|Posted by God Loves Women on May 14, 2014 at 5:20 PM||comments (0)|
There’s been recent Christian coverage of “Same Sex Attraction” (SSA) from various media outlets. All the articles that I have read share the stories of people who identify as same sex attracted and talk of their journeys to dealing with this. There is much to discuss about the term “Same Sex Attraction” and what it says about certain parts of the Christian community. However, that it not what I wanted to write about.
What I want to talk about is how all the stories are about men. Men who struggle with their feelings of attraction to other men. About how they have chosen to stay celibate or worked to a place of choosing to be in a relationship with a woman. Women only appear in these stories as wives or girlfriends. I have yet to read a story of a woman who identifies as “Same Sex Attracted”. Perhaps it could be suggested that only men are in this area of Christian culture which sees Same Sex Attraction as a thing. However, I think this is highly unlikely given the amount of women in all parts of the church. I think it is much more probable that the stories of female sexuality remain untold.
Similarly any talk in the church about masturbation is rarely addressed as an issue for people, but rather as a “man problem”.
I’m often known to bring vaginas up in public (if this has produced images of me vomiting up vaginas, I apologise). Though anyone who has been on the receiving end of my vagina conversations may have thought I was engaged in hilarity, which is always partially the case in most everything I talk about. It is in fact for a more serious reason that I talk about vaginas. Namely because nobody does. For many women who have experienced abuse from a partner, derogatory comments about their vagina will have shamed and humiliated them. For others the corporate shame of Christian culture or purity messages have left them feeling there is something wrong with them, combined with the fact that there are very few names for a vagina that don’t cause people to turn up their noses at the very idea its existence can leave so many women ashamed of this particularly wonderful part of God’s creation.
Women, we are in possession of the only organ ever designed purely for sexual pleasure and God made it. When God looked on creation, She didn’t say everything was “very good” except for Eve’s lady garden! She said it was all VERY GOOD! I spoke to a sex educator the other day. She had asked why vaginas had hair on them until the last few years, when girls and women became hairless Down There. One of the girls suggested that it must have been because razors weren’t invented ten years ago.
Shall we just sit with that for a minute?
Hairy vaginas are a result of the razor not being invented. This is what actual girls in the UK think. Then there are the teenage boys, who don’t even know girls grow hair. Who think girls with hair are abnormal. Welcome to the world where pornography forms the bulk of sex education for many young people.
We need to reclaim our sexuality women! To own it and embrace that part of identity. We need to be honest about the ways the world, the church and our experiences have damaged us. For our own lives and for the next generation, let us begin to acknowledge how deeply we have been wounded and bring on the revolution, bring on the clitoris!
|Posted by God Loves Women on May 14, 2014 at 12:10 PM||comments (1)|
As another day turned to evening, she sat on the balcony in the sagging old armchair, her heart and soul weary. In the first few weeks after it happened she had wept every single day. Not a minute would go by when she wouldn’t wonder where things had gone wrong, what she could have said or done differently. As the weeks turned to months the sadness became a knot in her stomach. Occasionally she would laugh, at a joke or something Martha said. Then the sadness would overtake her, combined with a guilt for almost forgetting what had gone before. Martha would see the darkness overshadow her smile and her face would fall. “Everything we do will always be about her.” Martha, the One Who Had Stayed, had spat the words at her the other day. It had been a slap in the face when already the pain of was unbearable. She slowly pulled herself out of the chair, it seemed her body had grown old fast. Soul pain did that. She walked to the railings, squinting into the twilight, hoping that this would be the day things changed. By the time she walked indoors, the twilight had turned to thick darkness.
She undressed slowly, her limbs heavy with grief. Once in her nightclothes she looked in the mirror, the woman in front of her no longer familiar. Her lined face and silvery hair, once proudly held high a crown of wisdom now left her feeling old and lost. Her shoulders slumped slightly and the energy she had lived her life with was lost in the pain of the day things changed.
The sheets cold against her skin, as, the silence shouted louder than the busyness of the day. Nothing to distract her from the memories, an onslaught of pain that never stopped.
“I want it now.” Evelyn had said. Her face hard, her words cold. “There’s a whole world waiting for me and I want to explore it. You’ve always said we shouldn’t be ruled by the traditions. Let me go, give me my share.” Martha’s mouth had hung open. Shocked by her sister’s audacity.
