I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

29 October 2012

The Girl Effect, part 11

I'm thinking about the last two posts I made, and I was at an almost loss of what to post for part eleven. Then, as if by chance, I found several news articles that are quite appropriate for the discussion at hand. 

I actually laughed when I saw them, because they are so perfect to prove the point I'm trying to make.

For several years, I've been following the movement in Israel, "Women of the Wall". (see also wiki) For most of you unacquainted with Israel, Judaism and The Kotel also known as The Western Wall/The Wailing Wall - it might be a surprise how little of the Western Wall is available for women to pray at. 
It may also surprise you that women are not free to use some expressions of their faith at the wall... and this "offense" (their worship) is seen mostly "Unladylike" and blasphemy.

I lost where I found this - if this is yours -
please let me know so I can give you credit!

The women's worship area takes up about 1/3rd of the entire area, and often is crammed full of women, while the men's section is large, and not always occupied. Due to issues of modesty, women and female children are NOT allowed on the men's side to worship or talk.  Women's activities on the women's side are strictly regulated. According to Israeli Law: No religious ceremony shall be in held in the women's section of the Western Wall. That includes holding or reading a Torah, blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) or wearing tallitot (prayer shawls). To find out more about what is actually illegal, click here.

Women of the Wall are in the news again - due to an arrest of members of this organization recently. Why were they arrested?

 "I was arrested for disturbing the peace and endangering the public good by wearing my tallit and saying the Shema out loud." (Anat Hoffman)

She said that she was asked to lower her voice and did, and was asked to change the way in which she wore her tallit, which she also did. But despite complying, one of the police officers "grabbed my arm, pulled it behind my back, and took me to the police station. When we turned the corner, and it was quite dark there, he pulled my arm even harder, even though I showed no resistance. He hurt me, and when I said 'this is hurting me', he looked like 'that was the purpose of the whole thing, lady.' When I asked him at the police station 'why am I being detained?' he said 'because you resisted coming with me'"
Woman of the wall Anat Hoffman complains of treatment after arrest

 “This law is ludicrous. The role of women in religion has changed throughout the world — everywhere but Israel. At the Wall, there are 13 regulations, 12 of which passed under the reign of King George V in 1924, thank you very much. Then in 1993, they passed a 13th regulation: one cannot perform a religious act that offends the feelings of others..."
Interview: Anat Hoffman
  On October 17th, she was arrested at the Western Wall for — brace yourself — praying. It’s not even the first time she’s been arrested at The Wall. The reason the arrest occurred was that she was wearing a tallit and praying — out loud!at the wall. And as a woman, her choice to do so did not fall within the realm of the far-right Chief Rabbinate’s definition of acceptable halachic (Jewish legal) practice.
Arresting the Victim (Again)
 Two other women were detained by police the next day for violating the "customary practices" of the site by wearing a tallit. They did not pray in the very spacious part of the Western Wall plaza allotted to the men, but in the smaller area designated for women. All three women are members of "Women of the Wall," an Israeli organization of women from all streams of Judaism who have been gathering together every Rosh Hodesh (first of the month) for over 20 years for one purpose only: to exercise their right to pray at the Western Wall.
Was the Kotel Liberated? ( Make sure you look at the photos on this one! ) 
 ... a very important principle was articulated by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein when asked about women adopting practices that had previously been male preserves. ... If they are deeply spiritual and they think, act and pray out of deep, overwhelming love for God, that is one thing; but if they act out of militancy, in order to make a point (and impliedly rebel against established tradition), it is inappropriate, to say the least....
Judaism: Women and the Western Wall

It's ludicrous, isn't it?  Something that most all of us just take for granted every day in our own homes, in our churches, synagogues - we just are not allowed to do at the Western Wall. We can't hold a Torah Scroll. We can't wrap Tefillin. No Tzitzit/Tallit katan.  Must be dressed in accordance with Orthodox standards. Don't be loud. Don't talk to or interact with the men on the other side of the divider.. and most of all, do not pray above a whisper.

I guess someone should go back and tell that to Miriam and the women at the sea. Or maybe Hannah who was accused of being drunk while praying in anguish.. or Philip's daughters.. or how about all those women in the Brit Chadasha?  Oops. I guess none of them got the memo.  I guess by our standards today, they are quite unladylike - though they knew where the goal was and they strove to arrive there.

