Tuesday, September 19, 2006

are modern women too independent?

My girlfriends and I are often flabbergasted at the beautiful, strong, intelligent, witty young women we see around us who desire marriage but are devoid of prospects. We are utterly clueless and unable to understand how scores of godly young men are not clammering for their attention and devotion. For a long time I did not care about my own relationship status, but I was bewildered by the others ... still am.

But a revolutionary thought came to me. Could it have something to do with man's need to be needed? Do they see these talented young women and think ... "Why would she need me? She has it all together"? Then my mind went back to all the girls in college that I had observed: the cute, bubbly type and at times the maiden-in-distress. I scoffed at them before ... but when you think about it ... they were the ones with the boyfriends.


Last week, my pal Jiri, showed me an article from the new periodical Salvo titled "Strike Up the Bond: A Man's Need To Be Needed". Dawn Eden, author of the soon-to-be-published book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On(Read an exerpt here), describes the phenomenon of rock stars and their groupies. She writes of band members who will often have a different woman waiting for them in each city.

"You can want a man completely, utterly, desperately, longing for him from the depths of your loins. But if you want him to be attached to you, you must require of him in return. For a man to develop a bond, it's not enough that he's adored--he has to be appreciated.

"For all the advances that the feminist movement has created for women in the working world, it's created a terrible damage in the area of relationships. Women are told that self-sufficiency means refusing to allow men the opportunity to do things for them.

"A good man does admire self-sufficiency in a woman. But he admires it even more when that self-sufficient woman has the modesty to admit she needs advice, a shoulder to lean on, or just someone to carry her loaded-down backpack." (p. 45)

Hmm ... I became curious. Was there any truth to this? So I googled the phrase "men need to be needed" (or a similar variation thereof). I came across a number of articles that concurred with such a conclusion. Here is a smattering:

Dateless Women Need To Soften Up

Guys Need To Be Needed

What Men Really Think About Successful, Independent Women

The Different Needs of Men and Women

What Makes a Man Happy In Marriage?

Smart women can intimidate prospective mates

What are your own thoughts or experiences with this phenomenon?


mark said...

Dang you christine! I'm trying to get work done & here ya go bloggin' on this!! ;)
I promise, I'll post a reply-blog entry within the next 28-30 hours, k?

mark said...

ok.. so an hour & a half later, it's up -- all 2 pages single-spaced!:

Proofread by another young gent on my floor who agrees.

now.. about that online philosohpy quiz..

Lara said...

I liked Mark's thoughts. It can be difficult, though. When I was travelling recently, and I had a friend offer to help me with my luggage. I felt bad though - I'm the one who doesn't know how to pack light, why should he have to lug the bags around!? Hmm.

mark said...

I'm tempted to say you felt bad because we've not grown up in a culture (funny I can say that about aussie's, never having been there!) that allows for others help. In ANY fashion or form! That's the grace I'm talking about.
Thanks Lara for the story! We need to hear more!

ckhnat said...

Salvo is a spectacular new Biblical Worldview resource. Like Jiri says, you don't have to like Precious Moments to be a Christian!

I'm really stoked to get my hands on the Winter issue:

Sexual Healing: Returning To the One Form of Intercourse That Is Healthy, Safe, and Natrual

Boehmy said...


you must be - to have a thought like that ;0)

ckhnat said...

yeh, i think i am. it's a constant struggle i have.

Felicity said...

Hi Christine,

I was thinking about you yesterday - I've made friends with a French lady who's living in Hobart for a year - we were chatting she's a feminist - has just read "Wonder Woman - the myth of having it all". This is the book I was banging on about earlier this year. You have to read it.

I wouldn't call myself a feminist because I follow God's word - not the world. There's an excellent article by Wayne Grudem in his book Systematic Theology about roles of men and women.

In terms of men needing to feel needed - is that biblical or from "Men are from Mars Women are from Venus".

What about personality? I'm a christian yes -but I'm loud, outspoken and confident. Just because I have a strong personality doesnt mean I dont NEED a man. Or that I think I dont NEED a man.

Personally I think a lot of christian men think "quiet and gentle spirit" means shy, dowdy and boaring....

Chris said...

Speaking as a Christian man (23 qualifies as "man", yes?) I'd say that quiet/gentle and outspoken/loud don't have any bearing on making a guy feel needed.

I think it goes hand-in-hand with "respect" as a priority. Being needed means that the woman respects us enough to ask our opinion and help on something. By saying "I need you" to a man, you're not debasing yourself (as society would like you to think you are), but rather, you're humbling yourself enough to admit that you're not perfect or self-sufficient and that he might be able to contribute to the relationship. Guys like to contribute - we're just built that way. To feel needed gives us purpose.

