Tag Archives: women

Christian Womanist?

Womanist: believing in and respecting the abilities and talents of women; acknowledging women’s contributions to society. —Dictionary.com

I’m a womanist. This is almost my first time publicly acknowledging it.

I debated a bit about whether to call myself a feminist (according to Dictionary.com, one who believes women should have rights equal to men). But it seems to me that feminism views a man’s lifestyle as the ideal–like the goal of feminism is to live like men.

Meh.

If I wanted to have a positive affect in the world on behalf of women… if I wanted to change how women are viewed and valued in this world… I just wouldn’t start by putting men on a pedestal (for worshiping, for epitomizing, or for bashing). Let men be men. And let women be women.

I’m also a Christ-follower. I thought for a long time that I couldn’t be both. But I’m learning that God is clever enough to handle all my complexity. Still, I’m sure you can imagine the raging internal debate I’ve been having with myself.

What do you think? Do the paths of Christianity and womanism (and even feminism) diverge?

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Manimals?

Just wanted to chat a little about how I’ve been confronting my anger fear distrust toward men. It’s been a struggle, admittedly. I hope my perspective is getting more healthy.

Is it just me, or is it difficult for women to read certain parts of the Bible (a book that undoubtedly informs my life) without feelings ranging from annoyance to outrage? I’ve often asked God why He gave us brains at all! He’s always quite patient with me when He explains that things got royally jacked up in the Garden. But I digress.

A couple years ago I read For Women Only, and it really shook me in a way I doubt the author intended. Yes, it helped me re-examine what I thought I understood about my husband’s wants and needs. But it also more solidly entrenched my fears concerns. I’d stopped saying “men are dogs” when I got saved because I knew it was wrong-thinking. I’d stopped saying it, but I hadn’t really stopped believing it. And this book confirmed my worst fears: Men were like animals–either panting after every pretty girl, or fighting their very nature to keep their eyes and minds off them. The thought of being mentally consumed by a man felt degrading; the thought that our boyfriends or husbands might mentally consume random women felt like the worst kind of betrayal.

Someone pointed out to me that there are men who fight. They wrestle daily because they love a woman. I guess I admire that. I don’t think I’m that persistent. Plus former dogs can become men by the Spirit of God. I’m watching it happen.

I admit I’m not entirely reformed though.

Women, do you struggle with these things? Men, what do you think of all this?

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June 7, 2009

Friday night I spent time with a group of Christian women and got to participate (though my input was minimal) in a phenomenal conversation about sex and marriage. I went to bed unaffected, but I woke up Saturday morning filled with sadness, regret. The sweet and precious joy my friend will have, that so many women in that room had, is something I threw away. My rash decision is impacting my life all these many years later.

To top things off, that night I watched a movie that awakened in me a sleeping giant of anger and bitterness. (Well … the giant had been taking a restless nap. It was sleeping with one eye open. It was pretending to be asleep.)

I have never had a relationship with a man who was faithful to me. Not my father: I haven’t seen or heard from him in more than 33 years. Not my step-father: I never felt acknowledged or accepted by him. And not the men with whom I’ve shared my most personal self. All these were the men to whom I had entrusted my heart and life and being.

Wasn’t I ever of value to any one of them? It is horrible to realize, to acknowledge, that the answer is no.

Last night I was finally able to just admit to myself that I am bitter. I am in so much daily emotional pain and so weighed down by bitterness that these feelings seem entirely normal. I don’t know how it feels to be without them. They’re an inseparable part of me. Like my limbs, or my brown skin.

Those men saw me as a means to an end: Just one female among many hundreds of females, serving no purpose but to satisfy an immediate need.

Yet as a woman–as a wife and mother, and now as a Christian–I have been entrusted with the responsibility to minister respect, honor, servanthood and submission to my husband. I am also to model these things to my sons and daughters. I’m failing miserably. How can I be that woman? I want to, but all I have is this armor of anger and bitterness. I don’t know how to put it down. I don’t think my muscles and joints know how to move in such a strange way.

Of course, there’s God. The Bible says he’s different than men. He’s faithful and loving; he’s my father and my husband and my friend. These are good things. I know God is good.

But I feel like he sees me the same way as every other significant man I’ve known.

If not for the covering of Jesus’ blood, I’d be one indistinguishable dead body in a mass grave. A ragged tangle of muddy arms and legs and faceless faces, like those horrible pictures from Nazi concentration camps. Instead I’m one person in a living, moving crowd of arms and legs and faceless faces in the World that God So Loves. As an individual, I have nothing to offer, no intrinsic value. When God’s eyes roam to and fro over the earth, they skip right over me.

This me, unembellished, is not enough. Add to all this ordinary shabbiness the fact that I’m bitter and angry, and I’m utterly useless.

I know what the Bible says, okay. I know that my heart is lying to me. But this is just … where I am right now.

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Happy Moms!

I was practically skipping as I left Sears today. Why? Because I walked out with two new, free pairs of jeans. And I didn’t steal ’em! So I have two shout-outs today.

The first goes to Sears. They have a Kidvantage program that guarantees if your child wears out his Sears clothes or shoes, they’ll replace them with an item of the the same size and comparable price, no questions asked. Now, my 11-year-old is known the world over as the Destroyer of Jean Knees. He can blow out a perfectly good pair of pants in a single bound (i.e. 1-3 months). After I learned about the Kidvantage program, I bought jeans from Sears in August 2008. DJ just got the first rip in the knee last week. Seven months … that’s a miracle in and of itself! But then, to walk into Sears and just replace them–with no more hassle than it took to find his size and take them to the register: Priceless! Sears, you rock. As long as my kids are kids, Sears has my loyalty.

My other shout out is to my girl Nikki. I found out about Sears’ Kidvantage program because of her blog. And that’s not all! Truth is, I’ve learned many “mommy helpers” from Nikki’s blog entries. It’s so cool that we get to share experiences in this way when I only generally see her once a week at church–and even then it’s in passing! She’s willing to share about the seemingly mundane things that we (women, moms) deal with every day. They’re small things, but they matter in a big way.

The truth is, the advice of moms in the trenches like Nikki is so much more meaningful than some random advertisement or circular. I would never have known about Kidvantage, or Always Infinity, or glutein-free diets, if not for her! And I know there have been times I’ve shared knowledge with other moms, and other moms have shared their knowledge with me. It’s a circle of “mom-tested” dependability that, frankly, good marketers should seek out.

More than that, it’s proof of the beauty of God’s gift of community. So thank you Nikki, and all you other moms who contributed to making me proud to be a mom and a woman and a blogger today!

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Angry Moms

19178313I read an interesting article in Parenting Magazine a couple weeks back, and I decided right then to discuss it on my blog! The article’s called “Mad at Dad,” and it appeared in their February 2009 School Years issue.

Here’s an excerpt:

These are the kinds of things we see parodied on TV sitcoms, where bumbling husbands get laughs for feeding the kids frosting sandwiches and sending them to school in scuba gear. These are the kinds of things we moan and groan about when we get together with our other mom friends, often playing our irritations for laughs. Honestly though, it’s not that funny. None of us signed up to live in a sitcom. [Emphasis mine.]

The article goes on to share the results of a survey of over 1,000 mothers. The results surprised me. I honestly thought my frustration was a rarity. I assumed most families were trucking happily along, that in this day and age most dads were doing their fair share to bring about a happy home. Based on the results, there are a lot of guys who are doing it right. However, more moms than I thought are angry. And now that I know I’m not alone, I want to talk about it.

Here are some of the mom statistics (of the 1,000+ women surveyed):

  • 46% get irate with their husbands once a week or more.
  • 44% say dads don’t notice what needs to be done around the house or with the kids. (This figure jumps to 54% for moms with 3 or more kids.)
  • 40% say their husbands seem clueless about the best way to take care of kids.
  • 31% say their husbands don’t help with the chores.
  • 33% say their husbands aren’t shouldering equal responsibility.
  • 50% say their husbands get more time for themselves.
  • 60% don’t tell their friends what they’re going through.

