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Tag: feminism (page 1 of 3)

THIS is what a feminist looks like

 

Last week I added this shirt to my Amazon wish list in hopes that my husband might purchase it for my birthday.

Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 3.11.20 PM

I love this shirt because it challenges people’s stereotypes of feminists.

I am a Christian.  I am in a heterosexual marriage.  I am a mother.  I am the full-time caregiver for my son.

And I am a feminist.

Feminism gets a bad rap in conservative culture where it is instantly equated with angry mobs of women and extreme liberal views (here’s  a recent example).  While there may be some people who fit those stereotypes and call themselves feminists, that is certainly not the norm.

So what does it mean to be a feminist?

Feminism is “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

That’s all.

There are feminists who are “pro-life” and others who are “pro-choice”.  Some feminists are complementarians and others are egalitarians.  Feminists can be stay-at-home parents, work full time or have a combination of those two.  Some feminists (including many of the first feminists) are deeply religious and others have no religious practices at all.  Men are feminists as well as women.

What all these people, these feminists, have in common is that they don’t believe that gender should limit someone’s rights or opportunities.  I believe that most feminists would say that they wished there wasn’t a need for feminism.  Like me, I think most people wish that gender didn’t restrict people.  But the truth is that we live in a world that is strongly biased against women.

And that is just the beginning.

In westernized countries we take many rights for granted without acknowledging that early feminists fought for those rights.  And around the world, many women still lack these rights and opportunities.

I’ve heard people say that while they are supportive of men and women having equal rights, they still don’t want to call themselves a feminist.  They don’t want to be associated with stereotypes that don’t represent their views.  I understand that.

For awhile I didn’t want to be called a Christian.  It seemed like each day I was hearing new examples of Christians being bigots.  There are Christians who picket at the funerals of soldiers, cheering and mocking at someone’s loss.  Other Christians burn the holy books of other religions or burn Bibles when they weren’t the “right kind”.  Some Christian organizations have a long history of being racism and homophobia.  And I was horrified at being associated with any of that.IMG_0576

But, ultimately, I decided that not using the word “Christian” to describe myself wasn’t the answer.  There will always be people who identify as Christians with whom I disagree, even if the differences are more subtle than the things I mentioned above.
Similarly, I can be a feminist and disagree with other feminists.  Because being a feminist doesn’t define all of my political beliefs or my religion.  Being a feminist means that I believe girls should be given the same opportunities as boys.

And so I’ll proudly wear that shirt because THIS is what a feminist looks like!

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The Best of the Month: May

 

May has been a light month for me, both in writing and reading.  Between planning for, traveling to, and recovering from my sister’s beautiful wedding (and let’s be honest, a Veronica Mars marathon), I just haven’t spent as much time writing as I probably should have.  Let’s chalk May up to being  a brain-break month, eh?  Still, I did do some reading and so I’ve collected the most thought-provoking posts I’ve read this month.  Take a look!

 

BOOKS

Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs. Darcy: 5 Book Summer Reading Guide

I chose 5 titles that 1. are tremendously entertaining, 2. have broad appeal, and 3. are perfect for the beach, pool, or lounge chair in the backyard. This means the “breezy novels” category is over-represented, but I think I’m okay with that.

 

CHRISTIANITY

Rachel Held Evans: 3 Things You Might Not Know About Proverbs 31

As I did more research, I learned that indeed the only instructive language in the poem is directed at the poem’s intended male audience: “Praise her for all her hands have done.”  And yet many Christians interpret this passage prescriptively, as a command to women rather than an ode to women, with the home-based endeavors of the Proverbs 31 woman cast as the ideal lifestyle for all women of faith

 

Kathryn Joyce at American Prospect: By Grace Alone

“The reason why offenders get away with what they do is because we have too many cultures of silence,” Tchividjian said. “When something does surface, all too often the church leadership quiets it down. Because they’re concerned about reputation: ‘This could harm the name of Jesus, so let’s just take care of it internally.’”

“Jesus doesn’t need your reputation!” Tchividjian declared. “When somebody says that, it’s a lie. Keeping things in the dark and allowing souls to be destroyed by abuse, that shames the Gospel. Jesus is all about transparency.”

 

FEMINISM

Sarah Millican at Radio Times: Twitter was a pin to my excitable Bafta balloon

Then I went onto Twitter and it was like a pin to my excitable red balloon. Literally thousands of messages from people criticising my appearance. I was fat and ugly as per usual. My dress (the one that caused ooohs in a department store fitting room?) was destroyed by the masses. I looked like a nana, my dress was disgusting, was it made out of curtains, why was I wearing black shoes with it. I cried. I cried in the car.

Why does it matter so much what I was wearing? Why did no one ask my husband where he got his suit from? I felt wonderful in that dress. And surely that’s all that counts.

 

Madia at Afghan Women’s Writing Project: Does a Head Scarf Define the Girl?

Someday, I will tell my daughter to study hard, get an education, and make her own future so she can make changes in our country. I will tell the same thing to my son: study hard and never believe there is a difference between girls and boys.

Girls should never believe only what people tell them or think of them. They should be able to become anything they want in life, and wear anything they want to wear. Girls should always be free.

 

WRITING
Deidra Riggs at Jumping Tandem: Why We Don’t Need to Cringe About the Platform 

So, what if we writers embraced a different image of the platform? …For us, good stewardship means sitting down in front of the blank page or screen and putting a message into words in the best way we know how. And so, what if we writers started to see the platform as the perfect surface on which to set a fabulous table with chairs for everyone? And what if we—instead of standing there, with our palms sweating and our eyes squinting in the glare of a spotlight we never pursued—invited anyone who will, to join us at the table and to celebrate the feast?

