I think I’ve figured out why we tend to protect females when they make bad decisions yet we judge males more harshly.
The reason, I think is: girls are better at crying…
Now hear me out!
If you have two different friends asking for your advice about a decision, and one of them seems pretty confident while the other is still visibly struggling through tears on the outside, who are you more likely to be honest with?
It’s not too difficult to tell the confident friend if there’s something he/she doesn’t seem to have considered. (Maybe that friend needs to keep working through it!)
But would you treat the crying friend the same? Or would you assume he/she has struggled enough already and look for ways to make them feel better about whatever they’ve done?
Let me use a random example, to clarify.
Suppose you have two different friends, both struggling with placing their parents in a nursing home.
The first friend lists the pros and cons of each option (very matter-of-fact), and then shrugs and says, “I’m just not sure what’s best…What do you think you’d do?”
We’d probably share our opinion easily–maybe even adding a couple more angles to consider that our friend hadn’t listed, to make sure they are being thorough. And, we’d probably promise to pray for wisdom, on their behalf, to make the best choice.
But, if the second friend is distraught and crying, I think the last thing we’d do is offer MORE things for him/her to consider. (We don’t want to add stress!) Our message to the crying friend would be that they shouldn’t worry too much because God loves them no matter what choices they make…
Do you see the difference?
With Friend #1, we assume he still has some more considering to do.
With Friend #2, we assume she has been thinking pretty thoroughly already, because we can see the signs of struggle in her face.
So, we end up with two different types of responses for two different personalities.
The “Confident Friend” often receives practical advice for making the best decision possible. We say things like, “Keep striving” or “Don’t settle” (or “Man Up”)
Thus, he may be used to taking criticism from others because it doesn’t look (on the outside) like he criticizes himself very much… We think he still lacks Wisdom.
Meanwhile, the Crying Friend receives a lot of support, and we say things like, “Give yourself grace” or “Don’t beat yourself up.”
Thus, she may be used to hearing lots of positive feedback and reminders of God’s love–because we interpret through her tears that she has the “Wisdom” part down already.
After all, she’s crying!
Obviously this is something she is really seeking God about!
Anyway, I think that’s how we’ve gotten to the place in church culture where (generally) men’s ministries focus on accountability during a personal battle, while women’s ministries focus on support.
Men are encouraged to conquer sin.
Women are told they don’t have to be perfect.
We think men need to be more responsible, while women need to let go…
For some reason, we have come to interpret that outward appearance of struggle as evidence of Wisdom, even though having lots of emotions isn’t necessarily the same as being closer to God.
Now, I’m not trying to say it’s wrong to give different kinds of advice to different people because I do agree with choosing a focus or emphasis based on what each individual needs.
But I DO think our biases can become an issue, if we aren’t aware of them. Being more gentle with someone who’s emotional, just because they’re emotional, isn’t fair.
And it isn’t right to view women as the more spiritual gender, just because many tend to be more vulnerable and appear to seek God more earnestly than a dry-eyed man or woman.
Crying doesn’t necessarily mean “In Tune with God,” so let’s be careful not to act like it does.
On the other hand, if it’s too late to curb this trend, and you’re a man who wants unwavering support for whatever thing you’ve set your mind to do, just tell someone it’s a big struggle and squeeze out a tear or two.
I promise, crying will change the type of responses you receive drastically.