What is a woman?
A weak human being to be overpowered, violated, and exploited?
If I were to go only by the recent news reports here in India, I’d be inclined to believe that. But is that really what a woman is? I like to think that the majority of people wouldn’t agree.
When we think of our mothers, wives, daughters, or friends, do we associate them only with a physical form? Rather, don’t we think of their warmth, gentleness, tenderness, and even their strength? Perhaps it is their unselfishness or honesty that comes to mind. Isn’t that really what womanhood is all about – qualities that comfort, nurture, and strengthen?
Those qualities of warmth, love, and unselfishness belong to us all, irrespective of our gender. Men express these “feminine” qualities just as women express the “masculine” qualities of strength and courage. Through my study of Christian Science, I’ve come to understand that it is a combination of the feminine and the masculine qualities that makes up our individuality and gives us a sense of wholeness and completeness. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, explains it this way in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Union of the masculine and feminine qualities constitutes completeness” (p. 57).
Look around you and you will see shining examples of men and women who combine these qualities perfectly. Why then have we set up these divisions, put ourselves into these little compartments of “men must be like this” and “women must be like that”?
Much change has come to those old ways of thinking, and we are starting to break out of those compartments. Some argue that it is this breaking up that is bringing violence against women to the surface. Perhaps it is so. Perhaps it is a stirring up that is going on, bringing false ideas of both women and men to the surface so that they can be removed. False ideas that women are weak and must stay that way, or that men are strong but unable to control their bodies or their actions. It’s a wrong notion that strength can be expressed only harshly or that tenderness is equivalent to weakness. True strength is expressed gently. “Tenderness accompanies all the might imparted by Spirit,” wrote Mrs. Eddy (Science and Health, p. 514). Gentleness is not a sign of weakness.
Much more remains to be done if we are to close the gender gap that is so evident in the recent instances of violence against women in India that have horrified the country and the world. It is really a gap in the general thought that is calling to be filled with right ideas about true manhood and womanhood – the ideal man, God’s reflection, whom the Bible refers to in its first chapter of its first book: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
This is something each of us can do because each one of us contributes to the general thought. So today, let’s claim our right – and everyone else’s as well – to express our wholeness, our masculinity, and our femininity. It will give a boost to the health and progress of individuals and nations as nothing else can.
Adapted from the author’s blog on SpeakingTree.