|Posted by God Loves Women on June 7, 2014 at 6:35 PM||comments (0)|
The other week I was chatting with my wonderful friend Helen and her housemate. Still pyjama-clad and vaguely sleepy, the conversation moved onto single-sex Christian events and not in a good way. I felt it called for a bit of a Google of the names Christian women's and men's events are given. Here is a brief overview:
It seems, in general, fighting is for men and feeling is for women.
I know those who run these events are passionate about what they do and that many people gets loads out of single-sex events, and not all of them are hideously bad, plus it would be unfair to invalidate whole events based on their name. The question is, are these events solely using stereotypes to attract their audience, or are they perpetuating the very boxes which restrict women and men from becoming all God is calling them to be. I've spoken to so many women and men who find the current single-sex conferences alienate them and leave them feeling either inadequate or under pressure to conform.
I'm not sure what the way forward is, but surely there's got to be a better way than this...?
|Posted by God Loves Women on May 12, 2014 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
It seems at the moment that everywhere you look there are debates on the issue of gender boundaries categories for children’s toys - challenges of Lego’s recent addition of ‘girl’s’ Lego, comments on how some stores layout their merchandise or complaints from authors regarding how book covers try to suggest which gender of child ‘should’ read their books.
Quite rightly so, a lot of people would say. But why does it matter so much? Some people might think that ‘making a fuss’ over something like this is overkill, but the answer is it really does matter.
Now don’t get me wrong - I am not saying that we cannot admit men and women/girls and boys are different. As Jenny Baker says in her excellent book ‘Equals’:
“We’re clearly different in lots of ways. We have different body parts, grow hair in different places and the difference in our chromosomes is reproduced in every cell of our bodies. In almost all sports, whether it’s running, cycling , swimming or jumping, men are consistently faster than women: they jump higher, lift heavier weights, throw further and score more. That pattern of men and women achieving differently is repeated in lots of different spheres of life. How can we say that women and men are equal?”
There are clearly differences between men and women, particularly if you look at physical - that is ‘body’ factors. There have also been argued to be cognitive - that is brain - differences between males and females as well, although this remains a hotly controversial topic. But two vitally important facts need to be emphasised.
The first is that although there are some differences, there are a lot more ways in which we are NOT different. This is particularly true if you consider that differences claimed in scientific research look at averages - the statistical centre of natural variation along any given skill/measure. Taking that natural variation into account there is an awful lot of overlap - plenty of women who do not demonstrate the more classically ‘female’ trends; plenty of men who find that they identify with some ‘female’ stereotypes.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the fact is that equality does not need to assume that there are no differences. Quoting Jenny Baker again, she says:
“Equality is the belief that all people have the same value, regardless of any other defining characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability and age… equality is about treating people fairly without prejudice or assumptions and it’s the essential foundation on which all fruitful relationships are built. Equality particularly when we’re talking about women and men, is about being free to choose the direction your life takes and having the encouragement and opportunities to enact that choice, rather than being constrained by stereotypes or cultural convention. It’s about everyone being able to flourish.”
So why do these gender stereotypes matter so much? Why not create brands and toys which are pink and feature more classically ‘female’ play types like cooking, fashion or looking after babies? Why not separate ‘boys’ from ‘girls’ toys in stores and supermarkets? Why not brand and design books according to which gender is more likely to want to buy them?
There are lots of answers to this, but one compelling one lies in the psychology of humans. One thing that cannot be denied about humans is how we prefer to simplify the world by making generalisations. One way we display this is in our tendency to form ‘groups’ in our minds for people. We tend to classify these groups fairly simply - as either ‘in-group’ (that is, of the same group as us) or ‘out-group’. You can see this in all kinds of things - social class stereotypes, our love of forming and supporting specific football teams, what newspaper we read - it happens all over our society.
A series of studies both historical and more recent demonstrate how easy it is to induce people to form these kinds of group identities. Perhaps the most famous, called the robbers cave experiment, took a bunch of 11 year old body on a summer camp in the USA. When these kids arrived, they were randomly allocated to one of two groups. At first on camp, simple steps were taken to enforce these group identifies. Each group didn’t know the other existed, but they ate together, took part in activities and chose group names and emblems. Its not that surprising that the kids really took on this group thing and started to share a real sense of group ‘togetherness’.
