Urbanmenno and Lora have posted comments that address an issue I’ve been meaning to raise for months. We finished up a poll last month that made it clear that the site as a whole has a larger male readership then female (64% male and 36% female). But the ratio of women to men in comments seems to be much lower then that. I’m reproducing Urbanmennos and Lora’s comments here because I think they need more visibility then the tail end of an unrelated post:
Tim made a good comment on urbanmennonite.com in regards to the above Menno Roundup referencing this post’s discussion and in fairness to all involved, I’ll post it here as well
I’m one of the men who was involved in the discussion you referenced on YAR. Initially I was chastened by your comment, but I’ve done some more thinking about it, and I think when it comes to anti-sexism work, women shouldn’t always have to be the ones defending equality. Sometimes men need to confront men about sexism and not expect women to do the work.
Maybe no one’s going to change anyone’s mind, but blatant sexism and oppression need to be challenged. Silence is not the solution.
I actually think there are a lot of men on YAR who do a great job of speaking up for women’s equality and I applaud them. And I don’t have a problem at all with the men defending the good fight. Particularly since it can be really hard as a female to keep having these kinds of conversations over and over again — soul-killing actually.
I drew attention to the post not to chastise any of the men involved. I saw the post and resulting comments more as another example of where women are talked about and not talked with. It would be interesting to take that particular post and ask the general YAR audience why didn’t women comment on it …
Is it the ratio of men to women on YAR? Is it a matter of picking your battles and the women didn’t feel like fighting this particular one? Was there some subtle unwelcoming thing?
“Silence isn’t the solution” is totally accurate … and I’m glad that the men weren’t. But why were the women?
I’ve been mulling over a response for a few days now, because my first thought was, “Good grief, are we really still discussing this?” It is, much as Urbanmenno points out, rather soul-killing to keep having these conversations. Somasoul, while this is a response to some of the issues you raise, it is not so much a response to you. I have read your posts and comments for as long as you have been here and I understand neither your logic nor your arguments. This isn’t to say they aren’t valid, just that I don’t know how to engage you.
Let’s start with this whole “it’s not biblical” argument. Are we agreeing that if something isn’t biblical, that it has no credence for us as Christians? Because Christians believe a surprising number of things that don’t have clear biblical grounding–abortion, for example. Heck, we even tout family values while naming ourselves for someone who once said that if you wanted to follow him, you would have to leave behind your mother, your father, your brother. It’s not that we shouldn’t be in favor of children or families (however that looks), just that we should be wary of what we say is biblical and what isn’t. Just a hundred years ago, there were men of a certain skin color who surely had brilliant minds but spent all their days in the cotton fields because there were people–Christians!–who believed that was their God-ordained place.
To say that women in leadership isn’t biblical is also to ignore some great stories in the Old Testament, as well as the scholarship on Paul that has emerged in the past 30 years. I recommend starting with The Politics of Jesus–John Howard Yoder argument was basically, in a culture and a time when women were little more than chattel, why would anyone have had to tell them to be silent in the church unless something in the life and manner of Jesus had presented a radically different way of understanding their place on earth and in heaven?
This is to say nothing of choices made by translators and editors; most biblical scholars agree that of all the books written by Paul (and not all attributed to him were), that even the phrases, such as in Galatians, where it says that women should be silent in the church, were added after Paul wrote the letter. Paul also tells of women who seemed to be his benefactors or were doing work he approved of, but how often do we hear a sermon about them? How much women are mentioned also seems to be, to some extent, the choice of the author–Luke mentions more women than any other gospel. No one, incidentally, ever mentions who cooked the Last Supper.
If women aren’t speaking up, then you men are missing 50 percent of your potential to solve problems, to empower disciples, to further the reign of God. If women aren’t speaking up, the responsibility is yours. And if the answer you come up with is that someone has to make dinner or stay home with the kids, then you’re so sadly far from the upside-down radical vision of God’s will on earth as in heaven, of the banquet in which there is space for everyone.