Women

Larisa Friesen Hall 10-22-2012
ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

Melanne Verveer visits Shanghai Xintu Center for Community Health Promotion. ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

Thanks to Melanne Verveer’s article in Foreign Policy magazine, I’m going to be listening for what the presidential candidates say tonight about women in this foreign policy focused debate. Verveer has served since 2009 as the United States ambassador at large for global women’s issues.  She is the first to ever serve in this particular position. 

Ambassador Verveer is a leading expert in mobilizing support for women’s rights globally, and as a woman of faith, I am paying attention. I believe that women’s rights are human rights and that the advancement and empowerment of women is a central strategy for economic growth and promoting peace and stability around the world. Praise the Lord that this logic is now increasingly understood by government officials and international development organizations and pragmatic good sense. More importantly, as a Christian I believe that Jesus’ liberating word declares that men and women are equal in the eyes of God.

Actions, however, are lagging behind what is now becoming more mainstream thinking.

Duane Shank 10-19-2012

Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl who was shot by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan for her activism, is recovering at a hospital in Britain. The Guardian reported this morning

“Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl flown to Britain for treatment after being shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan, has the potential to make "pretty much a full recovery", her doctors have said.

“She is able to stand with help and is writing notes, and although the bullet grazed her brain she has not shown "any deficit in terms of function", doctors at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham said on Friday. She was "not out of the woods but is doing very well", said Dr. Dave Rosser, medical director of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS foundation trust.”

The shooting has attracted a mass outpouring of support, both in Pakistan around the world. And Yousafzai is apparently aware of that support. According to Dr. Rosser

"She is keen that people share the details. She is also keen that I thank people for their support and their interest. She is obviously aware of the amount of support and interest this has generated around the world. She is keen to thank people for that." 

RNS photo by Edwin Manuel Garcia/courtesy Adventist News Network

Leaders count ballots. RNS photo by Edwin Manuel Garcia/courtesy Adventist News Network

Leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Tuesday said recent decisions by two regional bodies to allow ordained female pastors were "serious mistakes," and women who are ordained won't be recognized — at least for now.

“They directly challenge two world Church decisions on the matter of ordination,” reads a statement, passed by a 264-25 vote during the Annual Council meeting in Silver Spring, Md. “They create doubts about the importance of collective decision-making as a basic feature of denominational life.”

The decisions by the Maryland-based Columbia Union Conference and the California-based Pacific Union Conference came as the worldwide church is in the midst of a broad study of the “theology of ordination” that is expected to be considered at the denomination’s 2015 General Conference Session.

the Web Editors 10-18-2012

It's Thursday. I'm hitting the back of my closet and have second-day hair. Relate? Good, then this video is for you.

Take a few minutes to remember that our differences — whether it be crooked smiles, frizzy hair, or 6-foot-frame — to others look like character, enviable natural curls, or modelesque stature. You're beautiful. (Yes, you.) 

The clip is also full of good advice, but my personal favorite: "If it makes you feel awesome, wear it." (Do you think that means I can get away with yoga pants at work?)

Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, Gary Whitton / Shutterstock.com

Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, Gary Whitton / Shutterstock.com

SALT LAKE CITY — Call it a change for the ages.

In a surprising move that promises to transform Mormon social and spiritual dynamics, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Oct. 6 announced that it is lowering the age of full-time missionary service to age 18 for men (down from 19) and 19 for women (down from 21).

“The Lord is hastening this work,” LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland said at a news conference, “and he needs more and more willing missionaries.”

The church is counting on this change to dramatically increase the ranks of its full-time missionaries, currently more than 58,000 worldwide.

Betsy Shirley 10-03-2012

What in heaven's name does "biblical womanhood" mean? Rachel Held Evans embarked on a yearlong journey to find out.

Julie Polter 9-01-2012

My Neighbor’s Faith: Stories of Interreligious Encounter, Growth, and Transformation —  Half the Sky Between God & Green: How Evangelicals Are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate ChangeAmerica and Its Guns: A Theological Exposé

Rose Marie Berger 9-01-2012

A ninth-century mosaic of women leaders in the church of St. Praessede, Rome.

Women still are forced to operate as second-class citizens in the church.