What’s interesting about this experiment is what happened next. When the camp organisers revealed the existence of the ‘other’ group, what developed was almost immediate hostility - mainly in the groups calling each other names. Once the groups then started to compete against each other this inter group rivalry got more significant. When one group eventually won the ‘camp cup’ this sense of superiority was marked and the hostility increased. It wasn’t long before the groups refused to even eat in the same room as each other.
This famous study then began to explore how best to break down this inter group hostility. But the reason I’m talking about it now is to look at what happens when we strengthen group identity and draw attention to or exaggerate perceived or real differences between two groups. Very quickly a sense of hierarchy develops, particularly if one group, for whatever reason, can be perceived as ‘weaker’. Once that sense of hierarchy is there, it grows. The outcome of this can be very powerful - more than once psychologists, researchers and even school teachers have attempted repeats on different scales of this kind of experiment, and had to interrupt their plans because the degree of hostility was alarming and unexpected.
There are differences between men and women. But the more we exaggerate these by slipping into stereotypical shorthand in order to simplify our world, the more we risk building an ‘in-group’ mentality that can foster and encourage feelings of hostility, negative behaviour and unhelpful beliefs about the ‘other’ group. The more we teach people - however implicitly - that boys are totally different from girls, the greater the chance then members of one group will start to foster and justify cynical or unpleasant beliefs and behaviours toward the other - and thanks to the historical discrimination against women it is usually this group that comes off the worst.
There’s plenty of evidence for this happening. Take some of the classically quoted stats about men and women - such as the claim that women use thousands more words per day than men as a fairly non-controversial example. I know I’ve heard this quoted so many times! And yet, as Deborah Cameron explains in her very interesting book ‘The Myth of Mars and Venus,’ this statistic has no empirical basis at all - in fact studies tend to find little or no difference in the average numbers of words used per day by men and women. So why is this so widely believed? Because those subtle, subliminal messages we see everyday teach us that men and women are much more different than they really are, making us much more likely to believe messages like this that then exaggerate a difference that was never really there in the first place.
Genesis 1:27 states clearly that men and women are made in the image of God. The Message puts it beautifully translating God’s command ‘make them reflecting our nature.’ We need to be really careful about how and when we subconsciously or deliberately separate two groups of people who were created, not identical, but equal. It is in the combination of men and women, in the God ordained harmony of both working together and in real equality that we see the entire reflection of the image of God, not in separating them.
It isn’t just gender stereotypes in kids merchandise that risks this. I’m urging caution on a whole realm of ‘for women’ or ‘for men’ stuff. Of course there’s no harm in us meeting sometimes as guys or women only - sure, we have stuff to talk about that the others may find a bit bewildering or irrelevant. But lets work together and not be defensive to good challenges where perhaps things need to change. Lets take appropriate caution that we are not slipping into lazy stereotypes that risk at best alienating those who do not conform or excluding some who would otherwise have benefited, and at worst building up group identities that may foster and encourage very negative attitudes. Lets celebrate our amazing, God reflecting, common humanity rather than separating what God made equal.
Dr Kate Middleton is a church leader & psychologist with a passion for applying psychology and faith to real life. Although working mainly in the UK, she is currently based in Paris and balances commuting back to the UK with building links there. Kate is one of the leaders of ‘Mind and soul' & regularly writes for their website. She also speaks across the UK on a variety of topics & has written several books. In the UK Kate works with the Hitchin Christian Centre where you can find articles, talks etc by her. On Twitter she is @communik8ion.
|Posted by God Loves Women on March 24, 2014 at 8:20 PM||comments (2)|
“But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” Luke 24:11
The first people entrusted with the truth of the resurrection were women, and when they evangelised that truth they were ignored.
Fast forward 2000 or so years and there is an evangelism conference happening in 2015 announced by Revd. Canon J. John on Twitter earlier today. If you look even briefly at the line up for the conference you will discover that there is a group of people not represented in either the speakers or those MCing the day. That would be women. You know, those people who make up 51% of the UK population and 65% of the church.
