I’m reading Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants: Book One of the Century Trilogy and in the midst of WWI there is also the story of the Women’s Suffrage movement in England. As I listen to their stories and read of stories around the world of women who don’t have access to education or the choice in whom they marry, I think I don’t have the right to complain about the world in which I live and exist. There are other people who have had to fight harder, other women who can’t type their own words much less send them out in the world of social media.
And yet, I don’t think that the women who fought and the women who are fighting for equal voices would want us to become complacent in pretty good lives when are voices are only sometimes silenced, and so I write.
I write because I haven’t met a women in ministry serving in open and affirming congregations who hasn’t been demeaned, insulted, or belittled. I write because if we pat ourselves on the backs for allowing women to serve our congregations in the same roles as men do, but continue to allow the language of oppression to be in our hallways in those women’s offices and in staff meetings, then we haven’t really done these women a service, but a disservice. I write because 1 in 3 women will be sexually abused in their lifetimes (not women in conservative and fundamentalist baptist congregations, but all women). I write because in order to survive as professional ministers, we must ignore comments about being “cute” and “pretty” and “looking nice” and take them as compliments rather than attempts at objectification.
I write because we have to band together in private conversations passing along information about how best to work around people who say they support women in ministry, but reduce us to our gender. I write because the justifications of “that’s just the way he is” or “she’s like that to everyone not just women,” need to be rethought.
I write because if the comments that are made in welcoming and affirming congregations to women in ministry were made to my daughters, I wouldn’t stand for it.