In grade school, I did everything I could to prove that I was just as strong and smart as the boys in my class. I didn't have to work too hard at trumping most males in the intelligence department (he he he) but I did break a sweat more than once in gym class. Remember all those physical fitness tests? I would push myself to do as many pull-ups as every boy; I would hang with my chin over that stupid bar for as long as it took to beat just one of them. I would force myself to run, sit-up, and climb ropes faster than as many boys as possible. I would even play basketball at recess just so I could push over those pompous lugs.
The irony is that I'm not a competitive or an athletic person. I didn't care about bringing home the physical fitness award. But I cared - ALOT - about being viewed as an equally capable human being. Because somewhere along the line, even as young as 4th grade, I realized that boys treated girls differently. And that "differently" didn't make me feel as smart or as strong or as important as those boys.
In one way or another, I carried on this underground fight well into college. I never held back my opinion; I demanded that my voice be heard. I took charge of nearly every situation I could and never let a male stand in my way for anything. I think I probably intimidated most people, male and female.
I have, however, softened over the years since I've been married - and been with Jesus. I realized that even though I got "my way" most of the time or that I stood up to some invisible test of strength, I wasn't actually accomplishing anything of benefit. I have learned that being forceful is not the same as being persuasive; that gentleness is stronger than toughness; that wisdom only speaks when something of value is to be shared. No one wants to be around a domineering, uncompromising, long-winded man -- why would I ever believe I could attain equality by acting as such?
With that said, I do believe that our society is incredibly off-base when it comes to teaching about gender. I will post more about this later but, as I look back on my childhood, I can clearly connect how my father and mother interacted to my opinion about men and women. I can remember how boys I knew talked about girls. And I wonder, if even one of those circumstances had been different - more honorable, more filled with kindness - how I, too, would have changed.