Masculine and Feminine

An amazing insight from Evangelical feminist author Susanna Krizo over at her blog, :

What is masculine and what is feminine? Well, no one really knows. What we do know is that men are considered masculine, and women feminine. In addition, anything positive is usually found in the masculine department, and anything negative is found in the feminine department. For example, courage, strength, logic and reason are usually said to be masculine, and gullibility, weakness, and emotionality are thought to be feminine qualities. Hence, men are said to be courageous, strong, and rational, whereas women are said to be easily deceived, weak, and emotional. In the real world, however, real men and women do not fit neatly into these categories, wherefore we talk about feminine men and masculine women, and not with a positive tone. But if men were created to be masculine, if it is an innate instinct nurture cannot override, how can they be anything butmasculine?

Because the one-verse-explanation doesn’t cut it anymore in a world where men and women are technically (although not always practically) equal, hierarchical theology has become obsessed with the ideals of femininity and masculinity. Pink is for girls, blue is for boys; cheer leading is a girly activity, sports are for boys; writing is for girls, math is for boys, and so on. But only two generations ago little boys wore pink, a little older ones were cheer leaders, and yet a little older ones aspired to write the Great American Novel.

Maybe we shouldn’t call a trait feminine, for it may actually be masculine.

Masculinity and femininity are as versatile as water; they can take many shapes, and often they are thought to be something they aren’t. Steam can look like smoke, ice can look like glass, snow resembles cotton candy. If we look only to the appearance, we will be deceived to believe to have found the real thing.

Or perhaps masculinity and femininity are versatile because there really are no strict ideals that all men and women must adhere to. Maybe we all invent femininity and masculinity as befits us;
maybe we will one day realize that being a man and woman has little to do with being feminine or masculine, for we are always men and women, but sometimes more feminine/masculine than other times; maybe we’ll realize that it’s ok for a girl to throw a ball like a boy and a boy to cry like a girl, for if you can do it, why not?

I may shoot myself in the foot saying this, but if some Evangelical scholars and authors are willing to consider that masculine and feminine are “invented,” (many scholars would use the term “socially constructed,” which to mind has more nuance), then it seems to me that conversation about the goodness of queer lives and relationships may not be too much of a hermeneutical stretch. To Susanna and other Evangelical/pentecostal provocateurs, I say: “Come now, let us reason together…” for we may yet, together, hear a “new thing” from the heart of God.



  1. Susanna Krizo

    Hi Rob! The concepts of masculine and feminine are clearly human constructions. We know it to be the case because we are told masculinity in a woman is considered wrong, but if masculinity is innate, how can a woman exhibit masculine traits to begin
    with? If a woman can be masculine, i.e., fierce, courageous, vocal, why should she not be?

    I look forward to your arguments.

    Susanna Krizo


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