Okay people, here’s the deal. Rather than let this become a bashfest (and it very easily could–with me as the ringleader), what I really want is perspective. This is 2009! I thought we were past this whole “Me man, me drink beer; you woman, you barefoot, make baby and sandwiches” thing!*

This is what I want to know:

  • Men, seriously. Do you* really not notice these things? If the answer is an honest no, hasn’t your wife mentioned them? If so, why aren’t you doing anything about it?
  • Perhaps men* believe this is what women were “meant” to do, so we should just suck it up and do it. But if we’re really meant to be satisfied with this, why aren’t we? More importantly, does it matter to you that we aren’t satisfied?
  • Maybe men* believe they’ve done their share at the office. But … we work too, whether it’s in the office or at home with the kids! Let’s be real here!

I’m just not buying the assertion that because I’m a woman, I have some special perspective on parenting and household duties. Men are intelligent, strong, able-bodied… What’s the deal? Is this stuff really that confusing?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it. Ladies, some of you may disagree, but here it is:

Men, we need you. We need your strength, but we also need your tenderness and concern. We need to see a side of you that nobody else sees. We need to know you care, and we need to see your care in your actions. When we’re overwhelmed with the kids, the house, the job, et cetera, we need you to show us we’re not alone. We need you to share the load; we’re not meant to carry it by ourselves. And when we’re feeling upset, we don’t need a bouquet! Flowers can’t possibly compare to a man with a mop in his hand. (Unless he has already mopped.)

Thoughts? Perspectives? Opinions?

*DISCLAIMER: I know, I know. This isn’t directed at all men. More than that, the statistics only represent one side of the story. Further, these are the women’s perspectives, not necessarily reality. Finally, the statistics make it clear that these feelings aren’t shared by all women. So if this doesn’t apply to you, go in peace!

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Bubba-Licious!

I had a great conversation with my 17-year-old daughter last night. I’d picked her up from youth group, and we were just talking and laughing about whatever came up. Eventually the conversation turned to the way we see and feel about ourselves. It was nice to have an opportunity to tell my girl how beautiful she is, both inside and out. Opportunities like that don’t come up as often as I’d like.

But then she turned the tables on me.

I was sharing with her how I was in my early 20s before I could accept what until then I’d considered a flaw in my appearance: my lips. I’d been teased from 3rd grade to 10th (“bubba-lips”), and I’d sworn I would get them surgically reduced as soon as I was old enough. But then somewhere along the way, my feelings began to change. For one thing, I started getting compliments. And I particularly remember seeing a woman on the cover of Essence Magazine with lips as full as mine–and she was a model! Eventually, a wary truce with my appearance matured into acceptance. But, I told my daughter, unlike me she didn’t have to wait until her 20s to accept and even love everything about herself.

My daughter responded by telling me she’d always thought her own lips were too thin. (Gasp! How I’d longed to have lips like hers at that age!) But then she took it a step further: She said she’d even spent years wishing her lips were just like mine.

In 10 seconds she challenged what I’d thought was already settled. I did accept my lips, but I saw them as something unique to me. In other words, something that was acceptable, then beautiful, and then even lovable to me–despite what anyone else might think–because of the simple truth that they’re mine. Perhaps I saw it like one of those ashtrays kindergartners make for their moms in art class. To anyone else it’s a lopsided mess. But mom can see beyond the mess; to her it’s a beautiful treasure.

It had never occurred to me that anyone would actually wish to have lips like mine. It feels like a strange … redemption of sorts.

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Just Being Honest: Thoughts on Men

41lckuw2ysl__sl500_1I didn’t think I had anything revolutionary left to learn about men. Not that I’m conceited or anything; I just thought if there was more to know, it wouldn’t be the type of stuff that would blow my mind. I was so naively wrong.

Shaunti Feldhahn came to speak at my church a couple weeks ago. She’d stumbled onto some specific realizations about the way men think and feel toward women and relationships, and it spurred her to learn more. After anonymously surveying hundreds of men and conducting personal interviews with several of them, she interpreted the data in her best-selling book “For Women Only.”