As their mother, she had always offered them freedom. Never holding to the old ways of control, she wanted her daughters to know their worth and value. To have choices, make decisions, live in freedom not duty. Never once had it occurred to her that freedom would break her heart.
She had heard them arguing later that night. Martha’s voice hissing words while Evelyn’s voice had rung out loud and clear, “It’s my choice, you stay here if you like, but the world is waiting.”
As she lay in bed, heart aching, tears slowly trailing down her face, she wondered whether she should regret giving her daughters the power to choose for themselves, to have freedom. She heard the whispered comments of the others; the neighbours, so-called friends and the employees. Her own mother’s words came back to her, “You mark my words Sophia, you’ll regret giving them freedom. Discipline and duty is the only way.” Yet, even in the midst of the screaming memories and darkness, she couldn’t muster any regret.
The darkness and shame overwhelmed Evelyn. Regret sat like poison in her stomach, no amount of vomiting able to purge it. She thought back to her dreams, when she thought the world was waiting. The way her money, her mother’s money had opened the doors. The parties, the film crews, her name in the credits, her conviction had grown with every success. She had been right; Martha wrong. Rich girl, famous girl, star of the reality show, living the dream.
But the dream is just that, one day you wake up. To find your private sex tape watched by the world. She didn’t know exactly when the regret had taken hold. The topless shots sliding into soft porn movies, if the world wanted to watch her, well at least they could pay her. Her FU to the world was to show she could still make it. Yet here she was sore and degraded, shame filling her head with thoughts of destruction.
She’d been given some powder to fix it; so they had told her, “It’ll make it better. It’s no big deal.” Yet, the tiny bags had laid in a drawer, the line she had yet to cross. She wondered whether now was the time. She walked over to the cabinet, took one out and stared at it. Could this take away the terrible poison within? Her mother’s face came into her head. Perhaps, maybe, she could go home. She could offer to work for the business. Find herself a bedsit. It could be better than this porn hell.
Sophia awoke, the state of half-awake providing blissful ignorance from the loss of her precious oldest child. The feelings of grief flooded in as consciousness overtook her. She sat up, squashing the ache in her soul. Before That Day she had regularly read the newspaper over breakfast, but with the first sight of Evelyn in the pages, she had avoided it like the plague, as the sickness took hold in her heart.
She completed each day on automatic pilot. Meetings, conversations, projects, reports; all of them completed by her body, while her soul wept. She knew Martha struggled. So many times they had gone round the same circle, “Evelyn has chosen her path; you’ve got to move on. Not least because I’m still here. I need you Mum.” Sophia had tried to awaken from the nightmare, for her younger daughter’s sake. But it was so hard. She lived for the evenings where she could sit in the chair on the balcony and hope that would be the day.
It had been months since that first night Evelyn considering returning, succumbing instead to the comforting powder. Her soul eviscerated by the photo and video shoots. Man after man, woman upon women. The irony of it being called a shoot. If only someone would shoot her.
She used all her pay to buy the escapism powder, living on the sofas of the men who filmed her. In one of her only recent lucid moments she remembered that time, how she considered going Home; after so long, that’s still what she called it. Home. This was the day things had to change, she was better off there as a worker, no matter how menial, than on the sofa of a pornographer. She had no belongings, nothing to pack. She walked out the door and started out Home.
Sophia was curled on the chair, the evening air cool. She had almost given up hope. She stood, her joints almost audibly creaking, shuffling to the balcony railings. Staring at the horizon she waited. In those moments she allowed herself to hope.
In the distance a speck emerged from nothing, gradually becoming the shape of a person. She gripped the railings and squinted. It was a person. She held her breath, willing herself to stay calm. To keep the hope in check. Yet as the person drew closer, she saw it was her lost daughter. In that moment the heaviness disappeared along with the joint pain and the soul ache. She turned and lunged for the door, leaping down the stairs she shouted through the house, her daughter had come home!
She ran down the path, her bare feet thudding on the ground. She needed to reach her daughter; to hold her. She stopped.
