What a week it’s been. After long, hot days of waiting and one too many false alarms, the Duchess of Cambridge has captivated the world's attention-and most of its media sources-once again. And this time not with a long-sleeved, Sarah Burton wedding dress, but with the arrival of an even grander design. Yes, friends, I'm talking about the Royal Baby.
Three days have passed since His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge met the world, and somewhere between refreshing the live web stream of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary's Hospital and following The Clarence House Twitter page, I had to stop myself to ask a simple question: "Lacy, what the heck are you doing?" I admit that I have a knack for turning small little molehills of drama into major mountains, and that I have a slight bent towards the House of Windsor (It's my Welsh ancestry- I have no choice but to care!), but allow me an attempt to explain [read: justify] my Royal Baby fervor.
Not only will this wee one eventually serve as the Head of State in 16 countries, but for the first time in the British monarchy's history, the ruling status was not affected by the baby's gender. Prior to this birth, if the baby was a female, her title was subject to the birth of a younger brother, who would precede her in line to the throne. But thanks to an amendment passed by the Commonwealth in 2011, squabbles between siblings will be limited to the playroom.
Will and Kate's baby boy sets a major precedence as the first British heir for which gender will not play a factor in his ability to rule. As Prime Minister Cameron put it, “the idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he's a man... this way of thinking is at odds with the modern countries that we've all become." The new ruling is enough to make any woman stand a little taller.
I don't consider myself a feminist (or any sort of "ist", for that matter), but this really excites the woman in me. It's a strong signal resounding across the globe that women are up to the task of leadership. And not just as a second-rate substitute for a man, but by and through the use of the inherent, God-given gifts that she possesses. (I mean, after a Jubilee celebration for Queen Elizabeth, is anyone still arguing that a successful rule and a female ruler are mutually exclusive terms?)
Not long ago, my thinking on the topic of women in leadership hovered close to the idea that though a woman may at times be called into roles of authority, she could only do so at the expense of some part of her Imago Dei. A woman could be strong, at the expense of her vulnerability. A woman could be smart, at the expense of her compassion. A woman could command a room full of influential power-players, at the expense of her ability to notice the outcast on the margins. Influence only came at the high cost of her personhood.
Somewhere between the story of Queen Esther as the divinely-appointed abolitionist for the Jewish people and the strong reputation of Angela Merkel as Germany's first female Chancellor, that notion has changed. I now view vulnerability, compassion, and an eye for the least among us as attributes that are essential to leadership, not opposed to it.
At almost every church I’ve attended, I see women function as oft-unseen addendums to the work of ministering the Gospel. Would you like to volunteer to work in the nursery? Becky in the back will connect you. Interested joining in Women’s Small Groups? Check your bulletin for more information. And the lack of female presence in leadership doesn’t exist solely in the church. The majority of my bosses have been male, as were my professors in college.
And yet as I recall, there is no place in the Garden where only Adam was permitted to dwell. When we relegate men and women to certain realms of life, we lose a significant part of God’s sacred design. It is at great cost to our society that the unique gifts a woman may possess-gifts of compassion, empathy, vulnerability, and intuition to name a few-are frequently seen as weakness and deemed unsuitable in certain realms of human life. It seems to me that the real mistake is not simply relegating a woman to certain leadership positions, but in refusing her entrance from the places that God has intended for her to go.
A woman’s role is a nuanced and intensely personal issue, yet even the most complex situations and cultural moments can be illuminated with the help of a baby. So, though little Prince George will almost certainly be a King, his birth ushers in a moment in our human history worth capturing-a moment when being born a woman is no longer a disqualification for being a nation's Sovereign. In my opinion, that's a moment for watching andcelebrating.
-Lacy Tannous is a Midwestern transplant living wholeheartedly with her husband on the North Shore of Massachusetts. A 2011 graduate of Gordon College, Lacy looks forward to returning to her alma mater in the coming fall-this time as a Resident Director. You can find her musings on marriage, music, faith, and more at www.lacyblaine.com and on Twitter @lacyblaine.