MARRIAGE

Carly Gelsinger: My Husband is Not My Spiritual Leader

Then one day about two or three years into our marriage, in the middle of another why-aren’t-you-my-spiritual-leader argument, I heard just how whiny, weak and manipulative my own voice sounded.

“I’ve been saying this for years, and I don’t even know what it means,” I confided in him. “It was just something I’ve always heard.”

MY WRITING

“fearlessly expanding the feminine voice”

When a woman says she feels called to ministry (or to preach), her motives are immediately questioned.  Her character is vetted.  She has to prove herself over and over again.  

…A person’s motives may not be pure when they decide to become a pastor, but I think that has much less to do with their gender and more to do with their character.

What is the best thing you’ve read (or written) this month?

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“fearlessly expanding the feminine voice”

When I first joined the Redbud Writers Guild, I saw this phrase on their website: 

“Fearlessly expanding the feminine voice in our churches, communities, and culture.”


That resonated with me.


Because even though I have a voice and I want to use it, I am still timid about speaking up in the catholic (read: universal) Church. 


Perhaps this is curious to you.


You might be asking one of two questions:


1.  Why does the feminine voice need to be expanded?


2.  Why would anyone be fearful about using their voice?


I write today from a place of love – I am not angry or bitter as I write these words.  
But I do want to explain why that phrase resonated with me and why I think the catholic Church needs to intentionally make steps to be more inclusive to women. 

*****


I am the researcher in our family.


I have researched everything from housing options to strollers, partly because I think researching is fun and partly because I want to make wise, informed decisions for our family.


So when we moved to Omaha it was only natural that I started researching churches.  I would collect all the information and then talk through each church with my husband, pulling up their websites so he could look too.


I scoured their websites and listened to podcasts of previous sermons.  I downloaded bulletins and researched their childcare policies.  


And I always read about the pastors.  At that point, we were only considering churches who had male pastors.


That’s when I noticed a sad trend.


As I looked at their book recommendations, and as I searched their social media accounts, all the Christian authors, pastors, and speakers they recommended and were connected with were men.  On a very long booklist, I saw only one female author mentioned, but only about “female issues” (i.e. one book on the wife’s side of marriage and one book on parenting)


These pastors didn’t have women speaking into their lives.


Of course, you could argue that my method for finding this out wasn’t the most accurate. You could say that who someone follows on Twitter is an arbitrary way of finding out who they listen to.


But I think it is indicative of more.


Are these men doing it intentionally? 

I don’t think so.  


But they are ignoring half of the church.


Intentionally or not, it sends the message that not only should women not teach, they also don’t have anything valuable to add to theology or Christianity.



*****


I attended a church with all male pastors.  That wasn’t an oversight, it was what they believed.


This church sent a group of their pastors overseas to mentor local pastors in a country where the government is trying to repress Christianity, yet it was flourishing.


When I saw a picture of the trip, I laughed.  A tiny room of someone’s apartment was packed, wall-to-wall with women.


The church set a group of all male pastors (men who believed that only men should be pastors) to teach a group of all FEMALE pastors.  Really, it was comical.


They came home talking about how much God was doing in this country.  How amazing it was!


I wondered if these men ever considered that they had half of their team benched.  And maybe, just maybe they would play a better game if they used all their players.

Did they consider these female pastors second-best?  Did they think God was only using women because He couldn’t find any men in the country?  Or does God just use people? People who love Him and are committed to Him.


When I tried to bring this up to someone, it was excused as “cultural”.


Instead of laughing, I got angry that time.  But I didn’t press the argument because no one wanted to be pressed on it.


Passages about women being silent in church and men alone being pastors were taken literally at this church.  If I had tried to say that those passages didn’t apply today because they were cultural and were written to people over 2,000 years before, this church would have said that I was denying biblical truth.

Yet here we were, two churches at the exact same point in history, and the difference could be dismissed as cultural?


*****


She laughed as she told me, “When they gave me the job, they called me the children’s minister, but if they had hired a man, the position would have been children’s pastor.”


Exact same job description.  Exact same work load.  Exact same responsibilities.


Different title.


Whether or not that woman was called a pastor, she was pastoring.


It was semantics.

*****



I’ve heard it in college.  I’ve heard it in churches.

A prophet just means a preacher.


They say this when we’re studying the Old Testament prophets, of course.

They don’t mention the six women in the Bible who are called prophets.

They don’t mention that Act 2 quotes Joel saying that a sign of the Holy Spirit coming will be that “sons and daughters will prophesy” (emphasis mine).

They don’t mention I Corinthians where Paul calmly gives instructions for when (not if) women prophesy in Church.

So…a prophet means a preacher, unless that prophet is a woman?

*****

When I’ve said these things to people before, I usually hear one thing from them.

“Don’t you think it is self-seeking?  Don’t you think women just want these things because they want attention?  Aren’t we called to humility?”

Here is my answer: It can be self-seeking.  They may simply want attention.  And yes, we are called to humility.

But all of these thing can be said for men as well.

Yet when I’ve seen men who say they feel called to preach or called to the ministry, I see them encouraged.  People are excited about it.

But women?

When a woman says she feels called to ministry (or to preach), her motives are immediately questioned.  Her character is vetted.  She has to prove herself over and over again.  

These women aren’t always self-seeking.  In fact, often it is a bold step of faith for them to simply say aloud that they feel called to preach – they know the reception they will receive.

A person’s motives may not be pure when they decide to become a pastor, but I think that has much less to do with their gender and more to do with their character.

*****

Do you see the need to expand the feminine voice yet?  And do you see why sometimes we are fearful about using our voices?


Regardless of what is said, the feminine voice isn’t always welcome in the Church.




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