Ahead of her was her beloved daughter, thinner, older, eyes cast down, trudging forward, she hadn’t seen her mother running. Sophia held her breath for a long moment, tears dripping off her chin, she dared not move in case it was just a dream. Out of her mouth a groan of agonised hope escaped, causing her daughter to look up. As their eyes met Sophia knew it was real. This was it. She ran to her daughter, scooping her thin frame up into her arms, holding her tight as she wept.
Evelyn froze. This was not the plan. Her mother shouldn’t be here. And yet she was. Evelyn forced herself to recite the words she had been saying over and over, “I’m sorry. I’ve hurt you so much. I’m no longer your daughter, if you’d let me work for you, that is more than I deserve.” Her muffled words were spoken into her mother’s hair as she dangled in the tight bear hug her mother had enveloped her into.
Her mother loosened her grip, stepping back and attempting to look her in the eye. Evelyn kept her eyes on the ground. The shame twisted, squeezing her insides and leaving her wishing she hadn’t come. The silence was thick as she felt her mother’s eyes boring into her. Suddenly her mother grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the house. She allowed herself to be pulled along. They reached the door and her mother bellowed up the stairs, “Evelyn is home everyone, we must have a party to celebrate! She has been lost, dead and yet here she is, we’ve found her, she’s alive!”
Evelyn’s heart sank, she didn’t deserve this. She shouldn’t have come.
As if her mother knew how she felt, she felt arms surrounding her. Evelyn began to weep, raw pain escaping from her every pore. She had messed up. Yet here was her mother, still loving her. She collapsed into her mother’s arms and sobbed.
The people were everywhere, the “Welcome Home” banner declaring to the world that she was indeed Home. Evelyn sat at the edge of the room, not quite knowing what to do. How many of these people had seen the movies/photos she had been in? How many knew what she had done? Yet her mother was smiling, telling the room how wonderful it was to have her home. Every so often her mum would come to Evelyn, telling her how happy she was.
Martha was nowhere to be seen.
Martha sat on her bed crying bitter tears. How dare Evelyn waltz back into their lives? How dare their mother just throw her a party, after all she had done? Didn’t her mother know how much it had hurt, the jibes and comments? “Sister of the whore!” That’s what they’d called her. The calls from journalists, the way people looked at her. The shame and humiliation. How dare she? How dare Evelyn just walk back into their lives? Then the party! That had been the last straw. She had waited, kept working hard for the family business, been obedient and not so much as a celebration! She could have been out, partying, having the time of her life like Evelyn and yet she had been the dutiful daughter. And where had it got her? Nowhere.
The knock on her door brought her up short. Who was bothering with her when the precious lost daughter had returned? Slowly someone pushed the door open and her mother crept into the room. She refused to look at her, watching as her mum’s feet stepped towards the bed. She felt the bed move as her mum sat down. “Aren’t you joining us for the party?” Her mother gently asked.
“Join you?! I never left you! And that whore who abandoned you, wasted all you gave her and brought shame on our family’s name is being thrown a party! You never gave me anything.” Her mother recoiled at her bitter tone and harsh words.
Her mother smiled sadly, reached out and took her hand. “Martha, you are always with me and all I have is yours. Your sister will live with the consequences of her decisions and the decisions of those who hurt her for the rest of her life, but she has been found and for that we can celebrate.” Martha’s eye filled with the tears, the feelings of unfairness overtaken by a desperate need to feel her mother’s love. She stared at the bed covers, tears overflowing, great drops falling onto the sheets. Her mother moved closer and held her. Martha clung to her mother, great sobs escaping from her mouth. Her mother stroked her hair whispering over and over, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”
|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 November 6, 2013 at 11:50 AM||comments (0)|
Ah! Children In Need. That time of year when everyone embarrasses themselves for charity by doing something that in any other circumstances would be mortifying and/or social suicide. However, this year the stakes have been raised, the challenge is on, the embarrassment factor has reached epic proportions. This year for Children In Need, on 8th November, women can truly do something off the chart mortifying to raise money. They can go out without make-up on. That’s right, women of the UK, forget silly outfits, or dressing up as a camel. This year, if we are brave enough, we can go out “Bearfaced” to raise money for children, with a tiny paw-print on our face, to show that this hideous ugliness that is our actual face, is not something we normally display, but…for the children (said with tears in one’s eyes) we can bravely make such fools of ourselves.
In case you hadn’t realised, my previous paragraph is dripping with sarcasm.
It is a damning indictment on our society that not wearing makeup is considering so embarrassing as to be worthy of being a fundraising activity. It is troubling that a charity which supports children in reaching their potential, often in very challenging circumstances, is promoting this message. Women and girls across the UK are having their self-worth stolen by aggressive marketing, beauty products, toys, TV, films and the music industry. We are then convinced to buy back said self-worth through purchasing the right products and makeup, “because we’re worth it”. Bearfaced makes explicit the messages throughout society which say that women can never “come as they are”, that we are for ever destined to change ourselves to measure up to an unreachable societal standard of beauty that is manufactured by an industry invested in making money, at the expense of people’s health and wellbeing.
So if you see me without makeup on the 8th November, please don’t think I’m taking part in Bearfaced. It’s actually just my face being…well…my face.
|Posted by God Loves Women on September 1, 2013 at 10:50 AM||comments (0)|
My mum wrote this poem about patriarchy and I thought it was great and asked her if I could put it up here. She said yes, do enjoy it!
Patriarchy, why are you so afraid of strong women,
Women with the heart to challenge you in the arena
Of words, or anywhere that your physical strength
Is of no significance? Why do you need to control
Women? Are they such a threat to you?
We are all, male and female, prey
To the patriarchs, they believe we must
Bow before their scathing, belittling
Words and deeds, their domination – No!
We will not be cowed into submission
Nor preyed upon by those who seek
Us out like missiles, homing in on us.
Our shield shall be the truth
That no woman or man owns another.
The spectrum of human nature is wide
For human beings no trait is purely male,
None solely female either. Forget
What has been passed down to you,
Start afresh, embrace equality for all.
Men and women cannot be owned by anyone
They are free. All women can be strong women
But not all realise their power yet, we who know
Our strength, must build up our unknowing sisters
With words of encouragement, and knowledge
Of the true reality of patriarchy, which tries to
Imprison women in the cage of a manufactured
And false femininity. Wake up sisters, from the dream
Be the women you were meant to be,
And you men who are awake to the fake superiority
That you have been fed from birth and ancestry,
Arise and join your sisters, help to free
Your brothers from patriarchy and false masculinity.
Patriarchs will not concede easily but injustice will not
Win the day, it will fail as long as we stay strong.
Justice will always triumph in the end and
Our words will remain long after we are gone.
|Posted by God Loves Women on May 20, 2012 at 2:30 PM||comments (1)|
A wonderful friend of my has written this blog, but she wishes to stay anonymous.
(Warning this blog discuses miscarrage and child loss)
Ever heard a preach on the Father heart of God? Ever heard a father preaching about how horific it would be for him to loss his son. Probably. Ever heard a mother preach about child loss? I suspect if you have it will have been less often.
I find it hard to spend any length of time in worship at present without experiencing substantial amounts of pain. God is gracious and let's me run away and run back and slowly I grieve.
God chooses to reveal himself in scripture in both terms of father and mother imagery. So here is a mothers perspective on the cross.
I had a child wrenched from my womb, I watched as I lost all ability to nurture, care and grow this precious being, watched it poor out of me. I lost the possibility of holding that child to my breast, to nurse it with its ear next to my heartbeat to stare into its face and see my own emotions mirrored back. I lost the oppertunity to suuround them with love, joy and goodness.
I had nothing to hold or bury so vast was the seperation raught between us so I buried a box of memories in a garden I will never walk with my child in. But I have hope. God gave me a picture of the future and when I get to glory there's a child waiting ready to run towards me arms wide open shouting 'mummy'. Because God's love can reach right down into the depths of this broken world. Right down to a collection of cells that could never have lived, that had the 'wrong' combination of chromosomes that lacked what it took to be a viable human. Yet still God breathes life.
