the danger of subjectivity

What I’m about to say may set radical feminism back about 50 years, but we’ll burn that bridge when we get there.

As a woman, I don’t have to hear another woman have an opinion on something in order to form one myself.

That was a little confusing.

What I mean is: I’m a woman who’s perfectly fine listening to a panel of all men, reading compilations of essays with no female authors, going to Bible studies that are led by pastors, basing my decisions and beliefs on what men are saying, even if there are no women present.

Still not any better?

It’s a comment I’m hearing a lot: “Have any women written on this topic?” or “Do you know of any women who have served on that board?” or “Are there any women we could get to speak on that subject?” or “It’s too bad we couldn’t find a woman to say that.”

Like women should only believe or trust other women.

Like a truth can’t be true for women unless other women say it.

I don’t get that. And I sure don’t buy into it.

Here’s what I do know:

1) There are a lot of smart women in the world: female food bloggers who concoct pretty wicked butternut squash and alfredo-stuffed shells recipes, doctors at Mayo Clinic who find cures for my family’s health issues and discover new and better procedures to fix them, Margaret Thatchers, stay-at-home moms, deaconesses, writers. They are experts in their field. They have immensly helpful insights to offer. They’ve been blessed with an intelligence I can’t even begin to understand because I’m not smart enough to understand what I don’t understand.

That’s how smart they are.

Those butternut squash and alfredo-stuffed shells? Click on over to my other blog––for the recipe. Or just click on this picture. Your kitchen table will thank you.

2) But there are also women . . . a lot of women . . . who won’t believe something to be true unless another woman says it.

And I think that’s dangerous.

And unhelpful.

And a recent development.

When we base what we believe on the gender of the person, rather than on what they know or who they are, we run into trouble.

I trust my pastor with caring for my spiritual well-being rather than my sister, even though she’s a deaconess. She’s theologically astute, but she’s not the man the Lord has placed in His Church to deliver His forgiveness and comfort to me.

Besides, she’d probably excommunicate me for that one time when I found her diary and read the whole thing.

Sorry about that, sis. (Next time, though, hide the key a little better. Honestly. It’s like you weren’t even trying.)

I trust my husband to lead our family and to keep me in line and to fix the storm door when I let the wind catch it and break it. Hypothetically, of course.

I trust him to do it, because he’s my husband. I don’t refuse to let him fix the door and instead ask my friend Jeni to repair it, even though she could {maybe, ok, probably not} because it’s not her job. Her job is to make me laugh so hard I snort when we talk on the phone.

I should probably tell her that.

We women don’t have to turn up our noses at all the good stuff God has to give just because He doesn’t choose to give it all by way of other women. We value their opinions, yes. We learn from them, yes. We give thanks for them, yes.

But we don’t reject what we know to be true and good just because we’re waiting for other women to say it.

We don’t believe that somehow the truth is only the truth if you’re of a particular gender. The truth is the truth regardless.

I trust my pastor. I trust my husband. I trust my sister. And I trust them all in the specific ways in which God cares for me through them.

So, ladies, let’s do our research. Let’s ask questions. Let’s get second opinions. And then let’s make up our minds. But when we do, let’s base our beliefs and decisions on the qualifications of the person, not on his or her gender.

You can take it from me.

I’m a woman.*



*See what I did there? Stop falling for it!





9 thoughts on “the danger of subjectivity

  1. Hear, hear!

    I think that the way to true equality is to stop basing judgments on fitness for a particular role on a person’s gender At All. Don’t say, “Why aren’t there any women on this panel?” Say, “Who are the five most qualified people for this panel?” If they’re all men or all women or a mix, it’s all good. Base things on people’s accomplishments, talents, abilities, not on their gender.

