“Manhood must be demonstrated. It is largely an action. Womanhood is an essence. Manhood does. Womanhood is.” (Qtd. by Stanton)
That’s a statement many would challenge today. That there is a difference–and that the difference is significant.
Some might challenge the statement as religious. After all, it is largely in the orthodox corners of Christianity that such discussion happens at all today.
But this statement comes from a secular person–one who did not advocate biblical marriage and sexual purity.
Margaret Mead was a cultural anthropologist and an advocate of “loosening social strictures on sexuality . . . [which] could lead to more pleasure, and less pain and suffering.”
Hardly a puritanical perspective. (And the increase of pain and suffering is a discussion for another day.) Even so, according to Mead, the differences between men and women are innate–born into us; they matter in our daily lives, and they are universal.
“In every known human society, everywhere in the world, the young male learns that when he grows up, one of the things which he must do in order to be a full member of society is to provide food [and protection] for some female and her young. . . .
“[E]very known human society rests firmly on the learned nurturing behavior of men. . . It is the precise opposite for women. They must be ideologically and politically pressured, with great potency, to abandoned and ignore their children.”
There is no lack of ideological and political pressure on women to pursue lives that contain minimal involvement with children–especially their own. Our society has few structures in place to support the essence of women and pass on the model of manliness. This passing on of manliness is not religious pablum. More from Mead:
“[T]his behavior [manliness], being learned, is fragile and can disappear rather easily under social conditions that no longer teach it effectively.”
And no society that works as hard as ours to ignore the differences between men and women can effectively teach manhood.
Teaching manhood requires a Christian view–or a view heavily influenced by a biblical perspective.
The orthodox corners of the Church are where manhood mentoring can and must still occur. Solid families headed by fathers and mothers can pass manhood’s tasks and womanhood’s essence to their own–and perhaps to others around them.
Neither public education nor industry has the impetus nor the freedom to launch such an effort. We in the Church can pass along the truth science now ignores.
Christ calls us to this work in every generation.
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6 Replies to “Manhood does. Womanhood is.”
Isn’t that much of the problem? What if men didn’t have to prove themselves? What if men didn’t have to do x or do y to prove they’ve arrived? What if men are just men and nothing they can do can make them lose what it is to be a man? And seriously, what’s so wrong if a woman was a preacher?
You’re considering the idea of manhood as a social construct. Mead is asserting that the need to behave in a manly way is innate, inborn. There is something within men that makes them want to prove themselves. What that phenomenon has given us is what C.S. Lewis called “men without chests.
Your discussion of female pastors is a red herring and completely off the topic of my discussion. I have no problem hearing from a woman standing at the pulpit.
Still chewing on these words. Sexuality is certainly something we have to consistently wrestle with with God.
Yes, Bailey, temptation is ever with us. Thanks for commenting! God bless!
Great line: “no society that works as hard as ours to ignore the differences between men and women can effectively teach manhood.”
Thanks for commenting, Christopher. God bless!