Today, over and over, all across the world in every culture - women are being told to put up AND shut up. (rather than put up or shut up) It's not just Israel. It's not just Canada or the United States. It's not just the UK or Europe at large. It is  E. V. E. R. Y. W. H. E. R. E.

Until somewhere towards the Middle Ages, Women had rather active roles in both Judaism and Christianity. I'm still researching and trying to get to the bottom of this massive change and work my head around all of that... and the more I investigate, the more I keep having it shoved right in my face that no matter what I do, I have some man (it always seems to be!) telling me what I can or cannot do, simply because I have different physical parts than he does. Not because I am less intelligent, or perhaps untrained, oh no, simply because I am anatomically different.

Why?? It was not so in Genesis, why is it so now? It was not so in Paul's day, why is it now? What changed between Paul and the Middle Ages?

In my quest to get to the bottom of all of this, I've watched the BBC 2, three-part series entitled "Divine Women" with Bettany Hughes.  If you haven't seen it and do not have access to the BBC web archives, the episodes are available on Youtube.
Episode 1 is entitled "When God was a girl" - and focuses on the evolution of the goddess in Turkey, Greece, Rome and India.  - you could skip this one as it really does not focus on Biblical faith, unless you are interested in archaeology like I am.  *wink*
Episode 2 is "The Handmaids of God" and focuses on the story of priestesses and further into the episode, the elevated role of women in the early Christian church. There's evidence of women deacons, apostles, pastors and other high positions that have long been denied women.
Episode 3 is "The War of the Word" and covers just about everything you can think of, including Islam.

“The role of women in the first 300 years of the church was a vigorous one, and has been played down by history... Females were also clearly involved not just in the administration but also the theological practise of the early Christian church... ...there are wall paintings of women administering Eucharist, and women dressed as priests.”
She goes on to say:
“Two of the first converts to Islam are women, two of Mohammed’s wives,” she said.
“Women were actually teaching in the mosques in Medina, in Syria, in Cairo and in Jerusalem... so women were an integral part of early Islam, which is something that’s been lost."
Divine Women: Bettany Hughes Charts Role Of Women In Early Church In BBC Series

I keep finding the same information. Uphill battles of many women who wished to become missionaries or work in NGOs...pastors or leaders of children and young adult programs in their congregations... all positions not forbidden by the Bible whatsoever. (You might find this PDF, or this PDF about African Churches enlightening, to say the very least.)

In some parts of the world, women are still seen as little more than property. Choice food is denied to them due to hierarchy issues in their cultures, and they have little to no say over their reproductive rights or whether or not "it's" ok right now. Their husbands have the right over their bodies, but they do not have rights over their husband's.

Strangely enough - the same can be said of other patriarchal cultures, especially within Christianity and Judaism. It might not be couched in the same terms - but it is the same on some levels.

Basically you should be happy, compliant, and have your own thoughts kept to yourself.  It reminds me of the old children's song "If you're happy and you know it". It's this entire mentality that ladylike = Demure, quiet, always happy all the time, submissive to a fault, modest to a fault, sex kitten in the bedroom, ignorant but not so much it's embarrassing, but still trying to meet all of Proverbs 31 when you're told you can't do parts of it because it's unladylike...

It's sort of.. bi-polar, no?

The bible NEVER says that about women. All the Eyshet Chayil of the Bible are very strong, vocal characters. ALL of them. And we're getting close to Chanukkah - there is a woman in the Book of Maccabees we read about as well  - and all of these are  anything BUT quiet little ladies sequestered in their corner of society.

Does this sound quiet, submissive and demure?

20 The mother was the most amazing one of them all, and she deserves a special place in our memory. Although she saw her seven sons die in a single day, she endured it with great courage because she trusted in the Lord. 21 She combined womanly emotion with manly courage and spoke words of encouragement to each of her sons in their native language.
22 I do not know how your life began in my womb, she would say,
I was not the one who gave you life and breath and put together each part of your body.
23 It was God who did it, God who created the universe, the human race, and all that exists. He is merciful and he will give you back life and breath again, because you love his laws more than you love yourself.

 27 Leaning over her son, she fooled the cruel tyrant by saying in her native language,
    My son, have pity on me. Remember that I carried you in my womb for nine months and nursed you for three years. I have taken care of you and looked after all your needs up to the present day. 28 So I urge you, my child, to look at the sky and the earth. Consider everything you see there, and realize that God made it all from nothing, just as he made the human race. 29 Don't be afraid of this butcher. Give up your life willingly and prove yourself worthy of your brothers, so that by God's mercy I may receive you back with them at the resurrection.
-2 Maccabees 7

Sounds pretty strong to me.  Sounds pretty...  unafraid and defiant. 

