Proverbs 30-What!? What It Means to Be a Woman

143/365  Come Sail Away With Me

For a long time I felt guilty, even ugly.  I would read books about ‘true womanhood’ and felt so… not womanly.

It wasn’t necessarily looks, though I was never too confident in those.  I have a “four-finger forehead” (as coined by Tyra Banks), with wavy/curly/I-cannot-be-tamed hair, big triangular eyebrows (which have been tamed), a body I feel is ridiculously out of proportion, and have more freckles than a Dalmatian has spots.  But that’s never really bothered me.  I can’t really change it.

What’s bothered me most is my very ‘tomboyish’ personality, even though I don’t feel I am.  Somewhere along the line I was given the impression that ‘real women’ wear pink, makeup, and have perfectly coiffed hair, and just sit down and do as they’re told.  They bake.  They sew.  They knit.

Not this woman.

This woman takes charge when charge needs taken, even if it means stepping on male toes who were unwilling to step up and do something.  I will openly disagree with people, and have no problem carrying on 3 hour long debates.  I will defend what I love with claws sharpened and teeth bared.  I fear little aside from bees and tree nuts, both of which can kill me.

I don’t do drama.  I don’t do gossip.  I do change tires and brakes.  I truly don’t care what people think of me, though I don’t go out of my way to be unlikeable.  I do rock climb with an electric blue manicure.  I do cook.  I love cooking.  I do not bake (you don’t want to see me bake).  I thrive on adventure and love doing anything ridiculously daring.  Sky diving is an activity currently on my bucket list.

No surprise, guys get along with me easier than girls do.  My closest friends are all equally as ‘rebellious’ women.

My friends call me a paradox.  It takes them a while to adjust to my version of womanhood, but it doesn’t make me any less a woman.

At first, I thought it did.

I thought my decidedly ‘not-feminine’ approach to life was due to my time in pornography.  Many women in pornography are vocal, aggressive, loud, and powerful.  They are women; hear them roar.

I thought they had changed me.  I thought maybe, deep down inside was a Jessica who was quiet, timid, gentle, and who liked to knit.  I’ve looked for a few years now and still haven’t found her.

Here’s my conclusion:  Such a me does not exist.

My personality is not a product of pornography.

Now, can pornography influence us? Absolutely.  I’ve had instances I’ve been able to attribute to the effects of pornography.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, but I assure you, pornography has nothing to do with my desire to rock climb and the fact that I have no patience for scrap booking.

Christian women are caught in a bit of a tug-of-war.

On one hand we have the cultural feminists, who stage topless demonstrations in order to fight for equal rights.  If guys can walk around topless, so can they.  If men can watch porn, so can women.  Women should have porn made for them too.  We are women, hear us roar.

Then, there’s a popular Christian cultural version of femininity which pounds the meek and quiet spirit, and memorizes Proverbs 31.  We are women, listen to us wash dishes.  Is Proverbs 31 great?  Of course, but let’s be realistic.

If we want to take it word-for-word literally, then all of us should be wearing scarlet, because a “real” Proverbs 31 woman clothes her home in scarlet.  I think we would all agree that the specifics point toward the character of the woman, not her homemaking skills.  She is trustworthy (v. 11), a hard worker (v. 13-15), resourceful (v. 16), caring (v. 12, 20), strong, honorable, etc.

Still, we can find ourselves trapped in this mindset that all actions of the world fit into perfectly spliced ‘gender roles.’  There are “man” things, and there are “women” things, and mainstream society has spent several decades trying to destroy those walls, while a majority of Christianity has been working to reinforce them.  Here’s the deal, though.  We aren’t called to fit into society’s (whether it be secular or Christian society) mold of womanhood.

Real women can get college degrees, lead corporations, write books (amen!), go rock climbing, cook, bake, do dishes, or knit.

