It is gender week here at “TaL”.
That means I am pulling out my “Battle of the Sexes” playing cards, Mars/ Venus textbook, and resurrecting the ole’ camp motto “We have pink and we have blue. Now no making Purple!”
In all seriousness, we have come in our age to a global gender crisis. Sexuality has been replaced with Genitality, such that when you inquire about someone’s sex, they usually respond either “active” or “not”. This is a change from 50 years ago. They would have responded “male” or “female” and ascribed a web of social expectations.
What I’m not talking about this week is sexuality as we know it. This week we will dive into the jumbled world of gender expectations and roles. It is just as unclear today what it means to be a “real man” as it is a “real woman”. And for many, we unknowingly live day in and day out in the fog of gender disorientation (one among a hundred factors that sap our vibrancy in this global age). I know many men and women who long deeply to release their authentic man or womanhood.
The emancipated woman has come a long way since Jesus and St. Paul planted the seeds for Western suffrage. Now, two thousand years later (in the West), women’s roles continue to evolve blessedly giving us women CEO’s, women politicians, and women’s voices at the center of our civic consciousness. But many women I know still feel disoriented, especially as diverse global expressions of womanhood challenge the American definitions of “emancipation”. For the most part women are still expected to happily birth, nurture, and nanny their little ones while retaining Barbiesque sexuality for their men.
On the other hand, definitions of manhood generally adopted by our fathers and grandfathers have proven bankrupt. The stoic father and emotionally absent husband no longer satisfy the awakening sensibilities of our women nor the rebellion of our young people. In response, notes historian Robert Bly, a type of soft male has emerged: “The male in the past twenty years has become more thoughtful, more gentle. But by this process he has not become more free. He’s a nice boy who pleases not only his mother but also the young woman he is living with.”
We need help! In the next four posts (except tomorrow’s) I will offer some observations and insights that might produce some real emancipation for men and women in our global age.