By Curtis Shelburne
I am blaming this easily misunderstood column on a morning of lawn mowing. I try not to, but I usually end up thinking when I mow. Whether it’s good thinking or not is open to question.
Following the mower, I found myself mulling over some issues related to “masculinity/femininity” as I remembered a conversation with a friend several years ago, a fellow from another state, who had a new boss–a very, uh, shall we say, “formidable” woman.
Among my friends are some Type A “alpha” males who are really fine folks, but I’ve known a few of the breed who were either just too much trouble to be around or downright scary. But I never met one half as scary as a Type A alpha male who happened to be female.
This guy had found one. Or had been found by one. He was sure of it because he was pretty much in the grip of her claws and teeth. He was not alone. She was terrorizing most of her underlings, evidently trying to do her best to prove that she could be meaner, coarser, crueler, nastier, and more vicious than any male boss you can imagine.
It should be obvious that neither gender (I prefer to think only in two) has any corner on mean, nasty, and vicious individuals. I’ve never known my friend to be “sexist” or overly sensitive, though most folks are a tad tender when they’ve just been cut to shreds. But it seemed to him that his new boss was actually feeling a need to be even meaner and coarser than a rotten male boss because she felt a need to somehow “compensate” for being a woman. She wanted to show she could “out-man” any man.
That’s when I realized that both my friend and I have a higher opinion of women than this high octane gal holds. We found ourselves thinking about the many amazing ladies we’ve known—smart, talented, beautiful in all the ways that matter, the kind of people that any man (who is not an idiot) would be happy to work for, the kind of quality people anyone of either gender would do very well to aspire to BE. Why would a woman such as my friend’s boss have such a low opinion of her gender? Why would she want so badly to be a man, and a sorry one at that?
I’m tempted to say that women of the finest sort are not equal with men, they are better. But, as tempting as it is, that’s wrong thinking, too. The point is that the best men and women are remarkable not because they have melded into one sexless gender neutral PC blob, but because they bring the best of God-given masculinity and femininity with them as their quality and integrity bless everyone around them, men and women.
As usual, our society “dumbs down” what is good by sullying it, robbing it of color and beauty in the name of “equality,” rather than celebrating what is different but truly excellent in its own rite. Both masculinity and femininity, each far deeper than differences in plumbing, bring something needed and wonderful to all of life, including the workplace. We’re all poorer if we respect ourselves–and our Creator–so little that we feel a deep need to deny what He has created us to be.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at