|Posted by God Loves Women on January 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM||comments (0)|
Over the last couple of days I have followed Sarah Moon’s (@SarahNMoon) tweets with interest. She spoke out about her feelings regarding the Emerging Church (if you’re not familiar with this term you can find out more across at Wikipedia). Sarah shared her problems with the fact the movement is heavily male (to clarify, the men in it are not overweight, but rather, there are mostly men leading within it). She listed the names of some men she felt contributed to this and within moments one of these men (who has a rather large following, both on twitter and off) tweeted her to object to being called sexist, even though Sarah’s original tweets were not addressed to him with an @ thingy (if you’re not a tweeter, this bit will make little sense to you... )
What ensued was Sarah sharing her frustrations with the emerging church man’s refusal to listen to her concerns and the man telling others not to “feed the trolls” and complaining about Sarah’s accusation of sexism. Then other people began engaging on either side of the situation tweeting their thoughts and feelings.
Anyway, this situation got me thinking about sexism, power, privilege and the different facets of the church. This man with all his power and followers felt the need to call Sarah out publically for her accusation, without thinking about how this may have intimidated her, and refusing to listen to her concerns or frustrations.
Of course being accused of sexism is hurtful and may even seem like a form of defamation; a strong response may feel the right thing to do. However, when someone challenges us, should we respond with indignation, or listen to what they have shared, and consider it?
My thinking led me to working through how we respond to criticism. So often when we are called on our behaviour our immediate response is to assume the person criticising us is wrong, and we feel indignant, “how could they say this about me? I’m a good person!”
Then on the other side of this, when we attempt to call out others on their behaviour, we feel guilty for inconveniencing them the with truth, and think that perhaps we are really wrong for challenging them, and maybe it’s all just in our head anyway…
What occurred to me was that our individualistic culture, coupled with the warped teaching on grace and forgiveness that so many Christians have heard, we have a situation where it’s almost impossible to call out people and be sure they will hear us.
We’re taught to be gracious and listen and love others as ourselves; to turn the other cheek and be peacemakers. But the times Jesus called the Pharisees “a brood of vipers” and the way he allowed the rich young ruler to walk away, and the way He called Peter “satan”, are often missed out in our understanding of what being a peacemaker looks like.
For those of us on the receiving end of criticism, we naturally shut down from hearing things which we don’t think we are like, especially it’s about sexism or furtherance of oppression. We all like to imagine that we’re wonderful people (regardless of all that Christian stuff about us all being sinners, none of us actually wants someone to point out the ways we are sinning... )
But this is not the Gospel. Not for any of us. Jesus’ teachings were about showing us the state of our hearts. He was about subverting power structures and showing each of us how to give up our power and be willing to die for Him, so that then we could truly live for Him.
To believe that we are not sexist, or racist or homophobic is to underestimate the very power structures that seek to keep oppression in place. As a white, able bodied woman, born and living in the UK and married to a white man, denying the privilege and power this gives me would be to walk blindly through life. Yes, I have also been on the receiving end of inequality and oppression and continue to live within a society which discriminates against women, but that in no way invalidates the privilege and power I hold.
So what next? Do we just assume every critical thing someone says to us is true? Do we live in a place of perpetual self hatred? Clearly not, but we can live out the teachings of Jesus:
Repenting: Looking deep into our heart. Recognising the amount of power and privilege each of us has. Living each day, being willing to be broken by the state of the world and our contribution to it. Not living in a place of guilt, but dying to ourselves daily, and picking up our cross, the cross of privilege and power, owning the ways we have added to oppression and choosing to be followers of the Way.
Discipleship: Not some sort of let’s talk about our feelings blah blah blah… But a willingness to live in vulnerability to others calling us out. I’m not talking about accepting abuse or bullying, but if we want to live in a truly anti-oppressive way we must be willing to repent, day by day, and then to listen and acknowledge the potential that someone’s criticisms of us may have validity.
Fighting the Powers: This is a spiritual battle, and the powers of racism, patriarchy, homophobia, and other evils are very much in the Church; not only are they in the Church, they are upheld, perpetuated and perpetrated by Christians. The devil is in the Church and we must fight him with all we can. Not by using arguments of grace to shut people up, but by following Jesus’ model of a love that is strong and true.
And as Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Let us never forget that, in any of our interactions, either on, or offline.
|Posted by God Loves Women on November 26, 2012 at 5:20 PM||comments (1)|
I clicked on this link provided by the wonderful Rev. Pam Smith just now and found Susie Leafe, a female member of the General Synod, sharing on 4OD about how women should not be Bishops.
She suggests that “women look to men for some of the most important decisions of their lives” and “what we [women] tend to do is what happened in the Garden of Eden: Adam stood back and did nothing; Eve made a bit of a bad decision and the world got into a bit of trouble.”
I’m really glad that Susie has explained this. I mean I had been wondering why all the single women across the UK have been wandering around the streets of their towns and cities, disoriented and lost. Only the other day I past at least 15 of these poor souls, lost and without guidance. If only they had a man to help them make their decisions! Perhaps they would be able to have a life that included a job, a home, a social life! But alas, it is not to be, they are condemned to a life of disoriented wandering.
I don’t just say this as a married woman, I say it as someone who was a single mum, yes I know, you’re wondering how I coped! Well clearly I didn’t, in fact what Susie shared has really helped me to make sense of what happened when I no longer had a man to guide me. I just stood in the street, with my children for two years and didn’t move. I mean, how would I have? Without the guidance of one of these males? Truly it was impossible!
I’m just grateful a man did eventually find me and tell me I should get married to him (clearly without him telling me to do it, I would never have known it was a good thing to do, being a mere woman).
I especially like how she describes what Eve did as a “bit of a bad decision” and got the world into “a bit of trouble”. It really helps me to make sense of why everything I’ve ever done until I was married to a man had failed, but now I see clearly. That is what God made me like. Destined to fail, without a man to guide me…
Thank you Susie, for clearing up why my entire life only make sense if I am led by a man. However Susie, I came across a verse the other day and I wonder if you could clear up what they mean, in light of your insight?
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)
I’m clearly reading this wrong Susie, but it seems to be suggesting Adam brought sin into the world, obviously this can’t be correct, I’d appreciate your thoughts…
|Posted by God Loves Women on April 23, 2012 at 10:55 AM||comments (2)|
Yesterday I wrote a blog sharing my horror at my children's school introducing a "Battle of the Sexes". You can read it here.
So today I sent a letter to the Headteacher, the reading teacher, the Chair of the Governors and the Equality and Diversity team at the County Council, you can read the letter here.
I recieved a call this afternoon inviting me to meet with the Headteacher at 3pm, which I agreed to do. I went to the school expecting to potentially have a fight on my hands, but actually that was not the case!!! The Headteacher was utterly apologetic and acknowledged that the scheme had been thought about only from an educational point of view, missing out on the wider issues. He thanked me for raising concerns and said that the teacher responsible for reading was quite upset at having not thought through the implications I had now raised.
He explained that the scheme was being cancelled immediately, that the children would be spoken to at Wednesdays assembly and that he would include details of the scheme's termination in the parent newsletter on Friday. He also said that the letter I had written was the best he had ever recieved from a parent!
So let us always remember that if we are passionate and persevere, we can make a difference!!
|Posted by God Loves Women on April 22, 2012 at 4:55 PM||comments (3)|
My children go to a local Church of England primary school who have embarked on the noble quest of pushing more parents to read with their children. So far this quest has taken the form of a reading raffle every Friday, in which children who have had the reading record signed by an adult five days out of the week will be entered into a raffle in which they can win a lovely book.
I have quite a lot of problems with this reading raffle business, I feel it misses the point, parents not reading with their children has a deeper root than just a lack of a good reward for their child, but I haven’t felt it is the right battle to fight. Until last Friday.
“Last Friday?” You ask, “What happened last Friday?”
Well, I shall tell you. Last Friday my children arrived home with a letter from the teacher responsible for reading which said the following (and I quote):
“A big well done to all those children who were entered in the reading raffle this week. The children had to read 10 times over the holidays [yes, you read right, over the *flipping* holidays, no rest for the wicked, or at least small children, I say…] and have their planners or reading records signed for each time [their emphasis, not mine]. I was very disappointed however that the numbers of children entering the raffle weren’t higher. Only 34% of girls and 35% of boys were entered in the raffle this week, meaning that 2 in every 3 children seem to no be reading enough at home. To try and raise this we have started a “Battle of the Sexes! [Yes, you did read that right…] The gender with the higher percentage will receive 5 minutes extra play every week. This week the boys won. Well done boys!” [Yes, you also read correctly that they have already started this scheme].
I am utterly furious! Who do they think they are?! Regardless of my issues with the reading raffle and my disappointment at them rewarding children if their parents read with them, that is nothing in comparison to my shock at the decision to penalise 34% of female children even though their parents did sign their book, purely because of their gender. While 65% of male children got extra playtime, even though their parents did *not* write in their books, purely because of their gender.
I work very hard to ensure that my children do not feel their gender is in anyway a barrier to them. Both my 6 and 9 year old know that the broadly speaking the only differences between men and women is that women have babies and men wee standing up. To polarise my children so thoroughly in this way, purely because of their gender is totally unjust.
As someone who works very hard on domestic violence prevention, this could not be further from the actions required of a school in promoting positive relationships. When looking at how we promote positive relationships for younger children, it is about challenging gender stereotypes, not reinforcing that it’s boys versus girls. For every boy in that school who was allowed extra playtime, what the school has said is, your gender allows you privilege, and for any of those boys who live in homes with an abusive man, the school has just reinforced *every* view of women that man is telling that boy.
Since Friday, I have been learning about what I can do about this situation. Firstly I rang up the school to speak with the teacher who has sent the letter out, she wasn’t available immediately. I rang up the County Council’s equality and diversity department to get more information from them (they are going to ring me back). I also looked up the Equality Act 2010, which tells me that gender is a “protected characteristic” meaning that the schools actions are a form of inequality and also that potentially, from what the act says, this could be considered indirect discrimination.
Some may say I am overreacting, investigating things this thoroughly, but I do not want to be accused of being a “politically correct zealot” and so I thought I should get my facts straight.
Tomorrow I am going to the school to request a meeting, and I am going to explain how this “Battle of the Sexes” must not be allowed to continue and ask that an explanation be sent to every parent of the “un-thought through nature” of the scheme, before next Friday (when the next raffle and gender war is to take place). I know the school may not be particularly amenable to this suggestion, but my next stage will involve the Governors, the Vicar, other parents and perhaps even the press if necessary, so I shall keep you updated!
P.S. Since first writing this blog, I have discovered that the boys extra playtime will be awarded on Thursday and hasn't already taken place. I am requesting the school change the scheme before this is due to take place.