It has been a while since I’ve blogged, and for that I apologize. I’ve been working on a thesis, trying to organize some things for our upcoming move, and generally being super-busy, but I hope to get back into a regular rhythm! Here are some recent thoughts:
When I was a junior in high school, I discovered feminism. Between a chauvinistic boyfriend, emotionally abusive father, and a small group leader who kept pushing the “your special role is so fulfilling!” bull, I had all the essential ingredients for extreme dissatisfaction with traditional gender roles, and I was overjoyed to discover an alternative proposed by egalitarian evangelicals.
It was a big deal for me to change my views on women in the church and family. For one, it may have saved my faith, but besides that, it prepared me to investigate other injustices in college. There my focus shifted to issues of race and poverty. While the fight for women in the church is obviously not done, most of my thinking about gender was. After all, I’d already found the “answer,” and now it was time to investigate other things. Sure, I participated in a feminist book club, took a women’s studies class, and generally became more informed about gender and society. But at some point my more personal journey stopped.
Make that paused.
Over the last two years, I’ve found myself reengaged in issues of gender like I never anticipated—and that’s not just because I was VP for Women in Gender on Fuller’s All-Seminary Council last year. Wish as I might, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to escape such issues again.
I can’t avoid thinking about what gender, justice, womanhood, and feminism mean to me anymore because, quite frankly, I’m growing up. I’m having new experiences, and I’m learning that the happy circles of smart, empowered women I ran in during college simply don’t exist in abundance in the “real world.” Instead, I have individual friends, scattered across Los Angeles and the rest of the United States, all asking similar questions. We lack role models. We lack experience. We sometimes lack both patience and hope. But we also lack a satisfaction with the way things are for women.
While many injustices affect our lives, perhaps one of the most frustrating things for all of us—whether self-identified feminists or not—seems to be the scripts we are given as women. One of my good friends is tired of the single-woman script handed to her by the church. Another friend is irked by the engaged-woman script society has offered. I remember similar wedding-related frustrations, but now I’m left wondering how I will ever escape the only scripts I know relating to pregnancy and motherhood. The fact that I’m not currently pregnant is beside the point. Every day it seems someone else I know on Facebook makes an announcement, and it’ll be my turn sooner or later. And how will I make sense of that?
Obviously, the further exploration of such topics will call for additional posts. But for now, suffice it to say, there are too few acceptable scripts for women today. It is hard to fight expectations at every turn. And moving into one’s mid-20s, 30s, and beyond seems to force everyone who does not accept them to constantly rework their identity in the face of new experiences.
In my mind, providing alternatives to these scripts and encouraging women in their journeys is an important task of the church. For those of us who stand for gender equality, it’s time to not only support female pastors or egalitarian marriages with our words. It’s time to figure out how we can actively shape families, churches, and society to truly free women from the forces—born of prejudice, ignorance, or even simple coincidence—that continue to constrain them. Whether individual, systemic, or cultural in nature, these powers deserve a strong reprimand in the name of our victorious Savior. (Because I’m pretty sick of going it alone.)