I'm just speechless today thinking about all of this, and all that comes are tears. Why is this "justice" what we are to strive for? Inequality.... it's not equality though the word is in there. 

James over at Morning Meditations had a post this past week entitled "Stealing a Conversation About Ephesians, Jesus, and Being a Christian" . It was a jump-off post from Gene Shlomovich’s blog post One-Law Gentile has a change of heart.

But what stood out is the exact heart of the issue I have been driving at this entire series.

… Alternately, if he came to bring the nations into reconciliation to God and to allow us to become members of the Kingdom as the goal, then our entire focus changes. Love, grace, compassion, mercy all become our focus and the mitzvot of feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and granting mercy and grace as it has been granted to us becomes the fabric woven into our lives as believers.

IF Y'shua came to bring us reconciliation to G-d - the very focus we should have is what James brings forward. Why then, is there so much injustice, misogyny, lack of grace, love, compassion and mercy? Why are the sick being abandoned?? Why are the widows and fatherless left behind?

I don't know... but I'm pushing towards the goal and I'll keep digging.

28 October 2012

Author Highlight - Carolyn Custis James - sidebar from The Girl Effect

Today I want to talk about Author Carolyn Custis James.  I'm currently reading her book "Half of the church" and am about halfway through it. Been busy blogging this week, and neglecting my reading a little bit.

Just who is Carolyn Custis James?
Carolyn Custis James (M.A. in Biblical Studies) is an evangelical thinker who loves God enough to break the rulesrules of cultural convention which attempt to domesticate the gospel message of the Bible. Carolyn is president of WhitbyForum, a ministry dedicated to addressing the deeper needs which confront both women and men as they endeavor to extend God's kingdom together in a messy and complicated world.
Found on her Whitby Forum biography

How did I first hear of her? Well, actually it was one of her articles on The Huffington Post - "Virginity is not the Gospel" that introduced me to Mrs. James. Someone posted it to a rather large forum I am on, and I read it and nodded my head over and over.  I, who had been a part of the True Love Waits movement and took a vow before I was 18 and kept that vow until I was a married woman at 25. Yep. That me. 

What did she say that really impacted me in that article? Hm, I think it'd have to have been this:

"The Gospel message for women and girls is bigger than moral purity. It is a life-changing message that secures every young woman's place in God's Story and leaves no woman or girl behind. Against the changing winds of culture and the other voices that beckon to her, this message secures her identity as a woman as well as her purpose and meaning for the road ahead, no matter what she sees when she looks in the rearview mirror...Carolyn Custis James, "Virginity is not the Gospel" 

Upon the recommendation of many ladies I have come to respect and admire, I picked up my copy of "Half of the Church" when it just came off of its $1.99 Kindle edition sale. That's ok though! It was a steal at just over 5€, and I've been reading it ever since.

I'm being challenged, I'm being spurred on, and I'm thinking very hard about all of the issues that Carolyn has brought up.  

If you haven't read it already, you might want to read these reviews of her book:

"I fear that our lack of awareness of the changing dynamics of today’s young women is creating a chasm between their interest and engagement in the church. Will you consider how your church can reach them better and allow their God-given gifts to thrive for the Kingdom?"
Jenni Catron,
Outreach Magazine, Reaching the Other Half of the Church
  "I found this theme particularly helpful and challenging. It is easy to think of what it means to be a Christian woman only in terms of my own experience as a cherished and respected wife and mother, in a privileged nation, with a multiplicity of choices and freedoms at my disposal. While it is vital that I determine what it means to live for God in my own context, James points out that to think exclusively in these terms leaves a large percentage of the world’s women out of the conversation."
Crystal Rodli, Treasure Contained, Book Review: Half the Church, by Carolyn Custis James
 "I find it profoundly tragic that this book needs to be written. The truth that James argues should be inherently apparent and practiced throughout God's Church. Sadly this is not the case and has not been throughout the Church's history. Although Western culture has made significant strides in affirming the value of women, much of the Western Church still lags far behind. For this reason James' book is necessary. Although she writes it for women, I think it has great value for and needs to be read by men as well."
Andrew Carmichael, The Unguy's Blog; Half of the Church
" James observes that the Bride that’s envisioned in the Book of Revelation “encompasses not just the female half of the church, but also the male half. We are all the bride of Christ.” James points out that this bride “transcends time and place as she lives in every epoch, culture, and location on the planet, and is last seen in the Bible on the edge of eternity.” In a world in which woman is often portrayed as “other,” we need the reminder that God has always envisioned “male and female in partnership” as the ideal for humanity. "
Sandra Glahan, Tapestry: A Christian Women's Collective, Stuff I recommend

