Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cultivating Femininity in Our Daughters: On Sports

I'm not sure how this blog series will be received. Like some of my past series on gender, it might arouse some ire. I'm at least hoping it will foster some discussion. Essentially, I want to look this week at how we can counteract the culture of egalitarianism and feminism and instill a sense of biblically informed femininity in our daughters. Today, I'm going to think through sports, and how involved girls should be in them.

To look at the culture is to gaze at egalitarianism largely recognized. In short, women do most everything men do. They fight, they police, they wrestle, they play all the same sports. Most of us, I think, don't notice these changes. Many of us, after all, grew up in classrooms awash--if quietly so--in feminism and egalitarianism. We were taught that feminism--the movement to aggressively battle men for cultural space and reassert "rights"- and egalitarianism--the movement to abolish gender distinctions and allow men and women to function in the same social roles--were unquestionably right. The church did little to speak back to the culture. In some circles, especially fundamentalist churches, Christians did mount a backlash against feminism, albeit a defensive and often caustic one. In general, Christians have done a very poor job of making a case for biblical femininity, observing where society has departed from this standard, and then applying scriptural truth to womanhood. The results? Many Christian women live according to the same egalitarian principles that unsaved women do. This is a bad situation, one that requires serious thought and reflection.

In thinking through this issue, there won't be alot of texts to support my conclusions, at least not explicitly. But that's no excuse to not think through things. We constantly have to study the Bible and then attempt to apply it to our lives. The Bible, frankly, doesn't say a great deal about a whole lot of things, but that doesn't mean we don't apply its principles to our lives and seek to fashion an ethic by which to live wisely. We do this constantly, on global warming, on banking, on fair trade, on raising children, on conducting church life, and so on. When it comes to girls and sports, then, I don't have a text to point to. Neither do I think I need to. I am not preaching a sermon but simply attempting to spark some thought.

I would simply say, then, that I think it is best to not involve our daughters in contact sports and to leave such hobbies to boys. In my opinion, heavy contact sports do not befit femininity. Womanhood need not be weak or bereft of activity, but I think it best to lead our daughters away from sports like football, basketball, hockey, and lacrosse. Women were not made to be rugged and brutish, as men were. They were not made to bear the burdens that men were made to bear. Women were not called to go to war, to defend their home, and to cultivate great strength. Men, on the other hand, were called to all of these responsibilities. Men are called to be strong, to be tough, to have a rough-and-tumble mindset. We men ought not be fragile or delicate. We should be strong. Contact sports cultivate such a mindset and a disposition, and so it is best that men engage in them, and that women engage in other sports that allow them to compete, exercise, and have fun without the need to become brutish. We want to encourage femininity in women. We want women to be different from men. We do not want them to become egalitarian. We want our men to protect our women. It is best that we leave contact sports to men, in order that we might cultivate femininity that shines and sparkles and stands different from a culture in which women are encouraged to adopt masculine traits and attitudes. In a world infatuated with secular notions of womanhood, we need to stand up for biblical femininity. Sometimes, for a girl, that action means sitting down.


Blogger Stephen Newell said...

This is an interesting post. My wife and I were discussing activities for our future children, and as a former athlete, sports in my mind would play a big part in their formation, if and only if they were interested in sports.

While I certainly agree that wrestling, football and hockey would be out of the question for any daughter of ours, I'm a little stumped on why you include basketball and lacrosse as examples. They are nowhere near as "violent" as the boys division. In fact, even the most "polite" boys teams I've seen in those sports make the girls look like they're having tea parties.

When I watch girls' teams, it seems they are more focused on actually playing the game and playing it right (i.e. fundamentally sound and as a team) than on the showboating that takes place with the guys.

I do think that too many parents force sports on their daughters, especially parents who don't have sons. Sports for girls, in my mind, should only be pursued if the child is interested. There are lots of lessons that can be taught (Scriptural and otherwise) from sports.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Joseph Gould said...

Very insightful thoughts that all parents and future parents should consider at some point.
Stephen makes a good point, that perhaps the most difficult decision is in evaluating individual sports and determining which sports are appropriate and which are not.

12:57 PM  

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