I Am Woman Hear Me Implore

 

 

I Am Woman, Hear Me Implore

By Jane Tawel

April 24, 2019

 

Sometimes I really have to respond, and I found this was true recently when a young friend I know was struggling with some ideas about what he termed, “feminism”.  I have learned to my chagrin that it is often pointless to engage with people and other times I hold out hope. This time I decided to hope and my responding briefly to this man, in turn, led to this poem and enlarged meditation.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Implore

A Poem By Jane Tawel

April 24, 2019

I Am Woman, Hear Me Implore!

Love stands ready at the door.

I am different, it is true.

But are we so disparate, I and you?

If I hurt you, will you not bleed?

Do we not suffer from the same needs?

Do men always have to throw in a spanner,

If I come at things in a unique manner?

And if I choose to use my heart,

Well, doesn’t that mean I’m just different-smart?

 

God doesn’t see me as mother or whore,

Oh, I am Woman! and I implore,

Please look at me, my friends and brothers,

Just as you would your beloved daughters.

And I promise you back, all you masculine ones,

I will love you as I would love my own son.

 

I Am Woman, and will not be labeled,

For I am strong and I am able.

But wouldn’t it be even more grand,

If we men and women would live life hand in hand?

 

I am Woman, a name Jesus could tell

To those like his own mother and the one at the well.

It’s a label befitting a daughter and queen

Who can rule with God in His World, yet unseen.

 

Oh, I am Woman, and I kindly implore,

Do not wait for heaven on some future shore.

We, brothers and sisters, can bring heaven to earth,

If we give no more labels but each other, true worth.

 

I Am Woman and I merely implore,

Love is ready and at the door.

 

We live in a world that makes me tired. And sad; one in which people seem to make up their minds based on either a herd mentality or a mistaken self-centered rationale. With these two attitudes, people justify pointing the finger at non-PLU’s. And rather than making a concerted effort to increase their intelligence or, God forbid, a desire to grow wiser, they argue their points to calm and address, not the world’s injustices, but their own “quiet lives of desperate fears”.  But I found I had to dredge it up within myself to get into the ring with this friend of mine, and by extension others, both male and female, and by using as much kindness but truth as I can muster.

 

The post was about “feminism”, a label that I guess is trending again and used by both women and men as if they all mean the same thing by it, which I am darn sure from reading and listening to what people say, that they do not. This recent post was about ideas the writer had on two kinds of people I have been at times identified with – Christians, and women. It intrigues me when someone purports to discuss something that I identify with, in this case, women. Especially when as in this case it is something this other person is not, since he is a man. The worst part of it for me was that he chose not to talk about women, but about “feminism”.  And I do get my dander up a bit and climb onto my high horse, whenever anyone has to choose a label for other human beings to express ideas or philosophies. I think using labels should be reserved for food that has an expiration date, not for human beings, and I dislike labels for people, whether that label is feminist, liberal, conservative, or vegetarian. I especially go into over -drive when the person using the label is not putting said label on him or herself as well as on others. But labeling is just as bad when used to identify myself with perhaps not enough actual proof that I am acting in ways, doing things that are implied by my label.  For instance, if I label myself a vegetarian because I am upset about the way animals are treated before becoming meat, but I am not doing anything else to protest the way animals are treated, well, then do I honestly think my labeling myself is going to do any good for any one? I just metaphorically want to take all the little label makers and devices in the world and run them until they are all out of paper or plastic or metal or whatever they use to make labels, and force people to try to talk without the use of sticky notes. Labels do imply sticky issues, though, don’t they? This sticky-wicket issue I have with labels is one reason I just can’t use the shorthand labels I used to use for myself, like “Christian”, or “Independent” or even sometimes the label, “American”. But I am still rather proud and content to be labeled “woman”.