    For instance, my husband does not bake cakes. I’m sure he could if he tried, but we both know I have decades of experience baking cakes and he doesn’t. So if a cake needs baking, I’m the one who does it. On the other hand, he can make bread in our bread machine that is fluffy and delicious. When I make bread in the bread machine, it comes out as a five-inch-thick brick. So if we want to bake bread in the bread machine, he bakes it. Neither of us is saying, “We need some more cakes baked by men in this house!” or “We need more woman-baked bread!” (None of our kids are saying that either, I might add.) Find the best person available for the job, regardless of gender, and let them do it.

    (This, of course, does not apply to roles that God had specifically set for one gender or the other, namely, being a pastor. This is just about the rest of life.)

    So, um, anyway, yes, I agree.

  2. Hi, I found your post because one of my giggle-snort inducers posted it on Facebook but I’m having trouble with the central premise.

    I think when women (or people in general) ask that there be a female presence on a panel, in Congress, in leadership it’s because they are afraid of not being heard. Without a female voice in a position of power, who will present a uniquely female perspective?

    In your set up you mention secular settings but in the main body you really focus on church/christian instituitions. I don’t have a ton of exposure to arguments from women about female spiritual leaders in the church and in marriage (because, let’s be frank, I don’t think the issue is really who fixes your door. Many people hire someone to do this, some women can do it themselves, I think it’s leadership in a marriage you’re getting at, please correct me if I’m wrong .) So I’m going to put that out there for critique, but in my own experience, it’s about being heard. I belong to a church right now that does not allow women to be pastors or deacons, but the non -deacon positions in the board are women, so I still feel that a female perspective is being heard, that women are respected, and that if I have a concern it won’t be dismissed, conciously or sub conciously, because of my gender. Which, again, is more about overall leadership in a spiritual context than spiritual leadership specifically. I don’t have a ton of experience with arguments about the latter.

    I’m not married and I don’t know you, but I’m assuming you trust your husband to listen to you. Not just when you say the door is broken, but when big decisions are being made too. I actually think this is one of the ways Christian marriage really echoes the church’s relationship with God, that level of trust. And, I’ll be honest, knowing I’m built in the image of God just as much as any man and that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent makes trusting God that way different for me than trusting human men that way .

    I want to end by saying I don’t want to be that random stranger that comes upon your blog and argues with you but, I’m just really struggling to agree with your central premise which kills the whole argument no matter how good you’ve made it. Maybe you just have different experience with women than I do? I really just want to ask: what if it’s not that we only listen to women but that we struggle to trust men to know or listen to things from a uniquely female perspective without women in leadership?

    (Which is worded terribly, sorry, I hope it makes sense. )

    1. Hi, Caitlin. Random strangers with questions are always welcome. And look! Now that you’re here, you’re not longer a stranger. So that takes care of that. 🙂

      I think what you’re concerned with here is not so much an issue with women but an indictment upon men. Our Lord established an order in creation: that men would care for, give to, protect and put first . . . women. Women, in turn, receive all the good things the men have to give: their name, a home, love and respect. But we also live in a world broken by sin where men don’t put their wives or daughters or sisters first and where women then feel the need to do that work themselves. That’s something both genders repent of: the men for not acting on behalf of and protecting the women, and the women for trying to do what they feel the men are not.

      It’s a long way of saying: If the men are living out what our Lord has called them to do in their vocation as father/husband/brother/etc., the women’s perspective WILL be heard and the outcome that’s ultimately best for her will be accomplished. When men fail in that duty, women fall right behind and we’re left feeling like no one cares and we don’t matter.

      So we pray for the men among us, that they would be strong leaders, patient listeners and wise with God-given discernment. And we pray for the women, that we would submit, not as ones who have no opinion or no voice, but who trust that the men in our lives hear us and then act in a way that serves us best.

      Your turn. 🙂

  3. Totally agree with your point about paying attention to qualifications and not gender. You’ve got me curious, though: what sorts of topics/boards/subjects are people thinking could use a woman’s voice?I’m wondering what would prompt someone to adopt anything other than the solid logic you’ve suggested here.

  4. Pff. Fix your door. Totally I can do that. Or…not.

    But this is a great post! I’m going to go ahead and apply it to other races, too. It works! Really!

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