Growing up, I must admit I never really felt the full impact of my being born a female. I was born and bred in a family of only girls, and perhaps as a result of that I never had anyone to compare with, any huge patriarchal sort of system that I could then say prohibited me or stopped me from progressing. My father, whether or not for lack of a son to whom he could practice patriarchy we will never know I suppose, treated us like his equals, and I must admit that growing up never did I see my father treat my mother as nothing less than his best friend and his equal.
I start with that because in the past few weeks for the first time in my life I have experienced some form of patriarchal harshness which left me rather indignant. A good friend of mine came to ask me if I knew anyone who needed a maid. My friend is married to a gardener and they have a child to feed. Things were tough at home, and because we are in the Zimbabwean economy, every dollar earned could really go a long way. Well, luck was on her side because within only a day of approaching me I found her several jobs where she could work part time and help sustain her family. All seemed alright until she told her husband of the plans, and initially he was on board, but after only her working a full day, the husband suddenly decided he did not wish to have a wife who worked. To cut a long story short, the woman was forced to give up her job and rely on what was available at home even though it was not enough to sustain the family, for the sake of “maintaining peace” within the household.
I was gobsmacked! Literally gobsmacked! I could not believe it. The guy would rather starve, than give up his prejudice regarding working women, a prejudice built on unfounded preconceived ideas. This was, I must admit, my very first encounter with the patriarchal system at its best, or worst if I may say. Coincidentally, I had started reading the book “Nervous conditions” by Tsitsi Dangarembga, and it cemented to me the idea that actually, patriarchy is still extremely prevalent in my everyday society, and there truly are people who believe that male is better, better and not equal, but better and superior to the female species. Whoa!
Forgive me if you are reading this and thinking, “well duh! You are stating the obvious” for this is certainly not the world I grew up in. It boggles me how people can hold onto a prejudice that has been shown to be wrong countless times yet when it comes down to it we would rather hold onto our false beliefs than exchange that falsehood for a better, much more freeing truth that enhances our lives.
Right at the beginning of creation we see the triune God saying this, “It is not good for man to be alone. Let us make him a suitable helper…” A suitable helper. I love how Miles Monroe once put it. He asked, tell me gentlemen, if you need help in lifting the table, who are you going to ask to help you? Someone weaker than you, someone equally as strong as you or someone stronger? I love this analogy, because I think it captures the exact essence of that scripture. The obvious answer is you ask someone who is either your equal in strength, or who is stronger. It is in this light that God made woman. A helper. Someone equal to man, equally special before the very same creator, but with a different makeup. Not equal in strength, although I must say there are exceptionally physically strong women out there, but generally women tend to be physically weaker than men, generally. But however, this does not and never was intended to equate to mean that women are less than men and should therefore be treated as such.
It breaks my heart than we still live in a society where a wife is treated as a second class citizen in her own home, where everything and everyone comes first before her very own needs, and whereby she does not have a voice or an opinion of her own but is suddenly treated like a child who needs to be guided through life. What a shame it is that we even look for scriptures to defend our position, twisting the word of God, taking it out of context to defend our skewed positions.
I propose that we take time to truly study the word of God and see what it is that He has to say about a woman. About what He has to say when choosing a wife, about marriage, about relating to other women. May we reach the point where we see that we are not in competition with each other as a species, that there is enough room for all of us to explore ourselves as individuals and express ourselves in worship to God with absolutely zero need for pressure to compete.
May we see that marriage was intended as a partnership for life. That when God had a wife in mind he had the picture of a whole person, a complete being, not an inferior being nor an invalid, but a helper, meaning someone equal to the man, a life partner, a companion, a confidante, a being who is able to carry you as the man when you are at your lowest. A person who is to be your most cherished friend, one whose opinion you value the most!
There is definitely more thoughts in my head concerning this patriarchal system and how we are shooting ourselves in the foot by propagating it, but I think for now let me just stop, and put a disclaimer that I am by no means advocating for a matriarchal society. It equally destroys. What I am advocating for is equality, that we all view each other as human beings, worthy enough to have Jesus leave the trinity so he could die a very painful death for each of us. For each of us, not just men, nor women, but for each and every single one of us. I am almost certain more thoughts shall follow..