My husband and I are reading companion books by John and Stasi Eldredge: Wild At Heart about men made in the image of God, and Captivating about women made in the image of God.
I am concurrently reading Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In and the parallels are overwhelming to me.
Sheryl writes about the imbalance of power between men and women; the Eldredges do the same, tying this back to the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Basic truths: We live in a world of men and women, and we live in a world of various degrees of gender inequality. In America, this means women largely give up their seats at the boardroom table, earn less for the same work, and get passed over for prime promotions; in turn, men who choose to stay home rather than act as a breadwinner are silently or vocally shamed. In certain other countries, this means that men rule (that's here too) while women and girls are sold into the sex trade and have few legal rights. Second-class citizens, at best. While any of this continues, anywhere in the world, we should not rest in acceptance of the status quo.
I was writing on the topic of women earlier today and my husband reminded me of an issue that bothers us both greatly about a pervasive illustration of man in American culture. Men are increasingly being portrayed as the bumbling idiot. Too dumb to know how to turn the oven on, much less know how to unveil the mysteries of a woman. It's an assault against men (in the name of feminism?) and that's not what I believe feminism intended.
The strong don't become strong by making others weak or by preying on the vulnerable. The truly strong support and encourage the strength of others, including those unlike themselves.
For true equality, men and women must work together, for each other. This isn't a female issue -- this is a human issue. The beauty of this is that men and women, while inherently equal, are also inherently very different. I believe that the Divine Plan actually centers on this critical point: Women are more than a companion created to support man as peripheral; no, we are complementary, balancing, and absolutely crucial to the grand adventure itself.
In Wild at Heart, John speaks to the marginalization of men in American culture. That the warrior piece of God, this warrior piece placed in the heart of a man, has been misdirected, misunderstood; that this is a tragedy. The strength of a man questing for greater good needs to live; we need warriors in the greatest battle of all: The battle for good, the battle for justice in a mortal world full of a lot of bad, a lot of injustice.
We need men to be with us, and for us, as warriors for greater good -- we do not need men who use strength in abusive ways nor do we need men who have gone passive.
In fair and equal balance, we also need women who have been made in the image of God: hungry for relationship, also thirsting for passionate pursuit of greater good -- not as the prize to be won, but as integral and necessary to the adventure itself, bringing forth our own unique and needed gifts.
For a balanced world, we must work unceasingly toward a balance of power -- 50/50, men and women. And we must realize that the true benefit in this is that it creates the intended balance of the Divine Plan for us. Women are not men; men are not women -- to strive to equalize our differences is missing the point. We should be embracing our differences and recognizing our differences as strengths -- what will move us forward into a better world. One where true equality, true balance is achieved. That, and only that, will be Divine.