Letter from the Editor: Wondering about Womanhood

Defining womanhood has become a major focus in society. Voices ring clear and loud calling women to lean in and stand strong. The freedoms and opportunities women enjoy in the United States make the discussion possible.

The call is much different in Christian circles. Here, women are urged to be biblical; each camp helps by establishing its boundaries and inviting women to step inside the line. Biblical can mean Gospel-centered freedom in one camp; it can mean traditional gender roles in another.

How are we to sort out these competing messages from all sides? Does the Gospel inform our definition or is our definition a subset of the Gospel itself?

These questions rattle within women, causing them to look anxiously about for answers and to worry they will be excommunicated from inner circles.

In this issue of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine, we take a look at these questions of womanhood. The writers offer pieces of the definition from culturally informed and Gospel-filtered perspectives.

First we hear from Charlotte Donlon, who speaks to the power of pop music for gaining a clearer definition of herself in her article, “Making Space for Taylor Swift and My Past.” She explains:

“After a few days of listening to ‘Blank Space,’ it occurred to me that one reason I’m drawn to the song is that Swift is singing about me.”

Television is another strong influence in how we define womanhood. In “All the Single Ladies on TV and in the Church,” Bekah Mason reviews TV’s portrayal of the single woman and her place in society, then analyzes the Church’s response:

“For all of the advantages gained by women through the first two waves of feminism, Christianity, at times, used those very advantages to reinforce the doubt felt in the 1970s: could a single woman really make it on her own? Is it even God’s will that women be content in their singleness, or should the pursuit of marriage be the ultimate goal? Are women who are not married somehow inherently incapable of wholly displaying the Imago Dei?”

Being God’s image bearer isn’t dependent upon marital status. It is the essence of our design, one that, when properly understood, infuses the heart with courage. Too often, however, messages encourage women to shrink away from their God-appointed status. Lauren Wilford shares her experience in “Killing the Spirit of Fear: How Female Action Heroes Can Help Women Live Courageously.” Her fears were put to rest in seeing strong females portrayed on screen:

“When a film gives us a genuine woman action hero, like in Kill Bill or this summer’s Mad Max: Fury Road, it feels revolutionary. It feels like being told that women are human. It feels like being told that heroism is available to even one such as me.”

In addition to these features, the support articles touch on motherhood, theology, and feminism. As you read this issue, we trust—whether you are a woman or a man—that your definition of womanhood will gain greater clarity and become more deeply rooted in the beauty of the Gospel. And for our female readers, may you gain greater freedom in being exactly the woman God created you to be as His unique image bearer.

Illustration courtesy of Seth T. Hahne. Check out Seth’s graphic novel and comic review site, Good Ok Bad.