This conference was brought to my attention by @zoebunter when she pointed out the lack of female speakers. I tweeted J.John to ask why there were no female speakers:
So far he has not responded to me directly, but he has tweeted the following:
I recognise that the conference and the work J. John does is enormously valuable and that hopefully the event will be a great opportunity for those attending to learn and grow. My challenge regarding the lack of female speakers is not about invalidating the work the conference will do, however a conference that hopes to “renew, inspire and encourage” while not including any representation of half the human race is highly problematic.
That J. John chose to describe my legitimate concerns about the lack of representation of women as “chatter” greatly saddens me. This is further compounded in his assertion that they asked women and that no women were available. To state that out of all the female evangelists working fulltime on sharing the Gospel across the UK, none were available is outrageous. Though perhaps what J. John was actually saying is that of the women that were asked, weren’t available. My question is: Why didn’t you ask more women? When none of those that you asked were available, why not ask for other recommendations? Why not do a shout out on Twitter, or through professional networks to seek out female evangelists?
I have only been shouting about this stuff for the last few years and I am already tired of it. There are those who have been shouting for decades longer than me and I don’t know how they keep going. We need a seismic shift in people’s thinking about women’s representation at event, about the reality of gender injustice and the need to change this for both women and men. That in 2014 it is possible to organise an event about evangelism and it not occur to the organisers that it is both legitimate and important for there to be women speakers and women MCs at the event shows just how far we have to go. That good men like J. John (who has a positive reputation for the inclusion of women) could suggest that asking women is enough, shows us that this is going to be a long hard journey.
We need to get to a place where it is assumed that not having women on the platform, on the programme of an event will be seen as controversial. That doing so will cause hurt, disappointment and a reinforcement of patriarchal structures. We need to speak out and stand up, because women are people too.
And just as Mary, Joanna, Mary and the other women were ignored by the disciples, women are still ignored today. And yet sisters, Jesus chose us to be the first to carry the good news. Let us hold that in our hearts and continue to tell people the good news, praying and acting for a different world.
Other people who've written blogs about this:
|Posted by God Loves Women on March 18, 2014 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
This is a guest blog from Dave Meldrum. He offered to write this blog after writing this piece on restitution.
There once was a woman. Think of a name for her.
She lives in a decent area of the city, attends a lively local church and is an enthusiastic runner. What does she do for a living? That's also your decision. For the purposes of our story, it should be a job in a company or firm of some kind. She's not high-up, but she is a step or two beyond the lowest rung.
She's a good networker, so she's one of the first to hear news of an impending vacancy. Richard, the man who's moving on, is well-liked and respected and no-one bears him any ill-will for taking the lucrative offer made to him by a rival company. Everybody feels he deserves it, as well as a new challenge, what with the third child on the way.
When the job is advertised, our heroine's CV and letter of motivation is ready to go; hers is in fact the first to land in the appropriate inbox. She knows she won't be the only applicant, but this company has a policy of seeking to promote from within and she knows she's the best qualified on her level. Interviews come around; two external applicants, and two other internals competing with her. The internals are, as she expected, good workers but not on her level. Ian is too new to the company and a little too inexperienced in the field to be a realistic contender - he's probably applying to get a feel for how things work round here. He's ambitious and in the future he'll do well. Stephen is an able and affable kind of guy; sharply dressed, a touch less experience than her but with a winning smile and charm interpersonal manner. Her results have been better than his, consistently. She is not worried that he'll compete with her for the promotion. All things being equal, she's the best suited.
The interviews proceeds without surprise. She has acquitted herself well and she is at peace. The next day the email arrives at the expected time. Thank you … good candidate…add value to company … unable to offer …
As she scans the scarcely credible words, Stephen walks past her desk, beaming and gently pumping his fist. It shouldn't make sense, but somehow she's not surprised.
On the train home she sits next to young man lingering over the third page of a tabloid paper. In the stuffy and stuffed carriage she feels middy nauseous; she tries to manoeuvre herself into the hint of a breeze. She momentarily dozes off, awakening with a start as the train pulls into her station. She opens her eyes to see those of the man next to her lingering on her chest. She pushes past him (which seems to be unnaturally difficult to do), and stands on the platform catching her breath.
