John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

"Male and Female" or "Masculine and Feminine"?

I don’t know about you, but I have all sorts of baggage associated with the very word “feminist”. Most, if not all of it, is unpleasant. See, I grew up in the era of the ERA (the Equal Rights Amendment), and, somehow, in my head I got it tied together with the whole Roe v. Wade thing. When my church talked about politics (which was, admittedly, not very often), these were often mentioned in the same breath and always in negative terms. I vaguely remember Walter Cronkite introducing news footage of women carrying placards in Washington, DC. Being a shallow little ankle-biter, all I really remember is that none of the women they showed were pretty, and they all seemed angry with me for being a little boy instead of being a little girl.

Shall we just get this out of the way? The image that springs to mind when I hear the word “feminist” is of a Camille Paglia-reading, shorthaired woman, her thick ankles sprouting out of her sensible shoes, glasses edging down her nose, hands on hips, a scolding expression on her pinched face.

That is so politically incorrect, but I’m just being honest here.

The one other image that comes to mind when I hear that word – and I’m really not sure if this makes total sense or is utterly ridiculous – is that of Alan Alda.

Depending upon your politics, you may think Alan Alda is either the most enlightened man in modern history or the personification of everything that’s wrong with men these days. Personally, I’ve gone from one extreme to the other and finally settled somewhere in the middle.

I think.

Suffice to say, I am firmly situated in a particular cultural context. That culture has certain strong ideas of what constitutes masculine and feminine behavior.

The Bible tells us that God made us all -- male and female -- in his image. Does it also say anywhere that he made us masculine and feminine? Or are those words strictly defined by the culture in which we live? Is there such a thing as "biblical masculinity" and "biblical femininity"?