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The Woman in Proverbs

I have been mulling over what the world thought and… thinks of women.

It brought me to the conclusion that everything  the world thought and thinks of women are in proverbs. A proverb is a simple and concrete saying that expresses a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity.

Here are a couple of my favorite proverbs:

A lady is a woman who makes it easier for men to be gentlemen. – American Proverb

A hundred men may make an encampment, but it takes a woman to make a home. – Chinese Proverb

Instruct a man, instruct an individual, instruct a woman, you instruct a nation. – Moroccan proverb

I’m sure there are a lot more ancient unwritten proverbs that are unique to each culture and that differ in form and use of metaphor.

Here is what is especially striking about this discovery:

(1) These proverbs are from different parts of the world with civilizations and cultures far apart from the other. Their cultural differences and beliefs are unique to them and yet their ‘proverbial’ belief in the role and value of woman is the same!

(2) The very fact that they have these sayings that are spoken in key moments, show that it was recognized by individuals and households that women and men have particular roles that they play to make their homes, communities and nations… flourish.

(3)  I feel like I’ve heard this before… Is that you, Ven. Arch. Fulton Sheen?

To a great extent, the level of any civilization is the level of it’s womanhood…When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her.The higher her virtue, the more her character, the more devoted she is to truth justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worth of herThe history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.
Of course, along my research there were those proverbs that weren’t so nice and pretty such as the tendencies of being gossips and using beauty to faze men. That just goes to show that these ancient civilizations have seen it before and it’s nothing new to them and it also doesn’t mean that’s just the way women are! Instead, those kinds of proverbs should serve as a lesson to us, women that we can certainly use our actions, words and our appearances to beautify instead of destroy.
Going back… after talking about the past, what do people think of women now?
Apparently, there is that fight for “equality” which I personally don’t subscribe to. Although this fight was spurred on by the sexual revolution to promote equal right to vote and equal opportunities in the work force, the fight has gotten out of hand. I don’t believe that there is any fight for power between men and women at all and there shouldn’t be one (at least, not anymore). I also don’t think that men and women are the ‘same’ in their qualities etc. These points are well-explained by Matt Walsh in this aha-inducing commonsensical article.
Interestingly enough, I have observed that women are actually aware of the fact that we are not the same.  We don’t realize that our ‘fight for equality’ is a big result of the search for what women ought to be.
How? It seems like we’re looking for what it means… to be a lady. To be a lady is so different from being a gentleman and that already shows the difference between men and women.
The evidence is immortalized on the internet where Facebook pages, Tumblr accounts and Pinterest boards are dedicated to the “Rules of a Lady.” This trend of coming up and sharing quotes or rules of a lady was popularized sometime in 2008. The quotes are typed in a very elegant Georgia font with a white background.
Just like these:
ImageImageImageIn between these very specific and often times practical rules, there are those contradicting quotes such as this:
ImageOkkkaaaaaaay…
The point is women are trying to look for that standard, that feminine vision… what kind of women should we be?
For a Catholic like me, I looked at what God has written about women in the Holy Bible. There are excellent women characters in the bible that we can turn to (especially the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the epitome of true femininity) but there is also that unnamed and enviable Proverbs 31 woman. A very contemporary description of her is: she manages her home like Martha Stewart, runs her business like Oprah and cares for others like Mother Teresa. With that kind of description, who wouldn’t be intimidated?
There must be a reason why she is unnamed and I think it’s for us, women, to relate with her. God wouldn’t have it written if we didn’t aspire to go through life wanting the qualities He desires and wants for us to have. What love He has for us.
That leaves a huge question mark for us women now.
Where do we go from here? What should we do to know more and to make known our feminine qualities?
I think it just starts with each and every woman.
We have to realize the power of our beauty and the importance of how we present ourselves to the world most especially how we respect ourselves in front of men. We have to care so much about other people that we can practically feel the pain or the tiredness from the tips of their fingers. We have to take care of the little things that surround us – the order and cleanliness of our home, our workplace, even our streets. We have to quit exclaiming ‘me, me, me’ too much that it blurs our empathy…
Photo by Elinor Carucci (of her Motherhood series)
Photo by Elinor Carucci (of her Mother series)
Just to clarify:  One of the issues brought up about women was the polygamous beliefs and the “normally” horrendous mistreatment of wives in some parts of Asia. I thoutgh “Well, no wonder we think that men hate women! Here we are getting news from around the world that women are treated differently as what they are supposed to because of deeply rooted traditions that are intertwined with both politics and religion. Yes, these women should be respected, absolutely! But we’re mixing it all up now! Let’s not combine feminism to the issues against human dignity!” There is a world of difference between this idea of man being the same as woman therefore they should be treated the same which falls under the feminist camp and the right of every person with the same human dignity (whether man or woman) to be treated with respect. It is such an awful comment when after a man is tortured by a woman, they are pointed at and made fun of. Whether a man or a woman gets beat up and tortured by the opposite sex is a mistreatment of a human being period.
I cannot stress enough about how lucky we are to live in a country where women are well-regarded and well-respected. The Philippines in her culture is very matriarchal. Although we’re not perfect and we are slowly absorbing this feminism, women do have a venue to instill in its community our true feminine genius.
Here’s to the realization of a true woman.
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