I recently took one of those click bait quizzes which unsurprisingly pegged me at about 80% masculine. The list of ways I do not fit the mold of a stereotypical western woman is long and goes back decades. I have an early memory of crying as my mother ratted my hair for pictures. Why, 1980's?? WHY?? I'm sure I had my "girly" moments as a kid, but mostly I liked to run around in the woods, wear comfortable clothes, play cops and robbers, and sink a dingy in my grandparents' muddy pond.
I believe clothes are meant to protect us from the elements and cover up the parts we don't want seen publicly. I will dress up on occasion, but even considering primping as a daily practice is exhausting to me.
I am a high thinker/low feeler. When women are described as "the more emotional sex," I cringe a little. This may be true in a general sense, but it is not an absolute. I don't even think I am a rarity in this - less common perhaps, but not a fluke.
I'd rather go shooting than shopping (actually, I'd rather do almost anything than shop - you're going to Target? Just pass me that blender so I can stick my hand in it.)
I have, at this point in my life and for the past five(ish) years, no desire to be a wife. I have great respect for marriage though. (This caveat is necessary because anytime I mention the desire to be single, many assume I am somehow casting aspersions on marriage. I am not. We good? Good.)
I rarely cry, I'm not naturally relational (I have to work at this), and I have a strong preference for solitude over company. I don't believe these are uncommon traits among women, but they are often considered masculine. I could go on, but the particulars of my personality are not the topic of this writing, so let's just say when someone starts a phrase with "women are . . . ," what follows rarely describes me.
This never bothered me until a few years ago. I don't mind being a little different - I might even prefer it. But I received a message (a subtle, sometimes unintentional, but repetitive message) in the Christian media I consume and in the circles of women I frequent. I started to confuse "women are . . ." statements with "Christian women should be . . ." and I wondered if I was more than different - if these "masculine" traits were evidence of damage rather than just who I am. Some of the feminine traits I lack seemed connected with righteousness, with sanctification, with the role of women in the church. So where do I fit? Is there something wrong with me? Do I need to change?
Thank God for the bible in my own language, Holy Spirit to guide me through it, and friends who love me as I am. Otherwise, I fear I might be stuck in a futile cycle of questioning my own femininity and where I fit as a woman in Jesus' church. If the hallmarks of femininity are being sensitive, emotional, nurturing, soft, gentle, and aesthetically pleasing, and if we use cultural definitions of these terms - I have failed as a woman. Dressing a certain way (fail), feeling loads of feeling (fail), being a wife (fail)
If you have questioned your own femininity in the face of cultural (including church culture) definitions - you're not alone, and you are not unfeminine.
Luckily, the bible contains stories of amazing, Godly women outside of Proverbs 31 (nothing against her, relax, she's great).
Also, it helps to not accept descriptors like "nurturing" and "emotional" at face value. These are not terms my inner circle would use to describe me, and by typical cultural definitions they would be correct. But if "nurturing" means caring about and encouraging growth in others - I am a nurturer. I may not cry during movies, or be the greatest responder to others' emotional needs, but if you saw me in the face of an injustice you would call me passionate, not unemotional.
Women are unique among God's creation. There are fundamental differences between men and woman, but I think many of the differences are more mysterious than we humans are comfortable acknowledging. We want lists and labels and boxes for these things - it is in our nature. But I can't buy into attempts to define "feminine" or "masculine" with a list of character traits, partly out of a need to preserve my own sanity. In our culture, a list will peg me as more masculine than feminine (as evidenced by the click bait quiz), which means there is either something wrong with me, or something wrong with the list. For now, I think it's the list.