Listening to the Prophetic Feminine Other

Nina Simone Mary J. Blige  Lisa Gerrard.

Their music (Nina Simone, Mary J. Blige, and Lisa Gerrard) captures something I’ve been spending alot of time with: the blues.  Not the genre itself but the sensibility.  The sensibility that says we can possess a sense of the tragic nature of our existence while simaltaneously holding on to hopeful vision and living with a tearful smile.  These artist, at this moment, capture for me this sensibility.  Reading bell Hooks doesn’t help either. Her insightful reading of the text of the world has been a challenge and has also been a place of repentance and conversion for me. 

Excerpt from her book Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics:                        

Since our society continues to be primarily a “Christian” culture masses of people continue to believe that god has ordained that women be subordinate to men in the domestic household. Even though masses of women have entered the work forces, even though many families are headed by women who are the sole breadwinners, the vision of domestic life which continues to dominate the nation’s imagination is one in which the logic of male domination is intact, whether men are present in the home or not. The wrong minded vision of feminist movement which implied it was anti-male carried with it the wrong minded assumption that all female space would necessarily be an environment where patriarchy and sexist thinking would be absent. Many women, even those involved in feminist politics, chose to believe this as well.


  The more I listen to the prophetic feminine ‘other’ the more I recognize my need to repent from my lack of historical empathy towards real lives of women.  Take Hilary Clinton for example.  I was talking to my mom about the democratic primary race.  She gave me a perspective I did not consider before.  I was criticizing Senator Clinton for some of the comments she’s made over the past month or so regarding Senator Obama and his former pastor Jeremiah Wright. My mom said, “Hilary is bitter.  She was told that she may have been the only hope for the Dems getting the White House in 08′.  So, what did she do? She began to position herself politically by first running and winning the Senate seat in the state of New York.  And she did exactly what the Dems wanted. She got into position.  Then what happened next?  Obama happened.”  I am not a Clinton supporter and I still remain disappointed in the way she’s handled the so-called media-created controversy surrounding Rev. Wright.  But I never considered this interpretation of her ‘bitterness’ and ‘defensive’ posture.  

Anyways…I am sure that wasn’t a helpful rant but had to get that out there.  However, these musings bring me to a moment of confession: I do not truly and faithfully listen to the voices of women.  I have many sexist habits that God and my neighbors need to help me with.  When I quote and recite authors they are mostly men.  When I think of great leaders in history my default position is toward the masculine.  I cut their voices off in my soul.  I do not let their thoughts and pain enter into the internal orchestra of my mind.  My sexist habits die hard.    Who will deliver me from this sexist body of death?

So…I’m listening to these beautiful women now.  Their music captures both the beauty and tragedy of the world.  Themes of sacrifice, love, tragedy, redemption, hope, peace, sacredness, beauty, goodness, truth, purpose, and justice pervade.  God is profoundly here.  May I be here as well.


3 thoughts on “Listening to the Prophetic Feminine Other

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  1. While I continue to live in a male-dominated universe I am profoundly encouraged by your testimony. I dream of a day when this kind of choir of voices gets bigger. Thank you.

  2. We are all created equal….like it or not, society rejects that claim and collectively, we do not do much to make it real.

    Interesting thoughts that captured my attention from beginning to end. The subconscious is a place that is rarely visited and we would all be surprised at what lays hidden at that place. I agree fundamentally with your convictions on “giving more credence to the voices of the sisters”.

    I would challenge that Hilary, while she did “get in position”, simply ran into what all of us run into from time to time…..the unexpectance of “Things happen”. She should do what all of us do when that happens, figure it out and make the necessary adjustments. That is what defines us and makes us great! And, yes I would have the same response regardless of gender or race.

  3. I recently read a book called “Ungodly Women: Gender and the First Wave of Fundamentalism.” In it, she describes how gender roles were the primary reason for the emergence of the movement. This is a movement that emerged in the 1880’s as a call back to Victorian family code values. Women are to organize the private sphere (home, church [which led to some feminizing in the church as women were the primary congregants], etc.) while men are to be competitive businessmen in the public sphere (all things public, politics, industry, etc.). When this system of separate spheres collapsed by women being liberated and allowed to enter into the public arena, Fundamentalism began as a movement to define a clear cut “moral code” that all should live by.
    Male identity was being hurt by this move towards women’s equality, and so men rose up to reclaim male dominance (which some would say was with some motives in ‘self esteem’ and finding a sense of manliness that had been threatened by this cultural shift).

    In order to reclaim maleness, fundamentalism arose as a call that included a return to ‘family values’ and called women to embrace the godly calling of submissiveness. It also called the women to quit experimenting with sexual experiences outside of marriage, dancing, smoking… well, basically “flapperism.” I would agree with many of the moral values that these and the new fundamentalist would put forth, but I think the way they went about it all has damaged Christian faith in the present.

    In order to defend the ‘moral code’ that they were comfortable with, men in this movement began to do several things. They defeminized the church with militant themes (hmm, ever wonder where some of the modern impulse in right wing faith towards war came from?). They kicked women out of the pulpits (who many had taken leadership because of a lack of godly men who were too tied up with questionable public lives). They attacked the so-called modernists who began to rethink and challenge their assumptions about the Bible. They attacked any person or belief system that could be labeled as a threat to the defence of the ‘moral code’ that they claimed to be biblical.

    I think that the reason we still have many of our gender issues in the church has to do with the influence that fundamentalism has had in evangelicalism at large. I understand your struggle and am on a similar journey!

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