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

18 October 2012

The Girl Effect, part 8

 Apparently I'm not as current with the news this month as I usually tend to be.  On October 11th, the UN declared the "International day of the girl", to highlight women's issues that girls around the world face every single day. This plays in very well with the theme I am carrying out based on "The Girl Effect".

Below is some information on the International Day of the Girl.

The World We Want for Girls -- International Day of the Girl

International Day of the Girl Toolkit
Day of the Girl

In many countries, societies and cultures (including in the first world), little girls between the ages of 3 and 17 are given away in marriage as child brides. NGOs such as "Girls Not Brides", "International Center for Research on Women"  and Christian charities such as "Gospel for Asia" seek to curb this by educating girls and their families, influencing laws in the countries that they work in, and giving opportunities to these girls to remain children as long as their sisters in other countries do. Then, and only then may they choose when and whom they will marry.

Warning: some graphic images

Now, I ask that you pause, and think about this:

It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.
Carl T. Rowan

 All oppression creates a state of war.
Simone de Beauvoir

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Everyday patriarchy occurs whenever a man's voice or influence is given preeminence over a woman's simply because he is a man. It's when... because she is a woman ... [she].. is disallowed from public speaking because only men can crowd the platform.
Pam Hogeweide, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church, page 44, brackets mine
A basic definition of patriarchy

(based on Allan G. Johnson's The Gender Knot): 
Patriarchal social structures are: 
1.  Male dominated--which doesn't mean that all men are powerful or all women are powerless--only that the most powerful roles in most sectors of society are held predominantly by men, and the least powerful roles are held predominantly by women
2.  Organized around an obsession with control, with men elevated in the social structure because of their presumed ability to exert control (whether rationally or through violence or the threat of violence) and women devalued for their supposed lack of control--women are assumed to need men's supervision, protection, or control
3.  Male identified:  aspects of society and personal attributes that are highly valued are associated with men, while devalued attributes and social activities are associated with women.  There is a sense of threat to the social structure of patriarchies when these gendered associations are destabilized--and the response in patriarchy is to increase the level of control, often by exerting control over women (as well as groups who are devalued by virtue of race, ethnicity, sexuality, or class). 
4.  Male centered:  It is taken for granted that the center of attention is the natural place for men and boys, and that women should occupy the margins.  Public attention is focused on men.  (To test this, take a look at any daily newspaper; what do you find on the front page about men?  about women?), bold and italics mine

This week, no doubt, you've heard of Malala Yousufzai of Pakistan. If you didn't, here are the basics of her story:

  On 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus.[15] In the days immediately following the attack, she remained unconscious and in critical condition,[16] but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to a hospital in the United Kingdom for intensive rehabilitation.

Malala is said to be in stable condition, and has since been moved to Birmingham, England for extensive care and rehabilitation, and there is also talk of reconstructive surgery for her face. A fatwa has been issued in Pakistan against the Talibani who attacked here, and there have been demonstrations and public prayer said around the world for this brave girl.

I'm not typically a fan of this news source, but I find that they actually have a pretty accurate coverage of the situation. It's about 25 minutes long, but worth the time to listen to.

As admirable as Malala is, she is not the only one. She is one who was in the forefront and readily identifiable. But, as I said before, she is not the only one. While she is in Pakistan, we have seen the same thing happen to women's voices the world over. It might not be a gunshot point blank to the head, but it is seen in many forms.
The muting of microphones; removing the ability to fill a position because it is revealed that the applicant is a woman; not allowing a breastfeeding mother to pump and store her breast milk for her child at her workplace (Israel, fwiw); barring, shaming or intimidating women who wish to feed their breastfeeding child from public places; horrible maternity leave practices that cause women to choose between helping provide for their families or bonding with their newborns (examples); only allowing women to serve in charities and church positions that are traditionally "female" venues. Telling men that listening to women's voices will corrupt them (Ultra Orthodox Judaism); preventing women from walking on the same side of the street as men (Israel, Ultra Orthodox Judaism); asking men to wear hats with veils (or glasses!) to render them blind to seeing women (Israel, Ultra Orthodox Judaism); restricting female doctors to speak on women's health issues to a male rabbinic audience (Israel, sorry can't find the news article); not allowing dance studios to have open windows without shades (Israel), separate entrances to stores for women and men (Israel, Ultra Orthodox Judaism); restricting women from sitting in the same side of the bus, spitting at or on little girls on their way to school and calling them horrible things (Israel again); restricting girls from certain sports; requiring girls and women to wear restrictive clothing that will endanger their lives while they learn to swim (Germany, France) ... and so on, and so on.

