- What I Agree With
- An Example From Hollywood
- The Issues and Implications
- Women Exhibiting “Masculine” Traits
- The Heart of the Issue
- Faulty Logic: A Man’s Worth
- Faulty Logic: Women Buying Homes
- Faulty Logic: A Woman’s Fault
- References and Footnotes
- Other Pages to View
So recently, I‘ve been seeing a clip of TD Jakes talking about “the problem with women” today. This conversation, in general, is a large part of my motivation for the Women of God series I’ve been doing on my
What I Agree With
Let’s start with the common ground, because there actually are some things I agree with.
No one, and I mean no one—male or female—wants to be told “I don’t need you.” So, I agree that it is definitely an unhealthy practice to go home to your spouse everyday and “brag” that you don’t need them. TD Jakes makes this a gendered statement, but no wife wants to hear that from her husband either.
He goes on to say that women became the way we became out of pain because men have hurt women. Depending on exactly what he means when he says this, I can agree to some extent. Do I think women have interests outside of babies and their husband due to pain, no I think that’s normal. However, I do think that the desire to be independent is tethered to self preservation. For centuries, women were forced to stay with abusive men because there were no laws to protect us, and we weren’t able to make enough money to support ourselves. It is definitely a conversation that was had between the older women in my family and myself, as well as among my friends and myself—what happens if you are fully dependent on a man and he turns out to be a monster? In the modern era, this continues because many women have not found a man they can depend on.
So, I admit there is some truth in this—none of my female friends have the mindset that they just want to work and buy everything without any help from anyone. I personally would love to be able to focus on writing a book or growing a handmade journal company, and explore my interests that do not pay a computer scientist’s salary.
An Example From Hollywood
I think an example of how the behavior of the men in one’s life affect them can be seen in Lord of the Rings. (I’ve been thinking on this for awhile actually, well before I saw this clip.) The leading ladies, Arwen and Éowyn, come off the screen very different, even though they are both princesses and both join the fight to some extent. Arwen rescues Frodo from the woods, reminds Aragorn that she’s a faster rider, braves the dark with The Nazgûl racing behind her, and summons something in the water to thwart the enemy. No one can argue that Arwen isn’t bada**. However, for most of her screen time she appears docile, reserved, and quiet. Éowyn, on the other hand, is much bolder and assertive. She speaks more passionately, and actually sneaks in to the battle. Éowyn fears a cage; Arwen is willing to give up immortality for motherhood.
If you look deeper however, there is a stark contrast in their upbringing. Arwen is raised by her father in the elf kingdom. The war doesn’t actually concern them, and their plan was always to leave Middle Earth. There is no hardship or fear for Arwen. If she had fallen in love with another elf—like Legolas—she and her husband would have hopped on the boat without a backward glance and sailed into blissful peace. The only thing tethering Arwen to danger is her love for Aragorn (and the possibility that if she stays they could raise a family together). Éowyn on the other hand is an orphan being raised by her uncle, who is possessed by an evil wizard. Her brother is thrown out of the kingdom, and she is left to defend herself. If the war is lost, there is no escape plan for Éowyn. It makes perfect sense that Éowyn’s strength is more aggressive and desperate than Arwen’s.
This same concept can be seen in the real world.
The Issues and Implications
“We are raising up women to be men. And you are not applauded for your femininity. You are applauded in the contemporary society by how tough, rough, nasty, mean, aggressive, hateful, possessive you are. And you’re climbing the corporate ladder but we are losing our families. I know you can buy your own car. I know you can by your own house. But until you create a need that I can pour in to, I have no place in your life.” 👤TD Jakes
We could talk about the faulty theology he employs in the beginning (for some reason people teach that woman was created “lower” than man even though submission is Eve’s punishment—you can not punish me by putting me in a position I’m already in), but we’re not going to worry about that. We’re going to focus on his concern of women raised to be like men. I’ve heard a lot of men say women are trying to be men, and in a society where people are literally changing their pronouns and gender, I’m always asking for clarification of what is actually meant. What behavior is this woman demonstrating that you perceive to be masculine. TD Jakes gives us a list of behaviors he thinks women have, which he contrasts to femininity implying that these are the masculine behaviors.