I’m not enjoying the book. Not because it isn’t well written or because I disagree with the author (although on some minor points I do). It’s because what I’m learning is terrifying to me. It seems to confirm on some primal level something I’d always feared, but worked really hard to ignore.

I confess, it is entirely possible that some of what I feel stems from a heart broken many times. Having honestly acknowledged that reality, I must clarify that I’m not trying to lump men into a stereotypical group (i.e. “all men are dogs”). I used to believe that, and then I grew up. But looking back at my younger self and comparing her bitter conclusions to what I’ve been learning, I can understand the primal instinct that pushed her self-preservation button.

Now, this is why what I’ve learned is blowing my mind: My primal instinct wasn’t really that far off. My oversimplified conclusion about the data was wrong, this is true. But the instinct itself, the one that caused me to draw that conclusion, was pretty-much spot-on. The instinct that men’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs (and the resulting actions) are vastly, hugely different than women’s. There’s a gap between us as wide as the distance from the earth to the moon; how can such a gap be bridged?

I’ve spent these many years trying to convince myself the instinct was wrong, and therefore I had no reason to put a wall around my heart. Instead, what I should’ve done was trusted the instinct, but dealt with the heart-attitude (the desire for self-preservation) that developed because of it. So now I have to start at ground zero. Dangit!

Okay, so all men are not dogs.

But … men are strange, scary creatures. The things they think and feel are incomprehensible to me, and I am very tempted to protect my heart from them. All of them. (Not a good thing when you have a husband.) I feel like I’ve been living on a planet with aliens in human suits. I even live with an alien in “husband” skin. Secretly he’s been this other being. I feel like someone’s been lying to me all my life. Worst of all, I’m afraid it will never be possible to relate to my husband, because I may not ever be able to fully trust him.

I don’t understand why God chose to do things this way. I don’t understand how he expected relationships to work this way. I mean, I’m not throwing him under the bus; I just don’t get it, that’s all. Everything feels strange and scary right now. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on it soon.

By the way, I’m not saying I’m right, I’m just sharing how I feel. Go ahead and comment freely.

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I Cut Off All My Hair.

Well, not all of it. Just most of it. Last night, without telling anyone except my family.

I’ve had my hair short before, shorter than this in fact. (Truth is, I wish I’d gone shorter this time.) I enjoyed it so much: I didn’t have to fuss with it; rain or humidity didn’t frighten me. I looked good too–I could carry it off. (Still can.) Last night I loved it! I couldn’t wait to show it off.

But today, as I wait for all my friends to see me for the first time, I’m becoming more and more nervous. I’m actually trembling a little. All the way here I was wondering whether I’d done the right thing. I mean … it’s gone! It’s not like I can take down this style ’cause it doesn’t work!

I wonder why I’m so insecure.

I’ll probably expound on this whole scenario later. Just needed to share with someone.

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Sex

I have been increasingly frustrated with how very differently men and women view sex. I frequently remind myself, “Men are just different. They think differently from women. That doesn’t make them bad, it just makes them different.”

I still believe that’s true. But today in particular I am sick of different. Not just because he’s different from me, but because I’m different from him. That means it occasionally seems impossible for either of us to see things in any other way besides from the inside of our own eyes, our own differently-wired bodies. It’s like there’s a language barrier or something.

I’m at the end of my rope. I feel this pressure to be a certain way, to think a certain way, to behave a certain way … the way a “good wife” should. That pressure causes me to react badly. I push, then I pull; I feel sad, then I feel angry. I feel frustrated, then I feel resigned. I’m passionate, then I just don’t care anymore.

It’s all well and good to know we’re different. But today I want to know why. I want to know how we get past it. I’m tired of pat answers and pithy sayings. I’m tired of diplomatic, politically-correct responses. I’m just tired of it.

Of course, as I’m writing this I’m wondering, “What will people think?” I’ve edited many times, I admit. The only reason I haven’t dumped this entire post is that I don’t want to avoid something because I’m afraid of what people will think. It’s impossible that I’m alone in my frustration. I can’t be the only woman who loves God and loves her husband and wishes there were a simple answer to this issue. (But even if I am, then so be it.) This is my real life. This is me, speaking frankly.

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