Converts: men vs women …?
A lot of people have remarked to me how unusual it seems to them that I would develop an interest in the church on my own, because in their experience of converts, most are men, and women tend a) to be more reluctant and b) to be initially introduced because of the interests of a significant other or maybe a parent. Of course, plenty of female converts later become just as enthusiastic if not more so, but at first glance, it seems that men in the US are more likely than women to see the appeal.
I have no idea if this is statistically true, I am only repeating sentiments that have been expressed to me often, plus my own observations, followed by the question: why?
Why would Orthodoxy tend to appeal, among Americans at least, more to men than to women? It’s certainly true that I meet mostly families or single men who have converted, rarely single women. Also, many women have told me similar stories about how they were sort of begged to consider Orthodoxy and took a long time to embrace it, despite their husband or boyfriend’s almost immediate enthusiasm.
And it doesn’t seem at all true that men are more dedicated to the faith once they have embraced it… the difference is in the initial interest.
I wonder if this is an American thing? A Protestant thing, since most of the converts in question were former Protestants? I don’t know enough converts from religions other than Christianity, nor do I know enough about Protestant Christianity to make any thoughtful observation….
I will think about it more, because I can’t really form a coherent reasoning. I don’t think I’m very different from most women, including most female converts except that I have never been a Protestant or Evangelical. Therefore, the sensory experience of the Orthodox Church is different, but not totally unfamiliar to me.
I have heard it suggested that Evangelical Christianity has been “feminized” and that in contrast there is a refreshing masculine quality for many converts in the Orthodox church. But based on my admittedly limited experience with Protestantism/Evangelicalism, I think Orthodoxy seems more feminine (although not to the exclusion of masculinity). Especially if we’re talking about “low church” Protestantism… absolutely nothing about that seems feminine to me.
But, what do I know?