Women Exhibiting “Masculine” Traits
No one wants a rough, nasty, mean, aggressive, hateful, and possessive man. These are not traits to be applauded in anyone, so I agree with him that they are problematic, but they are not inherently masculine. Not only are they not inherently masculine, I feel that the promotion of these traits to succeed in the U.S., is an issue all on it’s own not to be pushed on one gender. But I digress… Let’s get back to the main point.
Most people do, however, expect a man to have some level of “tough”ness to him. So of the seven traits, there is one that could be argued is more masculine… That being said, women have to be tough too. Have you ever seen child labor? That is not dainty by any means. What’s more is that women who are falling apart emotionally and physically still have to care for their children. I have many friends who have come out of labor with health problems, but they still have to breast feed. They still have to change diapers and care for the baby they brought in to the world. If you dive even deeper, from a black woman’s perspective, which I can bet the majority of TD Jakes’ audience (and salary source) is black women, if black women were not tough our community would fall apart. It was black women like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth that made countless trips into the south to rescue enslaved people. Black women were on the front lines fighting for civil rights. Black women are the ones left to fight each time a black man is shot by police officers. If you want to go all the way back to Biblical times, it was the women who defied pharaoh and spared Moses’ life; it was Miriam who followed her brother to make sure he was ok; it was pharaoh’s daughter that gave him a home—all risking their lives by defying the decree of Pharaoh. It was Rahab who won the war. It was Jael that killed the enemy the soldiers didn’t defeat. It was Ruth who slaved away in the hot sun to glean the fields for her and her mother-in-law.
So no, women shouldn’t need (or want) to be tough all the time, but there are times that call for it.
The Heart of the Issue
To me, the list of adjectives he gives is a throw away list—a distraction—before he gets to his real issue. His issue is that women are climbing the corporate ladder. What’s interesting is that the same way politicians use coded language like “urban” to mean black or minority, he’s using coded language to essentially say women shouldn’t be working. How do I know this? Only 41 of Fortune 500 companies have a female CEO. While more women may be working in corporate America than in the 50’s, we are not overwhelming the system. Are those 41 women collapsing our families? Why is it only when women participate in corporate America that families are lost? Also of the men I’ve met in and out of college, most fall in to one of two buckets: Christian man who is struggling financially and living with his mother or Agnostic/Atheist man who is financially stable. Likely, if most men were able to provide, most women would opt to let him… But let’s not get bogged into that, because it’s the next statement he makes that really sparked something in me.
TD Jakes says women having success causes us to lose families, because they don’t need a man to buy them a house or a car, therefore there is no need for a man in their life.
Faulty Logic: A Man’s Worth
I can only think of two reasons a man would think this:
- he doesn’t know his own worth
- he’s looking for a slave
In the olden days, before the Atlantic Slave Trade, one became a slave because they were poor. We can see this in 2 Kings 4:1 where a woman is being forced to sell her sons into slavery to pay off debts. A person who could not take care of themselves or accrued a debt they could not pay back, became a servant or slave as a means of survival. Once in servitude, they were at the whim of the master. The same was true for women pre-women’s right. Women were seen as the property of their husbands. Men could beat and rape their wives all they wanted, and there was no recourse. Men could be as generous or as stingy with their money as they chose, and there was no recourse. The women of that time period endured abuse, cheating, etc., because they had no means to care for themselves outside of a man. A woman who is not destitute, who can pay her own rent, and owns her own car, is more likely to leave if she is unhappy. Unfortunately, money can be used as a means of control.
However, there’s also the issue of insecurity and self worth at play with this statement. The same way there are women who think their value comes from sex, there are many men who think their only value is in what they can buy. TD Jakes suggests that because he isn’t needed to buy the woman a house or a car, he has no place in her life. Yet, there are so many other ways to pour in to someone’s life. She may be looking for someone to:
- make her feel safe
- make her smile
- inspire her
- reach the top shelf
- open the lid of the pasta sauce
- keep her warm
- kill the bugs
- lead her spiritually
- travel the world with
- grow and expand with
- be the father of her child
There are countless ways a man can enrich a woman’s life that have absolutely nothing to do with money. Not only does he neglect the fact that they can probably buy a better house or a better car together, but using his logic, the poor boy working a minimum wage job will never be valuable to a woman because he’s never going to afford a house in this market.
Faulty Logic: Women Buying Homes
The most we get about a woman’s character in the Bible comes from Proverbs 31—which actually could be a metaphor for the church the same way Proverbs 1 personifies wisdom as a woman, but let’s assume it’s about a literal woman. The Proverbs 31 woman has job that makes her enough money that she is able to purchase a field on her own.
ז16 She considers a field, then buys it, and from her earnings she plants a vineyard. ח17 She gathers her strength around her and throws herself into her work. ט18 She sees that her business affairs go well; her lamp stays lit at night. Proverbs 31:16-18 CJB
No part of this passage or any other passage in the Bible suggests women can’t or shouldn’t work or have goals. There are at least two (by the power of two witnesses!) references to women owning land or property.
Faulty Logic: A Woman’s Fault
TD Jakes was quick to accuse society of glorifying “masculine” women, but what about the society that glorifies promiscuous men? When I was in college, majority of the men were “just having fun.” I have male friends in their mid-thirties who are terrified of marriage and commitment. They will waste a woman’s time—years—dating her, and kick her to the curb if she brings up marriage or commitment. A relationship is a two way street—it can never be one party’s fault, and in a situation where the man is supposed to be the leader, the onus is on him to do just that: lead. If men were intentionally dating in college, there would be more marriages. If people married younger, it would also be likely that they would marry before either of them could afford a house.
We also have a societal issue that glorifies the thug and the athlete as the ideal standard for men. In numerous rap songs, men who didn’t even graduate from high school (I’m looking at you Drake) are bragging on intelligent women. We have Shuri from Black Panther and the ladies from Hidden Figures, showing us well rounded intelligent black women. However, the depiction of intelligent black men is defined by Steve Urkel and Carlton Banks (or TJ Henderson)… Where is the man to man conversation that elevates black men?
It’s easy to say women shouldn’t behave this way or that way, but even TD Jakes admits that women are reacting to the circumstances we are put in. Now I don’t know what he said later in his sermon because I’ve only seen the clip that’s going viral, but on a broader level I have seen an abundance of media telling women what we are doing wrong and nothing directed to men.
In Hosea, God directs the prophet to marry a prostitute who cheats on him. She is definitely not the epitome of a woman or a wife. Arguably she deserves whatever punishment comes her way. However, because the moral of the story is about God’s love for His people, Hosea pursues her anyway. He redeems her, anyway. Marriage is literally defined as symbolic of the relationship between Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5. TD Jakes mentions that women have been hurt, so why isn’t the sermon on how men can earn back our trust? Why isn’t the sermon teaching men to say “I know you don’t trust me to take care of you because you’ve been hurt, but I’m going to pursue you and show you that you can relax?”
I wish the discussion around relationships and how men and women relate to each other was more uplifting. At work, we talk about the compliment sandwich, where you squeeze criticism in between praise. It looks something like: “I love that you protect and provide for our family, and I feel safe when I’m with you. I would feel even safer if we could have more open discussions about the things concerning our family. Thank you for always being here for us.” or “Ladies, you have been so patient and unwavering in the commitment to our community. We respect your strength and independence, and would like to make life easier for you. Let us help you carry the load, you don’t have to be strong all the time. Thank you for being the amazing women that you are.”
References and Footnotes
- Katharina Buchholz. “Only 15 Percent of CEOs At Fortune 500 Companies Are Female”. Statista. March 8, 2022; visited July 2022
- “How Many Fortune 500 CEOs Are Women? And Why So Few?”. Quantic. December 6, 2021; visited July 2022
- I say leading loosely, because they really don’t get that much screen time and if I’m remembering correctly, they get even less attention in the book. But I would say they are the most important women in the story and affect the main characters in significant ways—so leading lady seems somewhat appropriate.
- My friend sent me the clip to the right of several women discussing this very topic and I loved what they had to say so I’m including it here as well.
Other Pages to View