God Loves Women

A blog sharing my love of God, the love He has for women and my frustration that the Church often doesn't realise this

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Karen Ingala-Smith, Desmond Tutu and Forgiveness

Posted by God Loves Women on March 23, 2014 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

After writing this blog critiquing Archbishop Tutu’s article about forgiveness, I thought it may be valuable to respond to the specific things Karen Ingala-Smith says within her blog about his article. So here goes…

 

“But is it for the child to forgive the abusive parent? What does it mean for a boy child to forgive his father for violence towards his mother, essentially for a man to forgive another man for violence against women?”

I think Karen raises a really interesting point here. I read Tutu’s article as a forgiveness of his father for the trauma that it caused him, rather than absolving his father’s sins on behalf of his mother. Perhaps this is one of the differences in mine and Karen’s views of forgiveness. I would see the forgiveness I offered to someone as only related to their actions towards me, the hurt they caused other people, perhaps even within the actions towards me, would need to be forgiven by the other people that have been hurt. My forgiveness doesn’t absolve the offender’s sin, it is a decision for me to no longer wish that person harm. It doesn’t even remove the consequences of their choices, it is about the attitude with which I approach them.

 

“In a feminist analysis that identifies patriarchal society, religion has been shaped to protect men’s oppression of women.”

Karen and I may hold similar views on many things but it is here that our ideas diverge. I understand completely why she sees religion as an institution designed to maintain patriarchal systems of power. My experience as a church goer for my entire twenty nine years of life has proved over and over that religion is a patriarchal institution. But my faith and experience of God is not of a patriarchal entity desiring to control and subjugate me; it is of a truly liberating character that seeks to enable me to be more than I could have ever imagined. I don’t believe this understanding of faith can come outside of an experience with the Divine and so do not blame Karen for her strongly held conviction of this. However, perhaps her views are a wakeup call to the church. Gender justice is not a secondary issue if people reject all aspects of faith because of the Church’s investment of patriarchal structures.

 

“Apparently, in the bible there are two types of forgiveness: God’s pardoning of the sins of ‘his’ subjects, and the obligation of those subjects to pardon others.”

I struggle with the idea of forgiveness as an “obligation” and this is not my experience of faith. The times I have forgiven others has not been out of obligation. In fact it was when forgiveness felt like an obligation that I fell into a state of denial, pretending that if I just tried hard enough, I could make my ex-husband’s treatment of me not hurtful. It was as I felt the bitterness of hatred towards him that I decided I no longer wanted his treatment of me to define anything about me, including my feelings towards him that forgiveness became a reality for me.

 

“Being able to do so is so important that a believer’s eternal destiny is dependent upon it. Refusing to forgive is a sin. Forgiveness then is a selfish, not a selfless act.”

In Matthew 6 Jesus does states that unless we forgive one another, God won’t forgive us. We also find that in Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus prefaces His teaching on forgiveness by saying we must hold to account those who sin against us. None of these verses can be taken in isolation. I personally have never forgiven because I believe it will save me for eternity.

 

“… when talking about violence, [forgiveness] is an act that absolves the abuser of their responsibility…I disagree. We are more than the product of our experiences. We have consciousness, we make choices, we can see if our behaviour is harmful or hurtful to another. Abusers are always responsible for their abuse. If someone’s ‘god’ , or indeed another believer, can absolve someone for the choices that they make, their responsibility is erased.”

I totally agree with Karen here. Tutu’s assertion that forgiveness removes the responsibility of an abuser is not my understanding of Scripture. Surely the Christian faith is rooted in a belief of free will? No matter what leads up to our actions, our choices are just that, choices. The consequences and responsibility for abuse and violence are not eradicated in forgiveness, it is the ability for that offence to define us that is removed. If someone cuts off my legs, it does not matter how strongly I forgive them, I still have no legs. My experience of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection mean I know I am free, but if I choose to kill someone tomorrow, I will still have to deal with the consequences of that choice, as will everyone affected by that murder. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24,

 

““I have the right to do anything,” you say - but not everything is beneficial.

“I have the right to do anything” - but not everything is constructive.

No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”

 

“By reducing male violence against women to an individual relationship, one in which someone who is neither perpetrator nor primary victim can bestow forgiveness, we are ignoring, condoning – forgiving – the wider impact of men’s violence upon women, upon all women above and beyond that individual relationship.”

All I can say to this is yes, yes and yes! We must be careful whenever talking of forgiveness that our message does not condone or justify behaviour. We must always consider how our words and actions impact the vulnerable and the hurting, and recognise the principalities and powers that we are fighting against; in this case the spiritual power of patriarchy.

 

“We cannot allow a person to say that this is okay, that this is forgiven, but it appears that religion encourages us to do just that. Indeed, male violence against women can be forgiven by god. That’s just a little bit convenient for patriarchy.”

Again I agree, we cannot allow forgiveness to blind us to the reality of patriarchy. We must not let forgiveness become a weapon of abuse, which for many women it has. The teaching on forgiveness disabled me from making good choices, it enabled an abuser to totally destroy me and it is doing the same to far too many people each and every day. We have a responsibility to ensure our communications, teaching and theology do not collude with or enable abuse. We must critique the systems which perpetuate and enable abuse to continue. This is a prophetic work and I believe that Karen Ingala-Smith and other radical feminists are doing this work while the church very often colludes with the systems of oppression Jesus came to set us free from. I applaud them for their work and thank them for their courage.

 

“In the UK, the mainstream is very quick to identify ‘other’ religions as oppressive to women but this is equally true of Christianity. Religion reinforces and upholds patriarchy, forgiveness is just another of its tools. We do not need to forgive male violence against women unless we want men to continue to dominate women.”

To some extent, I agree with this. I have seen religion uphold patriarchy, I have experienced forgiveness as a tool of patriarchy and it makes me weep, because that is not the whole story. I have spent most of the day deeply distressed at the reality of being an outcast. I don’t fit in the Christian world, with its 1950s housewives, its black and white clarity, its collusion with the Powers. And I don’t fit in the feminist world because I live for Jesus. I will unapologetically give my whole life to an awesome God whom most of the feminist world understand to be an oppressive construct propping up patriarchy, and yet it is in Her that I have found liberation and freedom. And I weep that those who are doing the work of the Kingdom cannot see the truth of that very Kingdom and that those who think they are part of the Kingdom are in fact working to prop up the Powers that seek to destroy the Kingdom.

 

What better way for the Powers to win, than convince those who love Jesus that the tools given for liberation be turned into weapons to destroy the Kingdom?

On Desmond Tutu and Forgiveness

Posted by God Loves Women on March 23, 2014 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has written of his journey to forgiving his father for abusing his mother. In an article for the Guardian he says, “I can still recall the smell of alcohol, see the fear in my mother's eyes and feel the hopeless despair that comes when we see people we love hurting each other in incomprehensible ways.”

 

Karen Ingala-Smith has written an excellent blog critiquing Tutu’s message of forgiveness from an feminist atheist view. I have such deep respect for Karen and her tireless and enormously valuable work on ending male violence against women and girls. Her blog led me to thinking it would be useful to write my own response, from my perspective as a Christian feminist.  (You can read my blog responding to Karen's blog here.)

 

It must be acknowledged that for Archbishop Tutu to witness his father hurting his mother as a child is a terrible thing. Research suggests 750,000 children in the UK witness domestic abuse every year and the effects of such trauma can impact a person throughout their life. I hope my thoughts will in no way invalidate or undermine the pain and suffering of Archbishop Tutu has experienced as a result of his father’s choices. So much of his work and lie are to be admired and respected. As Karen says in her blog, his life has involved much good work. I also hope my thoughts in no way devalue the amazing work he has done and continues to do across the world.

 

I have known the power of forgiveness in my own life. For four years my ex-husband chose to hurt me. His choices left me suicidal, physically and mentally scarred and I only escaped after he assaulted me and my son was born three months premature. The effects of his choices continue to impact my life, with ongoing traumatic responses to what he did and with my children. For me forgiveness has been an enormous sacrifice, but one that has transformed me. I am not defined by what he forced me to become. I am free.

 

The theology I had learned in church about forgiveness and relationships disabled me from making good or safe choices. I met him when I was 17. He sexually manipulated and abuse me and I thought it was “sex before marriage”. I assumed my only way forward, twelve days into the relationship, was to commit my life to him, to marry him. His constant put downs and sexual relationships with other girls were seen by me as an opportunity to show him Jesus’ love. To forgive him and forget. I thought Psalm 51:7 applied to my actions “wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” I had to forgive him, to wash away all traces of his choices and then everything would be okay. But it wasn’t okay and I was pregnant within six months and four years later, lived in a hospital with a seriously ill child and a toddler, almost totally dead inside.

 

In that place I learned what it was to lose everything, to hit the end of everything and for me, it was in that place that I found God. And I have been on a journey since then. Part of that journey has been discovering what forgiveness is and what it is not. Forgiveness is never about nullifying the consequences of someone’s choices. It isn’t about reducing their behaviour to something we can justify or explain, in order to make it smaller and easier to accept. It isn’t about a forced feeling that allows us to believe that now “God can forgive us too”.

 

Forgiveness for me started by learning to forgive myself. The shame and abuse I suffered left me filled with self-hatred. To no longer blame myself for my ex-husband’s behaviour, but to fully hold him responsible. To know longer live in denial (which is what the teaching I had been given as a young person really meant; forgiveness equals denial). Then, once I had been through the long and painful journey of holding him fully responsible for his choices, I then chose to forgive him, over and over each time another memory surfaced. And for me that has been the liberation of no longer being defined or controlled by him. I don’t have to be filled with hatred for him, and I’m not. Forgiveness isn’t about letting him off the hook, but rather hoping he will stop hurting others and begin to live a positive life. It is wishing him well within a context of knowing he is currently dangerous and unsafe.

 

It is within that context of my own journey of and belief in forgiveness that I write about the article Archbishop Tutu has written.

 

“…see the fear in my mother's eyes and feel the hopeless despair that comes when we see people we love hurting each other in incomprehensible ways.”

What he writes about is not two people hurting “each other” but one person hurting another person. Though this may seem like semantics, it is important to mention. I have written for EVB about the issue with talk about abuse as a relationship, as a “between” type thing.

 

“Intellectually, I know my father caused pain because he himself was in pain.”

Far from this being intellectually true, it is feeding into myths about abuse. Perpetrators do not abuse out of their pain, they abuse because of their beliefs about the person they abuse. They believe they own their partner and are entitled to behave in the ways they do because of this. Rather than this being a statement which holds his father to account, Archbishop Tutu actually justifies those choices.

 

“Spiritually, I know my faith tells me my father deserves to be forgiven as God forgives us all.”

The Bible does talk of us forgiving others, but I’m not sure it says that others deserve our forgiveness. Surely forgiveness is necessarily a voluntary act. Not because it is deserved, but because the person forgiving has made a choice to do so.

 

“If I traded lives with my father, if I had experienced the stresses and pressures my father faced, if I had to bear the burdens he bore, would I have behaved as he did? I do not know. I hope I would have been different, but I do not know.”

Perpetrators of abuse do not need empathy. We cannot put ourselves in the shoes of those who have beliefs of ownership and entitlement and consider that we too may behave in those ways. Forgiveness is not about being able to understand or provide reasons why someone did what they did, it is a choice in the midst of suffering to no longer be defined or held captive to what they have done to us.

 

“Forgiveness is not dependent on the actions of others.”

I do agree with this. It is not in the apologies of the offender that forgiveness is found. We can choose to release them from our hatred regardless of what they do. That is the beauty of it; the offender has absolutely no control over whether we forgive them or not. However, the other side of this is that if someone does apologise, we are under no obligation to reconcile with them. Reconciliation may put us emotionally or physically at risk. No matter how much the offender changes, we as the offended have the right to put in as many safeguards as we need.

 

Of his children, Archbishop Tutu says, “We have been able to forgive them because we have known their humanity. We have seen the good in them.”

The forgiveness we have for our children is different than that of a son forgiving a father. The power differential within all of our relationships must be considered when we think about forgiveness. Likening forgiving my child for keeping me up at night to the forgiveness of a son for the abuse his father perpetrated is not comparable. The power differential and the choice to bring those children into the world means that our relationship and responsibility means we make allowances for them in healthy ways.

 

Of his father he says, “…while his temper pained me greatly, there was so much about him that was loving, wise and witty.”

It is important to understand that abuse is not rooted in anger. It may appear as anger, but as I mentioned before, it is about beliefs. The belief in the inferiority of the person they hurt, that they are an object, a possession to be controlled.

 

“When I reflect back across the years to his drunken tirades, I realise now that it was not just with him that I was angry. I was angry with myself. Cowering in fear as a boy, I had not been able to stand up to my father or protect my mother. So many years later, I realise that I not only have to forgive my father, I have to forgive myself.”

One of the scars of abuse is blaming oneself, of believing oneself capable of impossible action, like that of a boy protecting his mother from his father. That self-blame is a lie. And though it may require self-forgiveness, it is also important to acknowledge that it is a lie that we believe in order to give us some illusion of power in a situation of utter powerlessness.

 

“No one is born a liar or a rapist or a terrorist. No one is born full of hatred. No one is born full of violence. No one is born in any less glory or goodness than you or me…We can easily be hurt and broken, and it is good to remember that we can just as easily be the ones who have done the hurting and the breaking.”

It is true that no one is born an abuser, however this statement does not take into account the systems which exert themselves on every person. That patriarchy insists men be dominant and that women are owned, is a fundamental system that must be challenged. Men do not abuse because they are hurt and broken, they abuse because a patriarchal system legitimises their choices. It is so important that we never lose sight of this. That Karen Ingala-Smith was left with the understanding that forgiveness enables patriarchal culture is not surprising if this is the message that is being given.

 

“It has taken me many, many years to forgive myself for my insensitivity, for not honouring my father one last time with the few moments he wanted to share with me. Honestly, the guilt still stings.”

It seems the feelings Archbishop Tutu has towards his own actions are more overwhelming the choices his father made to hurt his mother. Earlier in the article he talks of having forgiven himself, but it seems he is still far harder on himself for doing the best he could at that time than he is on his father.

 

In relation to the bad choices each of us make he says, “We can come up with all manner of justifications to excuse what we have done. When we are willing to let down our defences and look honestly at our actions.”

Throughout the article Archbishop Tutu provides many justifications for his father’s choices, yet when he talks of us acknowledging our own choices, he then says excuses and justifications are not okay. Surely we must be willing to apply that same attitude to our forgiveness of others, as we do to asking for forgiveness?

 

For me, it is through Jesus’ model of giving up power and showing what forgiveness and love truly are I have been able to make the choices I have. My experiences of being set free from the abuse I have suffered and my work in ending male violence against women are all rooted in a deep knowledge that it is through love and forgiveness that we will win the war. In Jesus, we see an all-powerful God, who discovered the only way to save humanity was to give up all His power and become weak, vulnerable and powerless. In Jesus, I discovered it is my weakness that is my greatest gift, not my strength.

 

While patriarchy continues to be a power which destroys lives and incites individuals and systems into worldwide oppression and injustice, it is as we live lives of love and refuse to be manipulated into hatred, as we begin to own the power and privilege we have and recognise the responsibility that gives us to empower those with less power, as we choose to forgive in a way that holds people to account, while believing them capable of change, and challenging the societal issues which disable change, it is as we do these things, that we will see transformation.

Guest Blog: Gender Restitution

Posted by God Loves Women on March 18, 2014 at 9:55 AM Comments 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.

To The Men

Posted by God Loves Women on March 5, 2014 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (5)

I wrote this piece earlier today after reading this article. The article states that 1 in 3 women in the EU will be abused by a man they thought loved them; their partner. Yet the article managed to mention women a lot of times, yet did not mention the men who abused them. The invisibility of the men in this piece is not an isolated incident, regularly articles about abuse of women refuses to mention the men who abused them. It’s almost as if violence against women is a perpetrator-less. And yet it is not.

 

After reading this article I then went to the gym where I watched Robin Thicke singing about the Blurred Lines between sex and rape and how he wants to give a woman “something big enough to tear her ass in two”. Except the song was silenced, so all that you could see was a music video where fully clothed men gesture at almost naked women who appear to be wrapped in cling-film. Nobody batted an eyelid. Nobody switched it off. I nearly wept right there on the cross-trainer.

 

Then the next two music videos were of male performers “featuring” female performers. How apt! This is the lie the world tells women. That we are features of men’s lives. Not people, not human beings in our own right.

 

And through my headphones I heard music that praised Jesus and declared that we are free because of His sacrifice and I looked at the screen and considered how many women, the world over, are not yet free. And I almost wept on the cross trainer, instead taking my rising anger out on the machine, getting faster and faster, to the point I almost fell off.

 

I arrived home dripping with sweat and wept hysterically on Mr GLW. This is such a terrible world. And I wrote the words below. Mr GLW advised me not to publish them. He said I would appear as a man-hating, angry, feminist if I did. But I needed to. Because this is how it felt to be a woman for me this morning.

 

And if you read my words and you feel more offended by what I have written than by the fact that 1 in 3 women is abused by a man, or that a man rapes a woman every 9 minutes somewhere in the UK, or that 140 million girls and women are living with having had their genitals mutilated, or that a man rapes a woman in South Africa every 36 seconds, then you need to consider your priorities.

 

If you read my words and feel I am alienating men, or being harsh, we are in the midst of a genocide, a war against women, and yet the media want us to believe this is about isolated incidents. It is not. Men abuse women because they believe they own them, and are entitled to do whatever they want to them. This is across the entire globe. No woman, in any community across the world is safe from male violence.

 

I am married to a man and I have a son and so I know there are good men out there. But until we begin to see this as a war against women, and about global gender relations, we will never see systemic change.

 

The hearts of my sisters and I break. And the world-at-large remains silent. 

 

To the men

Your kind are raping my sisters

Your kind are killing our mothers

Your kind are reducing my value

Every single day.

 

And yet, as you hear my words,

You do not feel enraged at your brothers,

At your fathers, at your friends.

 

You feel enraged with me,

For giving men a bad name.

 

I do not hate you

I do not know you

But I cannot trust you

Because your brothers are raping my sisters

And the rapists, murderers, torturers

Cannot be identified in anyway

Don’t take up this with me, take it up with your kind

 

My rights are not women’s rights

My cause is not niche

My sisters are they who brought you into the world

While them who birthed all the people of the earth

Are not human.

Then none are human

 

The screens show mutilated women

Parts, not making up a whole

And your kind have convinced some of my sisters

That to sign up to this mutilation

Is the route to power

In the church

 

My sisters are sacrificed daily on the altar of unity

In the media

My sisters are altered daily in the hope of being found worthy

In the home

My sisters are more unsafe than in a dark alley

In the state

My sisters’ voices are silenced

 

When my sisters are laying in the gutter

Broken, chained, discarded

Who lifts them from the gutter?

Who breaks their chains?

Who walks them to freedom?

Not your kind, but the mothers, the sisters, the women.

Yet my words make you angry with me

And not with your kind.

 

I want to call you brothers

To bridge the enormous chasm

That stands between our peoples

The sisters and the brothers

 

So listen to my words

Said by a broken hearted woman

Hold your brothers to account

And help us end this war on women

Pedagogy of the Oppressed: My Notes

Posted by God Loves Women on March 3, 2014 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)

On a few occasions over the last few years Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paula Freire has been recommended to me as an important book to read.  I finally got round to buying it and have dragged myself through it over the last couple of weeks.  I say “dragged” not because the book was awful or said anything I didn’t agree with, but because it was practically unintelligible.  Paulo Freire wrote the book almost 40 years ago and it is considered an enormously significant book in work to educate oppressed people.  The issue with the language is, I think, a combination of it being:

 

a)    Translated from Portuguese (Freire was from Brazil)

b)    Written nearly 40 years ago

c)    Based on Marxist political theory (which I have never read before)


 

Benjamin Ellis suggested it would be useful to provide my notes on the book, and so here they are!  You may find the Wikipedia entry useful and also this is a useful clarification of some of the terms in the book.  If you would like to read the book for free (approach with great trepidation!) you can do so here.


 

Okay, so here are my notes:


The first stage of a pedagogy of the oppressed is the revealing of oppression & reflective action taken to transform the world.  The second stage is permanent liberation which requires steps to be taken to remove all myths about the system (e.g. poor people are lazy, women are emotionally weaker, men are naturally violent etc.)  The goal of anti-oppressive practice is to enable both the oppressed and the oppressor to become fully human.


The steps we must take in addressing oppression are:


 

1. Critically recognise causes of oppression/dehumanisation

 

a) Gain realisation of the oppressed’s dependence on the oppressor

b) Understand that fatalism is conditioned, not inherent in oppressed people.

c) The oppressors are the subjects, the oppressed are the objects

 

2. The oppressed must overcome their fear of freedom and the risks

 

3. We must recognise the oppressed are hosts of the oppressor consciousness, which they internalise through the oppressor’s tactics.  

 

4. Understand that oppression is not a closed state; hope & transformation is possible

 

5. A moment of perception & volition is needed

 

6. Oppression will increase once recognition of the oppression occurs

 

7. It’s important to differentiate between systematic education & educational projects

 

8. Remove ambiguity and inspire confidence in the oppressed's own ability

 

9. The oppressed must begin to see the oppressor's vulnerability, in order to abolish feelings of the oppressor’s omnipotence

 

10. The process must be intellectual, while including action, activism & reflection

 

11. The oppressed must accept responsibility for bringing about change (not because they are to blame for the oppression, but because change will never come from the oppressor).  “It’s essential for the oppressed to realize when they accept the struggle for humanisation they accept total responsibility for it."

 

12. Move from a belief that the situation is limited and unchangeable (a limit situation) to a the situation as an opportunity for action and change (a limit act)

 

13. Through the oppressed realising their object status and discovering their ability to act, the oppressed become "subjects in expectancy”

 

14. The next step is for the oppressed to become "beings for themselves" instead of being objects used by the oppressors.

 

15. It must be understood that oppressors use the following mechanisms:


a) Conquest

"Cultural conquest leads to the cultural inauthenticity of those who are invaded; they begin to respond to the values, the standards, and the goals of the invaders...the more the oppressed mimic the invaders, the more stable the position of the oppressor becomes.”  For the oppressed to reject the myths of the oppressor becomes “an act of self-violence."

b) Divide & conquer

c) Manipulation

d) Cultural invasion


16. Revolutionary leaders cannot use the above methods.  Instead they must use these mechanisms:

a) Cooperation: Seeing themselves "co-authors of liberating action"

b) Unity for liberation

c) Organisation

d) Cultural synthesis: "In cultural syn¬thesis, the actors become integrated with the people, who are co-authors of the action that both [parties] perform upon the world."

 

16. The oppressed stop conforming to the oppressive system and in so doing they begin to objectify reality, as subjects/actors in the world.

 

17. Revolutionary leaders achieve unity with the oppressed by enabling the oppressed to recognise and identify with the “why” and “how” of the oppressors.  This process is called de-ideologising.

 

18. This cannot be done by releasing the oppressed from one false/mythological reality to be bound to yet another system that is not co-created with them.  Dialogical action with the oppressed makes it possible for the oppressed, by perceiving their current conformation to an unjust system allows them to begin transforming it.


19. The "consciousness of being an oppressed class must be preceded (or at least accompanied) by achieving consciousness of being oppressed individuals."

 

20. Those who are witnesses and revolutionary leaders must have:

 

a) Consistency between their words & actions

b) Boldness urging all to confront the current unjust system, knowing it is a permanent risk

c) Radicalisation (as opposed to sectarianism)

d) Courage to love

e) Faith in the people (the oppressed)

 

21. "It is quite true that without leadership, discipline, determination, and objec¬tives—without tasks to fulfil and accounts to be rendered—an organisation cannot survive…  This fact, however, can never justify treating the people as things to be used. The people are already depersonalized by oppres¬sion - if the revolutionary leaders manipulate them, instead of work-ing towards their [transformation], the very objective of organization (that is, liberation) is thereby negated."

 

23. " The dialogical theory of action opposes both authoritarianism and license, and thereby affirms authority and freedom. There is no freedom without authority, but there is also no authority without freedom"

 

24. "Revolutionary leaders must avoid organizing themselves apart from the people."

 

25. "Revolutionary leaders commit many errors and miscalculations by not taking into account something so real as the people’s view of the world: a view which explicitly and implicitly contains their concerns, their doubts, their hopes, their way of seeing the leaders, their perceptions of themselves and of the oppressors, their religious beliefs (almost always syncretic), their fatalism, their rebellious reactions.”


 

The correct method of addressing oppression lies in dialogue.  Dialogue includes:

 

1. Co-intentional education

2. Teacher/student

3. Problem posing education vs banking education

4. Demythologising

5. Love, humility & faith in people

6. Hope

7. Critical thinking

8. Awareness of the oppressed's situation

9. The people's thematic universe (their full experience of the world)

10. Critical consciousness of the oppressed, also known as “conscientisation”

11. Using the abstract to make visible the concrete

12. Using relevant cultural tools e.g. newspaper articles, blogs, adverts, music videos, social media interactions, TV programmes, films etc.

13. Both the facilitators and those receiving the information are "actors in intercommunication"

14. A recognition of the oppressor’s need to “absolutise ignorance” in the oppressed

15. Empirical knowledge transformed into knowledge of the causes

16. Making the oppressed aware of the methods of "oppressive cultural action" enacted by oppressors.

17. Understanding that "salvation can be achieved only with others"

18. Understanding that "when the oppressed are almost completely submerged in reality, it is unnecessary to manipulate them."

19. Understanding that in true organization, the oppressed are active in the organising process of challenging oppression and the objectives of the organization are not imposed, but jointly agreed.

20. "The dialogical theory of action opposes both authoritarianism and license, and thereby affirms authority and freedom."  "Authentic authority is not affirmed as such by a mere transfer of power, but through delegation or in sympathetic adherence. If authority is merely transferred from one group to another, or is imposed upon the majority, it degenerates into authoritarianism."

21. A social structure is not defined by solely the fact that it remains the same, or by the fact that it changes, It is in the relationship between permanence and change.

22. It is necessary to trust in the oppressed & their ability to reason.


 

Understanding the oppressor/oppressed relationship

1. The oppressors perpetuate and perpetrate their power and control though reducing & alienating the oppressed and by convincing the oppressed that any flaws in the system are a lie.

2. When an oppressor’s right to oppress is taken away they will feel oppressed.

3. The oppressed may admire & aspire to become like the oppressor

4. The oppressed internalise self-deprecation and end up believing themselves incapable of knowledge.

5. The boss lives within the peasant, betraying the boss means the oppressed betraying themselves.

6. The oppressed must enter the struggle for liberation as people not as things.

7. "An oppressor class cannot think with the people & neither can they let the people think for themselves."

8. "In Brazilian political terminology, "massification" is the process of reducing the people to a manageable, unthinking agglomeration."


Problem-Posing Education includes:

1. Recognising that “the student is not empty, the teacher is not full”.

2. "Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction…so that both are simultaneously teachers and students."

3. "The teacher’s thinking is authenticated only by the authenticity of the students thinking."

4. "Affirming men and women as beings in the process of becoming.”

5. Oppressive education: “the means used are not important; to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects."

6. "Those who have been denied their primordial right to speak their word must first reclaim this right and prevent the continuation of this dehumanizing aggression."

7. "Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and for people."

8. "At the point of encounter there are neither utter ignoramuses nor perfect sages; there are only people who are attempting, together, to learn more than they now know."

9. "The dehumanisation resulting from an unjust order is not a cause for despair but for hope, leading to the incessant pursuit of the humanity denied by injustice."

10. "The revolutionary's role is to liberate, and be liber¬ated, with the people - not to win them over."

11. "In order to communicate effectively, educator and politician must understand the structural conditions in which the thought and language of the people are framed [as diaologue]."

12. "Come to perceive [that breaking free from oppression is] the frontier between “being” and “being more hu¬man”, rather than the frontier between “being” and “nothingness”.

13. "Even if the people's thinking is superstitious or naive, it is only as they rethink their assumptions in action that they can change.”

14. "Humankind emerges from their submersion and acquire the ability to intervene in reality as it is unveiled."

15. "Leaders who deny reflective praxis to the oppressed thereby invalidate their own praxis."

16. The leaders must always mistrust the ambiguity of oppressed people and mis¬trust the oppressor that has become “housed” in the oppressed.  But they must totally trust and believe in the potential of the people.  They cannot treat the oppressed as mere objects; they must believe that the people are capable of participating in the pursuit of liberation

 


Glossary

I thought it may be useful for me to define some of the words/terms I had to look up…


 

Praxis is a complex activity by which individuals create culture and society, and become critically conscious human beings. Praxis comprises a cycle of action-reflection-action which is central to liberatory education. Characteristics of praxis include self-determination (as opposed to coercion), intentionality (as opposed to reaction), creativity (as opposed to homogeneity), and rationality (as opposed to chance)."  (Source)


Dialogical Method:The dialogical approach to learning is characterized by co-operation and acceptance of interchangeability and mutuality in the roles of teacher and learner, demanding an atmosphere of mutual acceptance and trust. In this method, all teach and all learn. This contrasts with an anti-dialogical approach which emphasizes the teacher's side of the learning relationship and frequently results in one-way communiques perpetuating domination and oppression. Without dialogue, there is no communication, and without communication, there can be no liberatory education. (Source)

 

Pedagogy: The method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.


 

Marxism: Marxism is a worldview and method of societal analysis based on attention to class-relations and societal conflict, on a materialist interpretation of historical development, and on a dialectical view of social transformation.


 

Conscientização: Conscientization is an ongoing process by which a learner moves toward critical consciousness). This process is the heart of liberatory education. It differs from "consciousness raising" in that the latter frequently involves "banking" education--the transmission of pre-selected knowledge. Conscientization means breaking through prevailing mythologies to reach new levels of awareness--in particular, awareness of oppression, being an "object" in a world where only "subjects" have power. The process of conscientization involves identifying contradictions in experience through dialogue and becoming a "subject" with other oppressed subjects--that is, becoming part of the process of changing the world.  (Source)

 

Axiological: Of or relating to the study of values.


Anthropocentric: Regarding humankind as the central or most important element of existence, especially as opposed to God or animals.


Existential: Relating to existence.


Solipsistic: The philosophical theory that the self is all that you know to exist.


Subjectivism The doctrine that knowledge is merely subjective and that there is no external or objective truth.


Psychologism: A tendency to interpret events or arguments in subjective terms, or to exaggerate the relevance of psychological factors.


Contradistinction: Distinction made by contrasting the different qualities of two things.


Concomitant: A phenomenon that naturally accompanies or follows something.


Ideational: Being of the nature of a notion or concept.


Obviate: Remove (a need or difficulty).


Milieu: A person's social environment.


Contemporaneous: Existing at or occurring in the same period of time.


Epiphenomena: A secondary effect or by-product, in particular.


Etymology: The study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.

