I have been shocked of late to find two videos showing women enacting brutality against one another. Femininity is a contested sphere nowadays, both literally and figuratively.
First, I came across a video of a recent fight between women in a mall food court. A massive crowd watches the awful scene before two men–including basketball coaches Tim Floyd and Henry Bibby–gingerly break it up. Second, I watched in horror as college women’s soccer players battered one another, with one young woman outright attacking her opponents (the footage is gruesome, I warn you).
In previous days, you might have seen Laila Ali (in picture from BoxNews) battering another woman into submission. There is a common thread, I think, between both informal and formal female brutality. As femininity suffers in our professedly “gender-neutral” society, women adopt the habits of men, including their propensity for violence and aggression. The two fights listed above show examples of women acting in shocking and traditionally masculine ways. In neither instances is this development positive.
In a way that most people, and that includes many Christians, don’t think about, contact-oriented sports teach and encourage women to engage in typically masculine behavior. As researchers, following the scent of common sense, have found, women’s bodies cannot sustain the same level of contact as those of men (see Michael Sokolove’s Warrior Girls for much more on this point).
The Western tradition shows that people have for centuries recognized the body differences and role distinctions between men and women. Women have rarely fought on battlefields, for example. Now, our modern instincts teach us to be biased against that point (simply because it’s the overwhelmingly historic position), but it stands nonetheless.
Thanks to Title IX and other factors, women today regularly engage in contact sports–basketball, soccer, football, wrestling, and more. These endeavors encourage women to be less feminine and more masculine, a mindset that is bleeding over into the broader culture. As women attack one another, groveling on the ground, punching one another in the face, men do nothing. Or, maybe after a while, they wade into the conflict, hesitatingly breaking it up, fearful of being branded “macho”.
We’re in a bad situation today. Men are weak, hesitant, unsure of themselves, depressed, dragging through life, dropping out of school, abdicating their authority, letting their children run wild, barely raising their voice above a whisper. Meanwhile, women run themselves ragged, get into fights, struggle to both provide for the family and run the home, and grow frustrated with the shadow men they everywhere encounter.
Christian men, we need to wake up. We need to show the world what manhood looks like. We need to reclaim ourselves. We need to lift our voices, get off the couch, take a strong and stern lead in the discipline of our children, work ourselves hard to provide for our families, teach our girls to treasure their God-given femininity, teach our boys what it means to be robustly masculine, serve in the church, and generally live for the Lord. We need to be those who deploy our manhood for the good of women.
Femininity is a gentle, fragile thing. It is a precious thing. It must be guarded and preserved. It is inherent to a woman. You can’t put a girl into all of the same activities as a boy and expect that she’ll still possess her full femininity. If you do so, you will compromise aspects of her God-given womanhood.
Women do not need to weak or willowy. But neither should they be vicious and manly. We are teaching our daughters the wrong lessons today. One that we must consider is sports and general decorum. For the glory of God, girls should look and act differently than boys. For the glory of God, parents should teach girls to treasure and preserve their womanhood.