Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stand.




I cannot stand you.
Everything about your actuality.
From the way you move, to the way you speak, to the way you work.
And the thing I have realized after all these years…
Is that you cannot stand me either.
Everything about my potential,
From the way I can choose to move, to the way I can choose to speak, to the way I can choose to work.

To the way I can choose to walk out of your classroom.

Perhaps not without a few parting words?
I am, after all, to speak my mind, aren’t I?
I am, after all, to establish myself as superior, aren’t I?
I am after all, to hate the enemy, aren’t I?

Aren’t I?

Only this time, I speak against YOU
Only this time I stand above YOUR weakness.
Only this time, I hate the REAL enemy.


When this all started, I was ignorantly unaware that you would use the things I clung to the most to bring about my own seduction- my connection to story, my affinity towards words, my struggle with pride, and my tendency to want to fix the broken. Into this bittersweet wine, you silently poured your poisons, and I drank them all.

I remember:

Yellow peeling wallpaper, and ads of headless women selling products with their bodies. I remember discussing sculptures of female bodies in cages, and songs and lyrics all lamenting captivity. I remember evaluating political events, historical events, and religious events: “Where are the women where are the women where are the women? They are sick and trapped and being forced to submit”.

End of year one: The story of women’s enslavement. Class is dismissed... not yet convinced.

I remember:
The word “they” and the chasms that were divided with this simple pronoun.
The chasm of us vs. them, of ME vs…MEN. I remember statistics of harassment, testimonies of sexist decisions, and articles of injustice. I remember reading “the impossibility of uttering a female word, when all language is male dominated”. I remember the juxtaposition of feminism and femininity, where we are called to see the same root word and then deduce that they are interchangeable.

End of year two. The worlds of words. Class is dismissed…"enlightened", but not quite enthralled.

I remember:
Being told of my talents. Being commended on how I can view the world in ways no one else can. I remember being praised on reading into a metaphor differently than my male counterparts. I remember guidance towards the potential to be a spokeswoman, to regain steps that have been lost. I remember the warm feelings that accompanied a simple textbook answer, feelings of “Here I am, here I am knowing the answer to this question and responding more articulately than you…maybe the warnings are right…”

End of year three. Pride cometh before…everything. Class is dismissed. ahh yes...am starting to "see"...

I remember:
“You cannot call yourself a Christian and NOT be a feminist”. I remember being put side by side with the Jewish nation, with those of African American decent and with the gay community. Being told that I, just like them, have suffered insurmountable hardships, have been stripped of my dignity, robbed of my freedoms, and demeaned for my sexuality. I remember verses of Christians protecting the widowed and the poor. I remember being told that choosing to be a feminist was choosing to see an end to oppression of every variety, and wouldn’t I like to join and fight?

End of year Four. Superwoman Strength = Godliness. Class dismissed. I have crossed over.

Transformation complete.

Just in time to walk across the stage and receive a piece of paper celebrating my educational achievements-
Celebrating a transformation you brought about so seamlessly that I could not see the shadow it cast over the years to come. Over job positions, over church leadership, over community, over family, over relationships…

So.
Now is the time when you ought to start being nervous.
Because now I will tell YOU to sit down and to listen to ME.
Brace your wicked white hands on your mammoth black desk,
Because I speak as one who is free now. I speak as one who was lovingly lured back to stand on the pillars of Faith with which she was raised, and not on your columns of lies.

Once upon a time, there was a woman, and she was deceived and she was oppressed, and she was exiled. But her un-doing came from turning away from the Truth, Truth that you belittled. You tell countless stories with the antagonist in the form of a man, in the form of all men, and you do it skillfully enough that we actually overlook the real source of turmoil and instead, eagerly sacrifice the scapegoat and call this murder of our fellow man,( the men whose stories we are called to support and admire and uplift) all in the name of “standing up for ourselves, and taking back our voice.” Also, do not think that I have forgotten the most important part of MY story, the part where I offered Him my life in gratitude for His. The theme of that narrative being that I am NOT in fact my own, and that I rely on the author of salvation as my mediator.

