I spent my first 30 years of life in the church being taught that God demanded that women be in submission to men. If we had a husband, then we were in submission to him, but if we were not married, then we were in submission to the pastor, which was always a male, of our church or our fathers. Women were not permitted to be over men in the church in any manner. If we served in the church, it was to the children and women or as secretaries or maids.
I always felt oppressed because I have the gift of teaching and preaching, but I prefer to teach adults. The only way I could teach adults in church was if I taught women. I often wondered why men were so scared to have a woman in a teaching position over them. Currently, I work in secondary education as an English teacher to teenagers. Eventually, when I finish my Masters and then my PhD, I plan to be a professor.
Recently, I saw one of David Hayward’s older drawings online about gender justice. He shows the male symbol all inside the church with the woman symbol outside the church stating, “Is everybody here? Okay, let’s vote.” Here is his drawing:
This is exactly how I felt in the church: my opinion, feelings, or thoughts did not matter because I did not have a penis! In my former marriage, I felt the same because he was man of the house. He should listen to me, but he did not have to do what I suggested because the final vote was his. In all reality, I was only one step above our children. If I did not obey him, then he abused me. I was his to punish like a child. I was inferior, and the church taught me this inferiority.
Shortly after I separated from my former husband and also the church, I went back to college because when I was with him he would not let me finish college because he did not want a wife who made more money than he did. I received a scholarship from Gov. Rick Perry of Texas because I was a minority. I thought this was a grave mistake, so I took it down to financial aid. I told them I received a scholarship for being a minority, but I was not because I was indeed Caucasian. I told them to give the scholarship to someone who actually deserved it. Do you know what they told me? I was a woman, and because I was a woman, I was a minority. I didn’t know whether to feel appalled and offended or melancholy and surprised. Maybe, it was for me a combination of all of those emotions. Here, I was a student at a public university, and yet, I was still considered as less. I know, I shouldn’t have thought of it in this manner, but I did, nonetheless. I do NOT comprehend, I CANNOT fathom why we humans treat other humans as the minority. Needless to say, I was definitely astounded!
In the church, we were taught that we, women, were under our husband’s authority.
This meme pretty much sums up my former role in the church and in my old home. I could not remain this way because I was miserable!
At one point, I saw myself being a minister, but the church would NEVER allow me to be one. I was setting myself up for failure remaining a part of such an institution which treated me as less than because I was a woman because I had a vagina.
Sadly, I am still fighting sexism today. One female student called another female student a slut today. I am totally against slut shaming, so I reprimanded the one who did the slut shaming. I told her that it was wrong to shame other females in that manner especially since she would not do that to a male. She was shocked, and then asked me if I was a feminist. I said, “Why? I must be a feminist because I do not believe in slut shaming? I must be a feminist because I feel it is wrong to shame a woman in such manner because it is sexist? Would you call a male a slut?” Of course not! If females are sexually active, then we are called whores or sluts, but if males are sexually active, they are pimps, studs, or normal males.
Years ago when I was in a custody battle for three of my children from my ex years after the divorce, the judge called me an immoral alley cat because I lived with my boyfriend, and if I wanted to keep custody of them, I needed to marry him. I married my current husband, so I could keep custody of my children. Am I glad I married him now? Sure, but that does not discredit the fact that I was basically forced to in fear of losing my children to an abusive father. Even the church stood with him in court that day.
Sexism runs rampant in the church and even in society. I have no room for it in my life. As long as I was in the church, I had no self-esteem, other than valuing myself in God, and to be honest, even God saw me as less than a man.