“Girl’s rule and boys drool!” some of my Jr. High girls used to say. Then, the next minute they would be chasing one of those “drooling boys” down the hallway, trying to get his attention. There is a connection between men and women at any age that is undeniable, and yet we still have such broken ways of relating to one another.
Last week, I shared that during our vacation my husband and I visited the National Park dedicated to Women’s Rights, in Seneca Falls, New York. What I didn’t share was that as we left, I experienced this unexpected sadness. In a place where many had fought for women to have a more equal footing in the world, I thought I would feel inspired to pick up the torch and carry it on. Instead I felt depressed.
In the upstairs of the Women’s Rights Center, there is a whole exhibit on the history of the suffrage movement all the way up to the 1980’s. There is station after station, all on women’s journey towards equality, with the end of the exhibit sharing that there is still much to be done. Perhaps some of my sadness was based on that fact–but that wasn’t even close to most of it.
I left with this low feeling in my chest because no human being was meant to ever have to fight for another to acknowledge their humanity, worth, and beauty.
“This isn’t what God had planned,” I felt, as we slowly went down the steps and toward the exit.
Today, because people have many different beliefs about Creation and God, I think we have lost sight of what the Genesis Creation Story tells us about what our relationship as women and men was intended to be. It was supposed to be way better than what we know, and our role in creation, as women, is greater than history has made us believe.
In the book of Genesis, when God goes about creating Earth, He does all these things and says “it is good.” He spoke light into being, separated the earth from the water, put the stars in the sky, created fish to swim in the sea and animals to walk on land, and out of dust, created man in His likeness. And after every thing He created, He “saw it was good”–until He saw something that was not good. In Genesis 2:18a:
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.’”
So what did God do? Did He create “man’s best friend,” a golden retriever to keep him company and do whatever he said? Did He create another man–a Frat buddy–for him to rule over creation with, and on the weekends, watch football with?
No. When God created Eve, He said:
“I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Gen. 2:18b)
Only in the original Hebrew, the language the Bible was written in, the word meant a lot more than “helper.” It was actually two words: Ezer Kenegdo. Hebrew Scholar, Robert Alter, translates the phrase as “a sustainer beside him,” but John and Stasi Eldredge in their book Captivating, write that a better translation “of ezer would be ‘lifesaver.’ And that “Kenegdo means alongside, or opposite to, a counterpart.”
We talk so much about how men are supposed to be our “knights in shining armor,” yet the Creation Story tells us, we are supposed to do the same for them. We weren’t created to be under them, we were created to be alongside–leading, creating, and living together. Yet in a world where women are oppressed–from the western work place to the darkest corners of the world in which they are literally bought and sold–we are unable to fully accomplish our God given calling as daughters of Eve.
And this is where Feminism and Men need each other.
If women are unable to use their voices, gifts and talents fully as they seek to flourish alongside men, and if men are given such a distorted, small view of the role women are to have in their lives, than the world misses out on experiencing the most incredibly designed partnership.
In fact, the whole world has been missing it.
With some beautiful exceptions where men and women have truly seen, celebrated, and worked with one another, the world has largely missed out. Men have missed out on having their Ezer Kenedgo, the ultimate best friend, because they have been told that to be “the man,” means dominating and leading your family or business by yourself. Men need Feminism because they need to be freed from carrying the weight of the world entirely on their shoulders. They need the women of the world to be reinstated to their true place--not above them as some Feminist would argue–but alongside them.
In order for women to be reinstated, however, we need men who are willing to join the plight of Feminism. We need men to tell us that the world needs to hear our voices. We need men to speak out when they witness other men speaking degradingly about us. We need men who will help us change man-made business structures that are only friendly to the male way of doing things. We need men who will give us opportunities and empower us to use our gifts. We need men who are more concerned with the best for all, than the power they may lose for standing up for our cause.
Finally we need men because we were created to be unified and to rule over the Earth together. After God created male and female in His likeness, He blessed them and He told them together:
“Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28