cross posted from my blog...
I was out shopping recently and saw a baby boy onesie (it was blue, so in the strictly color coded baby clothes world, it was intended for boys and boys only...). On the front was the phrase "Second in Command After Daddy." Now as a good feminist that pissed me off. Who in their right mind would stick that on their baby, even as a joke? Even tongue-in-cheek promotions of such family hierarchy encourage the myth that having a penis somehow makes you more important than women.
If you haven't gathered it by now, I'm not a huge fan of hierarchical leadership (even when it's not based on gender). I prefer flat networked structures that allow for input from all. And in truth, it's less about equality or sameness and more about simply respecting people as people. Letting voices be heard and appreciating contributions for what they are.
So on one level, I appreciate that fact that Emergent Village is transitioning to a more decentralized structure
. While some
may be heralding Tony Jones stepping down as National Coordinator to symbolize the dismantling of Emergent, it was meant as an opportunity to allow a wider variety of people to step up into leadership positions (as the amusing series of I Am The Emergent National Coordinator
videos demonstrates). And as Tony mentioned on his blog
yesterday, "Any time you can dethrone an overeducated, loud, brash, white man,people just feel more openness for their own voice to be heard." It's all about reducing hierarchy and opening up the conversation.
But will it work? In brief discussions with other women leaders in the emerging movement, I've heard the question raised if the lack of a central leader will actually help women become more involved in the conversation. Many post-evangelical women still struggle to jump into the conversation, much less assert themselves as leaders. For good or bad, they still seek invitations to come alongside and be a part of the in-group. With no one to officially offer that invitation, the question remains if the women will step up or just remain on the sidelines peeking in. I honestly have no idea. It would be easy to say that women just need to get over it and assert themselves, but that would stray into dangerous psychological territory and miss the point. I don't want to need a man's permission to do anything, but an invitation (from someone) is still what many women are looking for.
So I'm curious to see how the decentralization of power affects the presence of women in Emergent. I'd of course like to see a vibrant representation of women in Emergent leadership. I'm encouraged to hear from some that at The Great Emergence event men at times seemed like the token voice. But to the best of my knowledge, I haven't seen any women making national coordinator videos. That's not a criticism, just an expression of curiosity of where this will lead. I hope the speculation of other emerging women will be wrong and we will see an increase of women's voices in Emergent. But at the same time be proactively aware that the opposite could just as easily occur.
Labels: Emerging Church, Gender Issues