Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gender and Purpose

Last weekend a friend and I were discussing our views on relationships, marriage, and life in general. We agreed that most of our friends had become single parents or entered into unhappy marriages. We speculated the "whys," trying to sort out the reasons behind the difference between the path our friends had taken and those we had taken.

Does it not defy our culture of the American Dream for us to be in our mid-20's and unmarried? To not have roots anywhere or a long term commitment to anything or anyone? This friend and I are both self-proclaimed adventurists with insatiable wanderlust. If asked to choose between domesticity and globe trotting, we would both choose the latter in a heart beat. This caused me to start analyzing what other factors outside of an obsession with travel and culture could be contributors to this lack of interest in the "American Dream." I decided that, at least in my case, there are two major factors.

The first goes hand in hand with wanderlust. It is one's world view. Why do I have a lack of interest in domesticity? Because I have seen enough of the world to know there is so much more yet to be discovered. Why do I not care about having a formal wedding and a status affirming diamond ring? Because I know how far $30,000 can go in in the pocket of a globe trotter, and because I have seen the devastating affects of the diamond industry on the developing nations where those stones originate. Why do I not care about having my own children? Because I have worked in orphanages where multitudes of abandoned children waste away discarded and abused. My world view is more broad than that of someone who has been raised to believe the world is only as big as their suburban town, and that their value goes only as far as their ability to become an integral part of that town.

The second factor and the one I want to focus more on in this blog has to do with my perceived lacking of "real men." I don't subscribe to the rational of blaming men in general or society as a whole for the struggles that my generation of women face; although I do believe that understanding the current condition of these things sheds light on the tug of war inside our heads and hearts. If society places a strong feminist emphasis on the equality of genders and the dissolving of "traditional" gender roles, we cannot be surprised to find a generation of emasculated young men stripped of their fight. Men are designed to have a warrior's heart and an adventurer's spirit, but when they embrace these things they are chastised for their machismo. My generation of women were taught that they shouldn't be dependant on men. In turn, our generation of men have realized that women don't need them. These men have begun to believe that unless they allow women to "wear the pants," they'll be trampled and lost. They sacrifice their masculinity in order to simply be kept around. I realize how controversial this is but I'm going to say it anyway - Feminism has deflated real men. But what we need are real men.

If a man doesn't know how to be masculine he will never walk with purpose. If a woman doesn't know how to be feminine she will never be satisfied. "A man needs to be tender at times, and a woman will sometimes need to be fierce. But if a man is only tender, we know something is deeply wrong, and if a woman is only fierce, we sense she is not what she was meant to be." – John Eldredge in Wild at Heart. Before a man or a woman decides who they want, they need to discover who they are. They need to be whole people in and of themselves with a sense of direction as to what they were created for, and then trust that IF they are meant to get married and have children then as they walk out their purpose those two seemingly polar opposites will align in way that works uniquely for them.

Not everyone believes in destiny or callings. I believe that these things are not only real but that their acceptance is an integral part of our ability to thrive. Some of our passions in life are more than fleeting interests; they are a part of our purpose and should not be cast aside for the sake of practicality or fitting the mold. I have often been told that my wanderlust is merely a subconscious aversion to commitment and that someday I'll deal with my "issues" and decide to settle down. However, I know that my wanderlust is a part of my being and cannot be ignored or stifled or treated because doing so would strip me of my purpose.

So where is the balance? I am a 25-year-old, educated, financially independent, single woman. I cannot live each day husband hunting any more than a woman who yearns for motherhood can live each day denying her calling to that. We cannot merely want what we are taught to want, or be the sort we are told to be. The focus should not be on finding someone to make us happy, but on finding happiness in being, and trusting that by walking down our own paths the rest will fall into place without any compromise or extraneous effort on our part.