prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.
Today, we are made especially aware of mental stereotypes that we develop as human beings due to things we have heard or experienced – such as judging someone as dangerous because of their skin color, judging someone as arrogant because of their skin color, judging someone because they have tattoos or piercings or flat out just not liking the looks of someone. I have been in church services where rightly racist, judgemental or perverted mindsets have been discussed. I am glad that leaders found these to be important topics to discuss. The thing that I did notice, however, was the lack of discussion of sexist mindsets. Oftentimes, we lose sight of the fact that sexism is just as much of a problem as racism. We often also forget that the roots of sexism are often far more entrenched into our cultural attitudes and mindsets. Whenever gender is a topic of discussion it becomes tricky because people have so many differing opinions on the subject. Thankfully, today racism is seen by most as a societal evil that many work hard to eradicate. On the other hand, sexism is often not seen with the same disdain. It is seen as “Well, that’s just how men and women are”. Many people have sexist attitudes or beliefs and do not even realize it. Let’s be aware that just as racism is not defined as prejudice against only one particular ethnicity, sexism is also not defined as being solely bias against women.
Let’s examine some of these cultural mindsets and beliefs (this is of course not exhaustive)…
Men: prideful, mentally dense, lusty, made to lead and if he can’t he is not a man, if he is big he is dumb, stay at home fathers are just lazy men who don’t want to work, but stay at home moms are doing society a service, masculinity means being aggressive and domineering, they are all perverts and thus dangerous, if he cries he is not masculine, their value is based upon how much money they have in the bank, they are all pigs, they have no emotions and it is not masculine for them to, they must be tall and have muscles or they are not manly, they only care about sex – nothing else (so in other words, if a man talks to you he must of course only have sexual intentions and not possibly just wanting to have a normal human conversation), etc.
Women: vain, cannot make up their minds, gossipy, made to follow and if she doesn’t she is being too assertive, if she is pretty she is dumb, a mother who pursues a career is sacrificing her family, but a man who is a father and has a career is doing what God has called him to do, femininity means being passive and weak, they are not sexual creatures, if she cries she must be on her period and is being overly sensitive, their value is based upon how beautiful and young they are, they are all manipulative gold diggers, they have no logic, they must be attractive or they are not feminine, they only care about romanticized fantasy relationships with rich handsome knights who have castles (so in other words, women are impossible to please), etc.
There are many many more I could list but you get the idea. Often times we filter situations through these beliefs. The purpose of my post is to ask you to challenge your own thinking. How have maybe past situations been wrongly interpreted due to these beliefs? How have you maybe wrongly perceived or even wrongly accused someone based upon these stereotypes? These ideas have become so ingrained into our heads and we hear them so much that they become truth.
Have I met people who match these stereotypes? Yes. Have I seen people who do not match these stereotypes? Yes. The issue is though that when we begin to categorize people we begin to dehumanize them. Christ sees an individual and their motives. We do not. Christ sees someone’s thoughts. We do not.
I have heard of many instances where men have faced discrimination for wanting to work with children because they were viewed as being predatory. It did not matter if he had a calling, talent and anointing to minister to youths he was a man and only women are to work with children – only women can be nurturing so they say. I have also heard of many instances where women have faced discrimination for wanting to hold a leadership position in the church because they were viewed as being too emotional to lead. It did not matter if she had the calling, qualifications, and anointing to minister in a leadership role she was a woman and only men can lead – only men have the calling of God and decisiveness to be leaders so they say.
Do we see the problem here?
Have you ever thought about your wife “She’s the woman that’s her job (fill in the blank)”? Have you ever thought about your husband “He’s the man that’s his job (fill in the blank”? This mindset can cause a lot of strife between a couple. Could you imagine an interracial race couple having racist mindsets in operation towards each other? That just would not work. The same is with sexist mindsets. We often put titles and assign specific role and tasks to our partners based upon their gender.
Do we see how this can cause a problem in a relationship?
Maybe you have not discriminated against someone else, but maybe you are discriminating against yourself. Have you ever thought “Well, I am a man this is just something men do”? Have you ever thought “Well, I am a woman this is just the way I am”? Have you ever thought that based upon your gender that you are predisposed to certain sins? Have you ever been lead to believe that lust and pride are only male problems but that gossip and vanity are only female problems? If we listen to a lot of sermons today we could get the idea that women never struggle with lust and that men never ever gossip. The problem is that we can put our own selves into bondage by our own wrong mindsets and beliefs. What we must understand is that we are all human and possess the same flesh nature. Sin is not gender specific it is human specific. Talents are not gender specific they are human specific. Personalities are not gender specific they are human specific. Callings are not gender specific they are human specific.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and [c]acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
How can we prove what is the acceptable and perfect will of God for ourselves or for anyone else if we are bound by our own preconceptions? The truth is that we can’t.
…You haven’t even got me started on ageism yet. Maybe I will make that another post. 🙂