 

When men decide to discuss “feminism”, I need to point out that the attitudes of men are usually very obvious to us women, no matter what men say or how they may spin it. The underlying male belief that somehow feminism is about them, would be hilarious if it were not part of the problem. Men are almost always in positions of power so that even if they talk about change, it is excruciatingly apparent, from the metaphors they choose and the language of their “pep talks” to women that they see little risk they themselves will need to change. For people who claim a worldview of “Christianity”, I can only suggest that they might want to meditate on the greatest person who was ever labeled a feminist– Jesus Christ.

 

It’s not such a bad idea for all people around the globe, whatever religion they might label themselves with, to frankly and humbly start looking at the radicalization of stereotypes that the religion of the Hebrews originally espoused and that Jesus Christ took to the next level. This is in fact what all those who have managed to change the world have done. It is what Gandhi did. It is what Martin Luther King, Jr. did. It is what Mother Teresa did. It is what Nelson Mandela did. It is what Jesus did. And it is what the women who became disciples of Jesus did, long before the word “feminism” arrived as fodder. Sadly, even those early Jewish female world changers have had to take a back seat, a Rosa Parks type seat, in the pantheon of world-changers.

 

And I’m sorry but much of this prejudiced injustice is actually done by the spreading of misinformation,  sleight of hand, and the rewriting of history – even to the point that books that are meant to be holy, like Christianity’s New Testament,  are rewritten to deny women the first places they deserve, not just the honorable mentions they sometimes get. When we put labels on strong women who want to change the world for the good of others, we are using the power of words to deny the righteousness of their cause. If these ideas about feminism that I am raising, make a man uncomfortable as even just the word “feminism” tends to do, then if he wants to grow and be wise, or especially if he wants to claim to think like God thinks, he should figure out why it makes him uncomfortable. Because the bottom line is that men have been making women “uncomfortable” for centuries.

 

Where I personally start on this is where I try to start on many things, especially in this day and age. I forbid myself the luxury of labels. When we label people, we are on a very, very slippery slope and eventually, labeling people lets those who have the power gain even more power over those people they stereotype as “lesser -thans”. Labeling has been the justification for a world of horrific things; from the American justification of slavery to the Nazis’ justification of The Holocaust. Does it not frighten you as much as it does me, that no matter where you are living today in the globe, the people in power –power in the halls of governments, in the temples and churches and mosques of religions; power in educational institutions, and the powers of color and monetary status– are once again justifying their shorthand labeling of those not like themselves, in order to gain more power to act unjustly, to deny people basic human needs, to destroy?

 

I have come to absolutely hate labels like “liberal”, “conservative”, “feminist”, “evangelical” etc., because frankly most people use those labels  — either for others or themselves—to merely choose a shorthand for their prejudices and / or their ignorance. They may be trying to hide their prejudices from others so as not to be judged, but often I think they are hiding their prejudiced minds and angry, frightened hearts from themselves. When we hide things about ourselves from ourselves it enables us not to have to work at being a better person and not to have to change. Changing ourselves could lead to changing the world, and that, especially for those already with any amount of power over others, is frightening.

 

For those of us who want somehow to follow a God who chooses women, people of color, and poor people to change the world, we must learn to identify ourselves  first, foremost, and only with The God  who labels us images of Him. We must study and choose to live in The Way of a man-god who spoke to women as equals. We should tremble to label ourselves “little-Christs”. For if we label ourselves as those who are like Jesus, then we will be judged on the way we are causing others to label The Christ. If men must be careful, we women need to be equally careful that we do not fall into the trap of setting ourselves apart, neither reveling in our  strength or in our weakness, neither choosing a feminist role lived in antagonism to men nor in an anachronistic feminine attempt to live in the past.