She'll be late for the church home group. She had thought of skipping tonight, but she wants company and dinner. She can't be bothered to cook for herself anyway. She arrives just in time for a refreshingly simple bowl of soup to be pressed into her hands and sits quietly as the gentle buzz of ten people catching up with each other drowns out her own endlessly circling thoughts. She comes to full attention as they talk about making plans for the arrival of the new pastor. He's married, with three kids and a reputation for growing churches quickly. He doesn't like women preachers - which is a blow to our heroine as the previous pastor had helped her hone a gift of preaching she'd only recently discovered - but that's OK, insists John, the co-leader of the group with his wife Helen (she's in the kitchen sorting out the tea and cake) the new pastor will be quite happy for our heroine to speak to women's groups and Sunday School.
Our heroine doesn't enjoy teaching at Sunday School; and she's never been to a women's group. Which is what she'd meant to say. Instead it came out with a minor (by her workplace's standards but major by this group's standards) expletive and clearly voiced disappointment. She voices a vague sense of wondering if the local C of E place is any different.
John tells her not to get too emotional, there's plenty of opportunities for her besides preaching and besides you don't want to go to the C of E place because the vicar there is a bloke who wears a dress on Sundays. He laughs as he speaks, and the group seems to all join in.
That's enough for her, and she says so.
John's a good guy, at heart. I'm sorry he says. Sorry. I know this hard for you.
Thank you. I mean it, thank you, she says. But what are you going to do about it? I mean, it's alright for you. You're doing well at work, and nothing at the church will change for you with the new man. But what about me? What can I do?
We can pray for and with you, says John, with his kind smile and gentler tone.
And then? And then … what?
Dave was ordained in the Church of England in 2001. Since then he's worked in churches in London, until he and his wife Bev moved to Cape Town in 2010 when Dave became the Rector of St Peter's, Mowbray, a diverse Anglican church in an urban context. He's passionate about justice, films, sports and the interaction between all these (and much more besides) and Christian faith. You can find his blog at www.davemeldrum.com. Bev tells the stories of social enterprises through photography. They have no children and 2 dogs. He blogs at www.davemeldrum.com.
|Posted by God Loves Women on November 13, 2013 at 6:40 PM||comments (18)|
After the hoo-hah that began when “The Nines” Leadership Conference chose to have only 4 female speakers while having 110 male speakers, was brought to public attention yesterday by Rachel Held Evans yesterday, @jonathonmerritt, a US blogger collated the male and female speakers at various high profile US Christian conferences. Helen Austin (@helen_a13- the blogger formally known as Fragmentz) mentioned that it would be useful to have a UK version, so the two of us set about doing this, with some help from various people giving us suggestions of conferences to include.
Where possible we’ve sourced the information about speakers from the online recordings after the events. Where that hasn’t been possible, we’ve looked at the contributors listed for future events. We have included the number of women and men who contributed, and the overall amount of presentations done by men and women (some speakers contribute multiple times). We’ve included married couples who spoke together as “couples” and have mentioned other interesting things like whether the women who are contributors are married to men who are also contributors.
We have done our best to gather the correct information, please do email me on [email protected] if there are ay alternations or additions. So here goes...
Spring Harvest 2013 (Minehead 1)
27 men (69%) | Women 12 (31%)
Presentations by: Men 59 (71%) | Women 23 (29%) | [Couples 3]
New Wine 2013 (London South East)
Mainstage: 14 men (82%) | 3 women (18%) (67% of the women were married to male conference speakers)
Overall: 65 men (68%) | Women 30 (32%) (48% of women were speaking about relationships, children, abuse etc.)
