Posted by: minnow | November 14, 2008

Maybe in Another 50 Years

The dust is beginning to settle. President-elect Barack Obama is in process of choosing his cabinet. In the meantime, he is keeping his distance from policy discussions. Senator McCain and Governor Palin have given their first post-election interviews. The Senator claims to be sleeping like a baby (It was a joke). The Governor has not ruled out running for president in 2012 (She may be serious). And, the blame game continues. All things wrong with the country are still Bush’s fault. All things wrong with McCain’s Campaign were obviously Palin’s fault. She did, after all, spend too much on her wardrobe and then there is that nasty twitch in her eye. Humm…

As I look across the room at my daughter she is watching “Sid the Science Kid” and reading Barney at the Zoo at the same time. Multi-tasking comes easily to a three year old. I am struck by a question I read on a blog earlier this morning. A young mom was excited about the fact that a barrier had been broken for African-Americans but was wondering if the same barrier would ever be broken for women. In other words she asked, “Will we ever see the day when a woman is elected president of the United States?”

Ever is a long time. As an older woman I have struggled on a variety of fronts with issues concerning women. At the same time, I realize my life as a woman has been easier in some ways than my mother’s life or her mother’s life. Thus, I am confident my daughters will probably face fewer struggles as women then I did. And, even if I do not see a woman president they probably will. So, what is the point?

First I would like to weigh in on the idea of breaking the racial barrier. Even though part of a barrier has been broken the dream Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave voice to is far from realized. Truly I am not belittling this historic occasion. However, while electing our first African-American president is a step, it is only a baby step, toward living in a color blind society. When the color of one’s skin stops being a note worthy factor in the election of our public officials, or the solutions to our problems, then we will have truly overcome our nation’s ethnic prejudices.

So, are gender issues the same as ethnic ones? Certainly some parallels can be drawn. We have probably all heard the rationalization that since African-American men earned the right to vote before women did maybe the women just need to wait arond another 50 years and then we will be ready to let them have a turn.

As often as we toss these two subjects around together, they are not one in the same. Yes, prejudice is ugly no matter who is targeted but the similarities between racial and gender prejudice, at least as far as I can see, end at ugly. No where in our society is it okay to say a black man cannot lead (or have authority over a white man) simply because he is black. No where in our country is it okay to say a black man can not teach (or even speak) simply because he is black. No where in the United States is a black man expected to obey a white man merely because he is black and the other man is white. If any of these situations existed anywhere in our nation we would cry foul and someone or some organization would be sued, or boycotted, or at the very least picketed. Yet, this kind of prejudice toward women is a daily occurrence in every city and every town all across America. What is more, it is protected as a religious freedom.

Please, hear what I am saying and not what you would like me to be saying. I do not want to abolish the practice of religion in America. I do not want to have anyone go out and sue a Church or a pastor or a member of a congregation that adheres to a complementarian doctrine. I am only saying that in very large pockets of this country men and women are not seen as having equal rights.

I find the expectation that one can or will set religion aside when entering the political, social, or economic ring ridiculous. I further believe that once we give a group permission to think they are more entitled than another group we have set the stage for abuse. Such abuse is evidenced in the Church. But, does that mean all men who believe in a complementarian doctrine are abusive or even unkind in their treatment of women? Not at all. Egalitarians can be just as ugly and unkind as anyone else. Still, as I pointed out on a different blog last week, the kindness of their masters did not often stop slaves from wanting to be free.

So long as a woman’s status within the predominant religion of a country is less than that of a man’s her status within the society as a whole will also be lesser. We may someday see a female president of the United States but it probably will not happen until the Christian Church decides woman are of equal status and value to men or until humanism rather than Christianity is the predominant religion of the land. Sadly seeing or not seeing a woman as president is actually a non-issue when it comes to the negative impact gender bias has on a society. The real negative consequences include: the sexualization of women, the economic disparity between the sexes, and the loss of creativity, insight, and potential women would otherwise bring to the table.

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Responses

  1. thanks as always Minnow! 🙂

    although I don’t really know the terminology you used — I was able to figure out what you were saying. 🙂 context clues, breaking down the word — ya know all the old literature tricks 🙂

    have a great day!!!

  2. p.s. I don’t really know why — but the “inequality” that is so frustrating to some just isn’t frustrating to me at all. I am not really concerned at all to what I am or am not able to do because of my gender, race, age…

    I don’t know if I’ve just not come up across a lot of opposition so that’s why it doesn’t bother me……. or maybe I just know who I am in God so I am not really worried about what the world thinks or how I am treated. I can bloom where I’m planted and I’m actually quite happy to take a role that the world tells us is a role of less power/authority/whatever…….. the world also said many demeaning, negative things about Jesus, His role as a humble servant crucified by how own people… tried to dimish his power, leadership abilities, authority — but He didn’t seem to care or agree with them. We know the Truth…. who cares what the world says? It just seems to me He was a lot less concerned about equality on earth — than equality in heaven. He wasn’t concerned about getting people political power, social power, popularity power….. but power in the spiritual realm. Power for eternity. He understood power structures on earth didn’t inhibit God’s will in any way.

    I don’t know – that’s just what my heart said to share right now. would love to hear more of your thoughts. 🙂

  3. I took the weekend plus to settle my thoughts about this issue. You are blessed to have peace with where you are planted. It is my sincere prayer that you will never come up against the prejudice against women, either inside or outside of the Church. I must say however that if this is and remains true for your life you will be one of the rare exceptions to the rule.
    My post was not at all speaking about a worldly vs. religious point of view toward women. Personally I think the Church is actually more prejudice against women. (Realize of course that I am talking about western cultures and especially the United States). I was pointing out, however, that because the Church protect these attitudes toward women (even though they really cannot be defended Biblically) the impact of good through the Church on society in general is diminished.


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