I’ve never been big on women’s groups… In fact, since starting my theological journey towards Christian egalitarianism and feminism in the past few years, I have literally run from/avoided “ladies” events (yes, scare quotes and all!) like a fat kid in dodge ball. Here’s why, as best I can describe:
- I’m tired of the same old useless, tired theology about men/women. The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve realized that putting people or God into tidy boxes doesn’t work. Characteristics and traits are not clearly gendered, like I was told they were. People are not “pink” or “blue” no matter how badly Emerson Eggerichs wants you to believe they are so that you will buy his book and his bad exegesis of Ephesians 5 (*runs away screaming*). Since I have stopped thinking of people in terms of “what men are supposed to do/be like” and “what women are supposed to not do/be like” my life is a whole lot better. I have more healthy friendships and relationships than I have ever had in my whole life. And I feel more free than ever to actually be myself and accept who I am in Christ.
- I don’t really like teas, or fancy sandwiches or floral centerpieces. I’ve heard several bloggers bemoan the fact that women have these semi-fancy events with lots of cuteness, both in the food and decor, but men have straight-up BREAKFAST, with bacon, eggs, pancakes, biscuits and coffee. If I’m going to go somewhere and listen to someone talk in a motivational manner at me outside of Sunday morning, then good Lord, let the food be good. I can get behind plenty if there’s bacon involved!
- Related to #1, but different- I rarely have recognized “myself” being discussed at these events. I work full-time and LOVE my job. I do have a child, but do not have any desire to be a stay at home parent. And it seems like most women’s events are geared towards a particular type of woman- one who is more interested in crafts than debating theology, one who would rather paint something than accomplish something, and one with low goals for her life, but heavy on emphasizing her role to support others around her. I’m not about that. I know that I sound harsh, and I don’t mean to be- but I have no problem confessing that I am the black hole of crafts. They don’t interest me. I do like to be creative in the kitchen- when and if I have time for creative space. But mostly, my creativity begins and ends with music and writing. I once went to a women’s event called “Authentic” (because my SIL made me). It was well-organized, and they had all of the elements that those kinds of things are supposed to have. However, the speaker, while well-spoken and articulate, shared a message that included not one personal example of actual authenticity- being open, honest, vulnerable about her life. And that seemed to miss the mark for me. I hate small talk, and I like to say that I’m bad at it. My husband says I’m good at faking it, and that the people I have to interact with in this way don’t understand that I’m actually being sarcastic because I’m tired of talking, which is probably a good thing. Regardless, don’t bring me to an event that is called “authentic” and then barely scratch the surface on our spiritual reality. Give me something with grit- something I can relate to. I’ve seen and experienced some very hard and difficult things in my life- show me you have to, and how God and others have held you up during those times and brought you through. Just don’t call it authentic if you don’t mean it… if you’re not willing to show any of your cards, then I’m probably not going to be willing to show up.
So, these are my main reasons for avoiding these types of events. However, a few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine invited me to join a book club she was trying to start. I do love books, and I do love her and appreciated her reaching out to me to include me. So, I borrowed the book, read it, and showed up. Maybe it was the BYOB selection (probably), or maybe it was just a few people getting real, but I really enjoyed my time with that group of women. There was just enough reality- just enough grit shared- that it felt real to me. It’s hard to get to that place in a congregational setting… even hard to get there in most church-y small groups. But we got there in a simple book club meeting- with women from different walks of life, mostly in the same stage that I am. I felt…. okay. Accepted. Appreciated. And wasn’t told once that I needed to be someone else. I felt able to share a piece of who I truly am. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want- to be able to express how we matter and then to have someone validate that? Our next book, which I hope to enjoy more than the first (not my taste at all), is Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, and I can’t wait to get started. I even offered to host the next meeting, which is a big step for such a studious introvert that, in addition to (most, now) women’s events, also avoids hosting large parties like the plague… Most of all, I’m looking forward to seeing how God will use women who are not afraid to show their true selves in each others’ lives, through just a simple Book Club meeting.