Presentations by: Men 96 (73%) | Women 35 (27%) | [Couples 25]
Greenbelt 2013 (confirmed by conference organisers)
71 men (61%) | 45 women (39%)
Presentations by: Men 132 (65%) Women 72 (35%)| [Couples 1]
21 men (100%) 0 women (0%)
HTB Leadership Conference 2013
Mainstage: 5 men (83%) | 1 woman (17%)
Overall: 36 men 36 (84%) | 7 women (16%)
Presentations by: Men 48 (87%) Women 7 (13%) (57% of women were on a panel with at least 4 men each) (1 woman married to a male speaker at the conference)
Detling 2013 (information from website speaker profiles)
13 men (72%) | 5 women (18%) | [5 couples]
Hillsong Conference 2014 (information from website)
4 men (80%) | 1 woman (20%) (she is married to a male speaker at the conference) | [1 couple]
Westpoint 2013 (updated by Dave Bish, who spoke at the event)
14 men (88%) | 2 women (12%) (1 co-led a seminar, another married to a male speaker at the conference)
Presentations by: Men 22 (92%) | Women 2 (9%)
CNMAC 2013 (from website speaker profiles)
Mainstage: 7 men (70%) | 3 women (30%)
Overall: 25 men (71%) | 10 women (29%)
Creation Fest 2013
27 men (87%) | 4 women (13%)
Presentations by: Men 53 (90%) Women 6 (10%) [Couples 5]
Mainstage: 5 men (83%) | 1 woman (17%) (she is married to a male conference speaker)
Mainstage presentations by: Men 11 (91%) | Women1 (9%)
General: 14 men (70%) | 6 women (30%)
General presentations by: Men 34 (76%) Women 11 (24%) (18% were on “women’s issues” )
Youthwork Summit 2013 (figures updated by Martin Saunders, conference organiser, who has said it was deliberate to ensure this gender balance)
15 men (48%) | 16 women (52%) [1 couple]
Youthwork Conference 2014 (Taken from website contributors list)
20 men (65%) | 11 women (35%)
24 men 24 (77%) | 7 women 7 (23%)
Presentations by: Men 63 (75%) Women 21 (25%) (57% of female speakers were married to male conference speakers)
Soul Survivor 2013
21 men 21 (70%) | 9 women (30%) (33% of female speakers were married to male conference speakers)
Presentations by: Men 58 (73%) Women 22 (27%)
16 men (70%) | 7 women (30%) (1 female speaker was married to a male speaker - 14%)
Presentations by: Men 19 (67%) Women 9 (33%)
One Event 2013 (formally Grapevine)
Mainstage: 8 men (89%) | 1 woman (11%)
Seminars: 6 couples running 6 seminar streams
Baptist assembly 2014 (from website contributors)
3 men (75%) | 1 woman (25%)
Word Alive 2014 (from website contributors)
4 men (80%) | 1 woman (20%)
National Day Of Prayer 2013 (from website round up of the day)
14 men (88%) | 2 women (12%)
Street Angels CNI Conference 2013 (from Paul Blakey, conference organiser)
6 men (50%) | 6 women (50%) | 1 couple
Global Connections 2014 (information from Eddie Arthur, involved in conference organising)
1 man (50%) | 1 woman (50%) (conference will include more discussion, less front led content)
37 men (86%) | Women 6 (14%)
Presentations by: Men 64 (86%) | Women 10 (14%) | [Couple 1]
Big Church Day Out 2013 (confirmed by Wendy Beech-Ward)
6 men (75%) | 2 women (25%) | 4 all male bands | 4 collectives (mainly men with some women)
(These were musicians rather than speakers)
Church and Media Conference 2013 (confirmed by Andrew Graystone, conference organiser)
4 men (44%) | 5 women (56%)
Children and Families Conference 2013 (late addition to the list)
Presentations by: 19 men (61%) | 12 women (39%)
We were unable to gather any data on the Christian Resources Exhibition.
Some great responses to these stats are:
"On the Youth Work Summit and female speakers" by Martin Saunders
"Where are the women?" by Jenny Baker
"Hate Something, Change Something" by Steve Holmes
"Thoughts on Quotas" by Jenny Baker
"On Sexism and Events: An Organisers Perspective" by Kevin Bennett
Thanks to Hannah Mudge (@boudledidge) for helping with these charts!!
|Posted by God Loves Women on October 28, 2013 at 12:10 PM||comments (0)|
The wonderful Leslie Vernick asked me if I would be willing to read and review her new book “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage”. If you would like to buy the book, you can do so here.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the author, Leslie Vernick is a licensed clinical social worker and relationship coach who has been working supporting people for over thirty years. She’s written several books and does much public speaking and media work, mainly across the US. I met Leslie a few years ago in Canada and have much respect for her and the work she does. You can find out more about her from her website and follow her on twitter.
