Like many others, when I stepped onto Gordon’s campus as a new student, I had a vision for the school and how I could help make that vision possible. Much of it was a subconscious vision and much of it revolved around me, but it was a vision nonetheless.
It’s 10 months later and that vision has shifted. I don’t know if it is because I am more aware of the complexities of administration and the red tape that crops up everywhere you turn or if my passions have just changed that much.
When I came, I wanted to create some sort of support group or safe space for victims of abuse. Christian communities have this nasty habit of training abuse victims to internalize their experiences, blame themselves, and never hold their attacker responsible for their actions. I wanted to change that. I have seen too many people–particularly women–stay silent because they don’t want to ruin someone else’s life and want to go the “Christian” way and forgive their brother or sister for their transgressions without any justice. These are all great intentions, but they teach the attacker that what they did was okay and don’t have to change their ways because there were no repercussions for their actions. It leaves the door wide open for them to do what they did to someone else. (Clearly, I have many thoughts on this.)
So I came to Gordon wanting to do this but had no idea how. I still think Gordon needs this, but I don’t necessary think that I’m the person to do this anymore. My focus has shifted elsewhere.
All around campus, I hear people longing to talk about things often ignored like purity (and the myth of it), sexuality, abuse, sexism, racism, and other sticky topics. Here’s the rub: we spend so much time talking about having these conversations that we don’t actually have conversations about these things! I don’t get it. If people are so fired up about something, why are they not seeking out these conversations everywhere so administration can no longer ignore it and do something about it?
In this way, I’m so excited for Human Sexuality Week. It’s going to be so full of conversations that some desperately need and others think they don’t need but will finally be forced to have. Focus weeks are fantastic in that way. But what about after?
I’m leading a small group this semester and we are unpacking the lies of femininity and feminism during the discussion time. This conversation needs to happen more on campus, but it has started in its small way in a classroom on a weekly basis. That’s more than what was happening.
This grassroots movement of sorts is how campuses change. It’s how spaces change. It sounds cheesy, but the saying, “be the change you want to see in the world,” is so true. How can you expect the people around you to have certain conversations and expectations if you aren’t actively pursuing them yourself?
Yes, my vision has shifted. Right now, I am on fire for empowering women. It’s a surprisingly hard fight to fight–the fight for equality–with all the little things that have been embedded into our minds for all our lives, but it is worth it and so incredibly necessary.
I’m not doing this by marching in front of the chapel or student center shouting at passing bodies to accept my beliefs. I’m doing this by talking out the crap with people. People are rarely, if ever, swayed by someone shouting at them. Conversations plant seeds, open previously closed mind, and give you the chance to actually listen for once.
My vision for Gordon is to not be afraid of having the messy conversations that make everyone feel uncomfortable. Those are the conversations that are infectious. They stretch and develop communities. They promote the change we all long for.
I beg you: please don’t be afraid to explore the unknown and hash through the ugly with the people around you.
I was asked to give some clarification on my thoughts on administration since some inaccurate assumptions can be made from my brief mentioning of them and “red tape” above. Click here for my thoughts.