A friend shared a quote with me not too long ago, and I found it quite accurate. I don’t have the source, but the quote goes something like this: “The church tends to treat female believers like women first, and Christians, a far distant second.”
I think that quote best encapsulates why I have a love-hate relationship with women’s events. On one hand, yes, I am female. I know that having “girl friends” is important, just like a guy having “guy friends.” It’s something we all need. And I can have fun shopping or goofing off with makeup as much as the next girl. But I also like to play video games and shoot guns. The photo above was a few days after I shot a few high-caliber rifles for the first time. Granted, I avoid the high-kick guns now if possible because I remember how painful that bruise was. But, at the time, I was also proud of myself. I had earned it. Where are the women’s events for someone like that?
I’ve only been to 2 specified “women’s events” ever, so I do realize I can’t judge them all like this. But there were similar patterns to both. One was a small gathering. There were lots of flowers and frilly things, and pregnant women, and a warm fuzzy devotion time. The other one was a Beth Moore conference last year. I went for a friend; I didn’t want her to be stuck in the group with nobody remotely her age. I have nothing personal against Beth Moore; I think it’s great that women (especially in conservative circles) are leading more and being recognized for their giftedness. But when I walked into the stadium, there were sparkly things and butterflies and pink/purple drapings everywhere. It was like My Little Pony, Barbie, and a glitter bomb had been thrown together and exploded. And there were gift baskets, which were a nice gesture, but even those had equally puzzling things. (Sorry, no, I don’t need a decorative stake to put in my nonexistent garden/houseplant.) And it didn’t help that Mrs. Moore was addressing us as “girlfriend” every fifth sentence or so. I don’t even call my girlfriends “girlfriend.” And it was a shame, because she did have some good things to say. But, the saturated environment was distracting to me. My husband had a guy’s weekend the same weekend, and after the first meeting, I told him I was very tempted to find a fake ‘stache and try to sneak into his thing.
I had been fairly at ease with my decision to avoid traditional women’s events. Although I knew I needed that community, I also felt very out of place in it–not “girly” enough. But that conference pretty much cemented my decision. I made sure to “miss” calls from certain church ladies who I knew were only calling to notify me of the next women’s group meeting. After church one Sunday, one of them caught me to invite me to their Easter gathering–which included Easter bonnets. Seriously? Bonnets and glitter and butterflies and pink everything–is that what femininity is nowadays?
Don’t get me wrong, modern society’s view of women has some major flaws. But at least the idea is out there that you don’t have to be Paul Bunyan to be a good man, and you don’t have to be Scarlet O’Hara to be a good woman. Yet, this concept doesn’t seem to have reached the traditional church at large. Essentially, the only choices there are either big community with sugary, powderpuff femininity, or little/no community with realism and peace of mind.
I haven’t given up on female community–though, truth be told, I think my odds are at least better with females my own age. But it’s still quite troubling. I mean, women in the Bible certainly weren’t all rainbows and butterflies. In Judges, Jael drove a tent stake through a guy’s head. For all I know, she may have been barefoot and pregnant, but either way, she was still a badass. I’m not looking to do anything like that, but I am looking to learn something concrete and practical. Yes, women need to vent sometimes (case in point, this post) and do weird girl things like bawl at movies and eat lots of ice cream; I am not exempt from that. But PMS, body image, families–these things are not all that defines being a woman. I don’t need hearts and flowers and butterflies and to be called “girlfriend” every five seconds. I’m female; I get it. Off days aside, I’m more or less used to that by now. But I’m also living life in a world where there are problems and issues bigger than how pretty I feel. And as a Christian who just happens to be female, shouldn’t I be equipped just as much as the guys so that I can also have something positive to contribute to those issues?
That’s why I say if all you have is frills and glitter, you can keep it. I’ll hang out with the guys and do something productive.