Bruce Nolan 8-20-2012
RNS photo by Rusty Costanza / The Times-Picayune

Paige LaCour, second from right, hugs Archbishop Gregory Aymond. RNS photo: Rusty Costanza / The Times-Picayune

In what is being described as the first of its kind in the U.S., the Archdiocese of New Orleans has transformed a vacant church rectory into a group house where single women will live together while deciding whether to undertake lives as nuns.

The center, dedicated on Aug. 15, occupies the second and third floors of the St. Rita rectory. Within a few days, two women, then perhaps three more, will move into the spotless rectory, their collective lives to be superintended by two veteran nuns who will show the younger women the dynamics of shared community life.

“How we live in community. How to communicate. How to share,” said Sister Carmen Bertrand, for 48 years a member of the Sisters of the Holy Family.

Beyond orienting them to the rhythms of community life, Bertrand and her colleague, Sister Diane Roche, a Religious of the Sacred Heart, will teach the tenants various modes of prayer, organize occasional retreats, and bring in representatives of other religious orders to present themselves and their ways of life.

Diana L. Hayes 8-01-2012

Forged in the Fiery Furnace: African American Spirituality by Diana L. Hayes

Joshua Witchger 7-31-2012

Big Olympic news today from Reutuers:

China has vehemently rejected suggestions of doping as a growing row over the astonishing performance of a Chinese swimmer threatens to overshadow Michael Phelps’s bid to become the most decorated Olympian of all time on Tuesday.

For those of you who don’t speak in sports lingo or Britishisms, that translates to “Chinese coaches reject claims that their star swimmer, Ye Shiwen, has been taking illegal, performance-enhancing drugs.”

Here’s the context. Yesterday, Ye Shiwen, a 16-year-old Chinese woman swam the 400 meter medley faster than all-star swimmer Ryan Lochte, a man from the U.S.A.

WHAT??!! Throw up the red flag! Women can’t be better than men at sports! Call in the drug dogs and blood tests. (The Twitterverse and other social media quickly echoed similar sentiments, rolling their collective eyes at outrage that a woman could break a man's speed.)

According to the report, Ye Shiwen went through "extremely thorough" tests from the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the British Chairman of the Olympic Association said she’s clean. 

"That's the end of the story. Ye Shiwen deserves recognition for her talent."

 

Julie Clawson 7-31-2012
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Zoe Smith of Great Britain competes in the Women's 58kg Weightlifting in the London Olympics. Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

I have a love/hate relationship with the Olympics. I love the pageantry and global drama of it all. And even as one who hardly ever watches sports (I make exceptions for Roller Derby and Quidditch), I nevertheless find myself glued to the screen whenever the Olympics roll around. At the same time I am uneasy with the neo-colonial aspects of the Games and the fact that one’s ability to win a medal increasingly depends upon how much money one’s country has (making the Games a vivid illustration of global economic injustice). Yet even as I have watched (and enjoyed) the London Games with conflicted emotions, I find myself more and more uncomfortable with the ways the presentation of the Olympics serves to reinforce harmful assumptions about women in our culture.

It started before the Games. As the world geared up for the Olympics, it was hard to avoid hearing some guy or another (from TV hosts to bloggers) saying that what they were most looking forward to watching was women’s beach volleyball. It was this strange inside joke insinuating that the real purpose of the Games was to give them an opportunity to see women diving around in bikinis. I even heard complaints about the new Olympic rule allowing women to compete fully covered (a concession offered to allow Muslim women to compete in the Games). It was uncomfortable to hear how nonchalantly women continue to be reduced to mere sexual objects, but I brushed it aside as typical of our culture. 

QR Blog Editor 7-18-2012

Writing for The Nation, Bryce Covert examines how state-level opt outs of Medicaid expansions will affect women:

"The Medicaid expansion is a crucial component of the law’s overall goal of extending coverage to over 30 million uninsured Americans by 2019, covering almost half of the total number of people the bill promised to insure. Originally, the law included a provision that the federal government could take away all of a state’s Medicaid funding if it refused to go along with the expansion, which all but ensured participation. But the Court ruled that such a maneuver was unconstitutional. Just a few days after the decision was announced, seven Republican governors said they would flat-out reject the money to expand Medicaid rolls, with at least eight more looking to follow suit. More have said no since then.

