Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Co-providers

Here is a comment I recently made on Denny Burk's blog. Of course, I think it is supremely silly to try to raise a child without others knowing its sex, but I can't think that that will last very long! But Denny wrote,

God’s design for us as sexual beings has implications for how we rear our children. For instance, I have a little boy, and it falls to me to teach him how to be a man—how to lead, to provide, and to protect. It is my responsibility as a parent to guide and shape his character as best I can so that he will be a protector of women, not an abuser of them. I am to model for him that sometimes being a man means going without so as to provide for others. I am to teach him that working and earning a living is a part of what it means to be the provider God has called him to be.

And that's great! Amen to that. But women have to earn a living also. Women in the Bible all worked to provide for their families. Much of the time they needed a man, because only men could own property. Not always, but most of the time this was so. However, women always worked. They were shepherds and farmers, spinners and weavers, potters and prophets - women worked to provide for their family.

Anywaaaaay .... I wrote,

I really want to speak to some realities that women my age were not well prepared for. More than half of women my age are the major providers for their own family, both children and parents. This is due to divorce, death, injury, unemployment, illness, financially risky behaviour and many other real life factors.

At the same time, we women, unsupported financially by men, must invest for our own pension, provide major funding for our children’s university education, provide housing for aging parents, create trust funds for severely disabled children, care for spouses and siblings where necessary.

Being able to provide is a major issue, the most important thing we do. We are all on a crash course, back to work, learning to invest wisely, creating the kind of profile that enables us to provide for those we need to care for.

Many recently published books demonstrate that this is an international tendency – women provide.

On the one hand, it is a very necessary message that men need to provide and protect … I applaud that!

On the other hand, the reality is that women also provide and protect in very real ways, they devote every waking hour to providing for their family in the same way that men to, by providing financially and with guidance and leadership for children, parents, etc.

We, women who are primary providers, want men to show an understanding of our common humanity, men recognizing women as fellow providers, as fellow human beings,fully responsible leaders in the family, this is what women want – they just want recognition for what they are already committed to doing.

So, yes, men and women are different. However, we were both created with equal ability to protect, provide and lead.

May we be friends, us men and women. Can't we accept each other as friends and colleagues, as those who share the same worries and concerns, the same burdens for family, for our neighbours, for others around the world. Ideally, yes, there would be a couple, a man and a woman, but if we are not so blessed, let us be content to be friends, not ever excluding each other from intimacy and burden-sharing.

3 comments:

Kristen said...

Very good points, Suzanne. Isn't the man-as-breadwinner idea really reflective only of certain classes of people in certain cultures, during certain times of prosperity? It certainly isn't the universal human condition that men provide and women do not.

Denny's words trouble me when he says this:

"It is my responsibility as a parent to guide and shape his character as best I can so that he will be a protector of women, not an abuser of them."

I strongly believe that the very best way to teach a boy not to abuse women is not to teach him that they are some other class of people to be protected-- but that they are human, just like him. He needs to see women as part of "us" and not as "them." This is the very best deterrent to looking at women as things: things to be abused, controlled, raped-- or even protected and put on a pedestal.

Don said...

Amen

BradK said...

"Can't we accept each other as friends and colleagues, as those who share the same worries and concerns, the same burdens for family, for our neighbours, for others around the world?"

Well, some of us can. Others don't seem to be willing to do so. Many of the latter sadly seem to be unwilling to do so as a result of patriarchal views that they learn at home and in their churches. This is a traqedy.