Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I'm a noisy gong.

If you know me, or know someone who can describe me well, you know that I'm an Extrovert. My letters are ESFP: Extroverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving. I'm The Performer. I like to be the center of attention. I don't intuit well, and the "what will happen if" part of my brain isn't always firing on all 4 cylinders.
I hate conflict, and I hate it even more if it's happening online. I really try to avoid it as much as possible. As I've mentioned before, a few months ago I was belittled on Facebook for my opinion of an article. (Ironically, what I was attacked for had NOTHING to do with the content of the article. The article was about Megan Fox...) The conflict grew to the point where I had to block the person and their family members from being able to see my comments/posts/etc.. It was "whatever" and I was over it quickly. But ever since then, I've been more aware of expressing my opinions and views in a public forum. 
This creates an inner conflict. 

By nature, I'm impulsive. My spiritual gift is encouragement. (Do I lose points for telling people that? Whatever). I like to talk, and like it when people listen. I've been reading more blogs and articles over the last year, and I want to talk about the newly formed opinions I have. And often times, I see posts on Facebook that relate to topics that I've learned through the writings I've read. So, it makes sense to talk about about it, right? 
Nah. Not always, no. 

Expressing my opinions, essentially daring conflict to come at me, and speaking up isn't always helpful or encouraging. Even when I'm not laughing in the face of a pending argument, saying something that is a general  truth, might be met with conflict. And I don't know how to handle that. Especially when I thought the person on the other end had similar beliefs than me. It's easy to debate someone you know disagrees with you, but when you're blindsided by someone's opposing thoughts, it can really tilt your axis. 

It's also easy to blame the other person's circumstances for the way that they reacted. And while that might be a good place to look, an even better place to look is yourself. Why did I make that comment? What was my intention? Was I being genuine, or just commenting for the sake of it? 

Friends, we can talk, drop wisdom, and quote Scripture and Jesus' teachings until we're blue in the face. But if we don't do it with pure hearts, the words are like lead balloons dropping to the bottom of the ocean. Unheard and unaccepted by the ones we are trying to talk with. 

My parting words of wisdom to myself, and everyone else, no matter what you believe or stand for, would be these: 

 "If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." -1 Corinthians 13:13

Let's not be noisy gongs. 
Let's speak the truth in love instead. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

It's true.

Happy Friday! 
Yikes, I'm terrible at blogging lately, and I truly apologize. Between my boyfriend graduating, random roadtrips around the state, and getting sick, I've been busy, and sleeping a lot! But I'm back, and today I wanted to talk about something scary: Feminism. 

When I was younger, all I knew about feminism was that in the 70s these women probably didn't wear bras, and opened car doors themselves and declared their independence from the tyrant that is the male species. Had I ever met a feminist? No, of course not, don't be silly. I grew up in the church, and God forbid women be too independent. (To be fair, a lot of the women in my church were very independent of their husbands. but it's the principle of the matter.) 

Before I got to college, I had a friend at my church who went to the same school that I was headed to. She was a few years older than me so I was able to witness how MC affected her growth as a Christian and as a woman. Before she had gone to school, she said "I don't want to end up like the crazy feminists." Three years later, guess what she was: A semi-crazy feminist with alternate views on Christianity. I couldn't believe it. Not only did I feel completely left in the dust and betrayed, I was TERRIFIED that I would go to MC and end up like her. I decided to choose a major that wouldn't involve a lot of theology and social science classes: Music Education. And we all saw how that worked out. (I was in the program for HALF of a semester. Hated it. Different story.) I was determined to avoid my theology class for as long as humanly possible, and I finally realized that I wouldn't be taking too many classes that would force me to have an introspective look at being a female in a "male dominated world." So, in general, I think it's safe to say that I made it out of college fairly unscathed, and with some influences that showed me what true female independence was. 

Last year, I discovered Good Women Project, and I was blown away at this community of Christian women who struggled with sexual issues, dating, abuse, and feminism. At that point in my life I was focused more on the dating/who-should-I-marry articles, but the founder of GWP, Lauren Dubinsky Tweeted something that literally changed my life:

Feminism is what gives me the right 
to be the woman that I am, 
not the woman that other feminists
wish I was or expect me to be.

I sat and stared at my screen for a few seconds processing what I had just read. I broke it down into
the two obvious parts:
1: "Feminism is what gives me the right to be the woman that I am." 
I don't need to be the "type" of feminist who looks at her boyfriend and says
"make your own damn sandwich," because that's not who I am as a person. If my boyfriend wants a
sandwich, we're going to make that thing together. Because God made me, me Starleisha,
as a collaborative being. I don't feel objectified when I'm hanging out in the kitchen, I actually feel
empowered. I'm a good cook and I'm going to show off those skills. My boyfriend laid it out when we
first started dating that he would NEVER expect me to make him food. That's fine. I'm ok with that.
But I will offer, and that's cool too. And  that's what works for me.
2:"Not the woman that other feminists wish I was or expect me to be." 
Also pretty simple. Online, I've encountered tweets that imply that people do feminism wrong.
How is it doing it wrong if statement number 1. is the very core basis of feminism? Even though I know
this to be true, I still struggle with it. Sometimes I think "Ugh, I can't be a good feminist because I still
believe that the husband, to some extent, should be the spiritual leader of the household." But those
negative thoughts just take up room in my brain where positive thoughts should be!

If there are women out there who look at me and think I'm doing feminism wrong because I still like
it when my boyfriend opens my car door, to them I say: Your lack of support for me is actually
wrong. As Taylor Swift so famously quoted the even cooler Katie Couric: "There's a special place
in Hell for women who don't help other women." For this topic, that's a bit of an extreme example, but
I think it warrants some discussion. If feminists are to be about women's rights, we need to help each
other, not put each other into this place of shame, and make each other feel that we can't express our
views. I can be an independent woman and still enjoy it when my boyfriend sends me surprise flowers
"just because." You can be independent and still not want anything extra from your boyfriend because
you feel like it detracts from your feminist battle-cry. And that's ok! But let's not berate one another.

For the longest time, I denied it. I denied even the teeniest ounce of feminism in me. I would even
blatantly say anti-feminist statements on Twitter to try to cover up my unsure feelings about the
whole subject. Some of it stemmed from the fear that I would someday emasculate the man I seriously
dated. And you know, in the 90s, that might have been a legit fear, but there are so many men who
are pro-feminist in the world today. I see my boyfriend as his own man, and, really, he's kind of
pro-feminist too. Within our relationship, we've leveled the playing field. He cooks, I cook. I'm
paying for my own movie today. No big deal. It doesn't mean that he's less of a man, and it doesn't
mean I'm castrating his wallet. (Pause for that mental image...ok, continue). It's really ok. It's how we
do things, and it works for us.

So my Star-Based Feminism pep-talk to myself goes a little something like this:
Enjoying being treated like a lady doesn't lessen my value as a woman.
I can be independent and still enjoy hanging out in the kitchen. 
The playing field is even, and my boyfriend and I should have an open dialogue to keep it
that way.
I am me, and you are you. Let's help each other. Let's support the different views of feminism.

After all...isn't that what it's about?