproved of,” child psychologist Jay Belsky said in the article. “Gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness.”
Image by colcerex
Gender Equality without Gender Neutrality?
I sometimes wonder how gender differences will be perceived when my children are adults.
If worldviews like those taught at Egalia continue to wield their influence, my daughters may likely face persecution for using female and masculine terms, letting their girls dress up like princesses or letting their boys fight with water guns and stick swords.
Now, I’m not saying my girls will never be allowed to play in the mud or with cars.
I think it’s OK for children to branch out from our American culture’s picture of gender stereotypes: to teach girls auto mechanics or to teach boys how to cook.
This push for gender equality came on the foot heels of a time when men’s rights were elevated and women’s rights were almost nonexistent.
I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud that I’ve given birth (link: http://www.thehumbledhomemaker.com/2011/01/happy-to-be-back-where-she-nearly.html) and breastfeed (link: http://www.thehumbledhomemaker.com/search/label/breastfeeding) my children. I’m proud to keep my home (as humbly (link: http://www.thehumbledhomemaker.com/p/above-all-else.html) as I do) AND exercise my right to vote and use my college education and God-given talents to help support my family by working from home.
I’m thankful that being female doesn’t make me a lesser person in the eyes of my family, my country or God.
It’s possible to have gender equality without gender neutrality.
I want to be called she. I want to be called a woman. I want to play tea party and princesses and baby dolls with my girls. I want to teach them how to be godly women.
A Biblical Response
To deny that God has created each gender with unique characteristics (beyond their physical bodies) is a slap in the face of His creativity and, quite frankly, unbiblical.
In Genesis 1:27, God created “male” and “female.”
If he wanted men and women to be the same, why didn’t he create a gender-neutral being?
Genesis 2 says that God created Eve to be Adam’s helper. Ephesians 5 speaks of husbands as leaders of their homes and wives as being submissive to their husbands. (This does NOT mean women cannot be leaders. Contrary to what some circles perceive, submissive does NOT mean subservient. But that’s a whole different post!)
It’s clear that God gave each gender specific characteristics and roles to fulfill.
And as a Christian, it’s my responsibility to teach my children what the Bible says about their gender roles.
I believe I can teach gender equality while encouraging my girls to embrace their femininity and biblical womanhood.
What do you think of Egalia’s methods of teaching gender? How do you teach gender roles to your children? Do you believe it’s possible to have gender equality without gender neutrality?
Erin Odom is a stay-at-home wife and mom of two girls and a freelance writer for the 7-paper Carolina Weekly newspaper group in Charlotte, North Carolina. She writes mostly human interest and faith stories, as well as a bi-monthly mom column for the Mooresville Weekly. She is also a contributing writer for Lake Norman Mommies. She loves Jesus, traveling, mission work, speaking Spanish and researching how to live a healthier lifestyle. She has just started blogging at www.thehumbledhomemaker.com.
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