This post has not been easy. I have processed it over and over again, and I pray that these words are not in error. More than anything else, I ask for your grace. A few weeks ago I posted my thoughts about Idea Camp Human Care and the first of two major issues that the Church is facing.
I shared what I thought holistic Human Care means and how we need a new foundation from which to continue the very hard work of compassion, justice and mercy.
Since Idea Camp, I spent a few days in South Carolina with the incredible Allume Community. My time at Allume only served to strengthen my belief that God is moving like a tidal wave within the hearts of so many.
Today, I want to dig into the second of those issues because it is literally a burning platform issue.
We cannot stay where we are.
But before I start…
Women, I'm sorry, this post is not for you. Trust me. If you read it, you'll see very quickly that my ignorance is being revealed and I do not have the authority to say much of what I do. This is something I am only beginning to understand, and I clearly have much to learn. However, please send this to your husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, etc. and ask them to read this.
Men, I'm asking you to read this not because it's important to me, but because this is not about what you think it's about. This is about something larger, and we need to step back to consider how the oppression of women affects each and every one of us. If you don't think it does, you are wrong .
If I am brutally honest, I walked away from a conversation at Idea Camp just plain angry. I wasn't angry at any one person, but I was angry because of what I heard during one of the last sessions of Idea Camp.
It was a session that we intentionally structured so that we could hear from some incredible leaders about the issues that were most important to them.
However, they didn't talk about issues.
They talked about one issue.
The Oppression of Women.
Jennie Allen opened with a statement…
"The oppression of women is one of the most important social issues of our time."
I was caught off guard.
Just five minutes before if someone would have asked if I believed this was true I most likely would have said no.
I would have said this not because the issue of the oppression of women isn't important (it's very important). I would have said no because there are a lot of issues that are very important. Issues like Human Trafficking, Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Health, Violence, Hunger, Education, Aging out of Foster Care, and the list goes on.
How do I pick the one that is the most important?
…and then it hit me.
I'm looking at this all wrong.
I had taken this very large issue of the oppression of women and broken it down into the buckets of the various social symptoms.
I looked at these issues separately and not under the unified banner of the oppression of women.
I walked away from Idea Camp angry because we had just scratched the surface, and I did not know where to go to continue the work of reframing my worldview in this area.
As evidence by those who led this Idea Camp session, this conversation has been going on for a very long time.
However, men have not been in the audience and they are not listening.
I had a brief thought that we needed to have an Idea Camp Women’s Care, but that came to an end very quickly…because I do not believe men would come.
Which brings me to…
...point # 1
The Oppression of Women is not a Women's issue
The oppression "of" women is a human issue. It is not for women to fix. It is not for men to fix. It is for men and women to fix together. However, I suspect men will have to listen a lot before they will be able to offer much to the conversations.
One of the big problems about this discussion is that it does not have the complete audience.
Men, this is our fault.
Until the oppression of women has equal focus in spaces historically led by men as it does in those led by women it will take a very, very long struggle to bring about the change needed.
We do not have time for a very, very long struggle.
Today, most conferences still hold this underlying theme of leadership. This is NOT bad, but historically men have led these conversations. Yes, women are teaching and leading; however, my experience is that it is typically within the context of a single social issue (i.e. human trafficking or orphan care).
In fact, prior to the Idea Camp I can not recall hearing a man or woman stand on a stage and stomp their feet to a statement like "The oppression of women is one of the most important social issues of our time."
Yes, I hear women talking about great justice movements, but their scope in these conferences seem to be related to an issue versus moving into the umbrella conversation of oppression. The notable exception to this is the emerging leadership of The Justice Conference. We need more of this.
It’s time to let women lead these discussions about oppression because it’s really hard for men to fully realize the far-reaching tentacles of this issue given the cultural, legal, and systematic preferences men have enjoyed over the past gazillion years.
Men, my first ask is that you start listening.
If you're not sure where to start, start here…
Chai Ling, Founder of All Girls Allowed (watch her Justice Conference Keynote) (& this issue is important enough to ask QIdeas.org to make this video available to everyone -> http://www.qideas.org/premier-only/gendercide.aspx)
(feel free to recommend other voices I should be following)
...point # 2
The Oppression of Women is a Macro Issue that encompasses exploitation, trafficking, violence, land ownership, education, and much more.
In 2000, 189 nations came together and committed to working together to address the worlds most pressing social issues.
The oppression of women stands firmly at the core of every one of these goals; however, the overarching banner of the "Oppression of Women" is missing.
This is hurting progress because the things that continue to work against women include legal systems, religious systems, inheritance and ownership institutions, and cultural traditions.
Men, consider this…
Definition of OPPRESSION
- Unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power
- Something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power
- A sense of being weighed down in body or mind
Oppression can be something that is applied from the outside, but it can also be something that lives internally with our hearts and minds. When a woman grows up in a system of oppression how can they cast off the internal weights that prevent them from believing they are equal?
We need to start asking the questions about how the authority and power structures of our world need to be rebuilt to remove all of these forms of oppression from women.
My humble ask is this...
Recognize and acknowledge your place of authority or power...
Ask the hard questions about the work you are called to do...
Start to make change because...
If you are in a position to help, it begins with you.
This post has most likely shown my great ignorance of this issue to those who have dedicated themselves to this fight with every ounce of their being. For that I am sorry. However, this post is for those just like me who have yet to understand. To those who are leading, please continue to lead us. I will help however I can.