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Coming Up: A Feminine Manifesto

Arthur commented recently on the necessary attention that some Christians have started paying to masculinity but questions continue to remain about femininity. The more I speak to women, the more I hear a cry for satisfying teaching on this issue. Rather than just critique others, I thought I’d have a go myself at trying to work out what this whole feminine thing is about. I’ve given it the grand name of ‘A Feminine Manifesto’. It’s on its way.

So, why write a feminine manifesto?

  1. To start the conversation. I figure this is going to take time to sort out. So you have to start somewhere.
  2. To clarify my own thoughts. I worked on this material last year for my work with Evangelical Students, North Terrace. But I go round and round in circles on femininity. My fervent hope is that if I have to write something on it, I’ll have a chance at cohering my thoughts.
  3. I haven’t been satisfied yet in my reading. While I doubt I’ll be the one to ‘work out’ femininity, I haven’t yet read the person who has, so I feel like I might have something to say.
  4. I’ve been frustrated with definitions of femininity that are only relevant in marriage. I’d like to think more broadly about this issue.
  5. I fear that discussions about femininity have too quickly jumped to discussions about men and masculinity. For example, a discussion of submission can often end up in discussion of how men should love their wives. While that may be a helpful counter-active to the sin we see, it often deprives women of the proper attention that should be devoted to explaining their role.

Here are some reasons I’m hesitant to write it:

  1. This is a contentious issue. Writing on it (especially in a public space like a blog) is like throwing yourself to the sharks.
  2. In all likelihood, at some point in my life, I’ll change my mind about this. I would hate for either you or me to think that this was my final conclusion.

With those two things in mind, here’s what I hope will happen: that the gentleness and discernment of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of Scripture will shape what I write and how you respond, and that we’ll be patient with each other as we seek to  get that bit closer to understanding what it means to be a Christian woman.

Categories: Bible Woman Written by Tamie

Tagged as:

Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.

14 replies

  1. I’m also very interested in what you will come up with here. I am probably biased by experience, but I do tend to read many of the interpretations of what a godly woman should be as irrelevant, frustrating or frankly disturbing.

  2. Can’t wait Tamie! I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this too but I love the way you and Arthur are bold enough to put your thoughts out there in such a public forum, and am always amazed by how coherent your writing is…two people who have not wasted their Arts degrees :)

  3. Oh Phili, I would love to hear your thoughts too! I hope you’ll comment when I get the post up. :)

  4. After hearing what your frustrations a couple Sunday nights ago, am very interested in seeing what you come up with.

    I’m kinda surprised that more teaching isn’t done on this myself, as there isn’t really a shortage of female role models in the Bible: Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Anna the prophetess, Dorcas, Lydia, Phoebe, Priscilla, just for starters.

    These women came from all periods of history, all backgrounds, many races, and places in life. Some were married, some were single, some mothers, some rich, some not well off, some had worldly influence, some did not. But all were strong servants of God, and were used by Him for the growing of His Kingdom. Anything that makes Christian women want to be more like that has got to be a good thing :)

  5. Hey Andy

    There’s actually plenty of stuff around on these women as role models. In fact, I’d venture that this is a bit of a favourite at women’s conferences!

    But let’s be honest, most of these women get an average of 2 verses in the Bible which I would hardly suggest provides a holistic foundation for understanding femininity!

    I reckon the Bible offers us more on the topic than just ‘be like these women’, the same way it offers more to men than ‘be like David and not like Samson’.

  6. !!
    After I read ‘Female Chauvinist Pigs’ (a bit of light reading a while back), I was deeply annoyed by the lack of a good understanding of femininity presented in the book. Obviously its secular. Then I wanted to write a response. From a Christian perspective. Then I thought, I don’t have time for this, even though its a main topic of mental conversation with myself. So. Bring it! BTW, have you read the aforementioned book? And are there any that you would recommend to me…? :)

  7. Hi Ali

    Thanks for the comment! Great to have you join in the discussion. How did you come by our blog?

    I reviewed ‘Female Chauvinist Pigs’ here https://arthurandtamie.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/female-chauvinist-pigs/ Happy to hear your thoughts on what I’ve written there too!

    I’ve yet to find a good book on the subject of femininity – hence my own frustrations! But another book I would highly recommend is Laura Smit’s ‘Loves Me, Loves Me Not’. It’s a book about the ethics of unrequited love and as such deals with questions about what it means to be a woman or to be a man outside of the traditional nuclear family / romantic love model. Although Smit’s coming at the issue of femininity from a different angle, she’s got some really helpful and interesting stuff to say.

  8. Confusion about what it means to be a man or a woman grieves me. But for some reason, it really breaks my heart thinking of women being left in the dark; men, on the other hand, I feel like pointing the finger at them. Maybe because everyone is talking about masculinity; but also, I think – maybe – it’s because men are partly to blame. When men aren’t being men, women can’t quite relax. Passive or abusive men breed tough women, women who can’t go ‘off duty’ because they have to partly make up for where men, because they are failing to lead and offer their strength. I don’t know… just my thoughts.

    Some recommendations:

    – Chapter 25 (written by Elizabeth Elliot) of ‘Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’ (I haven’t read anything else from this book yet, except ch. 2 and 25).

    – Chapter 9 of ‘Men & Women: Enjoying the Difference’ by Dr. Larry Crabb.

    You probably know of the first book; probably read it too? I don’t know. I’d recommend the entirety of both books for the reading – but in those two chapters I mentioned, I’ve found by far the best descriptions of femininity I’ve read (well, I haven’t read much else actually). Especially Crabb’s – it’s brief, but it gives a profound taste of the essence of femininity (well, and masculinity).

    My hunch is you’ll like them, maybe love them (I’m a guy, so I can’t say for sure if they’ll ring true to you! But I’d like to know). You can borrow either from me, whenever you like, if you want.

  9. Hi Jack

    Yeah, I’m totally with you on the men / women thing when it comes to thinking about femininity. I like that some men have seen this dichotomy and have seen the necessity of getting themselves sorted out for the benefit of the women. That’s a good place for women to start thinking through their gender identity.

    Thanks for your book recommendations. I have read both and do discuss both in my paper (it’s almost written now). I’ll be interested to hear more thoughts from you too!

  10. Despite the reasons you’re hesitant Tamie, I think it’s great to put something like this in a public space! It’s when things contentious are not in public spaces that fear can grow and divides can deepen and polarise.

    Well now I’ve finally read your introductory post, I will go on and read your paper soon! :-)

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