“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” ~ Galatians 3:27-28
Module 3 of the ELCA’s study on Faith, Sexism, and Justice had us explore sexism as it is directed at and impacts the female body. It moved to ask how, as the body of Christ, each of us can raise our awareness, become more educated, and work toward affirming, celebrating, and honoring the female body.
Our conversation on Sunday morning started with an exploration of gender inequality in our personal lives. Stories of being told how to dress, what schooling and careers should be pursued, and expectations of duties within the family were shared and discussed. With an even number of women and men attending the session, gender roles and expectations for both males and females were brought up: boys having to take Shop in school, girls having to take Home Economics, boys having to have short hair, girls having to wear dresses. An interesting discussion took place in regard to the generational differences shared, as younger participants expressed less direct or blatant encounters with gender inequality than shared by other participants. The normative perception of stay-at-home dads, women in fields like engineering, gender-neutral toy aisles at the store might be signs of our society slowly moving toward gender equality. This left us with the question:
Is gender inequality being addressed and therefore lessening in some aspects?
Moving from this discussion, we engaged in a powerful conversation about the impact of sexism on the female body. I strongly encourage everyone to look at Module 3 (CLICK HERE), as our discussion only touches the surface of this important topic. Using the language of the session guide, we explored how women’s bodies in our society are objectified, policed, politicized, dominated, and marginalized. I can only speak for myself, but our discussion helped me more fully understand the many real and personal ways women must face these harmful actions every day.
While I hope that everyone will explore the whole lesson and perhaps engage specifically in the “Going Deeper” section at the end of the lesson, I want to raise up the action-based reflection questions posed in Module 3:
- In your life and context, what kinds of gender roles, stereotypes and expectations do you feel bound to? Freed from?
- When sexism in our culture tells us that the bodies of women, girls, and gender non-conforming people should be controlled and dominated, how does God’s incarnation in Jesus help us see an alternative?
- How can you go out of your way in the next week to affirm the goodness of all bodies, not just those that our culture already validates?
- How might you think differently about the media you consume, the comments you make to friends, or your engagement of images of women?
- How does your understanding of sexism and the female body influence policies you might advocate for or problems you could speak out against?