A post by Kathy Escobar on The Carnival in My Head reminded me that International Women’s Day is March 8th. Last year I wrote as part of a syncroblog honoring Biblical women and while I do not know of an officially organized syncroblog to commemorate the event this year I think it is worth mentioning.
Growing up I did not give much thought to “women’s issues”. In fact I did not even understand that women might have issues that men did not share. Until I got to college the thought had never crossed my mind that I might not be able (or allowed) to do something simply because I am a woman or that because I am a woman I might not be seen as qualified. Sadly, my first exposure to the idea found me turning on my heels and running in a different direction.
I suppose I told myself , “if “they” didn’t want me then I didn’t want them either.” But, the truth of the matter was, I did not know how to fight that battle. Back then the women in my life did not talk about their experiences as women. I had no role models, no comrades, no reference points. No one around me was fighting and no one I identified with–no friends, no family members, no teachers, no church leaders, and certainly no conservative political figures–even seemed to know we were at war. My childhood innocence was gone; I sensed something was wrong; I just had no idea what to do about it. So, I did what most young girls my age were doing, I got married.
I still remember a very distinct conversation I had with my husband within the first year of our marriage. We were discussing house hold chores when my husband very emphatically said that his mother always did those kind of things for him. I responded that my mother always did them for me too but that I was not my mother and I certainly was not his mother either! Little did I realize but that would be the last voice I gave to advocate for equality in marriage for nearly 25 years.
I wish I had an event to point to as a starting date or an ah-ha moment when I suddenly woke up or had a divine revelation. Explaining how I got to my present mind-set from my former one would be much easier if I did. But the best I can do is to say a little less than a year ago I exploded, or imploded, or paradigm shifted. I woke up and knew I could not take another step in the direction I was facing. (In truth I had not been going forward for a very long time. I had actually been sinking in a sand pile of lies, propagated mostly by a dysfunctional Church). So I turned around, faced a new direction, and began walking.
Any who have read other posts on this blog probably know I am what most call an egalitarian, trying to navigate in a complementarian marriage. Many know I am no longer part of what I refer to as Building-Based Christianity. Some understand these choices are taken from both my study of scripture and my personal experience while others discount my study as tainted because of my experience. (If these others were honest with themselves they would have to admit that none of us can separate our views from our experiences some of us are just more willing to acknowledge how they come into play).
I am the mother of five–three boys followed by two girls. My oldest daughter is 15, the youngest is 4. The boys are 21, 20 and 17. I called this post Two Daughters not because I disregard the importance of raising Godly sons but rather because on this day, March 8th, a day that celebrates women around the world I am keenly aware that I have had experiences my sons will never have but my daughters might. I do not know what it is like to be a man, living in America in the 21st Century but I do know what it is like to be a woman.
I used America as a qualifier, not because we are superior but rather because our experience is different. Even if we are poor, without health benefits, or living on the streets, we in America are not without, completely without, resources. Thus I cannot begin to understand the oppression many of my sisters across the globe experience. I can give lip service to their situations–remind myself that there are women in the world who go to sleep every night hungry or afraid; women who live with the reality of being loaned to their husband’s business associates for “favors” or who are sold by their mothers and fathers so the rest of the family can have a roof over their heads–but I will never fully comprehend their plight.
What I do comprehend, thanks in large part to voices like Kathy Escobar, is that what I do to resist the oppression and domination of women within my spere of influence I do. for all. women. And what I do for all women I do so my daughters will have a greater opportunity to hear words of encouragement from men and women of courage rather than words of domination from systems of power and oppression.