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John Bressler - Understanding the gender game
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John Bressler


            I was watching the local news this morning and was able to hear an interview where a young professional woman was citing numerous situations that clearly indicated that women are still being discriminated against in the workplace and that the so-called "glass ceiling" is still in operation. When I attended college back in the 50s, old Marshall was indeed coed, but at the same time, there were considerably fewer women than men. Basically, as upward mobility was limited in much of the professional arena, a young lady in the business department was rare and most seemed to gravitate towards teaching, nursing, fine arts and the like.

            As a young man who lacked sensitivity training -- and I am not making excuses but just stating a fact -- all I wanted to do was to get my education and wasn't very interested in class discussions about women in the workplace, equal rights on the job and sexual discrimination. I sincerely apologize and believe I have grown quite a bit, thanks to my patient and lovely wife and daughter who have put more than one knot on my head.

            I do remember the years I worked in the retail field and overheard lots of very heated arguments in the personnel office as the director tried to explain why some jerk of a male got a promotion over a better qualified and capable woman. I will never forget one conversation where the personnel director told one young lady, "The fact is that men are the breadwinners, head of the household. Don't let emotions get in the way, and certainly don't get pregnant and need time off from work."

            While I believe that times have changed for the better, I am not naive enough to think that discrimination is a thing of the past.

            There are still more than enough males and females that believe a woman's place is in the home, women's submissive should be a required course and just find a good husband and raise a family.

            I am not criticizing anyone's belief system, so relax, but I am supporting women who choose to be independent, competitive and executives. We have some unbelievable women in politics, military, corporations and extraordinarily demanding positions who don't have to take a back seat to anyone. Period!

            Sometimes I believe that much of the problem began in Eden when God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helper fit for him."

            Let me add that most men should not be alone because they can't stay out of trouble. Let me also say that the Hebrew is better translated, "I will make one who completes him."

            Eve was not a second-class citizen to be hidden in a closeted environment. It is more like God said that Adam is just half a person but with Eve by his side, he is truly a whole person. I like that! Aetiologically speaking -- or explaining an origin -- it was not until after the fall of man and exclusion from Eden that the arrangement changed and the fights began.

            As biblical history grows, we find women of enormous leadership: there was Miriam and Deborah who were prophets and judges, and Huldah who interpreted Scripture for Josiah. In the New Testament, we have Phoebe, a deacon, Priscilla who taught Apollos, and (hold on to your hats) a possible apostle. There isn't time nor is this the right format to argue exegesis and don't call Soundoff.

            As a pastor and an educator, I have spoken to a great number of very gifted and capable ladies and every single one deserves the right and the opportunity to choose and make their place in the world regardless of negative opinion. I am not saying that we ignore the facts that some jobs require strength, may be physically dangerous or demand abilities that only a certain few can display. I am saying that every individual, regardless of sex, should have the opportunity to compete or apply for whatever occupation they choose. Please don't get into locker room politics as that is an area I'm hardly able to address.

            I am staring at this page and realize that I have done a pretty good job of typing myself into a corner. Here's my way out.

            No one should be placed in any position where he or she is not capable or qualified. In a thought-provoking book, "The Peter Principle," there is one great line, "He was promoted to his level of incompetence." Some folks are great salespeople but terrible supervisors. Some are wonderful followers but dangerous leaders. I could go on and on.

            As God said, "I will make one who will complete him."

            Thanks, God.

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