Some Thoughts on International Women’s Day

I am pro-women’s rights. Why wouldn’t I be?

I love my right to vote and run for office. I exercise my voting rights proudly, always remembering the women before me and all that they went through to ensure that their descendants would have that right. It hasn’t even been a full century since the fight for that right was won.

I am grateful that my employment is protected–that I can’t be laid off if I choose to get married and that I can’t be laid off due to pregnancy. Because (hopefully) there will come a time when those protections will apply to me, and they haven’t always existed.

Along the same line, I am grateful that I have had equal access to education. There is no one limiting the educational level I can achieve, and I don’t have to go to an all-women’s college. Look back at history. That’s huge.

In my senior year, I spent the better part of a semester researching the Battered Women’s Movement. Which means that I spent the better part of a semester alternately crying and angrily tossing my notebook onto library tables, floors, my bed, desks… because how on earth could society have okayed the things that went on? How could there actually have been legislation that allowed men to abuse their wives? Do you realize that legislation protecting women from spousal abuse didn’t start to appear until the late 1960s? That legislation allowing women to divorce abusive husbands didn’t start appearing until the 1970s? That a lot of these measures were not actively enforced until the 1980s? And the systems of protection are still incredibly broken. Some of the measures meant for protection have actually done more harm than good. But I digress.

I’m grateful that I live in a country that guarantees me the freedom to be a dissenting voice. But I do my utmost to be respectful toward those with whom I disagree. I am conservative politically, and I hold pro-life views. There are those who would argue that due to those opinions, I cannot be pro-women. I exercise my right to respectfully disagree.

I’m relatively happy with the state of women’s rights in the USA. That doesn’t mean I think that things are perfect. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can be improved. For those things, I will write and place calls to my representatives in government. Nothing strikes me as being terrible enough to go marching through the streets, certainly not waving linguistically explicit signs, and definitely not wearing a…hat…on my head. You know what hats I’m talking about. But I respectfully recognize the right of other women to come to the conclusion that things are bad enough to march, and they have the freedom to wave their signs and wear their hats. We have all made personal decisions and come to different conclusions.

I do not feel the need to disparage men in my quest for equity and independence. It frustrates me greatly when women complain that chivalry is dead, then turn around and beat down the men in their lives. Or the random man on the street who was just trying to be polite. That is counterintuitive. You ought not complain about the death of chivalry if your words and actions are killing it.

I do not feel the need to disparage other women who choose to be stay-at-home moms. The whole point of women’s rights is the ability to make the choice. Some women choose to be professional moms. I was raised by one. She made the choice to make her family her career, and I am grateful.

Me with my mama after she surprised me for my performance of Handel’s Messiah

Other women maintain a balance between full or part-time careers and raising a family. Other women elect to pursue careers rather than starting a family. I don’t feel the need to look down on women who make choices that I wouldn’t. God gives different people different strengths and places people in different positions.

And that brings me to a few ways the church can work on supporting women.

It has been my experience that churches are some of the most judgmental places on the planet. This saddens me, because we have every reason to show love and joy!

I know, I know. You don’t want to put your “ok stamp” on sin. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about putting a stamp of approval on things that are clearly wrong. You don’t need to (and biblically, should not) support the use of illegal drugs, extra-marital sex, or homosexuality. But you do need to be kind. You don’t need to have a “come as you are, stay as you are” mentality, but you do need to be kind. You don’t need to excuse the sins of other believers (or your own sin), but you do need to be kind. You don’t need to avoid the truth. But you do need to be kind.

I’m going to say this one more time to make sure we get this. You need to be kind. You know, speaking the truth in love. Like the Bible says.

Christian, you say you’re pro-life, but are you willing to open your heart and home to an unwanted child?

Me with my littlest sister, whose adoption will be finalized this Friday. It’s been a long two years. I’ll write more about this on Friday.

How do you treat single moms? No, seriously, if a single mother walked into your church on Sunday morning, would your first instinct be to walk over, introduce yourself and get to know her like a normal human being? Or would she be greeted by cold stares and awkward silence? Would you invite her to take a seat next to you, or would she be left on her own, sitting in the back of the church? Is it any wonder that women feel so compelled to argue, fight, and protest in graphic ways for their reproductive rights?

I do not like, nor have I ever liked, the way stay-at-home moms look down on working moms, or how working moms look down on stay-at-home moms. Yes, it is a two-way street. Stay-at-home moms look down on working moms for not focusing on their family, exchange knowing glances when the working mom shows up to Bible study with ketchup stains on her shirt, dragging a whiny, messy-faced toddler by the hand. “If she would just quit work and focus on her family, maybe she could finally get it together.” And the working moms judge stay-at-home moms for giving up their careers, not advancing their personal goals. “It’s like those women don’t even know what century we live in, like they actively choose to be ignorant and have nothing to do but dress their children in perfect little outfits, cook Pinterest-worthy dinners, and gossip about me being a hot mess.” Don’t act like this isn’t going on. I’ve been watching and listening to it for years, and the meanspiritedness of it makes me want to avoid women’s ministries like the plague. Think about that the next time you go through the fruits of the Spirit or Proverbs 31.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Jesus Himself summed it up best. Love God and love others. Women are human beings created in the image of God. It’s time we remembered that. It’s time that we stopped tearing down the women in our congregations, and it’s time we showed actual love and actually ministered to the women outside our congregations.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on International Women’s Day

  1. Kaitlin says:

    I appreciate the way you presented your opinion! You’re informative and don’t take shots at anyone with other beliefs. I think many more of us need to do that, so thank you!

    Like

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