Empowering Equality?

A couple of weeks ago, we went and watched Divergent.

I had friends who asked me how it was.  I’d read the books and was prepared for violence, but I still found it difficult to sit through a lot of the movie.  I’d seen worse before, so I couldn’t figure out what had bothered me more about this movie than other movies.

It was only after I heard someone else praising the book series for “empowering women” that I realized what I had found so troubling.  While I’m not particularly bothered by men beating one another to a bloody pulp (perhaps I’m desensitized?), I find it very hard to watch even a dramatization of a man hitting a woman. 

As I thought about this and about how women being put on an even playing field with men is supposedly “empowering,” I recalled one of the most difficult scenes in the movie (don’t read further if you don’t want it spoiled!) where she’s being beaten up by the man she loves.  Clearly, he could easily kill her as he is (shock of all shocks) stronger than she is, solely on the basis of his gender, and the only way she’s able to stop him is by appealing to him on an emotional level.  Which is a very feminine thing to do, right?  And shock of all shocks, it works!  She ends up saving him, not because she’s just like a man but because she’s a woman whose greatest strength is in her distinctively feminine way of relating.

Is it okay for us to just agree and admit that men and women are created differently?  And that it’s okay?  That women can be “empowered” simply because they’re women with value and purpose and NOT because they can be just like men? 

Here’s an example.  My girls are absolutely pitiful at rough games like dodgeball and kickball and… well, any sport that involves them outrunning or being tougher than boys.   I mean, pitiful.  There are plenty of girls out there who can keep up with the boys (and outshine them honestly), but Ana and Emma Faulk are NOT among their ranks.  They are girly girls, through and through.  I’ve had people act like this is a shame somehow, that my feminine girls are feminine and that their reaction to a ball being thrown at their face is not to stand their ground and compete but to cover their faces and scream.  (For real.)  During the odd occasions when one of them actually excels at a game of physical exertion, their reactions are all girl as well, with them running towards one another skipping, embracing, and cooing, “I’m so PROUD of you!  You looked BEAUTIFUL out there!”  (Or, in Ana’s case, lamenting how her hair somehow got messed up when she was running.)


But what’s even more pitiful is the expectation and the constant prodding that they should be more like the boys around them in order to be someone, that they should toughen up, that they shouldn’t be so unabashedly girly, and that they have no “girl power” because they’re acting too much like girls.


Let them be girls.  And I’m not slamming women who are more athletic or tougher than my girls.  Great!  But let’s not keep up this charade of pretending that women are only strong women, empowered women, when they’re just exactly like men.  I’m so sick of our culture and their complete disdain of women, cloaked in this feminist movement which claims to uplift women BY MAKING THEM LIKE MEN!  That thinking goes something like this — be an empowered female, ladies, by rejecting the very things that make you feminine and trying to be as much like men as possible.  Way to be empowered!  Way to show the world just how great women are, by denying what makes you female and striving towards being just exactly like men!

It disgusts me, frankly.  Because you know where that line of thinking is getting us?  To a place where we’re no longer bothered by movies where men beat up women all in the name of gender equality, claiming that there’s no difference between men and women.  And although it grates against our postmodern culture to say so, there is something inherently wrong in us denying our differences and trying to pretend that we’re exactly the same.  It won’t end well for us.   

And I’ve probably won no fans with this, but it’s a scary thing, seeing just the beginning of the natural conclusions to this line of thinking.  I’m fearful for the day that seeing brutality towards women, all in the name of equality, will be the norm.  And it begins with us, denying that there are differences at all beyond the most basic, obvious ones. 

Just something to think about. 

4 thoughts on “Empowering Equality?

  1. Christy says:

    I see what you're saying as true, but I also see another side- the side where companies that make things for kids put gender biases on things- like that a play kitchen should be pink, and so should a baby stroller,.. Bc the only kids who would EVER pretend with either one would be girls, right? Pink covers the shelves at stores like Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us and tells our boys it's not ok to have anything to do with household stuff- unless maybe it's a lawnmower or set of tools. Gender bias still very much exists in the toy world- and more than it used to, even. In society's strive for “equality” among play items, Lego now has an entire line of girly Legos. Which seems fabulous on the surface/ gives them something they want to play with, that's in colors they love. But on a deeper level, it tells young girls, these Legos are for me, those Legos are for boys. What's wrong with a girl wanting Star Wars Legos, or a Lego train? Nothing.
    I agree that in the physical realm we are pushing girls too hard to be the same. But in the toy world, we are doing the far opposite. A happy medium somewhere would be nice!


  2. Jenn Faulk says:

    I can see that. Toy companies are marketing to what sells, and we buy into the gender biases. Literally. I wonder if it's a nature or nurture thing, though. We took Ana book shopping the other day, and she naturally gravitated to books with covers that were “girly,” passing up all of the fantasy/adventure type of books. Not because one looked like a boy book and the other looked like a girl book. She just didn't want to read about dragons — she wanted to read about the girl who meets the cute boy! (She comes by that honest, though. LOL!)

    And we have the girly Legos. 🙂 Wes really tried to get A&E to go for the Stars Wars ones, but they weren't interested. Not when they could get the Lego friends and build their super fabulous sorority-type house! 🙂


  3. Christy says:

    I totally get your point- starting to see that with Boo, too- she definitely likes dinosaurs, but when it comes to clothing, she CHOSES pink or purple things with flowers, butterflies, and other girly things. She likes watching Mickey Mouse, but her favorite character is Minnie. She can certainly relate to her more, and loves her big hair bow. Not anything we have forced- just nature. So yes, that is true. And I can see her wanting the girly Lego sets more, too- I'm just not sure what message it sends… But I'm probably overthinking it. She has an inclination toward taking things apart and all things mechanical. Nothing says that even surrounded by pink and purple girly toys she won't end up being a scientist or engineer… Who likes girly things!


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