In Defense of Strong Women

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  • Mags


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  • http://leadingchurch.com paulvanderklay

    Your posting struck me in a number of different ways. Part of what is hard about actually communicating through this cyber medium is that we don’t know each other and all and so mere text is subject to so much personal projection. I though the Barbie illustration very evocative. I hope my comments are helpful and not taken to be critical . 

    1. I hear so much pain in this. As a man I haven’t experienced the brand of pain, evil, cultural and institutional discrimination and subjugation that you have. Reading some of your statements in reverse (imagining back into the reality expressed) is a horror. It is an alien world for me being a man and imagining this kind of treatment makes me very sad indeed. 

    2. Part of the alienness too it seems to me is cultural. I grew up around very strong women, and most of the women in my church are African American women, who on one score we might imagine would have to face not only gender inequality but racial inequality, but most of them have little inhibition about speaking up for or defending their own rights. It’s a strange thing recently reading a lot of young, white, middle class, affluent women expressing all of this pain and outrage coming from what sounds like a victim space while seeing older women many who have suffered lots of different victimization, and had few of the economic, social, and institutional opportunities as a lot of these white, educated women sound very different. I’m not quite sure how to get my mind around it. 

    3. The Barbie illustration really struck me. It seems to be coming from such a different space as Jesus in the Phil 2 Christ song, who though he was equal with God did not equality with God something to be exploited. Now I don’t think there is any justification for inequal barriers or discrimination, but figuring out how to productively engage the patterns of oppression is very important. Assertion of power to power usually just results in a power struggle and the strongest win, which continues the cycle. The strength of Jesus is in the voluntary emptying of the demand and the other exaltation. Jesus says (to men, presumably) “take the lesser seat and allow the host of the banquet to lift you up.” 

    This world will mirror back to women, the disabled, low income persons, persons who don’t have the right accent, the right job skills, the right look a projected lack of value. How is this countered? It seems that self-assertion cannot carry the day. Another has to speak love and value into us and this love and value is not premised on power or performance but genuine love. The value of the self of the beloved is established by the lover. In the end the person that has to rely upon self-assertion deeply suspects that if no one else will do it, perhaps I’m just a poser. 

    We can’t see our selves and so we use other things and other people to try to see our selves. If in fact we can begin to see our selves through the mirror that is our lover and maker, then there is no power in this world (Romans 8) that can compare to that level of validation. 

    Thanks for your blog and your blogging. If you have a low comment blog (like I do) it can sometimes feel lonely or invalidated. I want to encourage you to keep blogging because if you’ve gone this far it is probably your maker who has given you this identity and your maker reads every word, even if he/she doesn’t leave a comment in Disqus. :) pvk

    • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

       I’ve been thinking about this all weekend.  At first I didn’t know what you were talking about, and then I reread it…and oh my gosh.  You’re so right, about the pain.  I wasn’t even thinking about that when I was writing, but it’s so true.  I almost started crying in the middle of JCPenney when I read it, haha.  So your words at the end were very soothing, thank you :)

      I’ve thought about #2 a lot.  Which usually leads to me feeling guilty, because I know I shouldn’t complain about anything!!!  I used to work with these inner-city teen moms, and they would say their dream would be to get married, have a house with the picket fence, and be home with their kids.  And I would think, I have that…fence included.  And yet I’m not happy, content.  So I struggle with that a lot.  I like how Paul says he has learned to be content…that gives me hope that eventually I’ll learn how.  I’ve thought about that too, like say, poor people in Africa.  You always see them smiling and laughing, and I’ve even heard it insinuated by people that we don’t really need to help them, because they are happy with how little they have.  And I wonder how they can seem so joyful in the midst of such tragedy, and I wish I could have that.  And I know that’s a failure of mine that I haven’t cultivated that kind of attitude in myself.  But I also think that just because someone has learned to smile in the face of sadness, doesn’t mean we don’t go in to help relieve that sadness.  That kind of thinking just kind of blows me away and I don’t know what to say when people say that.

      #3 Yeah, I hear that.  I do really dislike all the tv shows and stuff portraying men as idiots and incompetent, just so that women look better.  I was thinking about the verse about being a cheerful giver, and how our goal should be service to each other, but when it comes from a place of oppression, then we aren’t submitting cheerfully.  So I want to be at a place where I find my identity in who God says I am, so I can then submit and serve from a place of pleasure instead of obligation.  That line is probably tricky to figure out and balance, especially when we are constantly having to remind ourselves to find ourselves in God in the first place.

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