Both my children have taught me so much about the love of God for us. What my child Eden has given me a glimmer of is the cataclismic pain God bears when his children are taken and the eager anticipation with which God longs to be reconciled.
|Posted by God Loves Women on March 3, 2012 at 6:35 PM||comments (0)|
The world will tell you that your value is dependant
On things like your looks or the shape of your body
That your happiness comes through the things you buy
Or the boys…
It will try to undermine you at every turn
And try to ensure it's lies that you learn
It will tell your worth can be bought
In a pot of make up and the looks of men
Because you are female its expectations of you will shrink
It will box you and squash you and tell you not to think
Your womanhood will be demeaned and made something weak
It’ll tell you it’s a marriage and a child you seek
But listen to me lovely, don’t believe what it says
The world belongs to a liar you see
And the lies that he sells are cheap and worthless
The world lies because the truth holds such hope
If it squashes you down, then it can stay in control
But listen my daughter and hear the truth
You are utterly precious
And so so so strong
Your womanhood’s to be proud of
Not a shameful thing
Your value’s inherent
It cannot be sold or bought
It’s everything that makes you the person you are
You can be single and be successful
You can be child-free and be satisfied
You can be married and live life to the full
You can have children, if that’s what you choose
But know you have choices, that are only yours
And strength in abundance to do what you choose
There are no boxes in which you have to fit
There are no places in which you have to sit
Hear me when I say it’s hard to live out the truth
Because many people still believe the lies
They’ll ignore you, resist you and tell you you’re wrong
But I know you can make it, I know that you’re strong
Daughter you’re precious, precious beyond words
I love you, I love you
|Posted by God Loves Women on February 6, 2012 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
Today I was sat tweeting in Costa while my phone charged and suddenly I heard a woman’s voice slightly raised on the table next to me. I turned to see a man with his back to me and a woman on the other side of the table, talking to him,
“You’ve hit me before! What you want me to stop talking so loud?! Don’t you think people should know what you’ve done?”
Suddenly my entire attention became focused on the table next to me and the interaction of the two people sitting there. What could I do? How could I let this woman know that there’s help out there? That what he's doing to her is wrong? I decided to wait, and pray for an opportunity to speak to her.
And as I sat there waiting and praying, all I could do was listen to the conversation unfolding next to me.
Her: “Why do you keep doing this to me? You said you’d stop drinking! You keep doing all these things to me”
Him: “I came here expecting you were going to apologise to me, and you’re trying to make it all my fault!”
He kept employing the “quiet voice” tactic; keeping his voice low, so she sounds like a hysterical woman to everyone else, while he whispers offensive names and other nasty things under his breath.
Her: “I just want to fix things, I know it’s not always you, it is partly me…”
Him: “You’re always making it worse, why do you make it worse…?!”
I sat there, praying and asking others on twitter to pray, that I would have the opportunity to speak to her. At one point she got up, ready to leave, but he convinced her to sit back down. I packed up my bag and wrote a note with my name, email, address, phone number and the details of Lundy Bancroft’s book "Why Does He Do That?"
She was so articulate and so good at putting across her point. And yet he constantly undermined her.
So I waited and prayed and prayed and waited. And eventually she stood up to leave. He stayed sat down and she walked away, I stood up and gave her my note and told her I might be able to help, that she could contact me. The man stayed sat down and didn’t follow her so I walked down the stairs and said to her,
“I work with domestic abuse, I might be able to help. My ex-husband was abusive…I’ve written down a book that might help you on that note.”
She looked at me and quickly said, “Oh no! It’s not domestic abuse! It’s just unresolved issues, that’s all!” Then she hurried off.
I walked towards my train, heartbroken again by the reality of how men can break women so totally, without consequence or challenge. Painfully aware of how I once was a woman who refused to accept my ex-husband was abusive. The sadness I felt was heavy and consuming.
And yet, even in that pain and sadness, I praised God that I was able to give her some information. That an opportunity was provided and just maybe this opportunity will enable the woman to move forward. I will continue to believe there is hope, that she can be restored and freed.
I got home, my heart still heavy, and began to read with hope again rising the story of how Carl Beech and Dean Gray had challenged an abusive man on the underground; I was reminded that there are men and women across the UK and beyond challenging violence against women, bringing freedom and hope to women and children. If each one of us sees every opportunity as a chance to make a difference, we will do just that. If each one of us doesn’t just stand by when we hear, see or learn of abuse and violence, we will make a difference!
I happened to get a text from a friend just now and even though she didn’t know about this situation she had sent me the following verse:
“But thanks be to God who gives us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ, therefore my beloved be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” [1 Corinthians 15:57-58]
If you pray, please do pray for the woman I met today, let her and any children she has find hope and freedom and for the man who is choosing to continue abusing her to be held accountable and challenged, knowing that nothing we do for God is in vain!