And if that doesn't make you run out and get a copy, have a good listen to her speech at Dallas Theological Seminary. It is 28 minutes long, but worth every single second of these 28 minutes.

 Seriously, I am thoroughly enjoying this book. I wish I could share it with everyone, but honestly, it is so good you need your own copy to highlight, underline and dogear, before you buy it as gifts for others, or recommend that others get their own copy!! 

Gungor: God is not a white man

26 October 2012

Author Highlight - Jim Henderson - sidebar from The Girl Effect

Red Panda, Frankfurt Zoo - Photo by J. Stahl

Today I want to tell you about Jim Henderson. I recently read his book, "The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone?". I've quoted it a few times in my "Girl Effect" series of posts.

You might know Jim by something else radical that he did:  Jim “bought an atheists soul on Ebay”, and around 2000 began to produce live events called Off The Map where he let people eavesdrop on his interviews with Non Christians and every kind of Outsider he could get on stage.. (from Jim's Bio page)

I first heard about Jim when he bought the atheist's soul on Ebay.  I think I've heard of Off The Map, but to be honest I'm not 100% sure I really have. I need to do some investigating.

"...Jim could have stuck with women within his field of vision, but he didn’t. He searched for dif­fer­ent sto­ries in an effort to pro­vide a field report of the mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives that women of faith have about our­selves. From women who are fiercely ded­i­cated to an egal­i­tar­ian point of view, as well as women who are con­tent in their role as the sub­servient sex, Jim’s book was writ­ten to high­light what women have to say about our­selves...."
Pam Hogeweide, The Resignation of Eve: More than a Book Review

I thoroughly enjoyed the review of William Dahl on Here's a couple excerpts:

"...Henderson goes onto characterize what he identifies as The Three Faces of Resignation - resigned to, resigned from, re-signed. For Henderson, he makes a well-informed observation: "leaving doesn't mean walking away; more often it means showing up without being present." (p.7).

The interviews and summaries of the same by the author are superbly crafted. They represent women who live or have lived at least one of the "Three Faces of Resignation" denoted above. (truth be told, one may exist in one of Henderson's stages in degrees, if you will. In one's lifetime, one may live through multiple stages). . ."


"...This book should have a warning label: "NOTICE: The consumption of this book will cause the reader to act upon the heartfelt reflex to reflect upon reconciliation. Side Effects: May cause enlargement of your heart, stir your redemptive imagination, identify a fracture between your beliefs and behavior, and promote the onset of healing an enduring malady that continues to infect the hearts and minds of His Church..."

I'm shocked I haven't given a book review for his book myself. Usually once I finish something I enjoyed so much, I do so on a couple forums that I am on. And I only left a blurb on one forum, and nothing on the other.

The Resignation of Eve... oh it is so... ah - so many emotional things, so many logical things - and it's just obvious something has to change in greater Christianity for us ladies. it really does. We have to stop beating ourselves up about it, and just find our way, however it is that G-d is leading us. Jim's book made me want to reach out and just hug lots of people.

If I could, I would love to give a copy of this book and Pam's, as well as Half of the Church to every pastor I've ever known and ask them to read them with an open mind and consider what they are being told... but, truth be told, I don't think they'd listen. They were the harshest critics of women I knew, and we could never do enough, say or not say enough, and we're silly little things that are easily led astray. *sigh*

If you can, please do pick up a copy at your local library or book store, Amazon has copies available (linked above) and read it.  Jim lets each lady tell her story and then gives us wonderful statistics from the Barna Group to let you know where things really lie. 

25 October 2012

The girl effect, part 10

Image from The Girl Effect

The Girl Effect - Challenging "You've made your bed now lie in it" every day in every way.

