He danced so delicately around the subject that I nearly missed the misogynistic undertones. In curiosity, I left the interview feeling devalued and disturbed that my womb, and how it might affect my graduate student performance, became a topic of conversation.
It wasn’t the first time I felt confused that my gender was seen as a hindrance, my femininity seen as a weakness, and my abilities were undermined by the absence of my body carrying a Y sex chromosome.
And it wouldn’t be the last. Sadly, I know I’m not alone.
We have a sisterhood of women spanning the globe being battered and bruised solely based on their gender even though God sought to break this pattern over 2,000 years ago.
Women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. – Sarah Bessey
Jesus crushed societal norms during a time when the culture was decidedly patriarchal. He refused to treat women as inferior. He broke customs often by speaking to women in public, for example in his interactions with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-26). When he addressed the woman with a bleeding disorder as “daughter”, we see him treating women … even those most shunned and detested … with the utmost respect (Luke 8:48). He met in the home of Mary and Martha, again balking customs by teaching women alongside men (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus also recognized women’s talents, gifts, and means, like those of Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna, who supported Jesus’ ministry out of their own resources (Luke 8:3). When Jesus was arrested, many of the male disciples were said to have fled for fear of their lives, but the women … namely Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, Salome, as well as “many other women” … stood firm and followed him to the cross (Mark 15:40-41). And it was to a few of these very special and chosen women that he first appeared after his resurrection (Mark 16:1-7).
Jesus set an example of equality to be followed, yet somehow we still struggle to receive the respect we deserve.
A few years after I accepted a position in a research lab down the hall from where I experienced that belittling interview, I used that apparently pesky womb to birth my first daughter … then went on to complete my PhD. I now have two delightful daughters, for whom I pray …
I pray you know your value and worth and that those who surround you recognize and respect it as well.
I pray you know that you have been gifted with talents special to you.
I pray you will never forget whose daughter you are … when the world fails you, you will always be His.
I pray that when you gain your voice, you will speak up for your sisters who have none.
I pray that when you gain your footing, you will help those sisters who have stumbled.
I pray that you join hands with the sisters beside you, knowing that there is strength in numbers.
I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard… we cannot succeed when half of us are held back. – Malala Yousafzai
Mothers, inspire your daughters. Yes, teach them to cook and clean … to stir up the gift of God, which is in them (2 Timothy 1:6), and to clean up the shards after they shatter the glass ceiling.
Sisters, let us encourage each other in the Lord, recognizing we are diverse and beautiful creations of God. Let us lift each other up, sharing each others’ burdens and boosting each others’ strengths.
Women, do not shy away from your God-given gifts, or hide your face, or quiet your voice. Know that society does not determine your worth. God determined that long ago on the cross … the very same cross where women wept and become our heroines and mentors.