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

09 October 2012

What I've been thinking about...

Image found via Wikipedia Commons
Edited by J.Stahl

I've been thinking long and hard about what I should write about today. I actually discussed with my husband several times over the weekend what I wanted to post, trying hard not to wrestle with it so much. But wrestle I did, and I'm still wrestling, but guess what - I'm going to post anyhow.

I've been thinking about the women's suffrage movement as of late. Not so much in a "Yay! we get to vote now!" kind of way, but more in an introspective and retrospective sort of way. - OK, I give. that came out weird. What I mean is, I've been thinking about all the pro and contra arguments about women being allowed to vote, in the United States, in Canada, the UK, and the rest of Europe as a whole.

Arguments such as -  If women vote, they'll leave their children behind to fend for themselves. Women will fight for all male jobs, wear men's clothes and before you know it, we'll have a woman president, women senators, representatives, governors, mayors - they'll just take over everything - IF we let them.

While reading and hearing these arguments voiced, it hit me hard in a way I could not articulate. Well, I could articulate it - but all I had for it was nice sailor-type sentences that wouldn't make much sense to someone not in my situation.  I'm not particularly proud of that, but I've been thinking about why I had that knee-jerk response. Today, I will try and ramble my way through expressing that, so that I can move forward and share some of the wonderful things I've been learning in the time I have not been blogging.

For one thing, women did not take over everything. For another, by and large, women did not stop their motherly or wifely duties because we were allowed to vote.

Looking back at things this far removed (almost 100 years after the fact), I notice there have been very few female mayors, governors (only around 54!), senators and representatives to 50 state capitols, and also very few senators and representatives to Washington, DC.  I began to wonder, "Why is that exactly?"

I've watched the varied debates these last few years, rather quietly, as the public opinion of the churches I attended in times past, was one that really does suppress the voice of women, unless it pertains to hospitality, serving positions, or those unsightly out of sight offices such as janitorial duties, or childcare; and a few in the spotlight positions such as musician or choir/soloist singer.  I never really had a large opinion on the matter, as I never really thought about it or investigated it.

I hadn't thought about it very much, but the workplace culture that I worked in from 1998-2006 was not a whole lot different. Sure, we had quite a few women in management or overseer type positions in the various jobs that I held, but you always overheard men talking very badly about these women, unless they were extremely proficient in navigating the different social and political climates that their jobs had, and they kept their personal lives to themselves and did not engage in the common workplace gossip around them, while simultaneously keeping up with it to save their rear ends from the fire.

I've been out of the workplace now for six years, and looking back, there were very few women in positions of authority that tried to help those of us women who were also trying to rise higher in the company to help us out. When they were there, they were extremely helpful in navigating the various difficult waters without being overly controlling or fussing behind your back about what a horrible listener/person/worker you are. Funny how you only realize these things in hindsight.

You know, we've had only TWO women that came up as options in a presidential election, and absolutely no women as vice presidents as of yet. Funny how that prediction 100 years ago that women would be ruling all over the place just never ever panned out.

 I've been thinking about this and the elections due to the various comments that came out after a Someecard meme went viral on a site that was for the Obama campaign, and people got their knickers in a knot.  Heck, I got "the discussion" (you know the one if you have parents) from my mom about how inappropriate it was, etc. (No offense mom.. I just don't agree!)

Below is the card in question:

Original found Here

I tried really hard to be upset about it. I did. I'm pro-life, but I'm conscious about several different female-oriented issues, and I don't find this particular meme/card offensive in light of the very hard work that our foremothers (it is a word, I looked it up to be sure!) went through to get us the right to vote and have our voices heard, not only in elections but in the church.

I can see how it could be taken badly. Vagina politics and all of that*... but I really do not take it that way in the light of worldwide women's issues.

My view on this ecard/meme is that women fought long and hard, were ridiculed, misrepresented, their reputations slandered, beaten, raped, jailed, hosed down, chased by police and police animals (dogs and horses to be specific), police did not protect peaceful demonstrations and allowed men and boys to throw food items and weapons at these women - and the women who went on hunger strikes in the various prisons were force-fed.

