Woman

I’m writing this post mainly as a means to share this Dorothy Sayers quote. I’ve read it multiple times and it still moves me each time.

“Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man – there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!”; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature.” ― Dorothy L. Sayers, Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society

I was in college before I realized what “minority” actually meant in today’s world. It’s often used with a foundation in technical, numerical data, but more often than not it’s used to describe voices that may be considered to be less meaningful than the authority of a white male “majority.” In America immigrants, refugees, LGBT+, non-white persons, and women historically and presently (!!) have found their place in the “minority.” As a white evangelical woman raised in the US I find myself at an intersection of privilege and silence. So here I am with a few biases I’m trying to shake and a few discoveries I’m still processing. Walk with me.

A quick google search of “women” in the news category highlights themes of sexual assault, motherhood, pushes for gender equality in sports, business leadership, and the military, among other health and social issues. A generic google search yields a few links to dictionary definitions, but noticeably third on the list is GQ’s shortcut to “Sexy Women: Photos and Videos of Hot Actresses.” A telling (and repulsive) result to land amongst the definition of the term. Yet, not surprising. Women and girls have been reduced to sexual objects for centuries.

I say all this to simply bring your attention to your very own friends, your momma and your sisters, your neighbors, the cranky woman in the check out line, or the lady at work that looks or speaks a little differently. One in three have experienced sexual violence. One in four girls have been sexually abused. (These are statistics based on those who have reported their experiences. This is significant. More information on sexual violence for both men and women can be found here.)

How many more have received unwanted comments about their clothes or bodies? How many more are paid less than male counterparts? How many more don’t have access to education, healthcare, or land ownership? Saudi Arabia just lifted it’s driving restrictions for women. The glass ceiling might have been shattered by a few courageous women over the years, but we still have work to do. Token representation won’t do. Double standards aren’t cutting it. Is it any wonder women are speaking up?

 “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” ― Arundhati Roy, Sydney Peace Prize Lecture

Perhaps you think the #metoo movement or the women’s march are too dramatic or overly political (and sometimes agendas DO overwhelm the message, but everyone has agendas…), maybe you’ve never witnessed the women in your life make choices to protect themselves (from pepper spray to modesty) or you’ve never been personally targeted on the street or in the workplace (comments made in “jest” and catcalls included) — I’d suggest you may not be looking hard enough and you might be perpetuating a system of inequality.

These hashtags and stories and the movements and headlines aren’t meant to be a threat to men as much as they are a threat to the systems of thought and behavior that have come to be accepted in that women have limited value and are to be controlled and directed by men, strangers, co-workers or husbands alike. Men need women who are strong and full of life and grace, boldness and truth. Likewise, women need men!

 “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” – Audre Lorde

The first few thoughts that come to mind when I think of women, specifically the women around me: incredibly strong, yet tender and kind, both intelligent and beautiful, bold, loyal, clever, and worthy of respect. Women have fed me physically and spiritually, they’ve gone before and pioneered a path for me, they’ve taught me to take seemingly desolate or plain spaces and turn them into a place of healing and hope, and to stand up in the city hall for justice, even when my knees shake.

It’s because of the tenacity and boldness of women before and around me that I naively entered the man’s world of an evangelical seminary thinking it wasn’t something to write home about. Come to find out, I am one of the few exceptions to the rule. (Sometimes if you walk in like you know what you’re doing no one says anything…) Courage, endurance, leadership, joy — these are characteristics of women (humans) worldwide.

If you notice similar attributes in your family or community don’t be shy! Speak up and recognize women (and most certainly men!) who are making equality the norm. Donate and/or volunteer to non-profits/organizations that advocate for women’s rights, health, or education. Give your kiddos lots of examples for healthy friendships/intimate relationships. Talk about consent for Pete’s sake!

As it’s been said before, inequality hurts both sides.

“Women hold up half the sky.” — Chinese Proverb

If you’re up for adding something to your reading list, I liked these:

  • Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
  • Forgive Us by Lisa Harper, Mae Elise Cannon, Soong-Chan Rah, and Troy Jackson
  • Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman
  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

You know me, always open to read your favorites too!

 

2 thoughts on “Woman

  1. Oh wow, this was so beautifully written.
    I’ve read a lot of articles about these topics in the last year. Some are too extreme on both sides. A conservative would not mention it or acknowledge it enough, leaving you frustrated by the lack of root analysis. A liberal will be to “loud” to focus on the content. But yours was so perfectly balanced.
    Your Dorothy Sayers quote, a great analysis of why women followed Jesus. So spot on.
    “from pepper spray to modesty”, -my favorite part- a palpable representation of our (my) daily struggle.

    Isn’t it weird that (some) men want to be acknowledged on these conversations about women struggles? It is like we have to say “and men too!” every time we talk about it, so they don’t get hurt.

    Anyways, on a gloomy Friday, thank you for this.

    Like

    • Maria, I’m so glad you resonated with this. Dorothy really hit the nail on the head, eh? More so, Jesus set an incredible example. I would agree with you that some men may get testy on these topics. Just another nudge to keep speaking up for justice and mercy, if you ask me. Thanks for reading along!

      Like

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