Posted by: smstrouse | March 12, 2016

Bitches & Sad Ladies: Women in Leadership

5306029811_a2777d697aBack in the awakening years of my feminist awareness, I found a book called Bitches and Sad Ladies: An Anthology of Fiction by and about Women. I couldn’t tell you now what stories were included, but the title stuck with me, as did the theme of women as either “bitches” or sad ladies.

I believe that every woman who has taken on a leadership role, whether in the corporate world, the political arena or the church knows what the title means, especially the “bitches” part. And if we think it’s no longer true, we’re fooling ourselves. Just ask Hillary Clinton. Remember the “Bros Before Hoes” t-shirts of previous campaigns?

In her 1983 book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Gloria Steinem750601._UY200_ said that women are becoming the men they used to want to marry. A woman could be a doctor, lawyer, business executive, or pastor instead of simply being married to one.

That book was a game-changer for me. But in 1987, when I was fresh out of seminary, women pastors were still having trouble receiving calls. Some congregations were blunt about it: “We will not accept a female candidate!” Others were a little more subtle, asking personal questions about marriage and pregnancy, for example. The bishop of my synod at that time was adamant about advocating for women pastors. He told call committees that they could turn down a female candidate, but they’d better have an acceptable reason. If it was “We don’t want a woman pastor,” they wouldn’t get another candidate for a good long time. A lot of people didn’t like that bishop. Most of the women clergy in the synod did, though.

Now, in 2016, there is the possibility of our first woman president. Still, there are people who cannot see past their misogynistic noses. Many don’t want to acknowledge that we still have a sexism problem.

I don’t care if you vote for Hillary Clinton or not (well, I do, but that’s not the point of this post). But if you don’t, and your only reason is that she’s a b”#*%, a c*%#@ or a w*%#, i.e., a woman, then shame on you – and shame on us for continuing to allow such Neanderthal mentality to go on unchallenged.

 

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