Carefully Taught

Playing Dumb & FragileSavor by Shauna Niequist. I love this devotional. It makes me think. It resonates with me. It gives me recipes. And the daily readings are short. Short is good when you are as busy as I am.

Sometimes as I read them I get fired up. And this was one of the ones that got me fired up. It might have something to do with the fact that I am a girl raising a girl. And that I so badly want to influence young girls and young women to grow into the women that they were created to be rather than falling prey to the pervasive influence of our sex-crazed culture where the gender divide still is quite evident in many ways.

  • Why do women think they have to rely on their looks to get what they want?
  • Why do women think they have to dress with their shirt cut down to there and their skirt cut up to here to draw attention?
  • Why do women think they need to play the part of the “weaker” sex to attract men?
  • Why do women have to worry about being seen as “bitchy” if they have a strong personality?
  • Why do women have to worry about offending a man if they are in a place of leadership (particularly true in the church, but still entirely too true in the corporate world as well)?

The answer is the same as the one as spoken and sung by the character Lieutenant Cable in the musical South Pacific. The song, “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” is preceded by a line saying racism is “not born in you! It happens after you’re born…” The same is true for the ways in which women behave, and are perceived by other women and men. We are all taught how we are to behave and fit into the world around us based on how our parents raise us, our peers influence us, and the culture defines us. And the only way this changes from generation to generation is when we stand up and say, “enough is enough,” and choose to teach ourselves and our children a new way to operate within the world around us.

That means not perpetuating the dumb and fragile persona. That means teaching our daughters to be strong, and dress appropriately. That means doing things that make us feel beautiful, but not just to garner attention and teaching our daughters to do the same. That means teaching our sons to respect women for more than their looks and teaching them not to assume that any woman is unable to do something. But it also means teaching them to be attentive and offer to help in such a way that doesn’t demean or shame women. It means teaching our families that authority in leadership has nothing to do with male or female, and no matter what, you listen to the authority figure.

We have all been carefully taught how to be women and men. And like it or not, we are carefully teaching our children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and other young people that we influence. Let’s decide here and now that we are going to be intentional in how we communicate our values – not only in this area of sexism, but in all areas of our lives.




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