Sometimes I get lulled.
I go about my days and encounter life and then a comment is made and I remember: I am not a member of the dominant culture. On many fronts, yes: I am white of skin (if you don’t count the sprouting age spots), middle class, educated, employed, able to make choices.
And, I am a woman.
I am a woman in a culture that pays my sisters an average 75 cents for every dollar earned by a male. I am a woman in a culture where we number more than half the population and are not similarly represented by law makers in virtually all areas of government. I am a Lead Pastor at a church where upon learning the gender of their new lead, some members reacted negatively and continue to refer to their pastor as “that woman” (a very very very small number of my congregation, I hasten to add).
I am a woman who knows fear on darkened streets. I am a woman who came to her own sense of possibility late in life so I know the pains and glory of those who midwife their own souls later in life. This is often the case for women. Our futures and possibilities are peopled with the people we care for: children and partners and parents and community. The din of the competing claims for our time and energy juice is loud; so loud that it can take years to listen to and value our own voices, our own needs.
When we begin to learn to listen and to speak, we do so tentatively, testing out the world of our own thoughts and values to see if it is safe and will it really allow our wholesome being?
If the bumps are not too violent, we continue to venture out into the world, taking our passions and our wisdom and our questions and sharing them and we sail along and through and natter a bit, perhaps, about the non-issue of feminism and equal rights and then we hit the glass ceiling or the wall of sexism and it takes our breath away. Do we still live in a world where women are asked to somehow state a case for their full humanity?
Ask the women who are bought and sold. Ask the women who are not safe in their homes. Ask the women who are left to raise children alone and then are condemned by culture even as they seek to cobble together a life for their children. Ask yourself if you are a woman and your partner or sister if you are a man and you will find that being woman is living a cultural “less than”. Maybe not discernible day to day, but insidiously and powerfully real. For all the movement toward full equality that has been, there are still lessons which await fullness of lived life in our world.
So on this day, when I have been asked to “chill” because of my passion around this issue, I declare that I am woman. And I will speak. And I will lead and learn and live for a day when women are safe and heard and honored.
I will not be lulled.