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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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Patriarchy in SA colonial Lutheran schooling

Despite South Australian colonial Lutherans being ‘model citizens’, history records that patriarchy was well entrenched in their tradition.

This post records the exclusion, in the main, of women from higher education and leadership in Lutheran  churches and schools in the first 80 years of the Lutheran school system (as recorded in The Patriarchs: A history of Australian Lutheran Schooling, by Richard Hausler, 2009).

Lutheran theology is known internationally for speaking with some clarity about grace and forgiveness.  The Lutheran tradition is also known for its reformist origins and breaking with Catholic corruption, conservatism and wealth.  It is therefore not immediately apparent why the LCA has chosen a conservative incarnation of the Lutheran tradition when many other synods have a higher level of engagement with society and contemporary values.  This post provides historical clues from the first 80 years of Lutheran settlement in Australia.

(p25) “One point that needs to be made is that while Lutheran leaders of the nineteenth century qualified as patriarchs in the sense that they presided over a system which strongly discriminated against females, the same was generally true of the situation which pertained in most of nineteenth century society.  There was also common discrimination against women in all education systems of the era.  For instance, in Victoria the Public Service Act of 1883 included provisions for excluding women from the principalships of all except the smallest schools in the state system. Their salaries were also set at eighty percent of the male rate.  In fact women often served in school positions which attracted a modicum of pay but demanded considerable professional expertise.  The term “sewing mistress” depicted such a role which was humbly remunerated but could involve teaching over the whole curriculum up to full time.  This situation was echoed in the other states.

However, it must also be pointed out that the Lutheran patriarchs presided over a system, which was even more discriminatory against women than society in general.  There was an assumption that leadership in the family, church and society belonged to men.  In part it was a result of Christian beliefs.  To this extent their discrimination was not motivated by their desire to exercise power.  They placed themselves under the authority of the Bible which, they believed, taught that the man should be the head of the house, that wives were subject to their husbands, that women should not speak publicly in the church and that only men could be ordained as pastors.  In part it was the traditional practice of their church.  Men sat on one side of the congregation while women and children sat on the other, and all positions of leadership from pastor and teacher, to lay reader and elder, as well as voting rights and committee memberships were the domain of men.  There was even the unsavoury practice when an unmarried woman became pregnant that she, but not the father, had to appear before the congregation to express repentance.

These patriarchal assumptions spilled over into the schools.  There was always a close connection in Lutheran schools between the roles of pastor and principal. …Being a teacher  in the Lutheran church was one step away from being a pastor, a role reserved for men.  So it was not surprising that men should run the schools as well.  Women, in contrast, were often involved in school enterprises, but always in a subsidiary role.  …

(p27)From the very beginning girls were automatically enrolled in congregational schools just as the boys were.  Significantly, however, it was in the institutions of higher learning that girls had a decidedly lesser place.  For instance,  for the first five years of Immanuel College (secondary) at Point Pass, only two of the first thirteen students were female. At the rival synod’s college called Concordia there were no female students enrolled at all between 1890 and 1926.  This reflected the belief that while female students required a basic Christian education in order to be taught the fundamentals of the faith and to read their Bibles and the confessions of the church, because of their gender they did not qualify for the training to become leaders in the church.

The communities of Prussian, rural, antipodean citizens, who clung to the German language for many years in their schools in Australia, had an exclusive understanding of what was appropriate for females and males in their schools and for leadership at home, school and church.  While it was accepted that girls should have compulsory schooling until the age of fourteen, is this because Prussia instituted the very progressive, compulsory schooling for all children in 1763, approximately 100 years before Australian colonies.  One wonders what value might have been placed on female education in primary schools if this was not the case.

While some concerned LCA members bemoan the influence of culture in our Church today, they seem to be unaware of the influence of their own culture on their thinking.  While stating that their theology is determined purely from Scripture, their blindness to their own historical influences ensures that culture maintains a strong influence on how they interpret Scripture.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in history, sociology, theology, women's ordination

 

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Morven Baker reports on being asked to preach at a local church

Dr Morven R. Baker, D.Min., PCC-S, NCC, has been in practice for over twenty years in both institutional and private practice settings. She is founding President of Ashland Women’s Counseling Center, where she deals with the range of issues faced by women, but especially those arising from sexual abuse and domestic violence. A published author, Dr Baker is a popular speaker and teacher, having delivered classes, lectures, and workshops in the US and abroad. Source

We believe that the following comment is profound beyond words.  We include it for your reflection and as another reason to praise our loving, caring God.

