One of the most condescending things, which men still seem to say quite often is “Oh, it’s just her hormones”. Men actually say this. Under their breath sometimes. And if I, as an egalitarian man, get offended by this, then I’m sure it’s even more offensive to women.
This kind of comment demonstrates a complete disrespect for women. It belongs to the patriarchal view that men are the clinical, decisive, strong, masculine gender, and women are emotional, not strong, not decisive gender.
Basically, the whole “men are masculine, women are feminine” concept – Men have tons of testosterone and therefore (in their eyes) strength, and women tons of estrogen, which makes them less able to be strong and decisive. Apparently.
Now you could easily dismiss this as an excuse for prejudice (and let’s face it, it is). But there’s an even better way to dismiss this. The very fact that’s it’s not based on the real science of our bodies. The way God designed male and female bodies is different, but…
Women have testosterone. Men have estrogen. And that’s scientific fact.
Now, testosterone belongs to a class of male hormones called androgens. But women also have testosterone. The ovaries produce both testosterone and estrogen. Relatively small quantities of testosterone are released into a female’s bloodstream by the ovaries and adrenal glands.
And men produce estrogen. As teenagers, males tend to produce more testosterone (which kind of makes sense given the gender-specific bodily changes we go through as teenagers), but this tends to balance out over time, especially as men age.
Too much estrogen in men can cause things like prostate cancer, but it’s completely normal for men to have a decent level of estrogen.
Men and women both have estrogen. Women and men both have testosterone.
Now, as Christians, when you think God created men and women in His/Her image, this blows things out of the water when it comes to how we understand God, and the role of men and women, and how God created us to be.
The science shows that men and women are actually equal, even on a chemical basis. Yes, women may have a tad more estrogen, and men a little more testosterone, but both genders carry decent levels of both. Both genders are masculine, and both are feminine.
Whatever you think about scripture, or theology (and personally, I’m pretty sure that’s on the side of gender equality), on a scientific level, all the evidence points to gender equality. If we truly believe God made human beings as we are, then just look at the science of how the divine made us.
We’re equal. We all have a dose of masculinity and femininity. And that’s beautiful.
It’s important for men to embrace our feminine side, and women to embrace their masculine side – and we can celebrate this together, living out our full divine identity.
It’s important to remember, too, we don’t stop being men or women, or the people we’ve always been when we claim this other side of ourselves – on the contrary, we are actually embracing our full identity. I can be a man and have a feminine side, my sister can be a women and embrace her masculine side. And this can be an amazing gift.
And in this science, God is also telling us about Himself/Herself. Scripture says God created us male and female – in the image of God. So when you think about both men and women being image bearers, then we can see that God created both men and women with both masculine and feminine traits, to reflect the fact that God Him/Herself is both masculine and feminine – not limited by but beyond gender.
The divine is way beyond our comprehension and understanding, and indeed there is a mystery at the heart of how we were created as human beings, to be both masculine and feminine – and there is strength in both.
The challenge for us is to embrace our full gender identity without fear. A man with a feminine side, or a woman with a masculine side…both men and women, both fully and equally embracing our divine identity, equal, and free to live the life God made for us.
James Prescott is an author & blogger from near London in the UK. He hosts the podcast ‘James Talks, where he has hosted Jory & other thought leaders/authors. His first book ‘Mosaic Of Grace: God’s Beautiful Reshaping Of Our Broken Lives’ is released by Celtic Cross Publishing soon. You can find more of James’ work on his website jamesprescott.co.uk and follow him on Twitter at @JamesPrescott77
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