Before I get moving on with today's post, I want to suggest watching these videos to prepare you for the stark realities that I will begin presenting today. The first  video is from, and the second is from 

One of the things I find I keep butting up against while looking into "Women's Issues" (inequality, inability to care for family, unequal pay for equal work, etc), is that if you criticize those who make the rules and laws, or the churchmen who keep women down and discuss them in unwieldy, ungodly terms - you find out quickly that you will, also become a byword  and referred to in very ugly terms.

If you ever question whether or not we live in a patriarchal, misogynistic society - simply speak against injustice and find out for yourself who rules over you.

I'd like to also bring this quote from Barbara Ehrenreich forward to contemplate:

To cite an old, and far from naive, feminist saying: “If you think equality is the goal, your standards are too low.” It is not enough to be equal to men, when the men are acting like beasts. It is not enough to assimilate. We need to create a world worth assimilating into.
Barbara Ehrenreich, What Abu Ghraib Taught Me, Alternet, May 20, 2004
This is so very true. Equality is NOT the goal. It is NOT enough to "assimilate". We need a world where men and women, children are valued and treated as valued members of society. We need animals to be treated justly, and for buildings to be repaired or taken down for new projects to help society... not abandoned buildings that are a danger.
I see it as a whole world healing effect - specifically as a Biblical standard not only to be seen and utilized in Christianity, but in Messianic Judaism and also Judaism. Within Judaism and Messianic Judaism, this idea and ideal is known as 'Tikkun Olam' ( תיקון עולם).  Tikkun olam is included in the Aleinu, a Jewish prayer that is traditionally recited three times daily.  Y'shua sums it up nicely with the following from Matthew 22:

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.[f] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
The Prophet Micah put it this way in chapter six of his book:

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.
This reminds me of what Ghandi said, "I love your Christ, but I dislike your Christianity." 

He went on then to say: "First, I would suggest that all of you Christians live more like Jesus Christ. Second, I would suggest that you practice your Christianity without adulterating it. The anomalous situation is that most of us would be equally shocked to see Christianity doubted or put into practice. Third, I would suggest that you put more emphasis on love, for love is the soul and center of Christianity. Fourth, I would suggest that you study the non-Christian religions more sympathetically in order to find the good that is in them, so that you might have a more sympathetic approach to the people."
- E. Stanley Jones's, The Christ of the Indian Road 

At the risk of sounding syncratic or something along those lines, I will go ahead and say that Ghandi was very right in his confrontation of Christianity. We are often NOT living like Y'shua. We are often NOT practicing what is unadulterated. We are often NOT loving. We are often NOT caring or sympathetic to other people's sectarian or non-Christian beliefs.

To reach the world, which is supposed to be our ministry while on this earth serving G-d; we have to be love. We have to live like Y'shua. We have to practice unadulterated faith, and we need to be caring and sympathetic to everyone we meet. It is alright to be angry where anger is due, sad where sadness is due, or happy with someone even if we disagree with their lifestyle choices.

43 You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[r] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies![s] Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 4If you are kind only to your friends,[t] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
-Matthew 5

 Issues of social justice used to be something that was a heavily dominated area by the Church and Synagogue. Now, we find that it is mostly an issue spearheaded by the Synagogue and the Government, or NGOs. We don't often find so many Christian organisations or Churches pushing for major social issues, especially those that are to better issues faced by women - whether single, married, divorced, widowed, childless or quiverfull.  Sure, there's meals that come during times of illness or after birth, and sometimes there are women's cleaning parties, and in some areas (thankfully!) women's listening parties - but rarely do we see churches pushing for "equal pay for equal work", or childcare for working mothers on a long-term scale (not just creches/daycare or after school activities), Domestic Violence assistance or true mental health/emotional health counseling. 

We're finding these things more often outside of the realm of the houses of G-d, and that the church is by far very ill equipped to handle these issues. More often than not, because those who are equipped to handle it, are seen as heretics or that their help is unwanted by the church because it is based on "secularism", "junk science", "worldliness" - or something other "-ness" or "-ic"..

Church, it's time we rise up and do right. Women and children are at the forefront of the justice that the Bible calls us to take care of! It doesn't matter if they're widows, fatherless, married or unmarried, foreign or native born - we are called to take care of "the least of these". For an idea of how we can change things, this is a wonderful post to check out: What Can One Church Do?

Why then, are we seeing NGOs and GOs pushing for this, and the church speaking out against some of these programs?