I find it sad to see such things happening not only across the world, but in our own back yards, and that we say and do nothing - simply because it's in our backyard and our sensibilities are dulled.

''It is such a bad reflection on the religious community because people who are hearing the news are then going to feel negative against the Haredim. But this is a desecration of God's name.'' Marlene Samuels, Sydney Morning Herald: When Women and Girls are the Enemy, emphasis mine
Scooby Doo - all rights belong to Hanna-Barbera

 You may remember the old  Scooby Doo cartoons (if you're my age, you might remember "A Pup Named Scooby Doo" better) , in every episode, the kids figure out who a monster or villian really is, and unmasks them when the police arrive.

This unmasking is known as a "dramatic unmasking". You find it in many cartoons, comics and hero-based fictional books.

It has come time that we have a dramatic unmasking of injustice towards women. Women of every faith, culture, ethnicity and land.   I had thought, growing up in the 80s and 90s that this had already been mostly done, and I'm finding out - nope. *shaking my head here*

In the church, and in Messianic Synagogues the world over, I'm finding out that often women are silenced because of incorrect gender stereotypes, or misinterpretation of Scripture. Girls, Ladies - we have to speak up for ourselves. We have to speak up for others. Why are we so afraid to say something, to do something, or to walk out? What is the worse that could happen? Is not that "worse" something that is worth at least speaking out for others and finding some kind of peace and justice?

here are some characteristics of those of us with the “ex” added.  “ex-good-christian-women”:
  • are learning to show up in relationship instead of hiding
  • engage in conflict instead of avoid it
  • say “no” with less-and-less guilt and say “yes” more freely, more honestly
  • tell the truth
  • respect anger
  • are honest about shame
  • live in the present 
  • are beginning to believe we are “enough”–here, now
  • open ourselves up to dreams & passions & living out what God is stirring up in us
  • lead & love & live in all kinds of new ways, with or without permission
  • are discovering that God is much bigger than we were ever taught & loves us more than we ever knew
Jesus wasn’t a “good christian” in the ways it has come to be defined.  he wasn’t well-behaved.  he didn’t play by the system’s rules. he didn’t pretend to be nice. he didn’t play it safe or try to conform.
he called us to God’s wild & brave & beautiful ways of Love, not to being “good.”-Kathy Escobar, Ex-Good Christian Women

"We each, by the daily deci­sions we make or don’t make, affect other women who take cues from us. Let us be bold in the deci­sions we make in resist­ing the injus­tice of inequal­ity in the church."
"Res­ig­na­tion par­a­lyzes women from reex­am­in­ing our­selves and our sto­ries from a new nar­ra­tive. When patri­archy is the nar­ra­tor, even the Bible becomes a char­ac­ter in keep­ing us mar­gin­al­ized. We have no spunk or fire to imag­ine any­thing dif­fer­ent.  And so the story goes, unchal­lenged and unchanged."
-Pam Hogeweide, Unladylike Help Needed, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church

Ladies, the clock is ticking. What will you do to better your world?

1 comment:

    A 2009 documentary by Adam B. Ellick profiled Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl whose school was shut down by the Taliban...

    Read the article here:
    Read the blog post here: