Men, Women & Expectations (Please Tell Me We’ve Evolved a Little)

A retired clergywoman friend of mine has been ordained for almost 50 years.  Jackson-Pollock-Male-and-Female-1942-large-1033295365

As someone who’s been ordained for almost 30 years, we share some common experiences as women pastors.   Like Y,  I was often the first clergywoman parishioners had ever laid eyes on.  Like Y, I was sometimes  the only female at a clergy conference in those early years.  Like Y,  I even experienced colleagues making passes at me.  Clergy colleagues.

But my long-retired friend tells me that  – as a young (under 40) clergywoman, she never attended a clergy conference, clergy retreat, or continuing education class without a male colleague making a pass at her.  There was an expectation that – because she was there – she must have been “available.”

So last night I read this article from the online version of Vanity Fair about teenage girls, teenage boys, social media, and the expectation that the girls are fair game to the boys sexually.  Because they are there.

The VF article is disturbing for countless reasons.  But I wonder:  have things not evolved in terms of boys and men expecting sexual favors from girls and women just because they are there?  Is the article hyperbolizing possible problems with social media?  Or is it truly the expectation of some males regarding all females?

Just wondering.

And where is the church in all this? What is the church teaching our boys and girls, our men and women about why we are valuable?  Can you share specific conversations/programs/opportunities that your spiritual community is offering to talk about this with our kids and their parents?

Image is Male and Female 1942 by Jackson Pollock.


2 responses to “Men, Women & Expectations (Please Tell Me We’ve Evolved a Little)

  1. Huh…I’ve been ordained for 10, but given that I started out in a denomination that was 30 years behind the PCUSA on this, I have some similar experiences from seminary and my first 5 years of ministry. However, this was never my experience. And I haven’t heard it from my female colleagues in that denomination. Wondering….

  2. I was 42 when I was ordained, now almost fourteen years ago. I have never had a male colleague treat me as if I were there for their “pleasure” nor have I had passes made at me. Maybe this is because I am older? Maybe it’s because, as a happily married woman, I send off “not interested, not available” vibes? Maybe its just because my male colleagues behave appropriately with their female colleagues, at least in this regard. Being ignored, overlooked, talked over and around…well, that still happens.

    Still, teaching our young men and women how to have respect and dignity for others is an ongoing process. Movies, news reports, articles like this, the rampant examples of sex slaves, kidnapping, and slave trafficking make this point tragically real.

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