I watched an interview type show the other night and one of the guests in the middle of a lively discussion announced “Women will never be the equal of men”. Talk about a conversation killer! Everyone ceased talking. The audience who had been buzzing along with the conversation seemed to freeze. It was like a collective gasp had been taken. Years of, albeit slow, progress towards a more accepting and equal age was just about to be steered onto the rocks. The guest lets the silence hang until it seems someone is about to break in. Then with a smile that suggests only the innocence of the comment the statement is repeated and then completed.
“Women will never be the equal of men until they can be found leaving the bar on a Saturday, 30 minutes before the match, beer belly hanging over their jeans, shirt unbuttoned to reveal mismatched and ill considered tattoos, thinning hair except on their chin which is three or four days from seeing a razor, shouting loudly and chanting tribal team songs AND still able to believe they are undeniably attractive to members of the opposite sex. No, until that day comes women will not be the equal of men.
Another moments and then the audience began to laugh, almost in relief, and then applauded loudly. The disaster has been avoided.
Humour, but it shone the light on an ever present issue within so many societies, the failure to establish equality between the sexes. Yes I know there are many more failures when it comes to equality but this is one that has long troubled me.
I think I am blessed when it comes to viewing people because I believe I view people as people before ever the issues of gender, colour, culture enter into the light. I have shared accommodation with people from different cultures, employed a diverse group of people based on their ability to do the job and fit within the existing team. Male, female, it made no difference. Some of the most influential people in my life have been women and I was mostly happy to receive their guidance and advice. As happy as I would be to take anyone else’s advice.
It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals.Emma Watson
We should stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are.
So to see women being barred from certain roles and positions, for no other reason than their gender, has galled me. This, I think, has been allowed to happen because from way back men have developed a myth and perpetuated it, that society is a patriarchal affair and given authority to this myth by putting it in the mouth of their gods. But as I’ve read a question has crept into my thoughts: “To what extent have these texts been edited and shaped by men?” Indeed, if divinely transmitted, how much has been lost, or indeed, gained between transmission and committing to permanent record? Further, having received inspiration, what part does mine or your own world view play in the final record. Was “something lost in translation”?
Let’s stop and think at the beginning of what could be a series of letters. Our very view of divinely given directions or advice or fellowship is damaged by the widely accepted belief that God is male! For the Christian I can understand that the fact that Jesus was the Son of God and not the Daughter, called God ‘Father’, gives the immediate validity to a belief in a male deity. But let’s continue thinking a while longer. Jesus came into a highly patriarchal world, a world whose religious texts were dominated by the feats of men. Would a Daughter of God been appropriate? Indeed, witnessing Jesus’ own struggle with acceptance, what chance would a woman have had? Things have to be contextually relevant to gain acceptance and a male fitted the context, the societal norms. Had the world of its time been a matriarchal one would we be praying to the Daughter of God. Interesting question I’m thinking.
I have long believed that within God, or as I sometimes use, Source, there exists the fullness and perfect representation of both male and female. Both are part of the image of the Ultimate. As such men have a feminine side, or nature, and women a masculine. Interestingly, other religions, other representations of God’s story within the world, have both male and female deities, Hinduism being an excellent example. Saraswait, Lakshmi, Shakti and more. These fulfil roles not filled by the male deities and maybe, are people’s attempts to capture the fullness of Source, the immensity of God, not being able to place all the diverse qualities, the immensity of characteristics in one representation. Which raises a question in my mind, what do we miss of the divine if we have only a Son of God? At the risk of heresy, did the Christians get sold short? Please don’t get me wrong. The more I learn about Jesus the more I want relationship with God.
You can’t deny women their basic rights and pretend it’s about your “religious freedom”. If you don’t like birth control, don’t use it. Religious freedom doesn’t mean you can force others to live by your own beliefs.Barack Obama
So at the start of this series of letters can we agree that God, or Source, is neither male or female? Indeed to suggest so is to place restrictions and limitations on our understanding of the ultimate. Further, the scriptures have largely been recorded by men and, had more Divine revelations and communications been recorded by women, or maybe been included, there would have been differing emphasis and wider insight into God’s character?
(As an aside Pogue, have you read The Shack or seen the film? If so you’ll remember how the author represented God as a large, motherly Afro-Caribbean lady. Power to that writer I say. There may have been more understanding of the Divine in that action than is commonly preached from pulpits.)
Still further, we find ourselves, at least in our cultures, caught in a place where the predominant understanding of masculinity is only just beginning to be unpacked and shown for what it really is, controlling, false and crippling the development of a rounded and healthy personality. Males have been, for too many years, deprived of the ability to demonstrate emotions as to do so would be “unmanly”. “Big boys don’t cry” has been an all too often used retort creating emotionally deficient men.
Is it a wonder women are not the equal of men? I’ll sign off here and write again soon, once I have had opportunity to think further on this.
Yours, off to catch up on crying,