Overall I found the book to be tremendously helpful and a really practical resource for many women trying to cope in the midst of a destructive marriage. It is written from a conservative evangelical position and is the first book about domestic abuse I have read from that perspective that I would feel able to recommend. For those coming from a less conservative faith context, or those who hold a feminist viewpoint, this book may not be your cup of tea. However if you know women from the conservative Christian community who are suffering abuse, this would be an ideal book to encourage them to read.
Leslie uses real life examples from her counselling practice alongside a wide range of Biblical texts, exploring both specific verses and wider themes across Scripture. She does this well and with much thought, however as her Biblical approach sits within a conservative understanding of Scripture it may not be helpful for those with a more liberal hermeneutic.
I think for a lot of women, this book is a powerful tool in empowering them and giving them the knowledge they need to move their lives forward. Leslie’s advice is very wise and helpful for women in many situations, however for those with high risk perpetrators who may be experiencing high levels of control, the solutions within the book are unlikely to be helpful. Personally, I found Leslie’s approach to women being able to change their situation really challenging. On the one hand, I truly believe women need to be empowered and enabled to make their own choices, but many women I have worked with are so controlled, and have so little power, that asserting themselves could put them at serious risk. I am still mulling over the ideas proposed by Leslie and trying to decide whether the issues are in my own preconceptions, or within the book itself, but regardless of this, I feel that for many women whose partners are not high risk offenders, the book will be an invaluable resource. In fact, I have since lent the book to a Christian woman who is currently seperated from her abusive husband, and she had told me the book is amazing and is really making a difference to her. She has told me "I can't put it down, it's amazing!"
With my feminist head on (if that is such a thing...) I found some of the language and lack of a wider critique of society and culture unhelpful, but as the intended audience is not a feminist one, I think the author has pitched the content just right. I am so grateful to Leslie for writing a book that I can recommend to women experiencing abuse who say to me “I don’t want this but God/the Church/my Pastor says I can’t leave” and pray that God would use the book and Leslie’s wisdom to impact many women, men and churches.
|Posted by God Loves Women on February 17, 2013 at 5:25 PM||comments (0)|
Vicky Walker is a wonderful friend of mine and she has written a really good book called "Do I have to be good all the time?" about being a single woman in the Church and I felt I should share with you all why you should read it...
1. It is very funny and made me laugh out loud on the train.
2. It is very profound; her chapter on grace had me almost in tears on the train. (I read a lot on the train).
3. She manages to say really powerful things about how women interact with one another and within church, without being as ranty as I would be.
4. She is a woman with a wonderful heart and a lot of wisdom.
5. She let me stay at her house and gave me grapes she had frozen and, although that offer may not be open to everyone who reads her book, it shows she is a very nice person.
6. She is writing about stuff that is really important, but is doing it to reach regular normal people, not super spiritual academic types (probably why I like it so much).
7. To feel encouraged that nobody really gets it right that much of the time.
|Posted by God Loves Women on November 26, 2012 at 5:20 PM||comments (1)|
I clicked on this link provided by the wonderful Rev. Pam Smith just now and found Susie Leafe, a female member of the General Synod, sharing on 4OD about how women should not be Bishops.
She suggests that “women look to men for some of the most important decisions of their lives” and “what we [women] tend to do is what happened in the Garden of Eden: Adam stood back and did nothing; Eve made a bit of a bad decision and the world got into a bit of trouble.”
I’m really glad that Susie has explained this. I mean I had been wondering why all the single women across the UK have been wandering around the streets of their towns and cities, disoriented and lost. Only the other day I past at least 15 of these poor souls, lost and without guidance. If only they had a man to help them make their decisions! Perhaps they would be able to have a life that included a job, a home, a social life! But alas, it is not to be, they are condemned to a life of disoriented wandering.
I don’t just say this as a married woman, I say it as someone who was a single mum, yes I know, you’re wondering how I coped! Well clearly I didn’t, in fact what Susie shared has really helped me to make sense of what happened when I no longer had a man to guide me. I just stood in the street, with my children for two years and didn’t move. I mean, how would I have? Without the guidance of one of these males? Truly it was impossible!
