The month of March is designated in the U.S. as "Women's History Month" - a month-long celebration of the contributions and accomplishments of women.
Throughout her history, the Church has also celebrated the contributions of many incredible, beautiful, passionate and holy women to our world. Coincidentally, it is during this month that we celebrate one of the greatest "accomplishments" by any woman ever.
On March 25th, we celebrate a major feast day, the Solemnity of the Annunciation: that moment when one of the most humble and amazing women in the world gave her "Yes" to God's invitation to receive His Son into her womb!
Coincidentally (or not?), March is also the month in which we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the man who answered God's call to be the one to protect and provide for this most beautiful woman and her Son, our Savior.
In reflecting on these two great solemnities, it's beautiful to see how the differences between men and women can complement one another and come together in service of a greater purpose. In his Theology of the Body, Pope St. John Paul II spoke often about life being "co-educative" between man and woman. He said that life comes down to "what man will be for woman, and what woman will be for man."
Part of this "education" is learning the ways men and women are different when it comes to gender and brain physiology and chemistry. There are real and radical differences both physically and chemically that lead to practical differences between men and women at the level of nature.
For instance, women communicate in a way that is beyond logic because a woman's brain is able to perceive things all at once in a way a man's brain is not really able to do as easily. (My wife frequently amazes me with her ability to "just know" exactly what our new baby needs at any given moment.)
There is a primacy for relationships built into the "feminine genius" - the beautiful term JPII used to describe the special capabilities of women. In contrast, part of what I like to call the "masculine genius" is an ability to break things into parts (to compartmentalize) because of the way a man's brain is wired.
This natural ability to compartmentalize allows for distancing from "the person" and from being overwhelmed by emotions: necessary qualities in situations where there arises a need to defend or protect others.
Both "geniuses" are needed, and we are called to help educate and support one another.
To hear more about the masculine and feminine "geniuses" and how our differences were designed to contribute to realizing our common goal, check out the Being Human podcast episode #12: Different by Design!