Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Retaining Honour--Post 11

If you grew up with Bedtime for Frances, as all children ought to, you might remember this line:
And all of a sudden, she was tired.

Well, so am I.

So.  A few final thoughts and disclaimers from me, and a few comments from you.

Just so you know, all these posts were me talking out of my own experiences, observations, and study, trying to pin down and organize the drifting cottonwood fluff in my head.  It was a good exercise for me to put it all into words.  But I am not a theologian or counselor or any expert you have to listen to.

Also, I tried to stick with the scope of subjects that touches my life and loved ones.  There are a hundred variations of choices and tendencies and questions one could address, but I decided to keep it narrow.  There's a lot more that could be said.  You are free to say it.

Thanks to everyone who found the series affirming and helpful and let me know.

To everyone who disagreed and told me so, gently, I appreciate that too.  You're allowed to disagree with me.

I received some disagreeing feedback that made me fear for my safety.  Strange how that made me more stubborn in my beliefs.  But when people disagreed kindly and rationally, it made me think, “You know, I need to think about this some more.  Maybe I’m wrong.”

Some things you said:

"'Fully Alive' by Larry Crabb has some incredible insight regarding gender. Thanks for being adventurous and tackling an uncomfortable [subject]."
--Austin Fahnestock

Bravo for grappling with this issue. . . . I'm with you in being convinced that design denotes purpose, and that purpose is GOOD.

I sometimes wonder if the controversy in male/female roles in work can not be attributed to more people having moved off the farm. Girls no longer grow up working with dad feeding animals, driving the tractor, combines, climbing trees, hay bales in the barn - in short working alongside dad on the farm doing male things. We grew up and were glad to leave this work behind. We got it out of our system. These poor girls who did not have this experience cry for it because it has never been fulfilled. My theory.

"I do not agree with the Duck Dynasty quote. However------on the other end of the spectrum are mothers that try to push their sons into a feminine mold because they believe feminine is better. I had a mother like that."
--Alvin Miller

My thoughts about the young woman being interviewed on NPR. That "annoying" uptick at the end of each sentence is something we noticed when we moved to Canada and especially on the reserves. Some of the ladies there raised the pitch of their voice at the end of every sentence. 

Me: The accent on the reserve in Canada where we lived was just a bit different.  It was a little up-then-down, so the sentence sounded like a question and then the voice dropped back down at the very end.

As a conservative Mennonite woman in college at the moment and in an advisory position to an Amish company and unafraid of public speaking and I won't say what else . . . "A woman's role" has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I am so happy that you are writing about this.


 That overlap is very comforting to me, as I am in the outskirts of the bell curve, being better at math and visual perception than most women and many men. I "see" things more like men do. And I miss a lot of the stuff that most women expect me to get. I wish I had been better able to accept this stuff in my teens and 20s. Life would have been so much less stressful for me....trying always to fit into a mold God didn't design me to fit.....I hope there are lots of young men and women listening to what you are saying...and taking it to heart.
--Jodie Smith
For what it's worth, I think Jael wiped the blood off that tent stake and pounded it back in the ground to hold up her tent instead of ordering another from Amazon!
--Coleen Barnhart
I don't think less of a man or woman who likes to do things that are more common to the other gender, it's more whether they act like a man or a woman while they do it. For example, I don't think anyone who knew Menno Martin would say he was less than a man though he sewed together many beautiful quilts in his later years. And the young lady that works for us at the shop: though she isn't afraid to tackle the dirtiest, greasiest job, her demeanor shows her to be a real lady.
--Gina Miller

This made me reminisce about Stan, my friend Jean's dad and the former pastor of our church, who fixed cars in his younger days and then made quilts after he retired.  What a special and kind man he was.

As a cooking, ironing, house cleaning husband I can tell you that it's more about the person than what they do. When I take my apron off I am capable of truly manly things such as six hour baby-back ribs and stealth bomber repair....
--Cam Passmore

But--- gender IS socially constructed. There are a myriad of behaviors, clothing choices, even speech rhythms, that some cultures view as more 'feminine" and other cultures view as more "masculine." There is no universally accepted way to be a man or to be a woman. To add to this fluidity, intersex people exist, and they are not anomalies. They are often assigned a gender at birth and are raised and socialized to perform as that gender, even though they may not identify with that gender as an individual. There are a vast amount of thoughtfully written articles, blogs, and books about the struggles that real people go through, if you care to do any research beyond the bible.


I was tempted to say some bitter things about anonymous commenters after I got the above comment, but then I got this one which balanced things out:

 I've been drinking great big draughts of this series. My heart and my mind are saying "Yes, yes, yes!" Probably partly because I'm not one of those women who thrives on cleaning and laundry, or gushes over babies. I don't dislike babies, of course, but I'll gladly let someone else hold them. I'm more likely to use power tools, crunch numbers, or mow the yard, though I do love to cook, and pretty dishes make me wish for a kitchen of my own. Meanwhile, I will keep doing the things I love, even if some of those things are unusual in a woman. Thank you for giving me that extra bit of courage today. 

