The ultimate image in assertiveness. Malala Yousafzai – who was shot for having a voice.
Christianity esteems women who ‘know their place.’ Usually that means a woman who says yes to almost everything her husband says, who is Suzie Homemaker, has a very soft-spoken voice, meek to a fault, her opinions are marginal, and excessively devoted to all things religious. At least that is the stereotype.
What I find to be a bit interesting is that many women who took center stage in the Bible had some traits that are not normally attributed to Christian women. Eve was curious, exploratory, a little independent and defiant. Ruth was cunning, strong, and industrious. Rahab and Mary Magdalene were survivors who became involved in an industry that could have gotten them killed. Hannah was a very determined woman. Esther a strategic thinker.
I have said from the dawn of time that I will never date or become involved with a pastor or anyone who aspires to be one. Why? Well, I know that I would have the poor man disgraced and kicked out of his church :-). I can be opinionated, argumentative and confrontational. I question things because that is my nature. I am sure as people see those words they imagine me as a horrible person no one wants to be around and possibly the reasons why I am still single. LOL.
I have come to relish straight talk and being clear and open. Opinionated means exactly that I have an opinion that may agree or disagree with someone else’s. I love hearing other people’s views because it allows me see other’s world view and share my own. Argumentative does not always mean shouting or anger. Lawyers, columnist, debate teams have great skills when it comes to being argumentative and so do you when someone tells you there is no God. Confrontation does not also mean anger or maliciousness. In therapy, confrontation denotes challenging a client on damaging behaviors or thoughts in order to help awareness and insight. These are all behaviors we do with friends, family and coworkers; however, they are not attributes that are appreciated in women especially those in the church.
My college professor once told me (after reviewing a psych test I completed for our undergrad class) that I seem to have a problem with authority. I promptly told him no but I will disagree with anyone if I think he/she is wrong. Years later I still remember that and chuckle because there is some truth to his assessment.
People tend to confuse assertive with aggressive; however, these are two different concepts. You can check the dictionary for the distinction. An assertive man is valued because he’s considered a strong man; however, an assertive woman is considered a difficult bitch by both genders. I remember once either reading or hearing a pastor’s wife said she did not argue or defy her husband on a specific issue even though she knew he was wrong. She felt that it was her place and God sanctioned to allow her husband to be wrong and subsequently failed then he learned the lesson more effectively than if she contradicted him. My first thought was “both you and your husband are idiots.” There seem to a prevailing idea that an assertive (not aggressive) woman wants to challenge the manhood of a man. However, I see things as if a man is afraid of an assertive woman, then he needs to rethink his strength, rethink his self-esteem, and self-image as a man. More than likely, he will still have these feelings even around assertive men.
The stupid stuff that we often times tag to God amazes me to no ends. There seems to be a great limitation when it comes to women’s personality traits. We are relegated to a handful and anything outside of that is deemed negatively – Satan inspired. Frankly, I like being assertive. I like getting my points and opinions across to those around me and I like hearing others views as well. I like the fact that people have a better understanding of me and not some false impression of what others think a woman should be. I have great respect for pastors’ wives. Their facade is flawless in public and it keeps them within tradition and expectation of their roles. Or could it be that pastors marry women who already have a quiet and agreeable personality which fits into the image?
It has always been sad and frustrating when to see women who have their own thoughts and opinions and are so afraid or ‘shy’ to speak. There are lots of evidence as to why the ‘quiet’ woman is the first of whom to be taken advantage, the ones who suffer in silence, the ones whose needs are never met, and who harbour some unhappiness due to all or some of the above.
The interesting thing is Christian women do not fit into one mold no more than all women are the same. There are guidelines for Christian women’s behaviors; however, it falls on a spectrum not a fixed point. Frankly, I would love to see more assertive women in the church because they would have a lot to offer to the old and new Christian women in the organization. They would even reeducate Christian men to the diversity of personalities of good Christian women.
Find and use your voice.