Yesterday I was asked to preach twice at a local church on the subject of – now wait for it – sex, and how God intended it to be and how to get back to the Garden, where men and women were in partnership/companionship together.

Well, the bit in the middle was tough to talk about … how patriarchy was a consequence of the fall. I reminded the congregation that it was NEVER God’s plan for his children to leave the Garden and suffer the results of BOTH their sin. Remember, Adam was told about not eating from the tree before Eve was even created! Talked about some of the results of patriarchy …. abuse of women, pornography & its effect on the family, domestic abuse. Then the “second Adam”, Jesus, came and liberated women – “We are all ONE in Christ Jesus” – as Jesus wants us to return to the Garden his Father created. The response to both services was incredible. Men came to me and confessed things they had done, two elderly women came and shared they had been molested and felt too ashamed to talk about it before, people asked for help …. they want to change. They are hurting.

The amazing thing is that I am a female and was asked to do this by a male pastor. I was raised in a strongly patriarchal denomination in Canada, and my very elderly father is still very upset at me for “being disobedient to Scripture”. I told him that I loved him, but I believe that his interpretation of Scripture is wrong, and I am just doing what God has called me to do.

As it is with all the women who are longing to follow the call of God on their hearts. World wide. It is happening.

We welcome your response.  One of our responses is the giving of thanks for the man who invited Morven to preach.  Without him God’s grace would not have been revealed anew through Morven.

What might happen if such preaching happened at your church?  What hurts might be revealed?  What pleas for the assurance of God’s forgiveness would be heard?

I wonder what it is about confessing to another person, a woman, that is so powerful?

You may be interested in reading Morven’s Blog.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Fear Not, Love Never Ends – a poem

Fear Not…I am with you
Stand up for what is right
LOVE fulfils the law

I’m a woman in a patriarchal church
I love the LCA
Through it I came to faith
It has given me friends and community and mission
I’m sad that women pastors aren’t recognised
I’m sad that numbers are declining
God says….DON’T FEAR….STAND UP

My job involved travelling
Each Sunday I attended a different Lutheran church
“Where are the young folk” I asked the pastor
“They’ve gone to C.O.C….A.O.G…..Pentacostal…Uniting…Anglican
Other Christian churches”
“Oh” I think “I wonder why”
Led by the Spirit, says God.

God calls my son to serve
He is ordained in the LCA
God calls my daughter to serve
She can’t be ordained in the LCA
“I wonder why” I think
“Fear not, I am with you” says God
“What can I do?” I think
“Stand up for what is right” says God

Tanya has a PhD in preaching
The Anglicans loved her homily
“Why can’t she preach in the LCA?” I wonder
“Go and Tell” says God

Rosmah is called to be a pastor
What a joy she isn’t in Australia
I can send some of my money to help her
Pity the LCA misses out
“Stand up for the oppressed” says God

My friend Emma tells me
Her niece is a Lutheran pastor
“Can’t be” I say
“Oh she lives in Germany”
There is neither Jew nor Greek  says God

Joyce is a pastor
She came to Australia
Married Ian  and the LCA said “You can’t work here”
So she worked for the Uniting church
God is blessing her ministry
Preach the Gospel says God

Margaret led the service and preached
She is an inspiring leader
Then someone in power found out and put a stop to it
God led her to pastor to us
I hope she stays

The Lutheran needs an editor
It’s always been a male pastor
It should be a male pastor
But Linda does the job and wins accolades
“Wow” I think “Fantastic job she does”
“You can do all things through Christ” says God
“Fear not I am with you”
But she’s a woman

I read somewhere that if you are ordained
You can be an Aged Care Chaplain
Heidi’s doing the job
She’s a qualified Chaplain
But they won’t ordain her
“I wonder why because God has called her”
“Preach the Gospel” says God

Ian Watto is a leader bloke
He knows lots of things
He’ll know why woman are rejected
“Power” he says “some men want power”
Stand up for what is right…Neither male nor female…Preach the Gospel

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in sociology

 

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