November 9, 2020

Why is Sexism still a thing? 

Maybe I am naive – or not too quick – or too optimistic – but why is sexism still a thing? This past week we watched “I Am Woman”, a Netflix biopic about Helen Reddy, the great Australian singer who died this past September. She had a lot of hits, and the biggest was her first. “I Am Woman” was released in 1972, and it became the theme song for the burgeoning women’s equality movement. Part of that movement, the Equal Right’s Amendment, was ratified that same year, but it was only this past January (yes – 2020) that it became law when Virginia became the 38th state (75%) to pass it. The idea was first presented in 1920 (yes – 100 years ago), and was seen as a danger to American society, especially the family. Equality, it seems, is a threat to manhood.

The reason for sexism is that men are too fragile to admit that women are equal in every way. This lie is bolstered by most religions, and this, again, is a mystery to me. Jesus made a big deal out of women: the woman at the well in John 4 became the first evangelist in that Gospel; when a woman came in to anoint His feet (Mark 14 & Matthew 26), He said: “wherever the Gospel story is told, what she did will be told, in memory of her” – and these are just two of the ways woman were made visible by Jesus. There were women in His inner circle (Mary); there were women who were Apostles (Junia). And yet, the first two example’s names were never given, the third was described as a prostitute by church history, and the last had her name masculinized! It wasn’t Jesus who allowed our faith to promote sexism – it was the men who wrote our Scriptures.

I was raised by a strong woman – I married a strong woman – we raised a strong woman – and it isn’t because I am any more noble or aware than other men. In fact, there are strong women everywhere, roaring like lions, making a difference, and changing the world. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an exceptional example of strength and intelligence – VP-elect Kamala Harris (you don’t have to agree with her politics to admire her) – former UN Ambassador Nicki Haley – the women I see around me and our country and our world are strong, intelligent, moral, kind, capable (etc) – how can any person in his or her right mind believe that women are not and should not be equal to men? The problem is not with women – the problem is men. 

Again, many of the culprits in this nonsense are religious institutions. If they don’t ordain, or educate, or treat women equally to men, they are at the root of our dysfunction around equality. Women can do any job men can do, and to deny them the right to is immoral and unethical – and not Christian. There is only one reason anyone would think that women and men are not equal: if they are weak and ignorant. If you think women shouldn’t be police officers or firefighters or pastors or lawyers or plumbers or referees or coaches or …., then there is a problem with you, not them. We heard you Helen – we heard your call – your challenge – and it has taken a long time for (most) men to grow up. Let’s push for the rest of the world to do the same.

Prayer – We hear You, O God, who created us equally in Your sight. Men, women, straight, LGBT+, neutral – whatever our orientation – You made all of us with Your spark of eternity in us. Keep pushing us to accept what You already know. Amen.

Today’s art is the album cover from 1972 – I Am Woman.