Have you heard of #yesallwomen? Googled it? Read through the tweets? I took a look at some postings I saw in the wake of the recent violence in California. It was a slightly odd feeling to read through some of the tweets for #yesallwomen. I had the feeling of knowing, of being familiar with the sentiments and stories shared. Some of them were so articulate about the frustrations of sexual harassment and violence that I wanted to cheer out loud and yell “YES! EXACTLY!” There was this great joy in the courage of women who raised their voices and shared their stories and suffering.
Then I found #yesallwomenjokes. I tried not to cry or yell and give in to the growing sadness gathering deep in my gut. Instead of being heard, these women were told to be quiet, to keep it to themselves. But frankly, it isn’t funny. Mocking and making light of another’s suffering is never ok. All suffering should be taken seriously. I know it’s easy to disregard the suffering of others. Because taking it seriously is exhausting. It can seem so rampant if you really pay attention to it. I promise that managing suffering from being a woman, from just being myself, is also exhausting.
I sat with three male peers, whom I adore and respect very greatly. We were deciding on a project topic and it was asked by one of them that we not do something relating to women’s issues – over the course of our studies we had apparently covered it. I had not been thinking about any topics particularly related to women, but I was taken aback. I don’t really hear anyone saying that ‘we talk too much about homelessness or poverty.’ Being the only woman in the room, I didn’t want to be that person asking my peers to take seriously things that were important to me if it wasn’t important to them. I know them well enough to know it is important. But maybe not important enough. #yesallwomen
I wore my favorite dress to Mass. Modest but still flattering. I feel like myself in that dress. I heard through the unreliable-always-treacherous-still-often-true grapevine about a few comments clergy made about me in that dress. A friend who was present didn’t speak up for me. Felt it was part of the culture to let these comments slide and feared repercussions. Even someone I love and care about let me be treated as a body and a dress by those who are trusted to shepherd the church. #yesallwomen
If I sit too long with all of this, I get this overwhelming feeling of loneliness and sadness. Because then I realize that I don’t necessarily trust the lay or ordained men in my own church, my community, to really care about women. Not just when it’s easy, but when it’s difficult. When it means taking a risk. I have trouble trusting they will simply say ‘That’s not OK. This woman, this person matters, too.’ Not because I remind them of their sister or their mother or their niece, but because I am a person. I feel lonely and sad wondering why so few seem to have the resolve and conviction to be angry at the reality of women in the church, not annoyed by its seeming inconvenience to them.
#yesallwomen is so important because we are people. #yesallwomen is important for the Church because we are disciples. My call to be a disciple shouldn’t be bogged down with worries that what I wear will keep me and my vocation from being taken seriously. I shouldn’t have to navigate my Christian life around men who don’t know what to do with a woman. Women are just as much a part of the people of God and we work so hard and have so much to give. Sometimes it just seems that the Church forgets that women are made in the image of God too.
I worried a lot while writing this post. Would I hurt people? Would they take it seriously? Am I complaining or whining? Will people I respect and care about see it as another rant? To hell with all of that. It’s my post. It’s my voice. I matter too. #YESALLWOMEN. #YESALLDISCIPLES.
*Because I refuse to ignore the amazing men in my life, I will also do a post on #NotAllMen