Hmmm, how do I put this delicately?
Over two years ago, I wrote a post called Kiss the Cheek, Stab the Back about how, despite being a woman, I really don't understand women sometimes.
I still don't...yet I sort of do.
Believe me, I know about the pressure women face to conform to a certain image, to get in line and plod along in trying to be like other women (I live in the country after all). I wrote the post, I'm George...They're Annes about this very issue. I'm just not your typical country woman.
I do strongly believe in 'keeping it real'. There is nothing more off-putting and discouraging than someone who makes out they have the perfect life....even though we know, in reality, that nobody has it good all of the time.
But often women cross the line. Instead of just honestly admitting their faults or lack of skills in an area, they make it into a kind of 'suffering competition'. I often feel the temptation to exaggerate my faults, or make my life out to be worse than it actually is just so I can't be accused of boasting or trying to make another woman jealous.
Let me be honest for a second...
I'm not great at baking. If a cake rises, for me that's a magnificent achievement. The thought of using fondant gives me cold sweats. That's one reason why I generally steer clear of attempting novelty cakes, and why I don't intend to give our baby a big first birthday party. I remember as a kid that I enjoyed parties far more when my mum wasn't stressed trying to be fancy.
I do keep a relatively clean house. This is made easier by the fact that there's no-one except Duncan and I to mess it up on a daily basis. I hate cleaning (I used to work as a cleaner while in high school), but I hate dirt and clutter more. So I drag my unmotivated self off my bum to do some cleaning (music does help with motivation levels). After living with feral pigs in student housing for three years and tiny houses (bar the big rambling farm house we live in now), I like to have minimum stuff, and I'm constantly selling stuff on ebay or giving it to opshops.
I'm not particularly crafty, and I'm not really looking forward to doing craft with kids (probably because of the mess involved). Occasionally I do get into the craft groove (like when there is a competition at the local show, for instance), but otherwise I don't have a lot of inspiration. I'm kinda dreading the homemade Advent Calendar stage.
I can't sew beyond sewing on a button or mending a slight tear. I have no desire to make clothes for my children. By the time I finish something, they'd have grown out of it. I'm all for opshopping when it comes to kids' clothes.
That's me! Part of me wishes I could make elaborate cakes, clothes and craft...but then I'm also quite content not being good at those things. I might get better with practice, but the stress I'd feel wouldn't be worth it. It's better for me to keep it simple. I understand the pressure some women put on their friends to be like them. I mean, they're doing all of this stuff, so why aren't their friends? I've already been asked if I'm going to give our child a big first birthday party and sew clothes for them. When I say no, I get these incredulous looks and the reply, "But you must!" Why must I?
Due to this kind of pressure, I can understand why likeminded women group together to defend themselves against expectations. But the line is crossed when rather than simply explaining their decisions, women gang up and bitch about women who are gifted in the areas they find difficult. I know how tempting it is to do this. Let's have a go at women who have talents we secretly covet. Let's make them out to be competitive perfectionists who don't trust God. I particularly hate it when women have a go at other women with houses cleaner than their own. There's a sign I've seen in gift shops that says, Dull women have immaculate houses. Honestly, that makes my blood boil. Just because someone likes cleaning or does it regularly doesn't mean they are a boring person. It also DOESN'T mean they never practice hospitality because they're afraid of guests messing up their house. It really grates on me when overweight women pick on those who are thin. I once had someone tell me that guys prefer women with big breasts and meat on their bones - not skinny minis. Honestly! Some women are just thin! They're not on Hollywood fad diets...they're just thin. Get over it!
What I have to say to myself and all women is: Give it a rest!
So when I find myself slagging off another woman, it's usually because I'm jealous. I'm coveting that women's gifts and circumstances for myself (particularly when it comes to evangelism - I struggle to share the gospel and invite people to church so it's tempting to just have a go at those who find it easy). I might not understand why women go to the effort they do in some areas, but hey, if they enjoy it and are not doing it because of pressure, good on them!
What I've come to realise is that some women are not putting up photos of magnificent cakes and crafty achievements to make other women jealous; they are just sharing their lives and gifts and genuinely enjoy doing these activities. If I have a problem with that, then that's just it...my problem!
So ladies everywhere, let's all celebrate the diversity among us and how God has wired and gifted each of us differently for His glory. Next time we see a woman with a gift we want for ourselves, let's give thanks for her rather than tearing her down.
Over two years ago, I wrote, Let's look at another woman and instead of seeing a potential rival, see a potential friend. I still stand by that.