Invisible Majority

by - 8:13 PM

Even though I very much don't want to write this.
Even though I think this isn't even the right time for this.
It very much is what is bouncing around up in my head.
So if I don't want it messing with the furniture and scuffing things up I guess it needs to come out.

This topic is toxic and hurtful. So I don't like delving into it. Sadly I think it needs to be done. Some like to think that they should only write about new topics, break new ground. To rehash old ideas is to simply dredge things up. I don't agree with that sentiment. I think voices become more powerful as they are multiplied, and issues will never be healed without openness.

So in the pursuit of openness, honesty and healing let me both own and explore something that has come to be a source of very real pain to me.

Here goes.

Women aren't real people.

Now, I desperately want to say that I don't believe that.
But I can't.

It's not that I don't realize the falseness and despicable nature of that statement.
I do.

But I cannot deny that I was raised in an environment that denied the very personhood of women.
And subsequently I cannot deny that it has become an ingrained and very real part of my natural thought processes.

This is even harder for me to say considering my very apparent stake in the matter.
I'm not an outsider in this argument.

While I have always valued the relationships I have had with women, when it comes to society and women at large there is this small little seed that sprouts up when planted in the proper narrative.
We all know the narratives too.

They beg us to squidge women down into little holes in the structure of our lives.
They must fit into these holes because we cant hold onto the image of a woman as being all of these things at once. It breaks our reality, that the world belongs to men and that women are just bit players in their story.

Sure we can have exceptions, friends, family, coworkers who we allow their humanity.
But societies default is to construct these stories of cardboard women who prop up varied and complicated men.

We see it in the questions people are asked. In the stories we expect. In the markers of esteem.

Men have stories. Women have roles.

Men have background. Women have baggage.

So what caused this stripping of humanity?

Lets go deeper.

My Roots

If I had to make a list of bible verses that cause me to cringe. Somewhere at the top of the list would be the KJV version of Genesis 2:18. Particularly this section: "I will make him an help meet for him"

I cannot quantify the amount of times I have heard women being dismissed in the church as "helpers". 
You see we aren't really part of the story. 
We are side characters. 
In this passion play of the great love between God and men, we are bit parts to move the story along and make sure more men come about to do the real work.
It would be nice to say this isn't the idea that American Christianity portrays
But that would be a lie. 
And over time growing up in the church you see how this plays out in the homes and pulpits and pews. 
Growing up surrounded by males in the church I was uniquely poised to see the real opinions and prejudices that mar the war zone of American religion. 
Swallowing the poison of misogyny on a daily basis added massive amounts of fuel to my fears as a young trans woman. We [trans women] speak a lot in our circles of the strange experience of losing male privilege, of the fears that come with losing defacto standing as the rulers of the domain. The church adds to this another very real and very powerful fear. 
The fear of not being part of the story. 
The fear that our voice is secondary, that the God we love is looking past us to the real people of faith. The real church. The men. Not us "helpers".
This is one reason barren women are so disgraced in the church, they are seen as a dead end, they serve no purpose.
It's the reason women aren't allowed in ministry, the reason women's voices are constantly spoken over instead of listened too and also the reason women are routinely pushed into their "proper place".

Now I could go on and on here about how the translation of "help meet" is incorrect. How it's more accurate translation is "opposite member" and "savior". I could make arguments and shove Hebrew down your throats. 
And that's all well and good. 
BUT it ignores the fact that the rest of scripture is dominated by men. 
It ignores that the rest of society and history is dominated by men. 
It ignores that this narrative is ingrained in all of us.
It ignores that in believing we are "secondary" we have believed the lie that we are less people and more props

So what's a girl supposed to do? 
How do we combat this subtle insidious dehumanization?

I think the only way to do that, at least the only way I see, is by sharing our stories. 
Stories have power and a unique humanity. 
Stories bring us into the lives of another and let us experience them as our own. 
Whether it's books or movies, lyrics or conversations, stories give flesh to reality. 
They reshape our understanding of it. 
If we are to ever understand our own worth we must first allow ourselves to understand the worth of the women around us. We must give our stories to each other freely and shamelessly. 
But even beyond that, if we want to change things for those who come after us, we must make ourselves known. We must tell our stories, especially in mixed forums, boldly and fearlessly. 
We need to be strong. We need to be vocal.
We must be the women God made us to be.
And that just might mean saving the men from themselves. 

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