I grew up in a household full of girls. I was initially the sixth of seven, and then sixth of nine daughters in a household with only three sons. I never heard anyone refer to me or any of my sisters as ‘weak.’
There were no separate (gender) chores in our home – everybody took turns doing all the chores – cooking, cleaning, etc..
I attended a missionary ‘only girls’ school, where we grew our own food and kept the school grounds ourselves. There were no janitors or school staff beyond teachers, House Mistresses and the resident Matron, all of whom directed and supervised, but did not do our work. Together, about six hundred girls kept a very beautiful, well-kept and well-run school system and ground. Our girls competed in all categories of performance and activities with neighboring only-boys schools, and I never once heard anyone refer to any of the girls as ‘weak.’
I attended college with both sexes and studied a very rigorous program. All the young women, including me, held our own and were par with our male counterparts – enduring long hours of lectures, pulling daily all-nighters and still staying on top of our game. I never once heard a professor refer to the females as ‘weak’ or cultivate a different standard for assessing the performance of the female students, or even consider our work ‘less’ than that of the males. Everyone was held to the same rigorous standard and we all excelled. The top of my graduating class was a female!
Post undergrad, every degree holder (men and women) was compelled to enroll in a year-long National Service program that was preceded by a month of rigorous training by the military. Not one single woman was excused or given special treatment. Men and women, alike, were subjected to the same rigorous physical training for 30 days and then released to make a life for themselves some place new. Sometimes in very rural areas. Not one time, did I hear one woman being referred to by the military personnel as ‘weak!’
In my entire life, I never heard a woman being referred to as weak until I switched careers and found myself in church ministry, and more so, when I moved to an area where discrimination against women in leadership and racial discrimination was rife both in the church, religious institutions and in secular society. That was when I encountered ‘weak’ women.
I recognized the ‘weak women’ because I sometimes found myself in that camp.
I recognized the ‘weak women’ when I went to God in prayer to ask for His help against some form of discrimination or the other. I recognized the ‘weakness’ in me as my inability to overcome a ‘system’ that pushed against women in leadership and against women as men’s equals. I recognized a weakness that was not necessarily inherent in me, either as a person or in my gender, but rather as the lack of affirming space and place for women and people of color as equals to men and Caucasians.
No one who has met me could describe me as weak. Very few men can handle what I handle. I know this, because I don’t see anyone one of them in my situation who are doing it! But I do see and hear male colleagues list things which bring them down – things which are not up to half of what’s on my plate!
For almost five decades, I have lived alongside women and men and I know there are NO weak women!
Rather, what we have, are systems that are designed to break the spirit of women to make them weak...
Systems that ascribe a role to women that does not allow them thrive economically as their male counterparts.
Systems that make them powerless in relationships, church and society by taking away or seeking to silence their voices.
Systems that say women don’t matter, except a man says so.
Systems that foster the spiritual, physical, mental, economic, and sexual abuse of women.
Systems that say women only matter when they have a man in their lives.
Systems that say women only matter to the extent that a male-dominant society says they do.
Systems that say women of color are less than their Caucasian sisters.
I am not a weak woman and in my entire life I have never met a weak woman. But I have met (and have sometimes being) weakened women (made somewhat powerless) – weakened by the discrimination against our gender and or discrimination against our race.
Lack of equal status and worth as men. When women are denied equal status, worth and affirmation as men, it creates ‘weaknesses’ i.e., a reduction in the places and spaces where women can live and thrive as their male counterparts. But it does not mean a woman is inherently weak!
There are no weak women, except those who have been and are bound by wicked doctrines of patriarchy. There are no weak women!
The only valid weakness that women have is that which is shared by the human race – i.e., the limitations of human beings as compared to God. Only to such a weakness, will I as a woman, fully subscribe.
Only to God, should any woman (and all men) say, feel and confess “I am weak, but Thou art strong!”
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor.12:9).