This could create a no-man’s land for those who earn less than 100 percent of the federal poverty line, making them ineligible for tax subsidies to help them buy insurance, but don’t qualify for their state’s (unexpanded) Medicaid program. These Americans are surely struggling to get by, but not quite enough to get health coverage promised to those above and below them."

Read more here

the Web Editors 7-14-2012

EDITOR'S NOTE: Melinda Gates talks to the Guardian (UK) newspaper about reconciling her Catholic faith  — the wife of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates says she attends mass regularly — with her work promoting family planning. Gates was in London this week to discuss promoting contraception in the developing world with UK government representatives. The Gates Foundation hopes to encourage donor pledges that will enable 120 million women to have access to contraceptives by 2020.

A tribute to artist Elizabeth Catlett

Sandi Villarreal 6-22-2012
Overwhelmed man image, Rene Jansa / Shutterstock.com

Overwhelmed man image, Rene Jansa / Shutterstock.com

Five of my female Facebook friends had posted the article in a span of about two hours. The headline, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” stared at me, daring me to respond.

Read it, first. Then come back here. Go ahead, take the half-hour (it’s a long one). Read the WHOLE thing.

Back?

OK, so there are some good points in there, right? If you want to be a political power player in Washington, D.C., forcing you to live long-distance from your husband and children, maaaaybe you’re not going to be the happiest person ever. Maybe you can’t “have it all.”

But why is that the question to begin with? Why does this topic of conversation perennially rear it’s head to make women feel like they’re not doing it right? And why is the question never asked of men?

Rachel Marie Stone 6-19-2012
Child's doll with tape measure, Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

Child's doll with tape measure, Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

So the ‘thinner-and-sexier evolution” series is kind of winding down, as there are (thankfully, I think?) only a limited number of consumer products that have been around long enough so as to be able to undergo some kind of thin-and-sexy transformation. Besides, at this point, it’s kind of "clicked there, browsed that," you know? Especially since every toy/image transformation does some basic variation on the theme of “thin down and sex up.”

Call it the Barbiefication of toys for girls.

Or, you could call it what the American Psychological Association does, which is sexualization. Sexualization, as opposed to healthy sexuality, is defined (by the APA) as any one of the following:

  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.
Sandi Villarreal 6-07-2012
Women illustration, Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners, Photos via Shutterstock.com

Women illustration, Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners, Photos via Shutterstock.com

No, I didn’t hit my head. I’m not suffering from amnesia. I’m just really confused.

I’m sorry — what year is it again? Running through my handy list o’ headlines, it’s a little bit difficult to tell. 

I give you the 10 reasons I don’t believe that it’s really 2012.

 

QR Blog Editor 6-06-2012

Yesterday, the Paycheck Fairness Act came before the senate, seeking to close the wage gap between men and women. And as expected, the bill failed to pass, resulting in only 52 supporters, short of the 60 needed. All Republicans voted against the measure and none discussed it on the Senate floor before yesterday’s vote.

“In 1963 we made 59 cents for every dollar that men made. Now it’s 77 cents,” says Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, chief sponsor of the proposed bill. “What does that mean? It means every five years we make an advancement of one penny. Oh no. No more. We’re not just going to take it anymore.”

See more in The Washington Post

St. Peter's Basilica, Luciano Mortula / Shutterstock.com

St. Peter's Basilica, Luciano Mortula / Shutterstock.com

A long-simmering conflict between the Vatican and American nuns erupted again on June 4 when the Vatican's doctrinal office issued a scathing critique of a popular book on sexual ethics by Sister Margaret A. Farley, one of the first Catholics to teach at Yale Divinity School.

After two years of study, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a “notification” on Farley's “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” saying it contradicts Catholic doctrine on key issues such as gay marriage, homosexuality and divorce.

Coming just days after U.S. nuns rejected the Vatican's reasoning for a wholesale makeover, and a year after U.S. bishops sanctioned another nun theologian, the condemnation of Farley is the latest example of what critics see as a top-down attempt to muzzle women's voices and an obsession on sexual ethics.

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