In the past few years, numerous people have asked me why I make such a big deal about gender equality. Have I experienced such extreme inequality? What traumatic experience drives my activism? Why am I so passionate and outspoken about this issue? People often assume that a tragic event in my personal life led to this behavior.
The ups and downs of being a woman in ministry continue. Not many people want a woman to teach homiletics, despite the fact that my students love my classes. I am beginning to do more teaching and writing on the equality of women and men in Asia.
Hidden behind much patriarchal thinking is a pervasive patrilineal worldview. The belief that the family line is a male line and that males own and inherit the resources, has colored nearly all our cultures in the past and still accounts for much oppression and sidelining of women. Beulah will speak from her experience in south Asian culture, recognizing that, within families, women often become the perpetrators of discrimination against females. Does that happen to some extent near all of us? The Bible culture too is patrilineal. How shall we view that?
Among responsible and useful methods of promoting egalitarian thinking -- writing about it, supporting organizations like CBE that promote it, seeking out churches that put it into practice -- my favorite is what I call the “auntie model”: consistently giving loving ideological nudges to those in my closest circle, especially the little ones.
In addition to the ethnic, gender, and economic inequalities that have afflicted black South African women past the end of Apartheid in 1994, the plague of HIV/AIDS has added a new dimension to their struggle.
Every week, members of our small group Bible study share their “highs,” their “lows,” and how they’ve seen God this week. A couple of weeks ago, I co-led the group in a discussion on what it means to be both a Christian and a feminist. To begin, women in the group spoke openly about our “lows,” “highs,” and “how’s” of being a woman in the church.
My personal journey has led me to be more vocal about getting women involved in ministry and about encouraging women to take leadership. I try to teach in both formal and informal arenas as the opportunities present themselves.