"Mom, where are the women?" my twelve-year old son asked as he scanned the program for a 9/11 "10 Year Anniversary Remembrance Service" sponsored by the local ministers' fellowship.
Josiah saw it immediately. I was a little slower. I looked over the program which included a welcome, invocation, pledge of allegiance, six patriotic songs, nine prayers, a video clip and three mini-sermons by area pastors. The 90-minute service included seventeen separate elements and twenty different speakers or presenters. Nineteen were male. The one exception was the Benediction. Even the Chilean Evangelist who prayed for the "peoples of the nations of the world" was male.
As fine an idea as a 9/11 remembrance service was, and as stirring as the tributes and music may have been, it felt... incomplete. The "estrogen-free zone" nature of the event left me feeling as if something valuable and precious had been muted. Overlooked. Lost. Conspicuous by their absence, that "something" was women.
I wondered why the ministers' fellowship and event organizers couldn't find at least one mother, wife, daughter, sister, grandmother, or niece to pray, lead a song, share a personal anecdote or vignette, preach, or tell a story - or if anyone even tried? I wondered about the female first responders, firefighters, and military personnel who were left unrepresented at this "remembrance" event, and when they might be honored for their sacrifice and courage? Also when the strength, resolve and resilience of the brave mothers, widows, girl friends and daughters who were left behind to continue their lives without loved ones will be acknowledged?
As Josiah and I wended our way back to the car after the service, I wondered how much more compelling the event may have been if gender representation was at least a little closer to parity, and how sad it was that the community missed out on something worthy, unique and significant: a woman's perspective of 9/11.
"Where are the women?" indeed.