It’s not uncommon to hear how much women need to continue to make strides in our culture. Even actresses in recent years have used their acceptance speeches as platforms for praising the changes in roles women now play in television and film, while also acknowledging that there is still a long way to go. Some see the continued gender disparity in the upper echelons of business as evidence of a need for greater change. Some see the questions women are asked on the red carpet as evidence of a need for greater equality among the sexes.
But women have made a fair amount of progress in the last fifty years. And for all this progress, we are now seeing not a greater equality among the sexes, but a greater gender gap as men are the ones lagging behind women in some fields. Women now outnumber men on college campuses by over thirty one percent. Women, who were less affected by the Great Recession, are now a majority in the workforce.
Who should advance: men or women?
In her 2012 book, The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, Hanna Rosin chronicles the lives of women in varying life stages and circumstances, and shows how, in many ways, women are faring much better than men in our current society. For a long time they were gaining on men, now they are outpacing them all together in education, ambition, and even in the home. Rosin sees this shift as a good thing. In her book she provides a way forward for both men and women to embrace this change, namely men need to adapt to a world where they are no longer on top. As a feminist, she views the end of men not as cause for alarm, but as a win in a long-fought battle. But I’m not so sure.
With the rise of the feminist movement, has come the advancement of women. And this isn’t all bad. It’s a good thing that women are excelling in college. It’s a good thing that women are able to explore their options in the workforce. It’s a good thing that women are valued for their contributions to society. It’s not good for men to be alone, after all (Gen. 2:18). As Christians, we believe the image bearers go together. To be a Christian woman means being pro-women, absolutely. But it also means being pro-men. When God created Adam and Eve, he created them both in his image with purpose, value and dignity. We should be concerned when we live in a world where women are gaining at the expense of men, and vice versa.
These issues matter to me personally. I have three sons. With my husband, I am raising boys to become men in a world where men (and boys) are greeted with low expectations. Either men are expected to be doormats who never interfere with a woman and her life (unless she asks, of course), or worse, they are expected to be sexually aggressive and dominant. We don’t need to look very far to see that the portrayal of men in our culture is a buffoon at best and a sexual deviant at worst. Christians should want no part in either portrayal.
The battle of the sexes isn’t the real battle
In my book, The Accidental Feminist, I attempt to show how feminism actually wasn’t the answer to this quest for equality. Despite the celebration from Rosin (and many others) that feminism has secured the status of women in society, feminism didn’t answer the deepest issues women faced, namely that men and women have been in a battle since Genesis 3.
The battle of the sexes need a resolution, but can’t be won in a reverse sexism of sorts. Only the word of God brings us back to reality, and shows us that the answer to feminism, sexism, oppression, and even the fights we face with the men (and women) in our lives only find their defeat in the promised seed who crushes even the most disgusting sin we war against (Gen. 3:15). The battle really isn’t between men and women, but between the forces of darkness that have plagued us since the serpent asked “did God actually say?”
I am concerned about the end of men in our culture, just as much as a I am concerned about the end of women in oppressive regimes all across the world. I am concerned that men are met with low expectations because women have deemed them useless and irrelevant, and I am concerned about the little girl who is trafficked in Thailand or abandoned in Romania.
Any ideology that exalts one gender to the exclusion of the other is not honoring to God’s created design—namely that we bear his image (Gen. 1:26-27). Our humanity matters, and our maleness and femaleness matters. If men go the way of the Dodo Bird then we lose something precious about the image of God. And I don’t want to live in a world where that happens for men or women.