Superwoman: Is She Believable?

I have seen a surge of fiction lately that elevates the abilities of women to superwomen. Authors, Christian or not, put women into roles in the army, police force, fire department--performing feats comparable to men. I would like to contest that idea with four reasons. 

1. It is beyond the scope of this article to exegesis the text, but allow me to present a brief description of the roles of men and women.

Man was placed in the Garden to till and reap the contents (Genesis 2:8). When he disobeyed, he reaped the consequences of a cursed ground: growth of thorns and thistles, and sweat (Genesis 3:17-19). Man’s role as provider is further explained in I Timothy 5:8, “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, … he is worse than an unbeliever.” Man’s provision is expected.   

Man also protects. Men are to “live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman, and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life…” ( I Peter 3:7). A man protects because he is created to do so. He desires to be the knight to save the damsel.   

Woman was placed in the Garden as man’s helpmeet (Genesis 2:20-23). Her curse dealt with her role. She would experience pain in childbirth, pain bringing forth children, her desire would be for her husband, and he will rule over her (Genesis 3:16). Her desire would be for her husband’s role, to control and master him. Paul cautions the women in Titus 2:3-4 to love their husbands and children,…to be subject to their own husbands (Titus 2:3-5). Woman helps the man. She nurtures.

I am not here to place importance on one role over the other, only to state them as presented in the Bible. By placing women in roles as soldiers, police officers, or fire fighters, they no longer nurture, but display their quest to master their husband’s role. 

2. Design and nature dictate certain roles. Before your hackles are raised and you spout obscenities at me, allow me to defend and illustrate my point.

In the army the standards have been lowered to allow women to pass physical tests. A female partner cannot drag her 270-pound partner to safety should he be wounded. I am not stating that the woman is not intelligent or insightful in solving problems, but her physical strength limits what she can do.   

In a crisis, would you want a man or woman to protect you? I would hope that a 90-pound woman would not be trying to rescue me out of a burning house.  
Why do even the top feminists marry men who are bigger, taller, stronger, more educated, and with a higher position than they? She still desires his protection and covets his control. Women have not changed since the Garden. We continue to want what our husbands have. We want control. We take their strength. We use their position.

But ‘can a leopard change its spots?’ (Jeremiah 13:23). Woman's God-given role as nurturer divides her thoughts between home and office. She can no more ‘act the man’ than the leopard can change its spots. Those who succeed become hardened and find the man’s role does not satisfy. The greener grass on the other side has turned brown and it is too late to nurture children.  

Design dictates that women’s hearts will be at home, even if she finds herself away from the house. News articles do not describe a CEO man as father of two, husband of one wife and still operating as CEO of this prestigious firm, but they do when it is a woman. Why is that? Because a woman must divide her heart between home and job. Nature dictates it. (Not culture.)  

3. The third point centers on the mission. In a family there must be someone in charge. The success of today’s 50%-50% partnership has been proven in the divorce courts. My husband gives 100% in his role as protector and provider and I give 100% in my role as help-meet and nurturer. The mission advances and succeeds. 

In the army the dynamics change when a female partner is present. Instead of the mission being the focus, the focus becomes protecting the female partner; or with a group of guys and one female, a competition over who will protect better.  The mission suffers. The woman distracts, no matter how strong and intelligent she may be. The male partner knows the female partner cannot pull her weight in all areas. All know the standard for admittance is lowered to include her. One does not say so audibly, lest his career be destroyed, but the certainty remains.   The mission is compromised when a women is not in her role. 

4. Fiction is based on truth. In a book, when the female character fulfills a male’s role with ease, the impression of falseness and lack of reality is given. The aspect of what is ‘believable’ even in fiction is destroyed.

We laugh at a joke, because it has some basis in reality. It is not funny apart from what is true. Likewise, we cannot sympathize with a character that lives beyond reality. The falseness outweighs the truth and we are disappointed and left feeling cheated.

So how do we take these reasons and apply them to the characters in a book? Why is being submissive or nurturing disdained? Why can’t we, as authors, show women as strong, thinking, and passionate about fulfilling our role as mothers and wives? Is that not glamorous enough? Don’t we need role models for a better life where we are designed? Must we go outside our role to find adventure that gives a false sense of satisfaction and contentment? Can’t we have Superwomen within the role God has given?
Have you ever read a book with a woman in a superman role? Were you truly energized to follow her footsteps?   What roles do you see as women’s?   How does design and nature limit women? Is that a limitation or strength? Can fiction take us beyond the realm of possible to make us believe the lie of the Garden?

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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