Incidentally, some of us have to work on going the other way (knowing when NOT to contribute, when to just listen instead of trying to solve the problem).

GloryandGrace said...

There really is a great mystery to this whole issue. I was one of those girls three years ago...bold, outgoing, could engage with others on thoughtful topics, etc., but something changed...and I can only look back at that change (and the change that is still taking place) and define it all by God's grace. And that's not to say that I'm not still outgoing and bold to a degree...it's my heart that changed. My boyfriend and I are still amazed at times, three years later, at the fact that we started dating at all. I wasn't his "archetype," I wasn't that girl whom guys often approached, but for reasons unknown to us at the time, the Lord had a very unexpected surprise for the both of us. So all of that to say that as someone who has been one of those girls, and is now in a committed relationship, I observe some of the same things and raise similar questions. It truly is mysterious...

And a brief note regarding men's need to feel needed--I wholeheartedly agree, and not in a self-centered manner of him wanting to glorify himself, but really being the man in the relationship; the one who is encouraged to lead, appreciated for his nobility and other godly characteristics he is continually cultivating. If the woman is not actively, heartily involved in spurring on such growth, I think the man finds himself exhausted and lacking purpose/intentionality in the relationship.

Just some thoughts...my apologies if it seems like random ramblings :)

Christine said...

You really made me think and I ended up doing a little blogging on this myself last night.

I came to one conclusion in addition to what has been said...I think that for the most part...the independant streaks in women stem from a sense of needing to prove ourslves.

For me personally, this comes directly from my experiences with a limb deformity. I've spent my whole life feeling like I have to prove that I can do things that others find easy...that I have to prove that I'm NOT handicapped, though people have tried to act as if I were.

Though most women can't say that, I do believe that society, in its invention of feminism, has placed us in this same mindset. We feel that we have to prove that we're just as good as men - that we're not second class citizens.

Just some thoughts...maybe I'm just reiterating other people, but I thought I'd share it.

Lorie said...

I think that some of us single women toss around the statement, "I don't NEED a man..." a bit too casually. Sure, we all know what we MEAN to say, but...it't not really true! As women, we DO need men. There are things that they are equipped to do---physically, mentally, emotionally---that we are not. God created the sexes to complement each other, to form a cohesive whole. Even outside of the marriage relationship we contribute to one another's lives in unique ways.

I was challenged on the whole self-sufficiency thing a while back, and I don't even remember why or by whom. Could have been that "For Women Only" book... But since then I have made a conscientious effort to wait for guys to open doors for me, to allow them to carry things for me (ESPECIALLY when they offer), etc. Even by doing those small things my attitude has changed. And it's been good.

Firinnteine said...

Stumbled over here from MereComments, and being the loquacious fellow that I am, I couldn't resist adding my $0.02 --

A claim to "self-sufficiency" is the opposite of the Gospel, because it is a denial of Grace. The central fact of Christianity is that God became a man to redeem mankind, because none of us could do it ourselves.

What preposterous arrogance on our part to then assume we don't need one another! This primarily happens through the Church, which is the fulfillment of what marriage means (see Paul), but that in no way implies that marriage has been superceded; only made complete. "It is not suitable for man to be alone" -- meaning that man needs woman. He can't do what God has created him to do without her help. "Man was not made for woman, but woman for man" (you can shoot me now, but it's in the Bible) -- meaning that woman needs man.

St. Paul is quite insightful when it comes to questions of men and women... maybe divine inspiration helped. He tells men that they must love their wives. He tells women that they must respect their husbands.

Love. Respect.

One reason -- not the only reason, but a big reason -- men are put off by really intelligent, really talented women, is that they can't imagine such a woman being able to truly respect them. And honestly, sometimes she can't. It's not impossible; but it may be more difficult. Men need to be respected by their wives, and sort of realize this subconsciously.

Also, though -- and, again, this is so politically incorrect that I expect to get nasty letters from the National Organization for Women, but that's okay -- men are created to be providers. This does NOT mean that women can't do lots of things and do them very well, or that their work can't extend beyond the home -- the woman described in Proverbs 31 (which is offered as a model for the kind of wife a man should seek) seems to do quite a lot of business, including buying fields, and is definitely productive enough to intimidate me. What it does mean is that, as a man, when I am friends with a woman who seems to have her life together, to know where she's headed, to have her whole career planned out... well, there's no particular reason for me to intrude myself on that. What would she want me for? Where do I fit into that plan? I don't. So I look elsewhere, for someone to whom I can be of use -- someone I can serve. Someone I can love. Someone -- yes, okay -- who might need me. I want her to be strong, and talented, and extremely intelligent, and to challenge me; it would be kind of boring otherwise. But I'm commanded to love her as Christ loved the Church. A woman who believes she is self-sufficient leaves no room for that.