 So, Dorcas, are you going to publish it all in a small book, or some other easily available format? 
--Gwen Hertzler

Answer: Emily just asked me that too, and the answer is: I don't know.
. . . When I see blogs reminding women to avoid risks, I am not inherently saddened by that advice. I am saddened by the massive disproportion of those posts compared to posts advocating ways to help men never become rapists. I was also saddened to the comparison of swimming with sharks- the main issue is that men are not sharks and they can learn the importance of consent. I felt sad for the missed opportunities to help men be better than they would otherwise be, and through that to better protect a larger number of women. 

My response: yes, men can learn.  However, many of them haven't, and I have no control over them.  My sons, in contrast, are fine young men who would never rape a woman no matter how vulnerable she was.  In fact, they'd sacrifice their own safety to protect a woman.  This is embedded in their hearts and isn't just a fear of what the legal system or I would do to them.  But I can't count on other young men being as noble, so I teach my daughters to be wary. 

A testimony--I used to have absolutely terrible allergies. My allergist tested yearly and applied a number to the severity of each allergen. Between two of those testings I stopped being in charge in our marriage and began to submit to my husband. My allergy numbers were less than half at the next testing after years of them staying pretty much level. It would seem that living by God's plan for me as a wife took so much stress off of my immune system that my health improved. What a blessing it is to obey God and my husband. 

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. . . has written a wonderful book that shows the difference between what feminists preach and the reality of life in early America.  It's called Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in North America 1650-1750. . . It's a refreshing book on history.
[Edit--the above comment was actually from Rozy Lass.  Lucy, however, recommends Woman and the Republic by Helen Kendrick Johnson]

Blessings to everyone who stopped by for this series.  Now I'm off to plant a few seeds, get the lovely niece Lisa all married to the handsome Kelly, bake cinnamon rolls, and think about all kinds of things besides gender matters!


  1. Thanks for writing, Dorcas! I know the effort it takes to 'organize and pin down the cottonwood fluff', the fluxuating emotions over people's disagreement...and agreement, the deep sigh of relief and satisfaction and...something else - fulfillment? when the writing is done. Go and enjoy your planting and marrying, you've done a great job! :)

  2. Jodie Smith's comment got me to thinking more on this issue - I can relate some to what she is saying.

    As I think back on the time I spent with dad working on the farm - I was a first born with no brothers until I was 12 - I imbibed his way of thinking - logically and absolutely. A farmer deals with nature that is absolute, full of mystery, unforgiving, intolerant of any errors so one must learn how to deal with these absolutes. This requires facing facts head on and making decisions based on facts.

    Females are given to relative thinking or some call it emotional thinking. Decisions are made based upon what I feel - feelings dominate a female mindset and important decisions are made upon how "I feel" at the moment.

    As I compare the two I wonder if perhaps the loss of daughters exposure to dad's mindset has not impacted how one relates to theology, God, his WORD and life in general.

    And...would you know, my generation's thinking patterns differ drastically from modern young women's - even those among the same church group. The difference is that we all grew up on the farm worked alongside dad. Moderns do not have this experience. Sad.

  3. Great job! You tackled this with tact and balance. There's a lot I want to say but I might write it out in a blog and link back to you. And I think Sandra is on to something too.It does seem like women (pioneer women for example) longer ago were sharper and clearer in terms of thinking because their lives depended on it at times. Interesting observation!

  4. If you ever do publish that "small book," it would be great for you to highlight and elaborate on what you wrote (which I copied out for my own good!):

    "I tried to stick with the scope of subjects that touches my life and loved ones. There are a hundred variations of choices and tendencies and questions one could address, but I decided to keep it narrow. There's a lot more that could be said. You are free to say it."

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  6. Thank you for writing these posts. As a young woman who has always felt a little "outside the norm" for females in personality and the way I think/process/act on things, the most wonderful blessing is that God had in store for me a husband whose personality was so complementary to mine! His ability to perceive and consider the feelings of others, his tender and compassionate heart, and his analytic mind is just what I needed. Together we are learning to be a powerful team to be used by God to accomplish great things for Him.

  7. I love the thought about farm life, but perhaps it isn't so much getting it out of our systems, as it is realizing it is normal to do whatever is at hand to do.

    My daughter loves driving a tractor, milking cows, hauling hay, but she also loves to sew,put on a tea party, keep an impractically dainty bedroom.

    And my sons, waiting so long on a sister, learned to be comfortable with cooking, laundry, and housework. I can't say most of them ever really loved it, though.

    So much to rejoice in. So much to embrace. He gives us richly all things to enjoy.

    Thank you, Dorcas!