I’m just not like other women.
Whether it’s being said by the quintessential tomboy, uttered by the woman who doesn’t remember the last time she cried, whispered by the woman who can’t handle pettiness, or touted by the theological nerd who’d rather discuss Van Tillian ethics than swap recipes, we’ve heard it before.
My mom heard me say it once, and I’ll never forget the day she did because she swooped in and pulled me aside. My mother, who we nicknamed the Spartan because she is not a crier. The woman we tease about being half Vulcan because logic forever rules the day. The mama who has no time for foolishness and is the most feminine and beautiful woman I know. She looked at me, shook her head and gently rebuked me.
So now, every time I hear another woman brag about how not womanly she is, I cringe.
Here are four reasons you may want to stop saying this.
We’re Usually Using A Stereotype
Biblical womanhood is more than a stereotypical notion of femininity.
Although the phrase may conjure up a Victorian image of a shrinking violet who is never without her smelling salts (also a stereotype of Victorian culture, but I digress), that image isn’t found in Scripture.
Jael drove a tent peg through her enemy’s temple (Judges 4:21). Abigail was an intelligent woman who acted shrewdly in spite of her husband’s foolishness (1 Samuel 25:23). And even though we’ve discussed the fact that she’s not the only womanly example in the Bible, the Proverbs 31 woman herself was strong (Proverbs 31:17, 25) — as was Deborah (Judges 4:4).
In distancing ourselves from the dainty little stereotype of womanhood, we have to be careful not to distance ourselves from true, biblical femininity; which has more to do with a heart submitted to God (1 Peter 3:4) than anything else.
We’re Usually Dealing In Superficial Categories
Don’t be the woman who equates clear thinking and decisive action with being “wired like a man.”
Don’t be the man who equates a compassionate heart and a sensitive nature with being “wired like a woman.”
God created both male and female in his image, to show forth the glory of his character here in creation. Their roles are complementary, but that does not mean that each sex can only show forth a particular part of his character. On the contrary, we are all, male and female, commanded to continue to grow in the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29).
Why would we think that logic can only be masculine when Wisdom herself is personified as a woman in Proverbs (Proverbs 8:1)? Why would we think that tenderness can only be feminine when the Shepherd is the tenderest one of us all (Luke 1:78)?
We’re Usually Trying To Build Ourselves Up
The day my mother turned and corrected me for this very statement, she said, “I hate it when women say that. It’s never to build anyone up but themselves. You are just as much a woman as anybody else. You don’t have to try to make it sound special. It is.”
She nailed it.
When we say we’re not like other women, we’re saying, “Look at me! I’m not like other girls! I’m [smarter, stronger, more reasonable, more logical, etc.]. This is exactly why I don’t do friendship with other women.” It’s become an acceptable way to set ourselves apart from the crowd.
Ironically, in doing so, we’re usually shooting ourselves in the foot. This way to set ourselves apart from the pettiness of other women is inherently petty (Proverbs 6:17).
I have never heard a Christian man brag that he’s just more like a woman than a man; so if we’re trying to fight the stereotype that the comparison game is uniquely feminine, we’re failing.
We’re Usually Using Fighting Friendship
And, finally, we’re usually saying it to alienate other women around us. We’re letting them know that “Hey, I’m special. You’re lame.”
I feel the need to pause here and say that there is nothing wrong with being a “girly girl” by the way. There is nothing wrong with liking pink frills or makeup or dresses. There is nothing wrong with being a quieter, milder personality.
However, I understand the tendency to say this phrase. Sometimes, it’s uttered with frustration! How often are we guilty of constructing a false paradigm of femininity, based, not on the Scriptures, but on cultural norms? How often do we alienate women who do not fit in with that paradigm, forcing them outside of our little cliques and isolating them? How often do we show preference to one type of woman over another?
But the answer to this tendency is not to give in to the cultural notions of femininity and try to set ourselves apart as more masculine than feminine. The answer is to reclaim biblical femininity and proclaim that, even if a woman doesn’t fit the cultural paradigm, she can still be decidedly feminine! The answer is to draw closer to our sisters in Christ, not to push them away. It’s to delve deeper into meaningful relationships that encourage women to be who God has called them to be.
Femininity isn’t flimsy enough to be caged in the color pink, and it is much too transcendent to be confined by our pettiness. You are a woman. Embrace it. Own it. Defend it, for God’s glory, and relish in the complexity of who God has made you to be.
I’ve been in Atlanta all week with my husband. We’re here half for ministry (for me), part for work (for him), and part for some quality time with just us two. We left on the heels of hosting my family all the way from Zambia. In fact, seven of my siblings, my mom, and my dad are back in our eighteen hundred square foot home with our sons. I should be laying in a hotel bed binging Parks and Rec with my husband. And I will be soon. But I have something to say about motherhood and mom guilt.
A few months ago, I wrote an article for Legacy about friendship. In it, I tried to be as honest as possible about the struggle of being a transplant in Mississippi’s foreign culture, and my own hang-ups with making new friends. I hit send. Weeks passed. A couple of months. Then the article went live. And I had more than one friend reach out to me and ask me if we were okay. “I thought we were friends!” Undercover Trust Issues I’m not a journaler, and I try not to use my articles as thinly veiled diary entries. However, there…