05 April 2008

Fear in Femininity

There are differences between men and women and one of them is what and how we fear. There are common fears between us. Men have different societal roles and therefore different pressures and fears, but a man cannot know what it is like to have fear simply because you are a woman. Women make constant evaluations based on safety.

While driving his car a man gets a flat tire and he thinks, "Drat! How inconvenient! I will be late and I will get dirty while I change the tire." He's glad to see someone pull over and ask if he needs a hand." A woman thinks, "Oh no, someone has pulled over...are they safe....will I be safe?"

A man calls a plumber to come help him fix the problem in his master suite bathroom. He wants to make certain the plumber will do a good job and not over-charge him. A woman wants those things too, but she is mindful that she is allowing a stranger, most likely a man, to come into her bedroom in order to fix her bathroom. She wants to make certain the plumber is safe or that someone will be there to protect her if he is not. .

A man checks the back seat of his car before getting in because he doesn't want to be robbed or murdered by someone waiting in the backseat for him to get in. A woman looks for the same reasons, but she knows that being robbed and murdered aren't the worst things that could happen to her.

I am not saying that men are not victims of unspeakable violence. They are. But men are not normally targeted because they are men. Men, generally speaking, are not raped during assaults. In the United States, 1 of 6 women and 1 of 33 men will be sexually assaulted. The likelihood that the woman will know her assaulter is as high as 89%. (CDC statistics.) These figures are conservative because roughly half of the assaults on women go unreported. I won't go into simple assaults or domestic violence statistics.

Why do I bring this up? Because I want my brothers in Christ to realize that we women make decisions based on our safety. Where we will go, what time we will go there and whether or not we go alone are decisions we make, more often than not, based on the conditioning we have undergone in always evaluating our safety. You may make fun of us because we go to bathrooms in herds, but for us, there is safety in numbers. You tease us when you scare us in 'good fun' and we 'over-react.' If we walk somewhere at night and we are assaulted, it will likely be said we should have known better. If we refuse to go somewhere alone, we are too needy. If we are assaulted when we are alone, we should have taken better precautions. If we tell you we are afraid we fear we will to be ridiculed, demeaned or have that information used against us.

In an earlier post I talked about being fearful of submitting to a man. You'll get no argument from me that my fear is partially a result of my sinful heart. I am not trying to justify rebellion here. I do want to say that the fear I have for my personal safety compounds the problem I have choosing to submit. I am not alone in this. I think sometimes our fear for our safety bleeds over into our relationships and poisons them.

I also want my sisters in Christ to recognize how deeply ingrained fear is in the fabric our femininity and to be mindful of the difference between being safe and being rebellious. We are not as physically strong as men. We know we are easily over-powered and we all know someone who has been raped, molested and/or assaulted. Finding the balance between being mindful of our safety and being obsessed or incapacitated by fear is difficult. The Christian life is always about balance and Christ is always the fulcrum.

These are just some thoughts thrown together after a conversation in #prosapologian. It's late and I will probably have to edit these thoughts later.

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