Why then, is there not an outcry by not only churchmen, but church members when we hear news like this:

A woman working full time earns on average almost 22 percent less than a man, compared with a EU wide average gap of 16 percent., German gender gap 'widens despite talk'
 Or how about this article about the lack of male childcare workers?
Phillips is a rare find in Germany, where less than three percent of the country's 360,000 crèche, nursery school and kindergarten teachers are male. It varies according to region - in larger cities like Hamburg and Bremen, more than eight percent of childcare workers are men, while in rural areas in Germany's conservative south there are virtually, A rare breed - the male kindergarten teacher

Do we truly see our roles so rigidly, that men are unfit to give childcare?  Are women so incompetent that there is such a large pay gap in first world that even trickle down to the second and third world? Why is this concept mostly non existent in the fourth world? 

In the United states, the pay gap is 19%, and in Canada it is 28%. The values in 2010 for Mexico had the gap at 33.5%. This is even with anti-discrimination laws, placement agencies, and equal education.

If you have the time, Global Issues has some very insightful information available. USAID has a wonderful book available for free in PDF format entitled "Women and World Development" that is also worth a read. If you haven't already, please pick up "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide", and "Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women". If you haven't already read "The Resignation of Eve: What If Adam's Rib Is No Longer Willing to Be the Church's Backbone?", or "Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church"- pick up a copy post haste!!!
I'm not promoting these books because I am paid to. I am promoting them because I care very deeply about what happens to women and children around the world on a daily basis, and what the church is doing to keep these efforts down, in an effort to "save face" or "squash feminism".  Is it truly Feminism when it is a Biblical value?

  One more video for you before I let you go.  If this doesn't at least make you think, or challenge you to make changes... I don't know what will.  In a world where half of the sky is blocked off, where half of the church has no say, where half of society doesn't have all things available to them that the other half does - it is not a safe world for my children or yours. We must make changes. It is our job to do this.

As Ghandi said: You must be the change you want to see in the world.

24 October 2012

The Girl Effect, part 9b

Tarquin and Lucretia, painting by
Jan Sanders van Hemessen
Wikipedia Commons

Rape Culture.

In a rape culture, people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate, rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.”

This is what it means when people say that sexism and violence against women are “naturalized.” It means that people in our current society believe these attitudes and actions always have been, and always will be."
Force: Upsetting Rape Culture

You may find this PDF on Rape Culture helpful as well.  Please watch these two videos and consider carefully what they have to say.

Rape Culture is a worldwide epidemic. It is not a first world only issue. It is an issue of every single culture on this earth that is transitioning from a patriarchal culture. The basics are that women ask for what ills happen to them. Being beaten, verbally abused, raped, or killed because of how they dress.

According to Wikipedia, " Rape culture is also closely related to slut-shaming and victim blaming, where rape victims are considered at fault for being raped, and it is argued that this connection is due to the presence of a culture that shames all female sexuality."
Wiki goes on further to say: "Although much of its early use as a theory to explain the occurrence of rape and domestic violence was focused on the rape of women, rape culture has been described as detrimental to men as well as women. Some writers and speakers, such as Jackson Katz, Michael Kimmel, and Don McPherson, have said that it is intrinsically linked to gender roles that limit male self-expression and cause psychological harm to men.[31]"

This is rape culture: a man who facilitates and encourages the violation of consent and privacy for women all over the world becomes a martyr, victim and hero rather than an ostracized sleazeball.
Women are told, once again, that they are public property, that their right to bodily autonomy doesn’t even extend to our daily commute.
The takeaway from this, for many women, is that we cannot expect that even the “perfectly normal” men around us to respect our right to bodily autonomy. We cannot expect that even people we think we know still respect us as women.
Dianna E. Anderson, Faith and Feminism: Rape Culture: The Monster You Can’t See

Issues stemming from this "rape culture" is what spurred on the "SlutWalk" and "Boobquake" phenomenon.

Before I go any further, I have a couple other videos for you to think about.

I hear a lot of talk lately about the injustices of women while taking public transport in some countries. Some are taking it a step further and creating women's only busses or wagons on the train, or help lines, CCTV and police to help out.

Just recently, another reporter was assaulted while reporting from Tahir Square. She is not the first, and she very likely will also not be the last.

The reason likely is that she is dressed in Western style, she's wearing "racy" clothing, and women who do so, should expect what comes to them.

Honestly, it never matters what a man wears. He will never be touched by a woman unless it is wanted touch.

