classmates from my Women in Ministry class
to see a play called "God Girl."
This was a play, taking place after the Vietnam Conflict,
about some of the first women to enter into Seminary
to get their Masters of Divinity degree,
specifically on the track to ordination.
I wish this hadn't been the last showing,
so I could urge all of you to go see it.
What I wasn't aware of, and was not prepared for, was the blatant sexual misconduct -hell, I would call it assault- from classmates, mentors, and professors towards these ceiling-shattering women.
What made this more difficult still, was the awareness that this play and it's components were based off of a woman's life, and the fact that she was sitting in the audience made it all the more real.
So what do I do with this information now that I have it?
What's the point of witnessing these kinds of testimonies if you're not going to let them change you?
While the story depicted on stage tonight did not originally take place at my academic institution, we're lead to believe that what we saw acted out, was not uncommon. The main character in the play tonight pointed out that men got to walk into seminary through wide open doors, while women had to crawl through broken windows. I'll be the first to admit that I take it for granted that those wide open doors extend to me now as well. Because of these brave and strong women I don't have to worry about the admissions office considering which reproductive organs I have before even considering my grade point average.
I cannot go back in time and tell these women of a time when their struggles pay off.
I cannot go back and protect them from the violence they endured.
I cannot go back and restore the trust they lost.
I cannot go back and make their classmates, professors, and mentors understand that feminism was just getting started, and that their new ideas and concepts were only the beginning of something much, much bigger.
I can speak up the minute I notice that we're moving backwards.
I can think of these women on the days when I think my seminary experience is "too hard."
I can approach older female clergy with much higher regard and thanks.
I can muddle through those nights I don't feel like studying, because these women endured so much so I simply have the opportunity.
Sexism is still alive in the church. While I personally have not seen this kind of obvious sexism in the classroom, it doesn't mean that I've been sheltered from it in other facets of this journey.
It certainly doesn't mean that it doesn't exist outside of my limited scope.
It was pointed out tonight that since this sexism has become more subtle,
it's easy to believe that it's a battle we've won.
Taming Sexism is something we can check off of our ethical to-do list.
Not until a woman is praised for her thought-provoking message before she is praised for her appearance.
Not until a married man's fidelity is questioned just as thoroughly as a single woman's celibacy.
Not until I can buy clergy shirts that actually fit... in a store.
Not until I can describe God with the pronoun "she" without hesitation.
While this post has been pretty subject-specific; I want to point out that there are pioneers everywhere. We all reap the benefits with or without knowing every day.
How would you act differently if you knew how much someone suffered to afford you the freedom to be where you are?
Thanks for reading!