Sometimes, when we look at our battle and the long road of healing ahead of us, we aim for this bizarre, un-natural goal of becoming something we were never created to be.  Notice, I didn’t say something we can’t be.  The Christian life is all about being something we can’t (in our own strength) be.  We try to be something (or some one, I should say) we were never created to be.

We set this standard that goes beyond godliness and purity and ventures into actually redesigning how God made us.  I’m not talking about overcoming sin; I’m talking about forcing ourselves to do something simply because that’s what women are supposed to do.  I’m talking about feeling guilty or even ugly because we don’t fit into a specific mold of womanhood.

As I finished reading Sexual Sanity for Women, by Harvest USA (review coming soon), I came across one concept that was so healing for me.  In short:

I am a woman.  Therefore what I do is feminine.

Can women rock climb?  Yes, because I do.  Do women have to sit at home and knit?  No, because I don’t.  My body makes me a woman, not my actions.  If I don’t wear lace, and don’t knit, it doesn’t make me any less a woman.  The standards we set forth in Christian society are not standards of womanhood; they are standards of Christian living for men and women both.

It’s time we stopped.  Stopped shooting for little cultural standards and making idols out of our own selves and each other.  It’s time we focused on the principles of living a Godly life, which include the fruits of the Spirit, the command to love each other, and the command to respect authority.  Those don’t define us as women.  Those define us as Christians.

martinak15 / Water Photos / CC BY


  1. Woo I’m a rock climber too :D. Except I don’t have an electric blue manicure, though I would if it didn’t chip so badly (how do you get yours not to chip to death on the wall??). I’m v much a believer in being all who you really are. I love bashing people’s preconceptions & expectations of me, coz I’ve spent too much of my life being held back, & not known. So I don’t wish to be defined by society’s opinion of what a woman should be like. God gave you & I adventurous spirits, so there’s nothing wrong with being who God made us to be.

    Now this has got me thinking, what does it really mean to be a man or woman? I’m wanting some clarity regarding people who want/have had a sex change…

    1. Bekki, I use Sally Hansen’s Insta-Dri anti chip top coat. Two coats of polish, wait two minutes (or more), then slap a layer of that on. It dries to touch in 30 seconds, but takes a little longer before it doesn’t smudge (so no opening soda cans for about 5 minutes). It ends up working like a gel manicure almost. My manicures will last well over a week, and if you throw on another layer of polish and top coat the next day, it lasts even longer. A friend suggested it to me and now I use it all the time.

      To answer your other question. I’m actually intrigued too, because I wonder if the societal stereotypes were removed if we would see a lot less of the gender identity crisis. That is actually the context of that phrase in the book. As women question if they are really women because they do x, y, z, the author was trying to assure them, their bodies make them women, therefore whatever they do is feminine. I’m not talking about blurring gender roles completely, because I think even with our free spirits we agree that there is more that sets us apart from men than just our bodies, but the idea that only women play with dolls, only women do this that and the other may have contributed to the gender crisis. We have people growing up, thinking they are a different gender. Why? Why when obviously they are born male or female as evidenced by biology and such confusion isn’t present in more tribal countries. I think it has to do with the stereotypes. A woman doesn’t switch because she wants the male body parts; she switches because she wants to be a man, because she doesn’t feel like a woman, not because she thinks her body parts feel weird, but because she doesn’t feel like she belongs in that body.

      That’s my take on it. I haven’t really worked with that much. I’ve watched some documentaries on it and such, but I’ve never actually sat down with people who’ve switched.

  2. I like that! I am a woman, therefore what I do is feminine!
    So it doesn’t make me less feminine if I like the blue bedspread with skateboards better than the pink one with flowers.
    I’m a woman who loves singing, playing ukulele, watching doctor who, painting and memorising obscure history facts, a woman who can solve a rubik’s cube in under 2 minutes and who loves hugs and tea!
    I love how we all have different qualities and enjoy different things but being different doesn’t make us any less feminine.