From Different Planets?

At one point in my life, I believed there was no fundamental difference between males and females, with the obvious physical exceptions. I was a 10-year-old feminist. I believed I could play football, excel in math, run fast, become president, and win a fist fight as well as any boy I knew. I rebelled against the idea that my passions and talents might be limited by people who made up arbitrary rules about which sports, activities or classes I could participate in.

I still feel the hairs on the back of my neck bristle when people, especially children, are encouraged to behave in a particular way simply due to their gender. Let them play with whatever they want to, whether it’s trucks or dolls or blocks or crayons. Don’t let “boys be boys” and allow rude behavior or destruction. Don’t make girls “act like a lady” and prevent them from playing in dirt or running around.

As I grew older, I began to see that there were some general differences between men and women. While I could play football with my friends in their backyard, and make a pretty good receiver, I couldn’t tackle them. I would jump on their backs and they would run for the goal line. Men have the ability to enjoy increased physical strength, thanks to their muscle fiber and testosterone.

I spent years hustling to move tables and other heavy items whenever there was a need, just to show I could. Then I got smart. It was easier for the guys to use their muscle, and they enjoyed showing it off. I think there’s something to rescuing the “damsel in distress” that prevents them from denying a request for physical help. It makes them feel needed and important.

Women enjoy the security that the perceived strength of a man provides. It’s the security of having someone walk her home on a dark night, or get up in the middle of the night to check out that mysterious noise. It’s the security of a bear hug that tries to protect from emotional pain.

Women are the relationship gatekeepers. Little girls’ friendships are based on who they like and who is nice. Early on they are sensitive to the opinions and feelings of other people. They will try to keep the peace when the guys want to fight it out. They are able to empathize and make decisions that accomplish the most good for the most people.

Men need women to understand the dynamics of relationships. In an all-male universe, communication would be limited to a series of grunts and shrugs, in the style of the Tim “The Toolman” Taylor character on the television show, “Home Improvement.” When men are open to the dimension and texture that various channels of communication bring to life, they will discover success in relationships and in other pursuits.

“Viva la difference!” Praise God we are not a world of unisex automatons, but individuals, created with strengths and weaknesses, hopes and desires, life and a purpose. Praise God that our differences do not limit us but enable us to reach our true potential.

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