AnnieKO'Connor


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Feminism and the curse of Eve

This post is a part of feminisms fest. Today’s topic, what I learned, is being hosted by Preston Yancey.

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My first exposure to church was at Friends’ meetings in the Quaker church. There was a time when we didn’t have a regular pastor, so people from the congregation would give sermons. My mom was one of those people. She’d stand in front of the church and preach the gospel to men and women. Finally we got a regular pastor. Her name was Lorraine.

Complex extenuating circumstances led us to move to a PCUSA church. We had female preachers there, too.

My teenage rebellion was toward conservative, evangelical, complementarianism.

What I learned from feminisms fest is that many people had to overcome their cultural upbringing in order to arrive at feminism. My cultural upbringing was nothing to overcome; I had to overcome myself.

It’s easy to blame society for its patriarchal tendencies for silencing the voices of women. But in my experience, I did more to silence my own voice than anything. The curse of Eve is not just a curse on relationships between men and women; it is a curse on my heart. Despite being taught otherwise, I spent several years exploring and believing the idea that my voice isn’t worth as much.

While studying Greek and Hebrew and Theology, I believed I shouldn’t be a pastor. After getting awarded for my top grades in both languages, when my professors encouraged me to go to seminary, I wanted to go because I wanted to learn. Somewhere between the beliefs I had adopted in my late teens and between my identity, desires and gifts, I had to reform my understanding of both.

I had to fight against myself to be me. That meant accepting I could become a pastor and realizing I didn’t want to; even if I have certain gifts necessary, I don’t have a calling for it.

The fight of feminism doesn’t only exist in the external world; it exists within each of us.


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Why it matters: Reclaimed feminism, humanism and a Christian anthropology

This post is a part of feminisms fest. Today’s topic, why feminism matters, is being hosted by Danielle Vermeer.Feminisms-Fest-Badge

Among many feminists and complementarians we find a startling similarity: a penchant to say what women should do and who they ought to be. They seem to think that womanhood is written somewhere in the Bible or in the universe or in reason, and they strive to discover that and then hand it down to women as the ideal they must uphold in order to be a woman. And not just a woman, but a good woman, a complete woman, a proper woman.

What is needed is a shift in the questions we ask. We shouldn’t ask “Who should women be?” but rather “Who are women?” By failing to discover each other’s identities, we fail to discover God. By handing down lists of musts and must nots, we are telling God who He is in each individual. We must instead allow God to tell us who He is.

This is why feminism (for Christians) cannot exist outside a Christian anthropology. It is not enough to be feminists. We must also be humanists.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

—Genesis 1:27

As the images of God we each contain something of his identity. We are not simply biological accidents, but we are each inspired by God and reflect him to the world. This means that our essential identities are sacred.

We must protect and nurture what is sacred. And so we must be students of each other, to learn not only from each other, but to learn about God by learning about each other. We must take the time to understand the identities of our fellow humans, for that is where we find God.

This presence of God within human identity is reiterated in the New Testament. At judgment Jesus said the righteous will ask:

“ ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “

—Matthew 25:37–40

We need to remember that the way we treat any one individual, that is the way we are treating God. And so we require a reclaimed feminism—a feminism that sees God in each woman, and treats her accordingly. Right now, the God we claim to love is starving to death, being beaten and raped, being belittled and ridiculed, “put in her place,” being called a slut, and told to stay silent in church.

For whatever we do to the least of these, we do to God.


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Feminism and Me: Reclaiming Feminism

This post is a part of feminisms fest. Today’s topic, Feminism and Me, is being hosted by J.R.Godeau.

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They called me a tomboy. You want to see the scars on my knees? You want to see pictures of softball and tonka trucks?

I was fine with my being a tomboy, and so was everyone else. No one ever told me “girls can’t do that.” I was lucky in that way.

