I was driving home yesterday only to be greeted with a Dr. Pepper radio advertisement emphatically proclaiming that their new soda has “10 manly calories” and that “it’s not for women,” so I can “keep my romantic comedies and lady drinks.”
How can an inanimate object like a beverage have a gender? I wondered.
How can calories be “manly” or “womenly” for that matter? I mused.
Thinking more expansively, I pondered, “Why does media focus on Kim Kardashian’s newest beckon for attention instead of highlighting the stories of women like Wujdan Shahrkhan and Sarah ‘Attar, who are breaking cultural taboos by becoming Saudi Arabia’s first women to compete in the Olympics?”
“How can more women, girls, men, and boys hear the life-altering message of freedom in Christ rather than hearing each of the ways in which we are to comport ourselves to propriety (if we were born with two “x” chromosomes) or leadership (if we were born with an “x” and “y” chromosome).”
Can I sing “Courageous” by Casting Crowns and alter the lines to “women of courage” and proclaim that we will love our husbands and children (and friends and orphans and neighbors),” proudly exclaiming, “let the women of God arise!” instead of the true lyrics?
Feeling frustrated yet imbued to continue promoting gender equity with ardent fervor, I spent the rest of my commute home reconciling how Church, media, and society all have perpetuated stereotypes for genders and how this can be changed.
I don’t have all the answers, but I believe that we can make the Church and society more equitable and just when we omit exaggerated stereotypes, challenge cultural norms, and affirm the imago dei in all.
I’m trying to discern what my gender means to me, but one thing I know for sure is that it looks counter-cultural to the “rules” upon which I have been imposed. I tell people that I often think about keeping my last name when I get married because I don’t think the woman should have to drop her last name simply because it’s expected or implied. I often joke that if I were to ever have a child, I would make birth announcements in pink for a boy and blue for a girl and laugh at all of the comments I’d get that I can just hear now… “Was your printer not working?” “Was something wrong with your ink?” Hear me loud and clear, there’s nothing wrong with changing your last name and nothing wrong with donning pink and blue, but I’m ready to ask bigger questions, such as why is a woman ‘supposed to’ change her name? What makes pink a ‘girly’ color?
When God is described as one sole gender, we negate that God is Spirit (John 4:24) and that the excessive use of gender depictions of God focuses more on humanness, dulled down to words that we can understand, rather than dwelling in the mystery and richness of the God who created the Heavens and the Earth.
When calories have a gender, we exacerbate gender stereotypes instead of leading our generation into partnership and teamwork.
When we extol men to be courageous, we must then do the same for the women and girls of this world, particularly encouraging those who face dowry murder, honour killings, genital mutilation and sex trafficking.
When we learn that ultimately, male or female, we are one in Christ (Gal 3:28), we can drop our arguments and stereotypes and calories at the foot of the Cross, united together in synergistic partnership, ready to change to the world.