Within the last year I have been pregnant and had a baby, which tells you one thing about me: I’ve had a lot of emotions, and a lot of hormones. I have cried at silly things like car commercials and minor slights. I have cried for joy, and cried out of a heart full of love. I have cried a LOT.
I am WAY in touch with my emotions these days, yet even amidst ALL. THOSE. FEELINGS. I couldn’t help but object to an article I read about a female CEO who thinks women shouldn’t be president. Here is what she said:
“If this happens – I am moving to Canada. There is NO need for [Hillary Clinton] as she is not the right person to run our country – but more importantly a female shouldn’t be president. Let the haters begin . . . but with the hormones we have there is no way we should be able to start a war. Yes I run my own business and I love it and I am great at it BUT that is not the same as being the President, that should be left to a man, a good, strong, honorable man.”
She later stood by her comments explaining, “I believe in what I said. There’s an old biblical sound reasoning why a woman shouldn’t be President.”
So here’s the thing–Let’s set aside the seeming contradiction of a female CEO balking at a female President. Let’s even set aside her interpretation of Scripture, since I have too little information to know what hers is.
Instead, let’s focus on that one sentence, the one about hormones.
You see, she is not alone in her belief that hormones disqualify women for leadership. For many Christians, “hormones” is biological evidence that God did not want women doing certain things.
And you know what? That is pure rubbish. There is so much untruth in that widely-held belief, and as Christians devoted to truth, it doesn’t belong in our worldview. It’s time to part ways with the idea that women can’t lead “because of hormones,” so here are the top three myths about women, our emotions, and hormones:
1. Hormones are bad. Whenever you hear about hormones, it’s usually negative. Hormones are blamed for women’s erratic behavior, jagged emotions, and inability to be reasonable. If you are unfortunate enough to be under the influence of hormones, then you might do something seriously crazy like, oh, I don’t know, start a war.
But it’s not like God sneezed during Creation and–whoops!–hormones. Nor is there any mention of hormones in Genesis’ account of the Fall. That’s because God gave us hormones, and they are good. Hormones help women to bond with one another. Hormones help mothers to bond with their newborns. Hormones facilitate human connection, as well as contributing to the reduction of stress–all very good things.
Granted, hormones can be challenging–I hear menopause is NO JOKE–but for all you husbands whose pregnant wives suddenly got a lot friskier, you can thank hormones for that. I rest my case!
2. Hormones make women uniquely emotional. I’m not gonna lie–when it’s that time of the month, I’m not always myself. PMS sometimes makes me a bit gloomy. I see the glass half empty, and I get discouraged by small things. I’m just…off.
But the thing is, my husband has weeks like that too. Some days he is gloomy, or especially sensitive, because he is a human being. All of us–men and women alike–experience emotional swings. For some of us those swings are more dramatic than others, but each one of us is subject to the influence of our life’s circumstances, which in turn influence our emotions. The only distinction that matters is how you respond to them.
3. Emotions are a hindrance to leadership. Whatever your interpretation of gender and Scripture, one thing is clear: Jesus was an emotional man. He cried (John 11:35). He had compassion (Mark 6:34). He loved openly (Mark 10:21). He experienced such great anguish that his sweat was like drops of blood (Luke 22:44).
Jesus was not a dispassionate person, and there is nothing in Scripture that exalts stoicism as a virtue of leadership. In fact, emotions like love and compassion are the very things that make a leader great. Yes, some emotions can be a hindrance to leadership–like jealousy or rage–but men and women wrestle with these emotions in equal measure, not because of their genders but because of their own particular sins.
Women are rooted to our bodies in a way that is undoubtedly different than men. Each month we are reminded of our bodies. Each pregnancy we are limited by our bodies. And as we age out of our reproductive years, we are challenged by our bodies. All those changes affect our emotions differently than men, and we could see that as a bad thing.
But I don’t. Not only did God create our bodies–emotions and all–and call them good, but God took on bodily form Himself. Rather than remain disembodied and emotionless, Jesus showed us what it looks like to have a body, and emotions, and even hormones (Jesus went through puberty, after all!). Rather than reject those things, he taught us how to use them well.
As a woman with a changing body and ever-shifting emotions, that affirms a lot of things about me that our world calls bad. It also affirms the women around me, and speaks truth to lies.
So while you may not think a woman should run for President, go right on objecting to her experience or her beliefs, but please oh please, don’t object to her hormones.
Well said, Sharon, and thank you for writing on this. If we were all going to blame hormones, let’s not forget that men have them too — we can’t blame wrongful aggressions on testosterone any more than we can on estrogen. It’s human selfishness and sinfulness that’s the source of bad leadership. As James 1:1 says plainly, “Where do those fights and quarrels among you come from? They come from your selfish desires that are at war in your bodies, don’t they?”