Lord help the Mister, who comes between me and my Sister....

I never used to be a woman's woman.

Don't get me wrong.  I've had women friends, really good friends.

But I would often find myself at home in a group of guys.  In some ways this, sometimes, if I'm honest, felt less complicated.  In a group of Christian women, often there would be expectations as to how I would think or behave, and I constantly had to gently say 'no' or find myself frustrated.  Not all the time you understand, just sometimes.

Anyway, my point is that I often thought of myself as a man's woman.  And I still am, often.  A number of my best friends are men and it's kinda good that I work that way because I'm in a male dominated colleague environment - if I don't relate to guys, I'm in trouble!

Rosie the Riveter
But over the last ten years, I definitely found myself drawn to the sisterhood.  It was like God gave me a burning passion to stand up for myself and in so doing, stand up for all women everywhere.  Perhaps it coincided with my becoming a mother myself, a mother of a girl.  I want her to grow up absolutely bloody convinced at how brilliant she is and for every time she gets called 'bossy', she has a hundred comments backing up how much of a leader she is.  Perhaps it was something to do with my local church becoming a place where misogyny was disguised by theology and I had to choose my way in order to go one way or the other - there was no neutral.

Whatever it was, my eyes were opened to the fact that girls are hobbled before they even demand their first soggy faced, wide-mouthed request for their needs to be met.

And I think we need a few more women who get this.

Women like Rachel Held Evans who embarked on 'Mutuality2012' promoting equal treatment of men and women in the Church.

Paid less than men for the same job
Or my friend Sara Kewly who is taking on High Street chain New Look on their shoddy sexist line of 'Fantasy Football' tee-shirts.

Far too often, as was shown in my previous post, women find themselves working against each other.  Or put into positions where there own vulnerability will be increased hundredfold by seeming to be hypersensitive about the 'womens issues'.  It takes a lot of courage to make yourself vulnerable in those situations.  But it is also that often women literally don't *see* it.  They genuinely do think that people like Rachel and Sara...and me, are making a bit of a fuss about nothing.

When money is scarce, women and girls lack medicine, education, food first
Whereas my point is that what we (I mean us, you and me...yes...you) do, in the relative freedom that women have in the West, has implications for what happens for women globally.  Apart from the fact it makes me laugh that women think they are 'equal' even in the West (see above poster), that is nothing compared to the implications for women in countries and cultures where they bear the brunt of sexism, sometimes with their lives.  I have mentioned before the brilliant article by economist Amartya Sen: More than 100 Million Women are Missing, which everyone should read and weep.  This article should make us see in stark figures, the truth of the cost of sexism.

But often women in the West think that the fight is over, the bras were burned and we should all now become a little more demure about the gender debate.  Women in the Church are, I'm afraid, some of the worst.  Particularly because of some of the dodgy theologies regarding gender which are promulgated.

Which takes me back to my point.

We need women who will have the guts, the full belly to be women's women.  This is not to say that we shouldn't also be men's women.  I intend continue to love my male friends and embarrass them with TMI on what being a woman is like (my male friends often have to put up with moaning about hormones, periods and smear tests).  But we absolutely need women out there who will state the truth about what it means to be a woman and to champion the women they see around them.

We need women to spot those women who are brilliant and tell them so, every second of every minute of every hour (well...almost), so that those who will stymie their fantastic ability with ill-thought through, stupid comments, will not prevent them from fulfilling their God-given potential.  Because you can bet that for every time you think you are going over the top in telling a woman how brilliant she is, she has the equal and opposite reaction in spade loads.

We need women who will stamp and shout and raise their voice.  Who will not be afraid of being called 'strident' or 'bitter' or be accused of 'having a chip on their shoulder'.  Who will know that these are signs that they are standing in the right place.  We need women who are unafraid of the sisterhood.  Of looking at women and seeing full-blooded, passionate people, and unambiguously seeing them as full human beings who are made in the image of God. And being uninhibited about shouting that from the rooftops.

Is it about Rights?  Well yes - it's about what's right.

I know I am a lucky woman.  I have around me many strong-minded unafraid women and men who have given me the courage to be someone more than I could have been without them.  I see it as my responsibility to do that for other women.

Is it yours?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am in such agreement. Things have improved since I was the first girl at my school to do physics or further maths (although I taught a class with one girl today, which is one more than there was at AS)and a fellow sixth former (now doctor) could tell me in all seriousness that it was wrong for me to have given my place at one of the first women at my Oxford college as "a man would have used it better". But actually we have miles to go, to cut poverty amongst women and oppression of them. The current sexual politics is awful, young women are pressurised into ridiculous efforts on appearance including unhealthily low weight and told all that matters is are they "hot", not clever or contributing.

The church is far from hands clean on this matter so yes, we need to fight, for my daughter and your's and for their friends.

Oh yes and the female bossy / male strong leader thing REALLY bugs me