Today is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate the amazing (often unsung) women of the world.
But in a pretty German town, the local Christian bookshop was vandalised last night – windows were broken and “Down with the Patriarchy” was daubed on the door, in the name of feminism.
It is the sixth year that the bookshop has been attacked on March 8th.
Some feminists obviously think it is OK to commit a crime like this in the name of the sisterhood.
And they think so badly of the Church (and probably all religion) that they can get away with the accusation – sadly many others would agree that the Church is a male dominated and unequal institution.
As a Christian woman, I am torn.
I have to admit and deplore that the Church has mistreated women and children and all marginalised people on way too many occasions and continues to do so. Worse, it covers up abuse to protect the perpetrators. Who are mainly men.
So many women have been abused sexually and emotionally, and men have used the power of religion to silence them.
So I get the criticism about patriarchy. Male leaders in the Church who mistreat women receive sympathy rather than censure and there is an underlying trope that women are partly to blame by being too needy, or too attractive, or that women target poor innocent men with their sensual charms.
But the God of the Bible is a god of justice and equality, who wants to turn male power upside down. He wants power-filled ego of ALL sorts – that comes from money, job title, skin colour, sex or nationality – to be turned upside down.
In the person of Jesus s/he radically suggests that we can be set free in our minds, in our communities, and in our spirits from every sort of power distortion.
That is why I am a Christian. God promised to release us from the patriarchy and any other system that relies on oppressing others.
So when people smash windows in a Christian book shop their behaviour is just another aspect of the mis-use of power and the distortion of ideas which unravels hope and genuine debate.
And that makes my Christian feminist heart want to cry almost as much as I mourn the terrible abuse that happens.
This IWD, let us be women of angry hope – not just rage.
I want to celebrate women like the ones referenced in this artwork, With These Hands, by Beth Wilks.
Taking a traditionally ‘feminine’ craft like knitting, the artist proclaims proudly
With these hands I have hugged my family, Grown tomatoes
Cared for my parents, Emptied the bins
Clapped the NHS, Written to Pap
Taught my children, Wiped away tears
Bashed keyboards, Waved to neighbours
Created more than ever, Hoped and prayed
After a year of Covid, that’s actually quite a list for women (and men) to celebrate.
So I knit together frustration, hope, and good news and cherish the ‘small’ stuff that women do every day that changes the world.
PS. If you want to learn more about how Christians can act to end the abuse of women and girls, you will find a really good booklet at https://www.evoj.org/books-guides
It’s called A Biblical View of Relationships To End Abuse