Speaking up versus shutting up as a woman – I think of Mary Magdalene. Mary, a loyal and beloved disciple of Yeshua (Jesus), was not a woman to shut up. She spoke up and spoke out. Particularly as this is Holy Week for Christians, I think of her being the first person to proclaim the Good News (Gospel) of a living Sacrifice:
“‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.” (John 20:18)
Over time, the spirit of feminine liberation waned in the Christian movement as it legalized, formalized, institutionalized. Today, even with the presence of female clergy and lay leadership, too many women continue to allow a gender-biased, hierarchical perspective of faith to influence and guide their lives. We continue to serve in churches where we know we aren’t being respected or recognized for the talented, gifted, capable, and able full human beings we know ourselves to be. We murmur and complain, operating somewhere between speaking up and shutting up.
For the life of me I cannot understand why oppressed women won’t simply leave! If the situation is so bad that you have to release your discomfort and frustration by constantly complaining, LEAVE. Find a ministry where you’re honored – or start your own.
While silence is an issue across ethnicities and faith/belief traditions, I recognize it as a survival technique used by my African American ancestors. There was a time that keeping our mouths shut kept us alive. Today it’s killing us. “Your silence will not protect you,” declared the late Audre Lorde.
Our oppressive history is also a barrier to our sexual freedom. Due to the hypersexualization of Black people in the USA,
once freed, [women in particular] set out on a mission to prove that we are more than attractive bodies. We were desperately trying to escape the horrors experienced by our ancestors, ancestors like Anastasia, a Brazilian martyred slave venerated as a saint by Blacks in Brazil. She came to a point in her life when she realized trying to please her slave masters was futile. Eventually she died in body, but rose in spirit. (Read more about Anastasia.)
To highlight our intelligence and social graces, we suppressed our sexuality – or tried to. We haven’t realized yet that people who are determined to dismiss us are going to dismiss us, no matter what? An incredibly intelligent, talented, articulate, Ivy League educated American president proves that, right? After all the self-denying effort to prove our worth, we seem only to have succeeded in self-injury. We’ve forgotten Yeshua’s words, “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33) We’re losing our lives; our collective self-image remains imbalanced, unhealthy, and lacking in self-love, care, and appreciation.
Our deep and intense gifts of sensual rhythm need to be celebrated, not exploited or buried. I love the way we walk, the gestures and gazes that convey more than words can say (like Anastasia’s piercing blue eyes), and the ways our bodies can find a fit with music that grooves across genres. Can we think about it another way? Can we widen the life-producing aspect of sex and sexuality? Can we see beyond the mishandling of it to realize that the ear-to-ear grin we display when we “get some” is life-producing energy? Is it possible that if we begin to talk openly and honestly that we can reconfigure the Church’s traditional teachings to make sense with contemporary contexts and knowledge – and that when we do so, we just may reduce significantly the mishandling of sex that we are so fearful of?
That sounds like a plan I believe Mary Magdalene would be down with . . . and Anastasia.
And what a way to resurrect our lives!
“Simon Peter said to the Lord and his disciples, ‘Let Mary leave us, because women are unfit for the Life Everlasting.’ Jesus replied, ‘Wait, I’ll guide her soul, to make her as a real man, in that place which transcends the differences between the sexes, so she’ll become a living spirit. For each woman who makes herself male in this way and overcomes all differences will enter the Kingdom of Heaven!’” ~The Gospel of Thomas, a sacred text that was declared gnostic, therefore dismissed, by the Church
© 2012 candi dugas, llc