International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day and all over the web are brilliantly written articles, pictures, and videos. I have spent my morning reading them and talking with the boys about women and the suffrage movement.  These rights were not just given to us; a price was paid for them.  The price was paid with the blood, sweat, and tears of the women who came before me.

I tend to be very moved by music and this particular video brought tears to my eyes.

It reminded me of where, as women we have come but also where we must still go. For while many wonderful advancements have been made there is still so many more that need to be done.  The current political climate has made that perfectly clear. My uterus is still something we see men fighting about on Capitol Hill. Still men and sadly even some women believe that they know what is best for me and my body. I have had to stop watching TV at times because I find a little bit of homicidal tendencies coming out.

I recently had a conversation with my husband about this. He is a good, kind, and loving man who wants to understand why there is this underlining seething anger towards men. I tried to explain and failed miserably. I truthfully think as much as he wants to, he can never understand what it is like to be a women because in this lifetime he isn’t one. He does not know what it is like to be raised and live in a patriarchal society. It writes on the very soul of whom and what you are. Can you overcome? Yes but it leaves its own kind of marks.

It isn’t what is said typically, it is what isn’t said sometimes that hurts you the most. I was raised in a religion where women were treated as separate, now most people who were there at the time would have said it was separate but equal. As a child sitting back and observing, that was not what I saw.  What I saw was that no matter how amazing a woman was she could never teach a class where men were present, she could not be a deacon or an elder. She could teach children but not teenage boys or men. I am sorry, if she can’t, then she isn’t equal. As a child I thought that that meant there must be something very evil deep down inside of every woman.  This only was reaffirmed throughout my teenage and young adult times in the church. Women had their place; it just wasn’t in any position of authority in the church. Even to this day my brother who was raised this way and is very “modern” would never consider going to a church where a woman was a pastor.   I haven’t asked my dad in a long time but I know there was a time where he wouldn’t either. In fact, one of the most painful conversations I had with my father was about this very thing. We were just visiting, there was no agenda, just talking when it somehow got turned to women and their position in the church.

“I just want to point out that God sent his only begotten son not daughter.” 

This is where the conversation ended.  I would venture to guess he doesn’t remember this conversation, saying this, or have any idea the scar that it left.  Even to this day my heart hurts at the memory, because it was the validation of how I had felt my whole life that somehow because I was not born as a man I was somehow less, not quite as good or important. That no matter what I would ever do, no matter how good I could be I could never undo that fact that I was a girl. After all if girls were that important, wouldn’t God have sent a daughter?

Now, I am blessed, I am surrounded by amazing men that love me and my daughter. My father is Ashlin and I’s biggest supporter. As he has aged he has soften, he is much more gentle, and in fact just the other day he admitted that he has done a lot of work but he still is a little sexist in something’s but he is working on that and he thinks that Ashlin is helping to teach him.  To talk to Ashlin is to talk to a female version of my dad, they are so alike, it is a little scary. He is violently protective of her and I have no doubt would destroy anyone who ever tried to make her feel small or tell her she couldn’t do something. He has grown so strong and protective of women’s rights because of her. This is grace in action and it is humbling to watch.  I am so proud and honored to be his daughter to watch him grow and change, instead of becoming stagnant.

How do I honor the women who have gone before me?  I have chosen to stay home with my kids.   I forwent a career so that I could spend time with them. This choice was a gift that was given to me from the amazing women that came before me.  How do I repay this gift? I have raised a brave, independent, smart, and capable woman who doesn’t think twice about speaking her mind,  who doesn’t sit comfortably by but instead heads right into the path of pain and sometimes danger, working to change it because she knows there is something bigger than her in this world. I raise men not boys. I raise men that know how to love, cry, be brave, and protective of not just of the women in their lives but of all women. Who know that there is nothing that they can’t do; is just as true for them as it is for their sister. Who deeply love the female minister that helped them understand G*d. Who would think it strange to even think about the sex of the person teaching them, whether it is in school, the store, or at the pulpit. I raise men who honor the humanity of all people regardless of their sex, race, or sexual orientation.