Dawn Turner, a columnist with the Chicago Tribune, recently wrote a thought-provoking article, When Women Call Themselves the G-Word, in which she suggests being called a “girl’ is an insult. Her words: “On Monday, CBS will premiere its new drama “Supergirl.” Although the lead character is a 20-something with powers similar to those of her older cousin, Superman, there’s something about calling her a girl that rings anachronistic in my ears. Reminds me of an old rotary phone that’s not only tiny but completely out of date.” On a few points, I agree with Dawn. For example, she suggests that women reduce their own respectability when they leverage their feminine virtues to earn favors or attract attention. These are, by the way, Biblical principles (Pr. 6-7; I Tim 2) that even non-religious observers recognize as truisms. As Turner puts it, “in a culture that over-sexualizes girls…[this attitude] perpetuates the idea of women as weak, one-dimensional beings.” Turner’s point is that too many women are duped into preferring the “G” word as a result of culture’s fascination with and promotion of sexuality. Women, according to Turner, ought to think twice before reducing themselves to culture’s cheap characterization of females. To my knowledge, Turner is not a Christ-follower. Her perspective, however, aligns nicely with the Bible’s view of women, reminding us that whether non-believers admit it or not, Biblical values are good for society. Turner exposes the irony that while America is pushing young girls to enter STEM fields, culture continues to propagate the falsehood that a girl’s value is in how she is viewed, not in how well she can think.
As the father of four very “girly” girls, I have a vested interest in how young ladies view themselves and their future. Not only as a dad but as a Christian educator, the issues surrounding self-esteem, self-perception, and human value are inherent in the work I do with young people every day. Here are a few principles I want my own daughters and all young ladies to understand as early as possible:
- A girl’s value comes from being made in the image of God (Gen 1). No human being is worthy of defining, qualifying, or quantifying human value. Communicating the Creator’s view of all human beings and His desire for a personal relationship with each person is task number one for all fathers, mothers, and educators.
- A girl’s beauty is derived from the inside out, not the other way around (I Pet 3:3-4; Pr. 31:30). This doesn’t mean make-up, jewelry, and high heels are off limits until age 30, but it does mean that anything on the outside should primarily accentuate a joyful face and a godly countenance. There is a strong connection between where a girl believes her attractiveness comes from and what she concludes about her worth.
- A girl’s heart belongs to her parents until further notice (Eph 6:1-4, Deut 6:6-7, Pr. 4:23). Emotions are a volatile thing, and no one needs to inform the parents of a pre-teen daughter just how fickle the untamed heart can be. Emotions drive actions, and actions set the course of a life. Allowing a maturing girl to experiment with her heart and emotions as though the outcome were unimportant would be foolish at best and a disaster at worst. The time will come for Godly love to develop, but until then her mother and father must “keep her heart with all diligence”.
- A girl’s role is the same as a boy’s: submission (Rom. 13:1). Through authority, the Lord has provided an umbrella of protection for all people. Stay within His plan of submission and He will bless; Get out from under His protection and expect problems. The Bible’s ideal woman is not a mindless lemming but rather a steady supporter of God’s desire for masculine leadership. Behind many successful male leaders are graceful women who encourage and build up God’s authority structure.
- Finally, a girl’s influences play a significant role in her ideas about who she is and what gives her value (Matt. 7:18; I Cor 15:33). If parents are not actively directing the thoughts and motivations of children, the surrounding culture will gladly take over. Friends, entertainment, and reading materials all hold sway in a girl’s thinking about image, and left to herself, a young lady will naturally perceive herself wrongly. Boys derive their self-value in what they think of themselves; Girls derive value in what they believe others think of them.
Girls are a unique bunch. As I deal with my own brood of females I often find myself singing “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” from The Sound of Music while inserting one of my own girl’s names. Girls will warm a daddy’s heart while vexing a daddy’s mind. Rearing girls to think rightly about themselves is no simple task, but the correct mindset will reap long-term dividends.
What’s so wrong with the “G” word? Absolutely nothing. When defined and interpreted correctly, it’s one of the most flattering words in our vocabulary.