Listening to President Barack Obama talk about the new policy allowing women to be in combat roles in the military, I was a bit concerned. Now before my feminist friends get upset, let me explain. While I am all for women in leadership roles, this new announcement concerns me because of what it means for our definition of gender roles in society.
Growing up with a working mom, I have always respected women in the workforce. Throughout my life my mom has balanced a full-time job as a high school teacher, and heavy involvement in community organizations, with taking care of four children and a husband.
Due to this environment I have always believed that the role of a woman is important and that we have much to contribute to this world, including being involved in leadership roles. However, with that said, I also believe strongly in the importance of gender roles.
Although my mom was heavily involved in leadership during my growing-up years, at home I knew that ultimately my father was the head of the home and there were certain divine roles that my parents were each to play. While things were not always perfect, my mother respected my father’s role as father and provider, while he respected her divine role of mother and nurturer.
The thing that concerns me in society today, with announcements like women now allowed in combat roles in the military, is that we are disregarding the divine roles we were born to play as men and women.
I believe what is taught in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” when it says, “All human beings — male and female — are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose.”
As men and women, we were created with specific genders in order to “fulfill our purpose.” To me that means we are different, and that difference between men and women should not be disregarded but celebrated.
Every individual is different; some women love video games and sports, and some men like chick flicks. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this. We should be able to express our individuality. However, there are some distinct differences between men and women that cannot be ignored.
One of those differences is physical size and strength of men versus women. In general, this is why the previous rule has been in place to only have men in combat positions in the military. While I know there are the rare few women who are larger and stronger then men, in general women are physically weaker and smaller in comparison. Since when is this a bad thing? So we are different; in my mind that is a good thing.
In the last general conference Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “In their zeal to promote opportunity for women, something we applaud, there are those who denigrate men and their contributions. They seem to think of life as a competition between male and female — that one must dominate the other, and now it’s the women’s turn. Some argue that a career is everything and marriage and children should be entirely optional — therefore, why do we need men? In too many Hollywood films, TV and cable shows, and even commercials, men are portrayed as incompetent, immature or self-absorbed. This cultural emasculation of males is having a damaging effect.”
Reading this statement, I felt a bit sad. When did we come to the conclusion in the world that one role of a man or a woman is better than the other?
In high school, I was shocked one day while having a conversation with a friend in my AP English class when he said “Wait, don’t you feel bad that your religion is so degrading to women?” After he said this I was pretty confused. I have never felt degraded in the Church. In fact, it has been the opposite. I have always been taught that my divine nature as a woman was something to be praised rather than looked down upon.
I grew up with two sisters and a brother. My sisters are my best friends. I have always loved the chick flick movie marathons we would have and the shopping trips and girly things we would do together with my mom. I was taught that my role as a wife and mother is one of the most important things I would ever do. My parents have encouraged me to get a college education, go on a mission and do things on my own time, but always with the idea in mind that I had something to contribute to this world as a daughter of God.
I believe the same goes for men. There are certain roles that they were born to play. They have just as much to contribute to this world as women; their role is just different. I would hope that we would be able to celebrate and accept the difference among men and women. We all have something to contribute to this world. We just do it in different ways.