The problem I had growing up was pressure I felt to avoid feminine clichés. But I liked to play dress up, and put on make up, and braid my dolls’ hair. I liked that I had my very own legos that were different than my brother’s; I got pink ones. It wasn’t that they were pink that I liked them, though. It was that I never had to deal with my brother using my legos. And what did I care if they were pink? I got to build things.

When I got older–in high school and college–I felt pressure against getting married, having children and being a stay at home mom. These were things I wanted, but there seemed to be an unspoken ideal that capable women have to work outside the home, or they’re undermining all the work of the generations before them. In my experience feminism was just another voice in society claiming jurisdiction over my identity, and telling me who to be, where to go and what to do.

And so in my late teens and early 20s I rebelled against feminism. I went to an evangelical church, adhered to complementarian beliefs, and hoped to marry soon. It was a refreshing change of pace from searching for my career and imagining myself wearing clacking high heels and carrying a brief-case to some board-room where I was supposed to be. I enjoyed the break with the general liberalism of the world around me.

And then, during an episode of Family Guy, Lois got in fistfight with another woman; the argument was over whether or not Lois had failed feminism by choosing to be a stay at home mother. Lois defended her choice, arguing that women should be allowed such liberties. Finally, I heard words for the arguments that had been welling inside of me for years.

Feminism fails at its goal once it prescribes identities for women, because prescribing an identity for anyone imprisons that person in expectation and misunderstanding. So feminism can only achieve liberty for women by meeting each woman where she is, understanding her and celebrating her. And if feminism doesn’t treat men the same way, it becomes a destructive and limiting force in society.

True feminism is concerned with understanding and realizing the true identities of all people and helping those who are oppressed or limited in anyway. And that is something about which I am extremely passionate.


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Oscars 2013

I’m far from a movie buff. Last year I saw The Hobbit and The Hunger Games. Really. I didn’t even see Avengers OR Dark Knight Rises, much less Argo or Beasts of the Southern Wild. But the Oscars were still good fun.

A few of my favorites from the evening:

Kristen Stewart’s dress: Sparkly dresses ruled the night, but Kristen’s gown toned down the glitz with a subtle shimmer. The sheer lacy look is right on trend, and glammed up for the red carpet. Completed with tulle tufts around the skirt and short train, this is the dress I’d most want to wear myself.

Adele: She was pure class singing Skyfall and accepting her Oscar. I hope she EGOTs.

Samantha Barks: I didn’t see Les Miserables, so I wasn’t aware of the astonishing voice talents of its Eponine, Samantha Barks. She was my favorite part of the Les Mis sequence, and now I have to see the movie.

Jennifer Lawrence: She won best actress, tripped walking to the stage, handled it like a pro, and said the phrase “this is nuts!” in her acceptance speech. Oh, and her complete look was stunning.

Michelle Obama: She reminded us that movies don’t exist simply as superficial pageantry to make gobs of money for those who are already rich, but movies are stories, and stories are good for us. Here are her words:

“[These movies] taught us that love can endure against all odds and transform our lives in the most surprising ways…They reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough, and fight hard enough, and find the courage to believe in  ourselves. These lessons apply to all of us, no matter who we are, or what we look like, or where we come from, or who we love. But they are especially important for our young people. Everyday through engagement in the arts our children learn to open their imaginations, dream just a little bigger, and strive every day to reach those dreams.”


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What is it to be one in Christ?

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

—Galatians 3:28 ESV

You are all one in Christ. There is no male and female.

But the bulletin reads:

The men’s group is meeting in the fireside room. The women’s group is meeting at the cafe down the street. The youth group is in the gymnasium. The singles’ group is on the college campus. The marrieds’ group is at the Thompson’s (members of the singles’ group will provide childcare in the church nursery.)

We will never know what it is to be one in Christ if we don’t practice it. The problem isn’t that the church week is chock full of demographic division groups. It’s that there is never a “one in Christ” group to which everyone is invited. You may say Sunday Morning is for that, but it is not. At least, if it is it fails by discouraging of intentional conversation across demographic divides.

The church needs to practice being one in Christ by meeting in small groups with people who are different from ourselves.