Almost a hundred years out, to see a drawing of a woman in a flapper dress, her hand raised either to order more drinks or hail a cab (the drawing is rather ambiguous, isn't it?) it doesn't bother me the way that it has torn up the political blogosphere and news arena in the United States. In fact, it doesn't bother me so much - I used it on my own blog.

In many countries, and in some parts of the US, our physical and mental health (previously referred to as "lady parts") are being discussed and legislated mostly by men, and seemingly for men.  I'm not arguing pro or contra abortion, family planning, contraception, sterilization or anything like that today. What I am concerned with however, is how so many men in the US seem (at least in the corner of the world where I lived and grew up), to be so concerned about how women are relegated, delegated and legislated.

Laws in place to protect women and girls from sexual predators, were fought for long and hard by women, to get men to see their points of view - to actually pass legislation to help us out. Some of those bills are in sore need of revision and tweaking as time goes on.

However, there are laws being made to this day that delegate whether or not my workplace will give me adequate time off when I have a child, or sick leave if I have to work while in the child rearing years - not just for myself, but also for my child; and whether or not my work place insurance will pay for contraception of any kind. Even for women who are not using these medications for contraception, but hormone replacement therapy - these medicines and procedures will be regulated. I hadn't had a lot to say about it, because it had no bearing on my life - or so I thought.

What I decide to do when given mental health or OB/GYN assistance in regards to whether or not I will have more children, should be solely decided between myself and my husband (prayerfully of course!) with the aid of my doctors. And I should answer to those decisions solely to G-d, unless I'm breaking laws or something, in which I should answer to a court and a jury of my peers. Right?

I've been thinking long and hard about this card, and you know, in many places women have no say about anything, and barely (or don't!) have the choice to vote. And in those places, their "lady parts" don't count... no one cares about them unless the women are in some way pleasing them. They care, and possibly their female relatives care, but they have no say how many children they bear, if they're raped by a stranger or their husband, or if they are put to death for something that was really nothing - solely because they are women.

We women vote on many issues, via many different political parties, not only as if "our lady parts depend on it", but because many other women's lady parts just might. When you think about it - US Foreign Policies and NGOs do have a say on how much help women get worldwide, IF we put feet to our convictions.

And while I'm at it... Why is it that many women have absolutely no say in their faith communities?

Alice Paul, image found via Wikipedia, edited by me

I'd seen this original photo a couple months ago, but seeing it again today after time has passed, more research has been done, and it hits me on a whole other level. You'll notice that I crossed out "Mr. President" from the banner. That's because, there are women out there, and "in here" still waiting for liberty. Let this sink in: in our faith communities right now, there are women waiting for liberty. Spiritual, Physical, Mental, Emotional and Religious liberty.

There are congregations out there today that tell women that they have no recourse when abused to divorce their abuser. There are women being told that "because he does not hit you, it's not really abuse.", that because their husband wants sex and takes it from them - it's their marital duty and it is not really rape. (It is.)
There are girls being told that for the sake of family unity, not to report their relative who has molested them - to forgive them and allow the pastor to counsel them. Their pastor, who very likely has no training for such a task.

There are girls/women who put into pastoral care/counseling for whatever reason who are being groomed and lured into sexual sin, and pastors doing everything to either keep it covered up, or shuffle them off elsewhere after slandering their character and having used them for whatever purposes.

There are children molested, and women being told not to report it, because it will be handled within the congregation or umbrella organization that their faith community is a part of - and the most that is done (usually) is shuffling these abusers around and them not facing any sort of law - because "The Bible says we should not have lawsuits against other Christians..."

Something's wrong there. Paul's writings on church order never relegated women outside or to the periphery of the faith community. Never.

Abusers were to be cut OUT of the community after being handled... and it's not been happening in many, many cases.

This is what is spurring on the next few posts. I know there are other women out there too, that are undergoing the same exact issue. So sisters, this is for you.

* Vagina Politics / Vaginagate refers to a situation where two US politicians in the Michigan House of Representatives used the word Vagina, or referred to vasectomies while discussing a controversial abortion bill this past June. You can read more about it here.

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