How to Treat a Woman (You’re Working With)

I posted this a couple years ago.  It has come to mind recently as I grit my teeth and try to get through the day. 

I decided that for men to love and respect a woman as Christ loves the Church takes more than holding the door, or serving her the first piece of food, or telling her how nice she looks. All of these actions are good and usually received with gratitude.

However, it’s too easy to only do these things, and do them in the name of drawing a line between the sexes so that a man can also distinguish himself from a woman unjustly – foregoing her company among friends when it suits him (even if she happens to be present), dismissing her contribution because of the enigmatic communication style, circumscribing areas of interest and achievement as though they belonged only to his sex, not valuing elements of her personhood that are unfamiliar to his own experience, etc.

It seems to me that the way a man can serve a woman as Christ in this age is to include her, to listen, to respect her manner of communication and leadership, her vision, understanding and foresight – to allow the mystery of complementarity to penetrate society in such a way that its development is characteristically human, not masculine. This is too dynamic an interchange to be a matter of quantifiable ‘equality.’ This seems to be possible only with the tremendous humility and self-scrutiny of both sexes.

I would rather not be served by acts of chivalry that are really a facade for the preservation of a male-dominated environment. I would rather be served by being heard (perhaps even asked, “What do you think?”) and included.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Jane Sloan


B. Jane Sloan is a writer and high school theology teacher from Atlanta, GA. In addition to blogging for Catholic Exchange, she has been published in Our Sunday Visitor, Notre Dame Magazine and the literary journal Omnibus. Jane graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2007 with a B.A. in theology and philosophy. In 2009, she graduated with an M. Ed. from Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education. In 2009 Jane made a 500-mile pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. She spent summer 2010 as an intern planting vegetables and baking bread at the Abbey of Regina Laudis OSB in Bethlehem, CT. In 2011 she was present among the millions at the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. She is currently working toward her M.A. in Theology. Follow her on Twitter @CE_SundayBrunch. Follow her other blog on all-natural eating at

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  • noahskuce

    Dear Ms. Sloan,

    Two items, one picayune but important and the other substantial.

    1. Use forgoing instead of foregoing. Most younger writers depend too heavily on spell-check systems to protect them from errors of meaning.

    2. Your post expresses human interactions as though gender was somehow the dominant factor when it is no. The dominant factor is love or its lack. It is love, not martial valor, that properly drives a man to hold open a door for a woman or another man, to listen attentively and reflectively to another person when he is speaking, to sacrifice for others as Christ sacrificed for us.

    Gender studies are a dangerous thing for students as they facilitate looking at human action through the prism of sex roles. This is certainly not what Jesus modeled for us during his time on earth. He loves all his children without regard to their sexuality even as he makes serious demands on all of them regarding their hearts and their actions.

  • Jane

    1. Condescending.

    2. “Gender” is a loaded word, a prism.