1 Corinthians 14:34 Women Should Remain Silent In The Church
24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30
Ten Things Women Should Never Say To Their Men
23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing
11 Things a Woman Should Never Do For a Man
What becomes apparent from these headlines is that a lot of people really like to tell women what they should do, how they should behave, what they should say.
But what happens if I ask the same question about men?
12 Things Men Should Do But Don't
8 Women Christian Men Should Never Marry
Every Man Should Know
The 75 Things Every Man Should Do
48 Things Every Man Should Know
The difference? People tell women what they should do, but they tell men what they should know. And the difference is caused by the patriarchal belief that men should have the information needed to make good decisions; women are considered unable to make decisions for themselves, which is why they must be told what to do.
Yet, even if women prove themselves able to make decisions, they really should let a man make them, because decision making is the man's prerogative.
And so we find that all of these "women should" conversations are cultural constructs created by patriarchy to keep women from aspiring to full equality. All of this becomes clearly evident when women move towards equality and show themselves capable of being just as human as the man is: there is always an inevitable push towards inequality. The church, for example, talks eloquently about equality when it comes to salvation, but when it comes to ordination, equality begins to mean something very different. Suddenly women are similar to men, and equality isn't enough to secure the ordination of women, because - we are told - everyone knows men and women are different.
Difference shouldn't subordinate women to men, since it doesn't subordinate men to other men (individual men are different from each other), but because the man is considered the norm, and there can only be one norm, the woman becomes the aberration, the deviation from the norm. In other words, the woman isn't quite as human as the man is. Because she isn't quite as human, she could technically become as human as the man by acting like a man does, but here we find patriarchy working overtime to ensure that women don't, because if women gain equality, patriarchy ceases to exist.
To retain the status quo, women are shamed into remaining in their subordinated status by those who have the most to lose: religious authorities, abusive spouses, wealthy landowners (women own 1 % of the world's land), and all those who benefit from subjecting women to their control, and those include other women too. Women are told they aren't quite as good as men are, for the natural inferiority of women is what fuels patriarchy and it's ideology. If women are inferior, they can never become fully human; they can never become what men are.
We may not like to hear it, but that women aren't quite as human as men is the inescapable conclusion of the patriarchal worldview, and the ancient philosophers didn't fear declaring it, but our theologians do, because they can't get rid of this one sentence in the Bible:
So God created humankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created humanity;
male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27)
Since all humans are created in the Image of God, the norm is God, not the man; the woman isn't an aberration; she is just as god-like as the man is. And since the woman is just as human, all this talk about difference and who-should-do-what doesn't describe how things should be; it depicts our fallen nature that seeks to create artificial divisions that benefit some - usually the ones who created the divisions in the first place. And because of it, they have no place in a theology that seeks to heal and restore humanity torn apart by sin and patriarchy.
We are called to imitate God. Since there is only one God, there can be only one image of God, one way to be a human. And this one image, this one way to be a human, includes both men and women. Instead of telling women what they should do, why don't we tell people that there is a better way to do things, a way that allows everyone to be equally human.