I’m just grateful a man did eventually find me and tell me I should get married to him (clearly without him telling me to do it, I would never have known it was a good thing to do, being a mere woman).
I especially like how she describes what Eve did as a “bit of a bad decision” and got the world into “a bit of trouble”. It really helps me to make sense of why everything I’ve ever done until I was married to a man had failed, but now I see clearly. That is what God made me like. Destined to fail, without a man to guide me…
Thank you Susie, for clearing up why my entire life only make sense if I am led by a man. However Susie, I came across a verse the other day and I wonder if you could clear up what they mean, in light of your insight?
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)
I’m clearly reading this wrong Susie, but it seems to be suggesting Adam brought sin into the world, obviously this can’t be correct, I’d appreciate your thoughts…
|Posted by God Loves Women on November 21, 2012 at 5:40 AM||comments (0)|
Yesterday was a heartbreaking one for many. Although I am not in an Anglican Church, I deeply feel the pain of women being yet again declared lesser. Throughout the discussions both before the vote and afterwards, one of the things I have found most sad was people saying, “never mind Women Bishops, what about the killing and atrocities in Gaza?” and “chill out everyone, it’s only the legislation that didn’t go through”.
And in those words, in those statements broken hearted people are undermined and the fight to see equality in all places is ignored. I am passionate about seeing women and men able to fulfil their calling, not as an isolated cause, not because I don’t see the full reality of suffering out there, not because I’m some poncy white person who doesn’t have anything better to do (I mean I am a white person, but I like to imagine I’m not poncy... ) I am passionate about seeing equality because the more unequal a society is, the more violence against women there is.
There is a direct correlation between there not being an equal number of men and women in positions of authority and the amount of violence against women in society.
“What?!” I hear you cry, “This cannot be so, clearly Mrs GLW, you are being overly dramatic.”
I am not being over dramatic. The foundations of violence against women are that of the ownership of women by men, and the entitlement of men over women. Wherever we see this dynamic worked out, we see violence against women in many forms. Whether it be FGM, rape, domestic abuse, bride burning, forced marriage, female infanticide, or the many other forms of abuse and oppression, it is primarily about ownership of women and entitlement over women.
Hear me correctly; I’m not saying all those against Women Bishops are directly abusive. I’m not saying they are all sexist people. But by apposing the full equality, in opportunity as well as in value of women and men, is to contribute to a patriarchal power structure, to contribute to the ownership of women and entitlement over women. I do not say this with any malice, or to be offensive, but as the reality that it is.
Then I hear people saying “there are much more important things than whether women get to be bishops” or see tweets that suggest we should “chill out” it breaks my heart. I constantly meet women from the Church who have been raped, abused and degraded, I met a woman this weekend who had looked down the barrel of her husband’s gun as he told her that she was about to die. This vote was about women like her, women like me, women across the world and throughout the UK who have or are experiencing abuse.
I’m not saying that having Women Bishops in and of itself will stop violence against women singlehandedly, but it will contribute. Just as the “Say no to page 3” campaign will and the legal system working well will and the charities working to support women continuing to be funded will, it takes all of us to do all we can if we are to see it ended.
Please don’t undermine people’s pain by saying there are more important battles, or that we should chill out, because this is part of a much bigger battle and every loss means there will continue to be women staring down the barrel of guns, being told they are about to die by the person who is supposed to love them the most.
|Posted by God Loves Women on September 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
One of my friends Faye has responded to the email written by a pastor to a woman who has experienced abuse:
There are many more points I could make I'm sure but these are just a few off the top of my head:
Pastor is blaming Hannah:
'looking for a way out of the marriage'
'decide whether or not your are commited to this marriage'
'try to make things work, rather than always running away'
'I have witnessed just as much verbal abuse coming from your lips'
'your mistake or lack of commitment'
'looking for a way out...your heart is hard'
Key phrase - 'I don't know everything that has gone on between the two of you'
Yet continues with 'I also know he (Saul) is not an aggressive or violent person'. How does the pastor know this? Because Saul hasn't displayed it in public?
And 'Saul is not physically abusive to you'. How does this pastor know?!!! And even if there is no physical abuse, there are many types of other abuse that are equally damaging (some would argue they are even more damaging than physical).