 

We all, men and women, must always be referred back to our lives in Christ and our need to understand what God tried to tell us in various ways through His Word and revelations. In terms of human gender and sexuality, we are called to such a different idea about what is important and what is not, what is meant to be different between us and what is not, and what most importantly of all, we will all be changed into when we are made like Jesus in His Kingdom. It is no amount of irony that some of the people who have lived on this earth have been most like Christ while not being at all “Christian”.  And I fear labeling anyone a  “Christian” today comes with more dangers and flat out lies than is worth any amount of identification short-hand. It is ironic that the term “Christian” was used originally as a demeaning label by those in power, and was not used by those who followed the Jewish religion of The Christ. This of course was at the same time that being labeled a “woman” was as destructive as any profiling has been in the history of the world.

 

There once was a man named Saul who was a really prejudiced guy; a racial profiler, a misogynist, an intelligent but completely wrong-headed, wrong-hearted evangelical –a guy who labeled others so he could use his power as a religious leader against them. Then this guy named Saul had a real encounter with a God who refused to pick people to serve Him based on their labels. That God chose Saul, despite all the labels I have just given him.  And that man spent the rest of his life trying to tear down the walls of prejudice that had been built around the city of God’s love. Saul, who became Paul, spent the rest of his life teaching and believing that a community of God-followers is meant to be a kingdom on earth where all peoples, tribes and genders are welcomed, and respected, and honored, and equal, and yes, even loved. Tragically, much of what is now attributed to Paul, maybe most especially those that some people quote about women and men, were added later as falsehoods or “tweaks” by the religious and government leaders who rose in the ranks of power. But Paul did write down some important words we should take to heart when we are labeling others. As Saint Paul learned after equal parts of suffering and joy, in the Kingdom of God, there is “neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, liberal nor conservative, misogynist nor feminist”.

 

If as Charis Kramarae has said “feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings”, then the radical notion of the Judeo-Christian worldview, is that human beings are gods and God’s. As a woman, I must strive to see others in the way that “The IAM Who Refuses All Labels” sees them. I must pray as we were taught to pray by “He Who Refused to See Others as Stereotypes”. And I must treat others in the here and now, so that it may be so in us, uniquely created, equally worthy, “on earth, as it is anywhere God is truly present.”

 

 

 

 

I Am Woman, Hear Me Implore

A Poem By Jane Tawel

April 24, 2019

I Am Woman, Hear Me Implore!

Love stands ready at the door.

I am different, it is true.

But are we so disparate, I and you?

If I hurt you, will you not bleed?

Do we not suffer from the same needs?

Do men always have to throw in a spanner,

If I come at things in a unique manner?

And if I choose to use my heart,

Well, doesn’t that mean I’m just different-smart?

God doesn’t see me as mother or whore,

Oh, I am Woman! and I implore,

Please look at me, my friends and brothers,

Just as you would your beloved daughters.

And I promise you back, all you masculine ones,

I will love you as I would love my own son.

I Am Woman, and will not be labeled,

For I am strong and I am able.

But wouldn’t it be even more grand,

If we men and women would live life hand in hand?

 

I am Woman, a name Jesus could tell

To those like his own mother and the one at the well.

It’s a label befitting a daughter and queen

Who can rule with God in His World, yet unseen.

 

Oh, I am Woman, and I kindly implore,

Do not wait for heaven on some future shore.

We, brothers and sisters, can bring heaven to earth,

If we give no more labels but each other, true worth.

I Am Woman and I merely implore,

Love is ready and at the door.

jesus and men and women

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Published by

Jane Tawel

"I'm Nobody, who are you? Are you nobody too?" In the words of that now famous "nobody", Emily Dickinson, I am a nobody, committed to the idea that words matter and that expressed creativity, no matter how crumb-y gives us hope. And as Dickinson also wrote, hope will keep us safe and warm together, even though it asks not so much as a crumb from us. My own journey in this world often takes the form of seeking those things that matter through exploring the written word in essay and poetry. Even the small and unknown of us are made better through the creative process. I am thankful to have a home in this blog to store my thoughts and thankful for any who sit awhile in this blog home, seeking crumbs on their own journeys. May you stay safe and warm and full of hope.

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