As for words. No more dissecting meanings to the point of non-existance. How absolutely absurd to equate feminism with feminity. There are countless of definitions in the scriptures, countless examples in my family line, and countless ways in which the Holy Spirit teaches what it means to be feminine. Fighting for a voice, fighting for a spot, fighting to be right, are not included in any of these. And as for the argument of degrees, degrees of feminism… There is no such thing as a little bit of feminist. This is as ludicrous as a German soldier saying, “I am just a little bit of Natzi. I don’t believe everything I follow…just parts of it.”


Your creativity when it comes to preying on an individual’s pride, is, I must say, extremely lacking. However I suppose we have made this a very easy mechanism to use against ourselves, so I won’t harp over this repetitive “teaching tool” you seem to rely on. What I do want to make very clear is that what you call “self actualization” is really a self serving, self seeking, self establishing root, that left unchecked has the potential to grow to insurmountable proportions. Were it not for Christ, were it not for Him protecting His own, I could have very easily gone years without being aware of the sickness within. The pride you aroused within me, a type of Spanish Moss- a gray gothic looking foliage feeding off its host, causing malnourishment, stripping its strength, and ironically rendering me unable to provide the quiet beauty and gentle growth to which I was called for.


Lastly, the appeal to the “savior complex”, the appeal to a woman’s heart for the hurting, and the way in which you turned this God-given capacity for healing into a harm. It is true, there is a call to assist the widow and the orphan. But this offering of love, of sacrifice, ought not to be put in your camp. To call benevolence “feminism”, is a contradiction of the highest degree. To take an “ism” that only looks inward, and say it can be applied across the board to help others and to look outward, is absolutely impossible. There is a battle going on, but not one in which we are called to fight, at least not with screams and fists and man against woman. The battle I am told of is NOT against flesh and blood, not against the gender I was designed to adore, to follow, and to respect.

So as I leave your windowless classroom of falseties and slander,
You ought to be aware that no matter how many times my “education”
may rear its ugly head and cause the war within to re-surface once again.
I will not remain victim to its lies, and I will not forever be enslaved in its prison.

Because
I cannot stand you.
Everything about your actuality.
From the way you move, to the way you speak, to the way you work.

and I know that the feeling is mutual
From the way I choose to move, to the way I choose to speak, to the way I choose to work.

To the way I choose to walk out of your classroom.

And I do.

Now as she goes,
Look,
Behold,
the old is gone
He has done a new thing.
Yes,
He has done

a new thing.
Because now she is thinking:
she would exchange all the learning of all her years, just to be here,
yearning to reflect His light, and dancing in it throughout the day.

A new thing…
Because now she is praying:
Lord , if it be your will, bring me a man to serve, someone who seeks after you and who I may in turn seek after. Lord let me raise a family with Him and follow lovingly where he leads. And, Lord… if that day never comes, please give me silent strength and discernment, and allow me to honor my earthly father until you take me home to serve at the feet of my Heavenly Father.

A new thing…
Because now she is rejoicing
at the beauty of her Designer,
and at the beauty of her design.

5 comments:

Kimberley said...

Wow! What a powerful testimony. He has obviously guided and guarded your heart and mine. Congratulations on your journey and finding your way. I can only thing of Solomon...Everything, except Him...is meaninglesss...chasing after the wind!

Claire said...

Jessi this is powerful. Very powerful. I have battled this same thing. I still battle it. I have just had a really long discussion with someone on slavation and the fact that it is mine, despite my acceptance or rejection. This brings me to the same end as you... it is all about Him and not about me at all.

Steve said...

:-) You go, girl! Abba's got you covered.

djmase said...

hmmmm...(says hmmm when words are missing and thoughts are whirling.)

Michele said...

"The night is far gone; the day is at hand." Please keep writing, Jessi.

Have you seen Carolyn McCulley's new book, Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World?

Here's a little info and a video promo: http://theologica.blogspot.com/2008/10/radical-womanhood-feminine-faith-in.html