This morning I got out of my New Testament class around 10:10 to head to chapel. I’m not the biggest fan of going to chapel, but it’s required to go to a certain number, and I’m a little behind.
As I was exiting the lecture hall, I was following two people whose exchange enraged me to the point of writing this point. The conversation went like this:
Man: “Are you going to chapel today?”
Woman: “I don’t know. Who’s speaking.”
Man: “Some woman.”
Woman: “Oh, it’s a woman? I’m not going.”
My thoughts immediately following this are full of inappropriate phrases and words that should not be repeated, but the gist of it is, “ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME? THAT IS A TERRIBLE REASON TO NOT GO TO CHAPEL.”
Before I expound on this a little more, I want to let you into my mind. Over the past week or so I have been beginning the process of seriously going into women’s advocacy with the intension of helping women–particularly within the church–understand and deal with abuse, sexuality, and other related subjects. These subjects are currently taboo but I want to turn that on its head. Why are we talking in whispered voices about issues that plague most of the church in varying degrees but in very real ways?
Because of this, I have become a lot more sensitive to people demeaning women than I was previously. I say “people” because it is not just men that are guilty of this–clearly due to the example above.
This conversation, while very brief, has very serious implications.
It means because she is a woman she cannot deliver a good message in chapel.
It means that because she is a woman she cannot do as well as a man.
It means that because she is a woman she cannot do better than a man’s worst.
It means that because she is a woman God cannot use her as well as a man.
Yes, this is a huge insult to women, but it is even more insulting to God. Who are we to put God in a box that will only allow him to act through half of his children? This is incredibly silly to me (while sad and frustrating.)
What hurts me just a little but more was that this came out of the mouth of a woman. Why are you suppressing yourself? Do you not believe you can do as much as a man if not better than a man at something? Do you believe that women don’t do anything worth hearing about? When you say that you aren’t going to chapel because a woman speaking, you may not be explicitly saying that you find women inferior to men, but you just put the glass ceiling on yourself.
And I’m sad for you.
One of my life goals over the past year or so is to lovingly disagree with people. The more people I meet, the more I tend to form individual opinions that are vastly different than my neighbor’s, but I am still called (and still want) to love them just the same. So here I am facing a tough question: how do I love someone who by demeaning women also demeans me and, more importantly, herself? (Honestly, when I heard this, my initial reaction was turn viciously turn her around and say to her, “What the [fill in explicative here] is wrong with you? How could you say this?” which is definitely not the best way to approach this.) I don’t know that answer right now, but that’s okay. As soon as I think I know all the answers, I have become a person I never want to be.
In case you were wondering, chapel was incredible today…hands down the best I’ve been to all semester (and ironically the first one led by a woman.) It was one of the best demonstrations of witnessing with personal testimony that I have ever seen. Even just reading this short excerpt from her bio shows she has a powerful story to share (quoted from http://www.lizwalkerjourneyproductions.org/lizWbio.html):
Liz Walker is an award-winning television journalist, a documentary film producer, an entrepreneur and a humanitarian currently working in the war-torn country of Sudan.
If Reverend Walker had let a man do all the hard work for her, all the women’s lives changed in Sudan would never have been changed for the better.
A key point in her speech today was, “When a woman is educated, she can fight back.” Wars are fought on the backs of women. They are the ones getting gang raped, having more children, dying of various diseases, and basically forgotten about by the rest of the world. The long-term solution is to educate women in order to slowly reshape the next generations in these war-torn countries in order to stop the wars and abuse.
Wow. Needless to say, hearing Reverend Walker say this immediately after hearing a peer belittle women, I was fired up to write about this.
Thank you Reverend Liz Walker for actively pursuing the story in Sudan and not waiting for a man to (or in this case, let the story get ignored altogether.)