Sunday, May 11, 2008

Neither merchandise nor vessel.

Again I find myself quoting an entire article or post, because I've been there and been treated like That, and I doubt that there is one soul incarnated on this world as woman who has not been treated this way. And more often than not by those who profess their godliness the loudest. And I'm always amazed by how good-looking, fit men use their looks and bodies in subtle and overt ways to both get ahead in their careers and their personal relationships without fear that they will lose the respect of their peers. Or that they'll be labeled as just a "body" in some way.

For example, I dress very conservatively and professionally at work, not just because it's not the place nor time to "express myself" freely but because always in the back of my mind their lurks the risk of forever not being taken seriously if I give in to the impulse of wearing a summer dress (and DAMN are summers hot here) however demure it may be, because it's too "girly" or it may make me look like I'm trying to find a hook-up at work.

But I also work with and around a couple of good-looking men who feel free to come dressed in bike shorts (one's a cycling fanatic) -- VERY tight shorts -- or to openly boast about how flirting with so-and-so got them a client, an argument reconsidered, etc. I realistically do not see myself ever being cut that slack, nor can I see the female attorney at the firm getting a pass either. So yes, in many respects, women are still boxed in as either "madonnas" or "whores".

So here it is, the May 10 post from Pastor Peggy Senger Parsons' SillyPoorGospel:

Walking down a back street in Santa Fe. The sidewalk was minimal, the adobe wall on my right hand was solid, my left hand could have touched any passing car. It was a one-lane sidewalk.

I heard the slow rumbling approach behind me. Then I heard the young men in the car. They were speaking Spanish, but their intent required no interpretation. They leaned out the open windows. I took a deep breath, blew it out and ignored them. They matched my pace, rolling along directly behind me, providing color commentary.

Then I noticed the old Hispanic man walking towards me. He looked at me, he took in the boys. He could see what they could not – I was visibly pregnant – and it just popped his top.

He jumped off the curb in front of the car. He stood there screaming at the boys, in Spanish of course. He waved his arms wildly in my direction. The only word I caught, multiple times, was “Madonna.” I turned. The boys got the message. The old man continued to yell and pound his fist on their hood. The chastised put it in reverse, backing away from the avenger.

I slipped around the corner, unnoticed.

And that, was in fact, the problem. Nobody on that street had seen ME. The ones in the car saw the biological usefulness of my backside. The one in front of me saw the biological usefulness of my womb. All had opinions about my status as a woman. Their opinions were in severe conflict.

None of them saw the young woman who was neither flattered nor frightened by the unasked for attention. No one saw the young woman who needed no protection or vengeance. What I thought or felt mattered not at all to them.

But hear me now.

I am not my biology.

I enjoy all the things that my body can do.

But I am not my body.

I treasure my body, giving it respect without worship. It is my friend and my servant.

But it is temporary and I am not.

My gender is temporary.

I, created in the image of God, cannot be truly defined by gender.

When my blood and sinews, hormones and neurotransmitters are all rot,

I will remain.

Some of what walked that street will remain.

But those blind men on that street that day would not recognize me,


they never saw me.

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