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Feminism

“Any woman who says she is not a feminist, but wishes to be treated as more than a piece of seagull poo on the windscreen of life, has simply got the terminology wrong.”  Attributed to Kaz Cooke

Recent events in Australia and around the world – from the accusations of misogyny, to the sad and senseless death of Jill Meagher, to the shooting of young Pakistani girl Malala Yousufzal have sparked a wave of feminist debate about the right of women to be safe and to live their lives without fear of ridicule or harm.  More than 320 000 people have joined Jill Meagher’s Facebook tribute page (unsubstantiated) and almost 30 000 people gathered in Melbourne in her memory.

Feminism is not a dirty word.  It quite literally and simply means insisting that the political, economic, and social rights of women are clearly defined, established and defended as equal to men.  The feminist movement has always sought to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.  In short a feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women“.

Over the decades, the feminist movement in Australia and indeed many parts of the world have campaigned for and achieved to varying degrees women’s rights when it comes to contract law, property ownership, right to vote and reproductive rights.  Further, feminists have advocated for women’s workplace rights, such as maternity leave and equal pay.

Sadly, the feminist movement has even had to work hard to ensure that women and girls are protected from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.  There are many who argue that while feminism has mainly been focused on women’s issues and rights, the very fact that feminists seek overall gender equality, means men’s liberation is a necessary part of feminism, and that indeed men have also benefited from gender equality.

I am confident that almost of my family and friends are 100% in favour of rights and equality for all.  Most of them want to see an end to gender-based discrimination in society, the home and the workplace.  Most, if not all of them, would agree that women should be free and safe to walk our streets and that young girls like Malala should be free to speak up about injustice.  And yet most of them would not call themselves a feminist.  I wonder why?  Reference: To be or not to be a feminist, Tish Champion, in AEU Journal SA, 44(7), Nov 2012, p19

We have every reason to be thankful for feminism.

As most people support the equality of women it can be said that most people are feminist.  However, some people will want to refer to something nasty that individuals have done in the name of feminism but that gives us no reason to dismiss feminism.  Plenty of wars, child abuse and domestic violence are carried out by Christians but that gives us no reason to dismiss Christianity.

Without feminism in the LCA women would still be barred from taking leadership roles in the congregation and from participating at District and National Synod levels.

You may like to review the growing freedom that women have had in the LCA.

 
 

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When churches represent hate, hang in there

I’ve come across a very down-to-earth woman’s blog from corn-country in Illinois, US.  The blog, Halfway to Normal, by Kristin Tennant, gives a hint that life hasn’t turned out like she thought it would and that life is messy and complicated.

Her post, ‘ “Why church?” is the wrong question‘, ponders what happens for many people when church doesn’t measure up to their hopes, when people need to leave church for their own health, their own sanity. She tells the story of people dropping their church attendance because of, “bad worship songs and fake people, hypocrisy and often more evidence of hate than love”.

She says, “Sometimes I still wonder ‘Why church? Why do any of us bother?’ When I hear news stories about pastors who are doing all in their power to spread hate, like the pastor in Florida who has plans to burn the Quran on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, I’m tempted to distance myself as far as possible from all pastors and churches. If churches represent hate to more people in the world than they do love, I want to find another way.” (Halfway to Normal’s emphasis)

Those of us alienated by men-only ordination in the LCA so easily experience Church as hateful.  When women are excluded generation after generation, yet are unhindered in public life, when the institution belittles a woman’s call, yet cannot fill parish vacancies, the implications are clear.  It is not surprising that Church can be experienced as hateful.

Fortunately Kristin Tennant found a welcoming, embracing church community where the pastor reminded her in a sermon, “I need to be with brothers and sisters in Christ so I don’t forget what I’m about—what God wants to do through me.”

If you are growing weary of the LCA’s disconnectedness and current direction, please hang-in there.  Don’t walk away from this Church. We need you so that we “don’t forget what (we) are about.” Do what you must to change the Church.   Who do you need to connect to?  Who should you write to?  Talk about it in your congregation.   What can your congregation do about it?  If your pastor isn’t interested in supporting you, find those who will. Connect with this blog, with Women’s Ministry Network or with the Facebook page, Women’s Ordination in the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome.

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Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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