Today is International Women’s Day. If you live in the United States, you’re probably not super familiar with this custom, but it is recognized and celebrated as a national holiday in at least 36 countries around the world.
We are women… so what does this holiday mean for us?
A Bit of Background
I found a full run-down of the history of IWD on Wikipedia, but here’s the basics. International Women’s Day had its beginnings as a women’s labor union strike in 1908. The following year, the Socialist Party of America held an event to commemorate the strike. Over the next few years, the idea of an annual Women’s Day spread to the socialist and communist parties in Europe and Russia. The day was marked by demonstrations demanding women’s right to vote, protests against sex discrimination, as well as other various strikes and marches.
Today, IWD is celebrated around the world, largely by Eastern European and Asian cultures, but in a much more peaceful manner. For some, the day is similar to Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, with flowers, chocolates, and small gifts, and even women getting the day off work. For others, it’s still a very political holiday, as they continue to fight for gender equality and women’s rights.
A Spiritual Perspective
Personally, I have mixed feelings about the whole “gender equality” issue. I’m not really into politics and I’m not part of the business world, so maybe I don’t experience prejudice or inequality like some women do. I also have the opportunity to live in the United States, where I think women have more rights and freedoms than they do in some developing countries.
However, spiritually speaking, I do believe there is a war against women, and it’s not coming from politicians or men, but from the enemy of our souls.
Take a look at these excerpts from Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge:
Misogyny: a hatred of women. From Greek misein “to hate” + gyne “woman.”
Misogyny is the hatred of women and everything female. It was birthed at the fall of man and has found its home not only in men but in women, too. It manifests itself in many different ways – from jokes to pornography to sex trafficking to the self-contempt a woman feels for her own body. Why is plastic surgery now common practice? Anorexia, bulimia, and binging all find their roots in self-loathing, in misogyny. The history of our world is rampant with damage, oppression, diminishment, contempt, and fear aimed at women.
Misogyny got into the church. Many a Scripture-filled sermon has been preached throughout the centuries, advocating the suppression of women…Paul’s words about women have too often been twisted to serve the oppression of women – far from his intention.
The church has been horrifically skewed regarding women. It has taught that women are the source of evil, that sex itself is evil. Some churches continue to teach that the fall of man came because of Eve’s wickedness and that she and all women after her are temptresses. Churches have taught that women can’t teach, women can’t speak in church, women can’t cut their hair. Women need to cover their bodies, their faces, their heads.
[Misogyny] has come to us through people and governments and cultures and religions and nations. It comes through men. It comes through women. It can even come through little girls. Think back to the playground. Little girls can be catty, cruel, and competitive.
Women compete with each other for the attention of men. Many women are threatened by another woman’s beauty, intelligence, and grace. We walk into a room and unconsciously size up all the other women in the room. We quickly judge where we fit in the hierarchy of attraction (worth) without even being aware that we have done it. That behavior finds its roots in misogyny.
After explaining this landscape of our culture and surroundings, Stasi explains our response:
But we do not overcome this misogyny by trying to be men. Let us begin by celebrating the role we play; let us champion these callings and celebrate them every way we can.
The kingdom of God will not advance as it needs to advance without women rising up and playing their role… Men will not become the men they are meant to be without godly women pouring into their lives. Women will not become who they are meant to be without the strength, encouragement, and wisdom of other women nurturing their lives.
There is a reason the Enemy fears women and has poured his hatred onto our very existence. Let him be afraid, then. We are more than conquerors through Christ who strengthens us, and we will not be overcome.
Interesting concept to ponder on, yes?
I love how she points out that the solution is not to try to become like men, because I feel like that’s the goal in culture today: “Give us everything men have! Treat us exactly like men are treated!” In reality, that shouldn’t be what we’re asking for, because we’re not men. We are women. And God created men and women differently, with not only different bodies, but different gifts, strengths, weaknesses, callings, and purposes. Men and women are equally valuable in the world and in the Kingdom of God, but in very different ways. We have the ability to influence and to share Jesus with the world in ways that men do not have, because we are females.
So rather than demand to be treated like men, I wish more women would recognize the incredible value of their womanhood, their femininity. It is a beautiful, powerful gift, to be a woman. God gave us this gift for a purpose. You and I can start our own stand against misogyny today by accepting and affirming that truth – we are women by God’s design, for His purpose, and we are beautiful in His sight. Celebrate being a lady today… God’s lady.
Note: The links to Stasi Eldredge’s book are affiliate links, meaning I will earn a small commission from purchases through this link (see my disclaimer in the footer). However, I’m recommending this book because I truly think it’s wonderful! It definitely challenged me to think more deeply about who I am as a woman. Check it out here: Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge.