|Posted by God Loves Women on March 24, 2014 at 8:20 PM|
“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: