I smoothed the soft lines of my favorite lilac suit jacket as I returned to my seat. As a second-semester graduate student studying television producing, it had been my task to pitch a script to my classmates. Once I'd finished, my female professor kicked off her comments with, "Your suit is too feminine."
Twelve years later, it's the only feedback I remember from that day: That my femininity – my femaleness – was something to shy away from and mask if I wanted to succeed in this field.
And perhaps it's true. After all, it was spoken by a woman who'd come to her professorship with at least a decade of on-the-set experience.
That day, in that classroom, in that Christian graduate school, femininity had become a bad word.
What I also remember, though, is that I left the classroom that afternoon determined. Not determined to donate my suit to Goodwill, but determined to continue wearing it. Determined to not lose sight of the fact that I was, as David wrote in the Psalms, "fearfully and wonderfully made," and this included my God-given femininity. That it wasn't something to mask or shy away from, but to embrace.
I didn't go on to pursue television producing as a career. But I did go on to get married and produce four little girls.
And here's what I'm realizing: Our culture tells us the same thing when it comes to our marriages. That our femininity – the unique way we are different from our husbands – isn't something to celebrate. Rather it's something to fight against. Because embracing it? Well, that makes us not equal to the task. Weak. Less. Doormats, even.
As a result, femininity becomes a naughty word. A bad thing. Something we should eagerly throw off in pursuit of sameness. Because in this lack of diversity, there's strength, right?
But this couldn't be further from the truth, of course.
I love what Suzanne Venker has to say. She writes, "The problem with equality is that it implies two things are interchangeable – meaning one thing can be substituted for the other with no ramifications.... But the truth must be heard. Being equal in worth, or value, is not the same as being identical, interchangeable beings."
So what's the answer for us as Christian wives and mothers? How do we respond when culture tells us that our femininity makes us weak? Less? Doormats, even?
It's fairly simple.
We need to remember that in God's vocabulary, femininity is a good word.
You see, on that historic sixth day in that first garden – the day when God created His greatest masterpieces in man and woman – he looked at these two very different beings and called them both good. He said masculinity and femininity were equally wonderful. Each worthy in their own right, but clearly different. And not just different, but complementary.
And when God says something is good, it is. Without a doubt.
Today, I no longer have that lilac suit. Even if I did, I doubt it would fit. After five pregnancies and four full-term babies, my waistline isn't what it used to be. But that's okay. I don't need a lilac suit to remind me that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made," my God-given femininity and all.
It's my hope that you don't either.