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Saturday, November 17, 2007
Affecting Change in A New Generation
I am new to this group and excited to join in the conversation!

I have been invited to speak to a group of High School students at our church about the topic of “women’s rights.” What do you think teenagers today, both guys and girls need to know about this topic? If you had the opportunity to speak to a group of High School students what perspectives would you want to share? What cultural ideas would you want to challenge? What advice would you give to me?
posted by Jenni at 8:41 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 11/18/2007 08:59:00 AM, Blogger Lydia

    What do you think teenagers today, both guys and girls need to know about this topic?

    I think they should know that

    a) women's rights aren't something that one can necessarily fight for in a vacuum; there are also issues related to race and class (and many other social markers) that affect lives.

    and b) the phrase can be shorthand for very different things - female genital mutilation, workplace discrimination, social mores related to the prosecution (or ignoring of?) rape, etc etc - depending on which country one is talking about.

    What cultural ideas would you want to challenge?

    That God has the same life plan set out for every woman because she's a woman (or for every man because he's a man), and that these are the only God-pleasing ways to live.

    That living outside the societal norms for one's gender will make God very angry with you.

    Misconceptions like these nearly led me to walk away from Christianity. I wish that there had been someone to tell me that God doesn't have the same script for every life.

    What advice would you give to me?

    Ask them a lot of questions about what they've seen and what they think about the topic.

  • At 11/18/2007 11:36:00 AM, Blogger sarah chia

    I agree with Lydia.

    I think it's important for teens to know that everyone has different callings and gifts to live in.

    So, the cultural idea that I would challenge is the idea that there is a certain "type" of woman that is a strong woman.

    Strength isn't always an overt, choleric manifestation. It is also a gentle, but solid, conviction of one's inherent worth.

    In high school terms...you don't have to give up your beautiful femininity to gain strength.

  • At 11/18/2007 05:19:00 PM, Blogger Heather W. Reichgott

    Oh, my goodness. There are so many good stories to tell. Ella Baker. Susan B. Anthony. Rosa Parks. Elizabeth Cady Stanton's amazing rants in the "Woman's Bible." Chinese grandmothers who tell their granddaughters the story of Fa Mu Lan. (Maxine Hong Kingston writes about that.) Poems and stories of Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich. World War II, Rosie the Riveter, and what happened when all the GIs came home again. Stories work well esp. as an introduction.

  • At 11/19/2007 01:38:00 PM, Blogger Shawna Renee

    I would also go back to the creation stories. First both men and women are made in God's image. Second the phrase normally mistranslated as "helpmate" in Genesis 2 literally translates a "help or power equal to." Woman was created as equal partner with the same commands given to both: to be fruitful and multiply and to rule and subdue the earth. I have more on my site: Does It Really Mean "Helpmate"?

    Also if you can get your hands on a copy of Carolyn Custis James' Lost Women of the Bible her chapter on Eve is excellent. A very important observation she makes is when the ezer (helper) is applied to God that it is normally in a military context with God coming to help and rescue Israel from its enemies. Her belief is that women were created to be warriors to stand by men and build the kingdom of God side by side. Her translation of ezer is "strong helper" which I like. Hope this helps.

  • At 11/20/2007 11:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    I love the comments from shawna.

    I think it's important for high schoolers, most of whom are searching for an identity, to be empowered to choose the roles they will play in their relationships.

    While we may hear a lot from Family Reconstuctionalists about how things 'should' be and how 'women's rights activists' are selfish and seeking to destroy family values, I think there has been too much history and too many different cultures for anyone (Western Christians)to force women and men into certain roles.

  • At 11/20/2007 07:04:00 PM, Blogger Robin M.

    They need to know how much things have changed for the better in just the last generation. That the concept of equal pay for equal work, the ability of women to get credit in their own names, and the near parity of women going to college only became thinkable in my not-quite-40-years lifetime. Not that there aren't still problems, but change is possible.


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