Patriarchy is all pervasive. It seeps across all areas of life. There isn’t one solution, one issue or one aspect to approach patriarchy from. Perhaps one of the issues with blogging is that it invites us to only consider a couple of issues, it is not designed to approach the fullness of something like patriarchy.
When we look at the reasons for gender disparity on the platform, things like childcare or complementarian theology are often as far as we get with defining the issues. Yet these are superficial issues and in no way explore the vast complexity of why we have less women on the platform. Yes, there is a need to question whether equal representation is the right way to go, but if we do that without exploring why there is disparity between men and women, we glaze over the actual issues.
After collating the statistics for platforms in 2013 I was regularly being asked whether quotas were the way to go. As a result I wrote this document in consultation with as many women in leadership as I could. It is 34 pages long and articulates the reasons women are less likely or able to gain speaking opportunities.
So I thought I’d list the issues raised in the document here, so instead of picking one or two, we can hopefully stop listing one or two of these and thinking that is enough. Instead we need to look at the whole picture and engage holistically with it.
|Intersectionality of oppression||Formal reinforcement of societal beliefs||Children not given critical thinking skills||Imposter syndrome|
|Neurosexism||Informal reinforcement of societal beliefs||Christian products perpetuate stereotypes||Lack of gender awareness|
|Patriarchy||Women’s appearance scrutinied||Sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood||Women who put selves forwards seen as “pushy”|
|Institutional sexism||“Queen Bee” syndrome||Role models fit gender stereotypes||Motherhood:
Stepping of the “career ladder” and unable to get back on
Lack of provision for mothers at events
|Hegemonic Masculinity||“Home wives” and “work wives”||Children’s clothing||Singleness|
|Male privilege||Women expected to fulfil “female roles”||Toy and technology industries||Lack of self-confidence|
|Lack of transparency/consistency||Lack of support from friends or family||Gender socialisation||Lack of resources:
|Lack of accountability/consequences||“You can’t be what you can’t see”||Different expectations of girls/boys||Silencing tactics:
The “grace card”
|Gender stereotypes||Lack of gender awareness in ministry training||Adolescent development||Shame|
|Gender justice seen as a “women’s issue”||Focus on justice as “out there”||Traditional gender roles seen as a measure of Christian commitment||The patriarchal bargain|
|Selfish capitalism||Single sex events can perpetuate stereotypes||Events for children and young people rarely focus on gender||Assumptions made based on gender|
Not championing women
Not providing leadership opportunities
Not enacting egalitarian theology
|Sex and relationship education||Individual complicity:
Not willing to give up power
Fear of the consequences
Lack of knowledge
Blind to the issues
Lack of courage
|Women’s contributions written out of history||Lack of regional opportunities||Parenting||Pressure on female leaders to represent their entire gender|
|Media Representation of women:
-Pressure to conform to beauty industry standards
|Lack of informal ministry training||No gender awareness training for youth and children’s workers|
|Violence against women||Lack of support with formal ministry training||Parenting advice perpetuates gender stereotypes|
|Women have less decision making power||Fear of inappropriate relationships||Lack of discipleship|
|Women are poorer|
|Unhealthy expectations of:
Women without children
|Women only invited to speak on “women’s issues”|
|Workplace not designed for women|
|No teaching on what a right use of power looks like|
|Gender exclusive language|
|Don’t know any female speakers|
|Negative attitudes towards feminism|
|Only using existing pool of speakers|
|Lack of intentionality in inviting women female speakers|
|Main leadership model is charismatic|
Emphasis on “maleness” of God
Gender justice a “secondary issue”
Creation ordinance for gender
|Only asking speaker’s wives|
|Non-ministry experience undervalued|
|Accusations of “feminisation”|
|Invisibility of women|
In response to some of the things Ian Paul and others have written about the issues of having children, I have a few things to say.
For the last few years, Mr GLW and I have run a consultancy together. He manages the finances and I do mostly everything else. This means he has been the primary carer of the children and the house for that time. He is brilliant at it. We clearly felt God’s call to live out our life and faith in this way, with both our skill sets contributing to us generally managing family, work and life quite well. The main issue for us has not been some biological reality of my womb making me yearn for more time with my children, but rather the social judgments made (especially by Christians) about our roles. On numerous occasions Mr GLW has been asked “So when are you getting a proper job?” And people are incredulous that I can achieve so much while having a family.
I don’t think the way we work is right for everyone. But suggesting women are biologically predetermined to be the primary carers of children and the home is reducing the opportunity for both women and men to live out God’s call and fully use their gifts. So in finish I would say:
- Men’s contribution to childcare and the home is a deeply feminist issue.
- The Church should be encouraging all men to be more involved with their children and homes. As a feminist and a christian I regularly object to the sort of hegemonic masculinity perpetuated by the majority of Christian men’s work in the UK.
- I am not interested in the statistics because I value the people speaking on platforms more highly than others. I believe there is a need for us Christians collectively to stop waiting for the next big event to hear from God. Jesus died and rose again so we no longer needed an earthly priest or mediator between us and the Creator of the universe and Christian events are often used by individuals as a replacement for spending time in reflection with God. However, the statistics we can gain from events gives us a snapshot into Christian culture and the way certain types of power are allocated. That snapshot is invaluable in motivating change, articulating the issues and beginning the conversations and actions required to change things.
- Nobody ALLOWS their wife or husband to be a GP, have a job or be a primary carer of children. We support, encourage and enable our wife or husband to do such things