Why is it, if a woman goes somewhere in the public sphere, her dress is open for commentary, and she may be touched?
Is this something endemic to society as a whole, or is this possibly a symptom of a much bigger problem?

I'll leave you with these last thoughts:
"Catcalls, sexually explicit comments, sexist remarks, groping, leering, stalking, public masturbation, and assault. Most women (more than 80% worldwide) and LGBQT folks will face gender-based street harassment at some point in their life. Street harassment limits people's mobility and access to public spaces. It is a form of gender violence and it's a human rights violation. It needs to stop."Stop Street Harassment

"Street harassment teaches us to be silent, but we aren’t listening. We don’t put up with harassment in the home, at work, or at school. And now we aren’t putting up with it in the street, either. By holla’ing back you are transforming an experience that is lonely and isolating into one that is sharable. You change the power dynamic by flipping the lens off of you ..."

- Hollaback!
"We realize that some women do not consider to be harassment what we consider to be harassment. While we recognize every woman's right to define for herself what she considers "harassment," we are cognizant of the fact that all women are continually being intimidated into "playing along to get along," as well as being constantly pressured to prove--even to ourselves--that we are "attractive." We do not forget that this is a game in which men set the terms and women are punished if we do not comply."
- The Street Harassment Project

"For more than a decade, HOTGIRLS has implemented programs that reflect our belief that young women and girls are capable of creating positive changes in their lives and communities.  ...We have implemented leadership development programs that have empowered young women and girls to take collective strategic action in their communities to address issues of concern to them such as gender-based violence, street harassment, HIV/AIDS and images of women and girls in the media.... "
- Helping Our Teen Girls

23 October 2012

The Girl Effect, part 9a

Dragonfly - Photo by A. Stahl

Today I want to continue the concept of The Girl Effect, and think back to some of the previous posts I'd posted in this series and what sorts of things might serve to help girls and women in society, in the workplace and in the church at large have a chance to rise above people who stuff them down.

Before I do all of this, I want to remind you, that all of these issues (women's issues) are issues of humanity, issues the Bible takes very seriously, and issues that impact the whole of society, not just it's female half.

This is not just a first world issue. Oh no. It's a worldwide issue, and we really need to think about it and get to fixing it, so that the lives of our children can be made better.

Who, in their right minds,  would want their child to grow up where the societal norms is that one half of humanity must be pushed down, their feelings and desires quashed?

Who in their right mind feels that it is justice for girls and women to be regularly harassed, marginalized, beaten, raped, abused?

Who in their right mind would make anyone be forced to choose between: parenting, education or caring for their family?

Who in their right mind would want to live in a society that gives them a general inability to control what is said or assumed about them, or their right to self determination - simply because of their gender?

What sort of working mother wishes to return to work immediately, without being given the choice of actual bonding with her child, without the chance of losing her job? Why are countries not enabling women who must provide for their families, to also be parents?

Are feminist, or feminism really bad words?

Definition of FEMINISM
1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2: organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests
First Usage: 1895

Sounds pretty straight forward, right?  Not so.  Apparently (news to me considering my education), there were four waves of feminism.

Protofeminism - any history of feminism prior to and after the Temperance Movement.
The first wave was from the early 1900s to 1950s.
The second wave was from the 1950s (or 60s depending on who you hear this from) and ran until around the 1980s or 1990s.
The third wave began around the 1990s.
The fourth wave began around the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Sources: Four waves of feminism in a nutshellWikipedia: Protofeminism,  Wikipedia: History of Feminism

Surprise surprise, I've actually never read any books  on or about feminism. I never went to college, so I never did studies on Women's history or anything like that - and feminism was pretty much an evil, dirty word my entire life.  I never could truly reconcile that. Until this year, I never saw myself as a feminist. Guess what? I'm a feminist. (oh noes, I just outed myself!)

Because of my religious background and the schooling I had, I honestly couldn't name more than a handful of feminists and what their platforms were and what they did for society.  I'm not exactly ashamed of that or anything, just stating where I'm coming from as people have a tendency to really assume a lot of things about me that are untrue and I've been told I'm quoting directly from someone's playbook (by name usually) and that it's just like her ""manifesto"" etc - and I've done no such thing. So, I'm laying this bare before I move forward.

I see this issue as a human and a biblical / ministry issue, rather than a "women's issue". Mostly because it does not just impact women. It impacts families, children, men, society, culture, religious practice...

It - women and girls being treated as something "other" or "lesser" or "equal but.." is an elephant in the room.

