December 3, 2007

What Makes a Woman an Intellectual?

It's come up recently in conversation and in email, what exactly do I mean when I speak of intellectual women? What does intellectual mean? Is it highly exclusionary in that it references only academic women with a few advanced degrees? Does it imply an IQ way off the charts? Does intellectual refer to women with who only engage in the use of multi-syllablic words that even a spell-check doesn't know like supralapsarianism, self-referential incoherence, anthropomorphism, and hypostasis?

Let me put you at ease. I won't speak for the other 'Elle's, but I think Meriam-Webster's definition is helpful. In part, it suggests an intellectual is someone who is given to study, reflection, and speculation. A lot of women might say that they identify with this definition, and I definitely believe it's more inclusive than exclusive. A woman doesn't have to be in academics for this definition to apply, she just simply needs to be a thoughtful, reflective student. We should be life-long learners, always eager to grow in all ways. The definition introduces the term speculate which simply refers to pondering a subject, very similar to reflection.

So someone who is an intellectual is someone who cares to study. I would add that such a person seeks careful reflection, analysis, and application. Without the application, there is no real study because all that matters in life is worth study and all that is worth study matters to life.

So are you an intellectual? Probably so. And if you are, be sure to join the FaceBook group Out of the Box: Fellowship of Intellectual Christian Women

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