Database: Let's Get This Thing Started

Posted by God Loves Women on November 21, 2013 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (3)

After collating the statistics regarding UK Christian Conferences, there has been talk of developing a database of women speakers across the UK, similar to the Women's Room. So here is the start of this!

 

I had originally put up an email form for people to send to me. However, after recieving some really helpful suggestions from amazing people. I have taken that down in order to ensure it is the best resource it can be.

 

At present, if you would like to be added to this database, please could you email me on [email protected] and ask to be added to the mailing list. Then, once there is a more substantial process for including all you amazing women speakers out there, I can let you know! Also, if you know of any amazing women speakers, please do send me their email addresses if they would be happy to be added to the list.

 

Let's get this thing started and show all those who think there aren't many gifted women speakers out there that God loves women, and has gifted them according to His awesome grace and faithfulness!

Are UK Christian Conferences Sexist?

Posted by God Loves Women on November 13, 2013 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (21)

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]

 

 

Keswick 2013

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]

 

Faithcamp

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%)

 

Momentum 2013

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%)

 

Newday 2013

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)

 

New Horizon

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!!

Playing By The Rules

Posted by God Loves Women on November 11, 2013 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (1)

If you’ve ever met me, you’ll know that I can talk. People’s experiences of meeting with me range from describing it as “the day the sky turned dark” as we chatted for many hours and it was night time and she hadn’t realised; to actually chucking me out of their house (in a nice way); to talking so much we got on the wrong train and it took us 45 minutes to realise. So talking is a thing I can do.

 

Something else you may realise about me quite quickly is that I have big issues with power misuse. Having experienced abuse of power to varying degrees in relationships, in a work environment and in church, I spend my life trying to address power misuse in varying degrees. This includes my rejection of the “Christian Game”. You may or may not be familiar with this game. It is a Christian version of the celebrity game, where one’s value as a Christian and the validity of one’s opinion is in direct correlation to the amount of influence and power you hold.

 

For a long time I put all my energy into shouting, with the hope that one day, people might hear me. The scary part was when people actually did begin to listen to me. The fact that I may actually hold some power, or influence petrified me. What if I used it wrongly? What if I got it wrong? Up until then the focus was trying to get people to listen, now they were listening, I had a great responsibility to get it right. Through conversations with some wise people I realised a) I wasn’t that influential and I needed to get over myself and b) I needed to stay true to what I believed. This helped and I moved forward in a much healthier way.

 

More recently I met with an amazing communications consultant, who helped me to work through some of the barriers to communicating my message. The main issues for me seemed to be that I refused to play The Game and am losing people’s engagement because I am disruptive, challenging, disturbing and not as people expect me to be. We focussed on why I was so worried about The Game and a few things came up including fears of losing sight of God, being silenced, and losing my sense of self. That somehow my identity had become rooted in being heard.

 

Soon after this meeting I spent some time walking along the beach, reflecting on what this all meant. The fear of losing sight of God feels very holy and right, but underneath that was the reality that my identity is less rooted in Jesus and more rooted in being heard. As someone who loves to talk, and has a calling to communicate, being heard is something I thought was part of the plan. Surely it must be! Why would I be called to speak, if not that people would listen to me?

 

As I walked along the beach I realised something, I have been playing by the rules of The Game, while resisting the desire to gain power. The Game says that being heard is the object, because being heard brings power. The Game says that the more people who hear and take on the message you bring, the more power you have. And although I wanted to resist the power, I thought that it was in the being heard that would fulfil my calling. And as I walked along the beach, a still quiet voice whispered to me, “You are called to be obedient, not to be heard.”

 

If my perception of “success” is measured in the same way as that of The Game I struggle so hard to resist, I’ve unknowingly become part of the system.

 

In the last month or so I’ve shared some of my issues with CNMAC. Though CNMAC has been a catalyst for my thoughts, as it brings to the surface issues that are often less visible in the day to day of life of twitter, it’s not really about a conference or awards. Fundamentally, I think the issues lie in where our identity and value sit. My wonderful friend Helen Austin (the blogger formally known as Fragmentz) has candidly shared her thoughts on CNMAC, and I am anticipating her blog on the subject. Some of the conversations I have seen include:

  1. Building “a platform”
  2. Gaining followers
  3. Talking about how many followers someone has as if such a figure somehow makes explicit a person’s value
  4. Obsessing over blog stats or website traffic (I have no facility to check blog stats, and do not want one),
  5. Talking about ways to get people to click on links or read blogs.

In short this is about being heard, by the most people possible.

 

To be clear, that is not the call of the Gospel, it is a marketing plan. We are not called to gain followers, we are called to make disciples of Jesus (not of ourselves). We are not called to be heard, we are called to be obedient. While our identity rests on being heard, it is rooted on whether people hear, and our success on how many of those people hear.

 

I say this all as someone who likes to be heard, I have spent a large chunk of my life trying to be heard, experiencing the terrible pain of being silenced over and over. I recognise how easy it is to build my life on the need to be heard, because that’s what I’ve done. Not because I wanted power, or influence, or favour. Almost in direct opposition to that, because I wanted to challenge structures of power, and speak out about injustice. And perhaps my realisation of this comes from a place of privilege, of having been heard.

 

On that beach I repented of being rooted in something other than Christ and asked God to help me learn how to be obedient, above all else. Since then I have faced opportunities where I could court favour and possibly increase the amount of people who hear what I feel called to say, or I could challenge things, perhaps losing favour and opportunities. In those decisions I have realised that I would rather that it all ended here, knowing I have remained rooted in Christ, than continuing to move forward marketing myself in order to be heard.

 

Perhaps it is ironic that I am writing this to be read. That I’m broadcasting these words for all, but I am discovering the issue is not in speaking the truth, it is in not fully inhabiting my soul. In somehow relying on others to feel validated or as having value. Jesus shared His message with all who would hear, but He made it difficult. He told parables so “when they see me they will learn nothing, when they hear what I say, they will not understand”. When eating with the gatekeepers of His culture, (the Pharisees) he insulted and offended them, and when He had an opportunity to perform miracles to the elite (Pilate and Herod) He refused. I will be obedient to God’s call, and I will speak out, but I choose to be rooted and found in Christ alone. I hope this will be true for me: “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8)

CNMAC: Some Thoughts...

Posted by God Loves Women on November 11, 2013 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (5)

You may have seen a blog I wrote last month about the Christian New Media Awards 2013 (CNMAC). At the time I began formulating some thoughts about the Christian Twitter World (not sure if I should capitalise it, as if it were an actual organised entity, but I have… ). Many conversations with some lovely people and some time with the Lord later, I thought it would be good to try and formulate my thoughts into a blog. So welcome along to the thought train (begins dancing around the room singing about the thought train to the tune of “love train” by the O’Jays…sits down calmly and begins writing.)

 

I’ve been on Twitter for a couple of years and I love it! I have met many of my Twitter friends, meeting for dinner, going to their house for tea (Mr GLW was rather concerned about this one, but it turned out she was a great cook, fun friend and not a raging psychopath), meeting at events like The Gathering of Women Leaders, and other such frivolity filled places. I would consider some of my best friends to be people I met through Twitter. Alongside meeting people offline, Twitter is a place I have been challenged and encouraged, prayed for and loved, and where I hope I have offered such things to others. A significant amoung of where I am spiritually, politically and philosophically has come through interactions on Twitter and through reading people’s blogs. All in all, I think Twitter is fabulous.

 

However, (there’s always a however, isn’t there…?) when the experiences I have online become labelled with a hashtag, talked about in terms of increasing my “platform” or when people I consider to be my friends and fellow travellers on the journey of life (those whom I follow or who follow me) are turned into a currency of either influence or a measurement of my value, I feel sick.

 

You’d have thought that my love of Twitter would have led me to feel excited and hopeful about the CNMAC conference last week. However, after aring my view on the awards I began feeling uncomfortable about the conference as well. I did attend the conference in 2012 and although the Twitter banter through the day was amazing, I only briefly connected offline with a couple of people I knew from Twitter. I found the conference really hurt my brain (not in a “good and thinking” type way; in a bad, “I can’t read twitter, follow a twitterfall, respond to Twitter, and listen to a speaker all at once” way.) I felt lonely and sad and disconnected all at once. The best point of the day was randomly having tea with some fun people, who had to endure my moaning about needing food *immediately*.

 

Why is it that Twitter can be such an amazing place, but CNMAC, a gathering focussed on doing “digitally better” can leave me feeling lonely and alienated? Then a thought struck me (not like actually physically hit me, more like a slow dawning realisation… ).  There are two main groups on Twitter.

 

  1. The Car Enthusiasts. They love their car, they like to make improvements on their cars and have the best cars they can. They want to attend car conventions to talk about how amazing their cars are and visit stalls which give them handy tips on maximising the output of their cars. They polish their cars, talk about their cars and enjoy their cars.
  2. The Journeyers. These people like hanging out with their friends. In fact, they like journeying with their friends. And to do that they need a car. The Journeyers, don’t really care about the car, as long as it doesn’t breakdown. But all the car is to them is a vehicle with which to go on a journey with their friends.

 

I’m always a bit worried about labelling people. In fact, I refuse to be labelled, hate “Myers Briggs” and even mute my SatNav so it can’t tell me what to do (you may laugh, but I am following the map, not being told where to go. Hmph!!). So please don’t take my two categories as rigid, immovable ideas. They are purely an illustration, and I doubt many people fit into either of the two categories fully.

 

I am a Journeyer. Twitter and blogging for me is about enjoying the journey with a group of people, some I agree with fully, some I rarely agree with, but still they all make the journey what it is, and actually together our discussions may change the direction of the journey and I find myself going on a whole new route because of the conversations going on in the car.

 

I feel that the CNMAC agenda and organisation is run primarily by Car Enthusiasts. Their explicit aim is one of excellence. One which makes sense for having a good car, but less so for having a good journey (I guess having an excellent car may make the journey smoother, but actually for me an old banger adds to the character of the journey, even if it is a bumpier ride). I feel disengaged from the CNMAC conference and awards not because there is anything wrong with them per se, but because their aims for social media are not my aims and they get excited about totally different things than the things I get excited about.

 

I worry that by posting this blog, I may upset people.  They may feel a) I’m falsely dividing people and b) I’m wrong. However, I feel in order to clarify my thoughts, this blog explains where I’m currently at. But hey, hop in the car with me and let’s discuss it further.

Bearfaced

Posted by God Loves Women on November 6, 2013 at 11:50 AM Comments 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.


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