When it comes to "equality issues" - imagine that elephant in the room. This is all the things that cannot or will not be said because there is a mixed audience in the room and due to the social and cultural conditioning that women and men have had .

What are some of the very common themes in the third world, second world and first world when it pertains to women and what is expected of them?
There are men's spheres and women's spheres and ne'er the twain shall meet, except for the family sphere.

What is the expectation of most girls/women in society?
Basics: be born, hit puberty, get married and have lots and lots of babies. Be the backbone of polite society, never speak out of turn, serve in every capacity possible in the realm of "feminine" and never contradict or speak out against men unless absolutely necessary.
Just like children, you are to be seen and unheard. Never speak unless spoken to.
“A lady never expresses direct anger” - oh my gosh. Seriously? seriously. *rolling eyes*
Never let a conversation have a long lull, but never take over the conversation.  

You must be beautiful, but not "slutty"... culture and country will cause all of that to vary from place to place and family to family. What is beautiful and "not slutty" will be different the world over. What is acceptable in one area is not acceptable in another.   A perfect example of this would be today's article in Deutsche Welle "Do clothes make the (wo)man?" There have been similar articles on many other newspapers about many other feminine issues about what's on the runway, or what's being work by your everyday white or blue collar female workers. You find lots of discussion of Tznius/Tzniut on Jewish websites and in books that will discuss what modesty will look like from an Orthodox, Conservative or Reform standpoint.  In some communities it goes down to even what tights one wears under their dresses/skirts and whether or not they additionally wear socks.. etc. (See Simple to Remember: Jewish View of Modesty, Dress, Clothing, or Modest World's: Modesty in Dress-The Principal Law

Judaism and the secular world are not the only ones with ideas about modesty or propriety when it comes to the workplace. Christianity has been in on the action for the last 1,800ish years as well, and depending where in the world your Christianity is practiced, or what sect of Christianity you are in, will determine what is considered modest. (I really did like this article on Her.meneutics: How 'Modest Is Hottest' Is Hurting Christian Women)

You find it often discussed on blogs about women's issues (things like "Modestly Yours", and "Noble Womanhood" for example), in sermons, on talk radio, and on Christian forums.

And because it is hilarious:

When you get married, there are a whole other host of rules imposed by your culture and religion. Depending how patriarchal that society is, you may have no say over your body still. Or how many children you must give birth to. (I'm not talking pro abortion here, but family planning for your health and wellness)

There's even discussion that one should not wear what they wore pre-children, but need a "Mom uniform" (TLC: 5 Tips to create your mom uniform, blogs like "The Mom Uniform") or websites such as those that promote a return to apron wearing as a part of modesty as a mother and to identify you as a SAHM or a WAHM. (article example: The Apron: The Ultimate Symbol of a Culture of Life)  I find it hilarious how much of our ideas as North Americans and Europeans are so culturally filtered as to what makes a uniform for a woman, vs what makes a uniform for a woman in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, South America... etc.  And our perceptions and cultural discrimination in this field is where a lot of women have a disconnect with each other.

You find some of this discussed here on Wikipedia as well.

What is the perception of these girls/women when they do not submit to these cultural norms?
In many societies, if you buck the societal norms, you are seen as against the system rather than trying to help it, or you're seen as ugly words I can't say here.

I am reminded of a scene from "Mean Girls" (which I love by the way) where Tina Fey's character Ms. Norbury gives the girls a pep talk. (PG language here)

 Girls and women will regularly tear each other down for perceived differences in dress, body language, voice inflection, hairstyle, accessories and whether or not they have children or how many children they have.

Media is one way we are frequently told about our gender norms, as the documentary Miss Representation shows us

Another documentary that discusses this in detail is America the Beautiful.

A book that discusses this phenomenon is entitled "So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids". Some of it was a bit eye opening, as I never really paid attention to fashion on television (who would if you're the nerdy kid hooked on sci-fi with no girly outlets?) and I hardly ever look at magazines or massive billboards. Really, I don't!

There's a real paradox in our cultures that do not really truly let women be women, without all these extra things tacked on to it like "biblical", "whoreish", "mommy", "young teen" and "old lady". This happens the world over!

As my time is continually being cut short, I'll post this now and come back with the second part to this later, in which I hope to discuss a bit about rape culture. Because a lot of these morality issues on clothing and such all come down to what is known in society as "rape culture".