Nowadays, feminism (or “feminism” depending on how you see it) is one of those touchy topics. It’s an easy way to start a debate – or fight. Why? Simply because it seems that no one can agree on what “feminism” really is. Frankly, I could care less what you want to believe “feminism” stands for. I’m more concerned with the concept of what being a woman should mean to the Christian woman and far, far less concerned with what it means to society.
So what’s that got to do with the “President Maid”? Well, if you’ve seen Kaichou wa Maid-sama, you’ll understand this. If not, I’m about to give you a brief, generic, spoiler-free summary. Kaichou wa Maid-sama follows the story of Misaka Ayuzawa. She is the student council president at what was previously an all-boys school, but is now co-ed. Her goal is to improve the school for the female students there – this requires the guys to listen to her. To do this, she begins to act exceptionally strong, taking on a very clear leader role. Naturally, then, she wishes to keep her part-time job as a maid at a maid café a secret. If the guys saw that side of her, they’d never again respect her as a leader, right? That’s what she thought. I think that’s how many of us women think, too – we can’t have a strong, leading side and a softer, serving side. Well, keep reading to find out why that’s wrong.
Oftentimes, I believe that this constant pull for one side or the other (since we don’t think we can/should have both) is what tends to have women up-at-arms with men – and other women – about what exactly a woman should be; this then naturally leads to confusion over what “feminism” should mean. Now while I won’t claim to know the perfect or even ideal one for all women (if there even is such a thing), I think that really all we need is balance. A balance between those two extremes. The place where we are neither “the president” nor “the maid”.
Through Kaichou wa Maid-sama, Misaka continually learns and grows, through various ordeals. Some of these are linked to her learning to accept both “sides” of her, as she sees it – the “president” and the “maid” (hence the show being “Class President is a Maid!”). She learns that she doesn’t necessarily have to meet her society’s standards of “feminine” to be a woman. Nor does she have to conform to behaving completely unfeminine in order to be a good leader. I feel all of us women can stand to take a few pointers from this. No, not just based on my beliefs about what a woman should be, but based on what the Bible says about women.
Now, no the Bible never says “women should be like president maids” or anything remotely close to that phrasing/wording. However, there are numerous passages that talk about character, and also passages discussing women of the Bible. I just want to focus mainly on two brief examples: Proverbs 31 and Mary. I’m going to show a “president” and a “maid” side of each example, to show the importance in the balance of these two things.
For those of you who are familiar with the passage of Proverbs 31, the latter half discusses “The Wife of Noble Character”. Basically, it’s a mini-guide (only 21 verses) to what a “wife of noble character” should look like, based on what God designed for women, and for marriage, to be. Despite the passage being aimed specifically at married women, I think it speaks just as well on some terms to all women, simply because women were created to be a partner to man, so the concepts apply to all of us in how our nature should be. The “president” aspect comes out in verse 17: “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” Strength – in this case expressly physical (typically associated with men/masculinity) – is being expressed as a key trait. Yet, strength alone would do no good without a soft heart. Just a few verses later, there is a reminder of the importance of having a servant’s heart. Verse 20 says: “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” We can see there that there is a “maid” aspect to this, where being soft-hearted is an important trait in addition to the strength from before.
Now that I’ve covered the typical “Proverbs 31” go-to of what makes a Godly woman, I want to look at Mary, Jesus’ mother. My brain makes weird connections, I know, in being able to find a connection in the mother of the Savior and an animated “president maid” (even though Mary would make an awesome heroine in a shoujo manga) but hear me out.
What are the two biggest traits that studies and presentations and sermons tend to point out in Mary? The first, her strength. The second, her humility. Right there we see the “president” and the “maid” aspects. Think about what may have happened if Mary wasn’t strong. Imagine if she gave up partway through the journey of not only having, but raising, Christ. I’m not saying it ever would have happened (God made His plan how He did so it wouldn’t fail), but you get the idea – the world would not be in a good place. At all. Now also think about what may have happened if Mary wasn’t humble. Or, if she wasn’t kind, gentle, loving, and all other things that are typically considered “feminine”. I highly doubt she would have just given up her life in a moment if she had not been humble. She also certainly would not have made a very good mother.
There was a reason God designed women how He did. He gave us strength to be able to support, while balancing that with gentleness, kindness, and so on so that we even want to support. There was a reason God chose Mary to be the mother of Christ. He knew she was strong enough to take on the challenge (and yes, it would have been quite the challenge), yet also humble enough to submit to Him and follow His commands. A woman who is wholly strong, but has no “weakness” is not how God designed her to be. A woman who is entirely gentle, meek, and submissive, but has no strength is also not how God designed her to be. Now again, I won’t claim to say I’ve found some perfect balance between these two – I struggle daily to become a woman who better meets the definition of a Godly woman. I can say I know only 2 things for sure. 1) That the balance is necessary. Being both the “president” and the “maid” will make you stronger – being only one will make you weaker. 2) The only way to grow closer to this balance is to continue to pursue Christ’s vision for you – as a woman, and an individual. As long as your “president” strength comes from Him, and your “maid” servant’s heart does, too, then regardless of what this world (or “feminism”) may shout, you’re doing it right.