International Women's Day technically falls on March 8th (as it does every year), but since Mondays are already dedicated to my "New Testament in a Year" series, I'm going to go ahead and post my two cents today. I figure that since the United States actually dedicates the entire month of March to "Women's History Month," I'm probably on safe ground.
The theme for Women's History Month this year is "Writing Women Back into History." More often than not, the important contributions of women to the world have been either ignored, or given a rather cursory mention (perhaps as a footnote to the contribution of the woman's more famous husband?). When and where we are aware of these contributions, it is important to help other people be aware of them, as well. In this way, young girls may grow up recognizing that they, too, have the potential to do great things. That's why I've taken on projects like the updated language version of Margaret Fell's Women's Speaking Justified. The original work is in the public domain, and I'm fully sympathetic with anyone who would rather slog through the 17th century English than pay money for something that is available for free. My main concern is that people be made aware that works like these are out there--that advocating for women in the church didn't start with the suffragettes and the women's liberation movement.
Of the various sometimes-controversial issues that Christians often engage in on theological grounds, the one that I've tried hardest to be up front and unapologetic for is my belief that women have just as much right to hold church office as men do, and I trust that a search through old blog posts--to say nothing of my promoting Fell's work--will bear that out. On the other hand, I feel that I have to acknowledge that, as a man, I may not fully grasp how this issue impacts women, however sympathetic I may be. I live in a society (to say nothing of my faith) that still grants men certain privileges it denies women, and I have benefited from that prejudice in ways that I don't fully realize. I want to be careful not to say that "I understand" beyond what I truly do understand.
Still, it is my belief that, if only because of that existing cultural prejudice, it is important for sympathetic men to join their voices with those of concerned women in advocating for change. So, although I certainly want women to help spread the word, I have a particular challenge to offer my male readers. Would you please join me in doing our part to inform people of the contributions of women to the unfolding of our shared history?