Outrageous statement - (Hannah is) 'stubborn and pigheaded'. This is also blaming her and making her feel she is the same as Saul.
Pastor says there are 'some other things he (Saul) can't change' and that Hannah needs to 'accept, forgive and try and forget these things'. What are these 'things that Saul can't change' pastor? I would like him/her to clarify these 'things'. Do these 'things' include Saul's belief that it is OK to be abusive to his wife?
Soul destoying statement - 'I don't believe you (are afraid of Saul)'. Words cannot express how devasting this sentence is.
Alongside this statement is the 'Saul is not physically abusive to you' (as mentioned above - how does this pastor know? S/he is making Hannah feel like a liar, or possible that she is going mad, by saying this)
Patronising comment - 'did I mention grace and patience' (pastor may as well have just said 'stupid Hannah, don't you know you need to be patient and graceful')
Strange statement - 'Nothing worth saving is easy'. What does this mean?! In my opinion, a marriage is easy if the two people in it show each other love and respect, care, freedom etc etc. What a disheartening comment this pastor is making, s/he is not painting a joyful image of marriage/life in general. Surely God gave us His son to have a joyful, abundant life..not a life where everything is difficult. As a loving parent, do you want your children to have a joyful life or a difficult one? God wants the same for His children. In my opinion, this pastor has some issues his/herself!
Conceited statement - 'I know that God's will is that your marriage commitment be honoured..'. How does the pastor know this? Has s/he fasted and prayed about it? (The following statement would show that s/he hasn't, and I'm sure that there would be a different answer if s/he had). This is also making Hannah feel guilty, that she is going against God's will, using her faith as a reason to keep her in this abusive marriage. Would this pastor say the same to his/her daughter in the same situation (assuming that the pastor themself is a non abive/controlling person). I could go on for hours on this....!
Sackable comment (in my opinion)! - 'The last thing I want to do is get in the middle of this very dysfunctional marriage again'. Grrr, I am steaming! This is his/her job to 'get in the middle' of this situation! This pastor has been supposedly appointed by God for the role of 'caring for the flock'. Again, laying the blame at Hannah's door, making her feel that she is a nuisance. It is also infused with anger towards Hannah, and will no doubt make her feel guilty, and will ultimately make her feel that she cannot even go to talk to her pastor about her situation. Whether we like it or not, many people feel that their pastor represents God on this earth (rightly or wrongly) - and this may make Hannah feel that even God is sick of her problem, and is angry at her too. She would very likely stop talking to her pastor, or anyone, about this situation. She will be isolated. This is a dominator tactic (Jailor).
Contradictory statement - 'I hope that you know that the tone of this letter is one of love and wanting to help a sister in the Lord'..??! This completely contradicts the previous sentence. Even as an outsider & a stranger to the people involved, I can clearly see that this letter is not one of love or wanting to help Hannah. The pastor has just said s/he doesn't want to get involved in the previous sentence! The content of the letter clearly shows the pastor true feelings about abuse, as well as anger towards Hannah, and this sentence is just to 'cover their back'. It is completely meaningless. It is also likely to make Hannah confused - she will most likely be feeling guilty whilst reading the letter and then be thinking that she should be feeling grateful to her pastor for his/her 'love and help'. This is also a dominator tactic (Liar).
The additional 'PS' sentence about Saul enfuriates me. Again, even I can see as an outsider, that this is completely undermining Hannah's whole issue. It's almost as if the pastor is saying 'yeah, yeah, I've said my piece about your silly little issue, now back to the more important stuff of Saul's operation'! It also implys the pastor has a close relationship with Saul, or even takes Saul's 'side' in this. Again, it seeks to make Hannah feel guilty, as if the pastor is saying 'while you're badmouthing Saul, the poor man is going in for a big operation...you should be doing your wifely duties and praying and caring for him, what a terrible wife you are'!
I would even go as far to say, that in my opinion, the pastor him/herself is displaying 'Dominator' tactics, and is possibly a controlling/abusive person themself. Hannah, please get some advice from Christians who specialise in domestic abuse instead of this pastor. Pastor, please get some domestic abuse education, or better still get a compassionate person/people within your church to be trained up instead, as I feel the task would be too great for you yourself, as you would need to change your whole belief system first.