Food for thought…
Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. (1 Timothy 2:11-12, NRSV)
A continual dripping on a rainy day and a contentious wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in the right hand. (Proverbs 27:15-16, NRSV)
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a contentious wife. (Proverbs 20:9, NRSV)
Well…from the ancient Biblical writings to the present, at least one thing is certain: we men have a hard time accepting women with minds of their own, or with LOUD, booming voices! The voluminous voices of autonomous women—proves threatening to a society of men so used to being entitled to a ‘global speakerphone’—how dare women encroach upon our space—how dare women take up our “airtime”! 🙂
A few weeks ago, I was listening to The Temptations Anthology while I was working out—one of my favorite songs–“Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” graced my headphones. The song resonated with my sentiments as of late—albeit with a slight twist: what would happen if men weren’t too proud to listen to the voices of women. What would the world look like if men decided to destroy the seats of authority we have unscrupulously created for ourselves? What if the mute button was pressed on the male voice, and the volume was increased for the female voice? I wonder…I wonder…
In any formal debate a facilitator gives each party a specific amount of time to state their piece—then it becomes the other party’s turn. Within the discourses between men and women, however, there simply has not been sufficient time given, or more to the point, ALLOWED for the female perspective(s)/voice(s). Here, I do not say “allow” in the sense that women need permission to raise their voices, but rather, to demonstrate that womens’ voices have been muted. Women’s vocal cords have been silenced due to patriarchal asphyxiation.
I am reminded of a statement I recall Dr. Bedford making in my Feminist Theology class my first year. Men pride themselves on being on the ‘center stage’ (public sphere)—because we deem it our space (I use “our” in an individualized sense; men often fight other men for that space lol). Because it is “our” space, we easily become threatened and our egos take a hit when the “other” enters the space demanding equal time! I’m not altogether sure that I should parallel public/private sphere discourses to a formal debate, but just for a moment, I’d like to use that example to further clarify my point. Earlier, I stated that a facilitator allowed each “party” to offer their perspectives. Historically, male voices and male presences have served as pseudo-facilitators—I say “pseudo” because it is a role that we have falsely and forcefully ascribed to ourselves. Who then, is the authentic facilitator?
The Holy Spirit is the facilitator.
It was the Spirit who ignited the voice of Susan B. Anthony to speak out on behalf of the suffragist movement. It was the Spirit who moved Sojourner Truth to ask boldly, “Ain’t I a woman?” at the 1851 Women’s Convention. It is within these examples (and so many more) that I find hope. It is my hope—my prayer—my belief that we have entered/are entering a time when the Spirit is raising and cultivating the voices of women who will commit themselves to a society—a world unbound by social conventions—unchained by gender roles—a truly egalitarian model of living.
It’s funny, over the summer I was watching home videos of myself as an infant/preschooler, etc. I was a timid, quiet toddler (this characteristic is still apt), and whenever we’d visit friends/relatives, Mom would always tell me to raise my voice—to speak up. Well, Mom—today, I say I can’t really speak up in the way you were hoping.
Tis’ time for me to shut up 🙂