A couple years ago I came to the conclusion that, on the whole, men are funnier than women. I know a lot of guys that are side-splittingly hilarious, but I don’t know many women who are. In fact, whenever I do meet a woman who I think is genuinely funny, I work as hard as I can to be friends with her and keep her around me.
In sharing this quirk about myself I’m not trying to sound like a jerk. I’m sharing it because this mindset is pretty common among women. While the preference for male friendship may not be as specific as humor, a lot of women prefer male friendships to female. Usually the reasoning is something along the lines of, “I tend to have more guy friends than girl friends. Girls are so catty or dramatic. Guys aren’t like that.” Either you or someone you know has uttered those very words. Am I right?
Having confessed that I myself have shared these sentiments, I believe this logic is a total cop-out and is insulting to women. More specifically, it has two very troubling implications. The first is theological, and the second is relational. In this post I will cover the theological implications of this issue. In my next post I will cover the relational.
To understand the problematic theology behind this thinking, we have to begin with the mindset behind it. This mindset is based on sweeping stereotypes about women, and we know this for two reasons. First, the numbers don’t compute. I know a LOT of women who use the above excuse for not hanging out with other women. Yet if that many of us truly feel this way, if that many of us are genuinely looking for drama-free relationships, then why haven’t we been able to find each other? It’s not like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. Yes, some women are catty and dramatic, but there are also a lot of women who aren’t. Especially in the church! If you can’t find female friends with a good head on their shoulders, then you’re probably not looking hard enough.
Second, the above excuse is based on the fallacy that only women are dramatic. I know plenty of men who are dramatic. Drama is not an exclusively female attribute. Men can still be moody, condescending, or lash out in fear. Not because they’re less manly, but because they’re sinners. As sinners, we are all subject to fits of craziness. We’ve all done it. And while women are admittedly prone to be more emotional, that emotion can often manifest itself in the form of warmth, kindness, hospitality, empathy, or a listening ear. Neither emotion nor femaleness equals drama.
In other words, women are avoiding other women as a result of unjustifiable stereotypes. We’re making giant claims about one another that can’t hold up. While personality differences prevent us from connecting with everyone, it’s absurd to write off ALL women based on sweeping generalizations. That would be like a single woman refusing to befriend married women because “they all just want to be housewives and churn out babies.” Sure, there are married women like that, but are they all like that? Heck no.
In the face of these stereotypes, we reveal the true spirit of what we’re saying. We’re really no better than chauvinistic men who stereotype women in insulting ways. We are female chauvinists.
Now if you look up the word “chauvinism” in the dictionary, it’s defined as a “prejudiced belief in the superiority of one’s own gender, group, or kind.” Given that definition of chauvinism, it would seem impossible for women to be chauvinists about other women. But this definition actually sheds light on the female chauvinist mentality. Women who don’t like other women often distance themselves from their gender, as if they’re somehow less a part of it. “I fit better with men.” They are attempting to judge from the outside. These women have stereotyped femininity so profoundly that their personal aversion to drama and gossip is interpreted as being less female. To be drama-free is to be less of a woman.
At this point we need to stop and consider what a negative conception of femininity this is! Do we really believe this about God’s design for women? Perhaps not consciously, but that is where that logic takes us.
As the crown of God’s creation, this kind of chauvinism against women hardly seems justifiable, or Biblical. We need to be aware of the statements that our actions are making. To define all women according to some negative attribute is to make a theological statement, because it makes a statement about the Maker. It is to either call God’s creation of women imperfect or unoriginal (since you’re assuming ALL women are dramatic girly-girls), or to make women out to be more fallen than men. According to Scripture, this cannot be so.
Be careful about the statements you make about other women, and make sure they are consistent with God’s words about women. As women we have a vested interest in glorifying God through our femininity. This not only means we honor God with our own lives, but we build up the women around us as well. I don’t mean to underestimate the difficulty that some women genuinely have in finding solid, female friendships, but I promise those women are out there. God created us in all shapes and sizes, so ask Him and He will provide. Just be sure not to slander the glorious creation of God’s precious daughters in the process. We will never be best friends with everyone, but the girly-girl who likes to wear pink and the tom-boy who likes to go four-wheeling can all glorify God equally. We need to celebrate that fact, and celebrate the creative God who blessed this world with so many different reflections of Him.
*For an interesting secular take on this topic, check out Ariel Levy’s “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture”