Male and Female He Created Them

Autumn Jones - Men and Women


“God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” – Genesis 1:27

A couple months ago, power tools in one hand and a tape measure in the other, I attempted to install curtains in my house. I found rods that matched the theme of the living room and curtains that would keep the heat in and the cold out.

Home Depot, with its orange industrial tough-guy-but-oh-so-organized floor plan is one of my favorite places. I was there three times the week I hung those curtains–a feat many women dread.

Curtains, screws, rods and a drill, here we go, I thought. I stood in the living room ready to prove that I too could take care of my own (minor) remodeling efforts. A few unnecessary holes later–I mismeasured one by nearly a half inch and unsuccessfully tried to screw in to drywall without an anchor–the curtains went up!

Why do I tell this story? It is certainly not some kind of “Hire Me” plea so I can install curtains in your house. You would likely end up with a bunch of unnecessary holes too. Nor is it to show you how “tough” I am. Rather, I want to suggest, perhaps in a very non-politically-correct statement, that there are just some things men are better at than women (and vice versa).

Without question, any one of my male friends–most of whom are engineers or computer people–would have installed those curtains with precise measurement. Plus, quite assuredly, they would have it done in a quarter of the time. I think it is safe to say there would not be any extra holes either.

Around the same time as the curtain fiasco, I joined an Endow (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women) study at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center in Boulder, CO where I am working on my master’s degree. The source document for that Endow study was Blessed John Paul II’s Letter to Women.

Referring to a previous Apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, JPII states that the Church \”desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the \’mystery of woman\’ and for every woman-for all that constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for the \’great works of God\’, which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through her.\”

The study continued from that point to talk about the joys and the challenges of being a woman.

Once we read JPII’s letter and discussed it at length, one of the young women asked why there was not a similar letter for men. We quickly agreed that a letter to men would be of great service to men given today’s societal expectations and pressures. Such a letter could affirm masculinity and give thanks for the many gifts they bring to the world precisely because of their male-ness. A letter like that, like JPII’s “Letter to Women,” could address the joys and challenges of being a male nowadays.

As silly as it sounds, it was exactly this idea that crossed my mind as I put up the curtains. At one point I even exclaimed, “I need a guy [to help me]!” and I was instantly reminded of how thankful I am for the men in my life.

Sure, they help with a number of practical things–cars, computers and doorknobs immediately come to mind. But beyond that, the men in my life help me learn what to desire in a future spouse. They are protective. They take the lead in romantic relationships. They are committed to their families and friends. They are passionate about faith and about continuing to grow in their relationship with God. They want to provide for their families.

They affirm my femininity each time they affirm their own masculinity.

I am ever more aware of the role they serve in perfect complementarity of my role as a female. In being the men God created them to be, I am more able to be the woman God created me to be.

Men need women to value, appreciate and request their assistance in those things they were created to do–protect, lead, build, provide, etc.–and as women, I believe strongly that it is our responsibility to affirm these very characteristics.

Perhaps the next time I hang curtains or take on some kind of building project I will reach out to one of the guys, not to demonstrate a weakness of my own, but to show greater appreciation for their willingness to help. I will still go to Home Depot and I will still be right there next to them, but I will let them lead. I am quite certain, by working together, we will accomplish far more than we would individually.

“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” – Genesis 2:18

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6 thoughts on “Male and Female He Created Them”

  1. Thank you for pointing out weaknesses in this piece and for
    bringing up important characteristics of both males and females. Allow me to
    make a couple of important distinctions. This piece was not designed to pit one
    sex against the other, nor to suggest that one sex is somehow superior or
    inferior. Rather, I hoped to simply point out the beautiful complementarity of
    the sexes.

    As a woman who values independence and strength, in no way
    did I intend for this to come across as a “some tasks are better suited for men
    and others for women” post. I used the example of the building project solely a
    starting point for my thoughts. I know plenty of women who can – and excel at –
    build, lead, protect, provide and so on. I have also built, designed and
    engineered plenty of my own large and small-scale projects without help.

    Let this not be a piece that furthers stereotypes of the
    differences between men and women, but one that points out our intrinsic need
    for the opposite sex, and not only purely for reproductive purposes. We all certainly
    should help each other, regardless of sex, and there is an ever-greater need
    for respect for intelligence across professions and individuals.

    I am thankful for Blessed John Paul II’s Letter to Women and
    I do still hold that a letter to men would only help in this discussion. Glory
    be to God for our differences and for the ways in which we can continue working
    together to build His Kingdom.

    1. …I think the difference between male and female in that complementary relationship is a matter of stewardship, which is not reducible to the “stuff” women and men have and do. Men and women steward whatever gifts they have been given differently.

      Women are all called to the vocation of motherhood, just as men are all called to the vocation of fatherhood– which the Church does not understand in an exclusively biological way. Here, the reverence and respect that the Church has for the witnesses of celibates and virgins– as in the priesthood and religious life– is crucial. That witness prevents us (or should prevent us) from reducing what is actually a matter-and-spirit relationship, as per the way God made us as human beings, to the material plane alone.

      Women can still mother and nurture with the talents that God has given her to be a pediatrician or an engineer, for example. She is meant to nurture a fallen world– her own children, and also other people’s (students, acquaintances, colleagues, employees, patients, clients, etc.)– and choose for Christ wherever she is. She is meant to be part of what it means to take the Church out into the world.

      Likewise, men can still father and protect, inside and outside the home. They are head of the family, not because they have the bigger paycheck, or are “smarter, less emotional, etc.,” but because God has given them that authority and headship to serve others. When a woman submits to her husband, she is not agreeing to be lorded over by some neanderthal who thinks himself entitled to his own way and who ought to command absolute obedience from everyone placed in his care (lest stewardship lead to tyranny, and tyranny is not leadership). She is meant to give herself into the care of someone who lays down his life as Christ did for His Church.

  2. I believe that there are only two distinctions between the male and female of our species. Each plays a unique and separate role in the process of reproduction. Men and women are assigned different roles sacramentally in the RCC. In every other aspect of life, men and women are equal in dignity, capacity to achieve or accomplish any task, break any glass ceiling. Any distinctions are either anthropologically or culturally determined and hence they are artificial. Please do not sell women short, nor men.

  3. If you want an excuse for being incompetent at a task, please look to your own mind, not to being female. I could have installed your curtain rods quite adequately; my father would have left you with a giant hole in your wall. Facility with power tools is not located anywhere on the Y chromosome.

    You posit a world where men need respect for their abilities from women but women are totally okay with men holding our intelligence and competence in contempt. Your entire post is “look what a stupid, helpless moron I am! It’s because I’m a girl, and girls are all dimwits who need men to give us orders!” No woman needs to think, ever, so she won’t question you Superior Manly Superiority!” Please, if you want to be rescued, great, but you fantasy will be a nightmare to the rest of the world.

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  5. Ok this is bothersome… sure a encyclical to men might be nice, but just because a lady doesn’t know how to handle power tools doesn’t mean that she is a representative for all women. Nor is the inability to manage hands on projects specifically feminine. Besides that every person sought to be affirmed in their ability to protect, lead, build, provide, etc. none of those listed above are particularly masculine characteristics. I would say that men and women should help each other, women should help men, men and men should help each other, and women should help women. There is a difference between men and women, yes, but helping each other is not a gender specific task. You could have just as easily asked a female friend for help. There are tons of female engineers, architects, carpenters, soldiers, mathematicians, etc. whose femininity is not diminished simply because they make a living out of traditionally masculine roles. Perhaps the reason the is not an encyclical to men is because of the history of abusive patriarchy on every continent of this planet that continues to this day. Women are unappreciated hence the need for JPII’s encyclical.

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