I recently got in trouble for arguing that women interested in marriage should -- without throwing themselves at men at all -- be the sort of people whose friends (including male friends) know that they want to get married and have children. I still believe that's true.

Honestly, I have to admit that a large part -- probably the majority -- of the problem here is simply male cowardice. That's where you ladies' astonishing power to help encourage the men you know to be leaders comes in. Seriously. Compliment the men you know when they take the lead. Expect them to. Let them help, let them do things for you, let them be, well, manly. Forgive our mistakes, for they are many -- but don't let us off the hook.

There can be no doubt that we'll fall short of such high expectations. But we'll get a lot closer than we would if there were no expectations at all....

[Note: I do believe there are those, like Paul, who can and should give up marriage to better serve the Kingdom of God. That is a thing to be celebrated. But the whole point is that they are giving up a good thing, and what is ordinarily a necessary thing. A person who gives up food for a time, in order to devote himself to prayer, is doing a right thing -- something more important than eating. But ordinarily, unless one has a special gift of grace like Moses on Sinai or Jesus in the wilderness, one must eat.]

Chris said...

"Honestly, I have to admit that a large part -- probably the majority -- of the problem here is simply male cowardice. That's where you ladies' astonishing power to help encourage the men you know to be leaders comes in. Seriously. Compliment the men you know when they take the lead. Expect them to. Let them help, let them do things for you, let them be, well, manly. Forgive our mistakes, for they are many -- but don't let us off the hook."

Wow. That's deep. I keep wondering: why is it that so many of us are afraid to fail? Try this on for size: if a man leads and fails, what happens? Do the women in his life chastize him openly, or do they encourage him to do better next time? I find it easier to get back up and try to lead again when my wife compliments me for trying, encourages me to work harder and lead harder. It makes me bolder. But on the occasion that she criticizes me, I find myself retreating, unwilling to try again. Yes, we men are much more sensitive creatures than we let on.

Ruth said...

God made men and women different -and it's nice to acknowledge that difference.

For me personally, I know the men in my life (my husband, dad, brother etc) really like opening jar lids for me that I am too weak to open. It makes them feel needed - and they are.

Sometimes it's things as simple as that.

I agree with Chris too - sometimes it's hard for men - because often they like to be the 'problem solvers' when actually what a girl wants is to have a good cry and her man just listen!!!

Poor men - life can be complicated can't it!

papabear said...

Hence the popularity of Dr. Laura's The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands

erudit said...

My current crusade is a project to reverse the trends of feminism.

This is a project I'd really be interested in hearing more about. It's a concern and a "crusade" that we both share. I linked here from Touchstone.


meredith said...

maybe modern women are 'too' independent because modern men are too weak to lead....?

just a thought....

it's kinda like the chicken and the egg, isn't it?

Petrus said...

I think men who sit around and whine (because some- though not all do) that women are too independant don't realize that we are this way because there is a lack of manhood around us.

I like to consider myself "begrudgingly independant". I don't rush to open the door myself, ask for help when I need it, accept it when its offered and not needed, ask advice, etc.

However, I've worked in four male-dominated companies and have to demand respect in a way that doesn't feel very feminine. I have to assert myself, express my opinion, state my case, etc.

I've also thought that Rosie the Riveter was glad to back to the home... and I think that we women will get there eventually. Until that time though - what else is there but to, "be in the world but be not of it"?

Anonymous said...

I noticed this trend in the church singles group that I was involved with for several years. I heard men complain about "high-maintenance girls" and say that they did not want that. However, the high-maintenance girls never seemed to go long between boyfriends and were the first married off. The rest also managed to couple off and get married as well, but it kind of irritated me that the contradiction existed. It seems like guys do feel a need to "fix things" and like to be needed. Maybe it seems easier when the needs are obvious. Being with a woman who is not as "needy" requires figuring out what being a leader means in other contexts, and that may be more challenging.

But isn't that what relationships are about? The two figure it out together, the woman how to submit and the man how to lead. The fruits of this effort can be great, don't you think? That's how faith (in God's plan for relationships) becomes action (choosing a mate wisely) and results in fruit (growth in Christ).

Jonny said...

Havn't got time to read all that, but the topic headings seam to ring true.

Christine said...

Just thought I'd let you know that your blog was also mentioned today on http://boundless.typepad.com/ - I couldn't help but smile when I realized that he was talking about someone I know! =)

ckhnat said...

i find all the hype rather funny, actually. looking back at the post ... i didn't even say anything ... didn't even give a definitive opinion ... just sparked a conversation.

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