In The Market For Some New Female Images

Given the state of world affairs, I can’t help but see the ways in which our biblical text and traditional interpretation support contempt for women and girls. Either we are portrayed as the beatific, saccharin sweet mother, or we are the bad girls who do not know our place. I’m particularly irritated by the polarizing biblical tradition that situates sweet Mother Mary against “bad girls” beginning with Eve and culminating in the whore myth of Mary Magdalene – not true by the way. She was neither a whore nor a prostitute. The problem with our tradition, however, is that the poison continues to flavor the water we all swim in, to the detriment of the entire good creation. I need other images for my little girl and the girls of the world.

In just the past seven days we’ve celebrated Mother’s Day and commemorated the one month anniversary of the Chibok kidnapping in Nigeria where 276 girls were snatched from their school. Mother’s Day, with its commercialization, is the saccharin sweet queen of holidays. It no longer resembles the initial memorial of 1908, which honored, Anna Jarvis, a peace activist. Instead of an opportunity to celebrate bad, bodacious women, Mother’s Day has become a multi-billion dollar industry that images motherhood, in my opinion as a wimpy, spineless endeavor. I don’t recognize myself, my mother, or my grandmother in those sappy cards and Hallmark images. In fact, these are the same troubling images we are handed of the Virgin Mary – how could that Mary have raised Jesus?! We need another picture of Mary, a spunky Mama Mary!

One source I read said Mother’s Day spending was expected to reach 19.9 billion dollars in that particular year. The average person spends $216 on gifts for mom. While a good and generous outpouring, I’d prefer to see that money channeled toward lobbying that secures equal pay for equal work. I’d take the passage of a living wage bill over breakfast in bed any day of the year. I imagine moms around the world would sacrifice their chocolates and floral bouquets for the passage of the International Violence Against Women Act. The United States congress has failed to pass it twice, but you can click here to write your senators and representatives.

I don’t imagine the Mother’s Day images we are fed do much to change the world – sort of like the peaceful, long suffering image of the Virgin Mary. We need to change the story and that begins with changing the images.

Sweet Mother

Sweet Mother

ethiopian_mary_jesus_sallaway_8603

Sweet Mary

We need images of powerful women…

In just the past seven days, I’ve seen Beyoncé on the cover of Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people.  She’s wearing underwear or maybe a bathing suit.  I’ve tried to understand the power in that. I’ve given up. In the past seven days, feminist social-critic, bell hooks, labeled Queen Bey an “anti-feminist terrorist.” Yikes…

We need images of powerful women…

In the past seven days, I have attended an interfaith call to prayer with Muslim, Jewish and Christian believers on behalf of the kidnapped Nigerian school girls. My husband and our three year-old daughter joined me in adding their voices to the cacophony of cries to our God to #BringBackOurGirls. We prayed for girls in Nigeria but also for girls in Ohio and Tennessee. All around the world, girls are taken every day from their families. Boko Haram militants, in Nigeria, believe females should be married and that education is ruining them, so they are allegedly selling girls as young as nine years-old to men looking for brides. The going price is about $12. Girls in the USA are sold-out in equally disturbing ways.

How those families must grieve.
How those girls must cry.
How crazy to live in a world in which women and girls are tools of war.
The Twitterverse is atweet.
The church is largely silent…wimpy and spineless.

We need images of powerful women… 

My Modern day Mary – fire in her eyes

I am raising my biological daughter and all the daughters I mother in ministry to have fire in their eyes and spunk in their steps. I pray they will live the life they have been called to live and that they will live it bodaciously and out loud – forces against evil in our world, particularly as it hampers women and girls. I pray to God that the females I influence will be, not the wimpy, spineless images we are often handed but the women my friend Kathy LeMay described this way: “Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, “Oh, no, she’s up!” Thank God for women who change the story and the images they are handed. Thank God for women who do the best they can, where they are, with what they have.

You are loved,
Adriene

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One thought on “In The Market For Some New Female Images

  1. Amen Sister! As a mom, daughter and granddaughter, the Hallmark version of motherhood never resonated with me either. Women/mothers are SO much more! To me, a perfect mother’s day gift would be a donation to http://www.Heifer.org, http://www.care.org, or some other organization that empowers women, girls and mothers around the world. I don’t need another sappy card.

    We DO need better images of women. Powerful women who own their own lives and love fiercely. Women like Aung San Suu Kyi, Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Christiane Amanpour, or Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. It’s tough though, to find positive role-models and/or images of powerful women who aren’t entertainers or supermodels. And, I’m sorry, but if a woman is famous just because clothes drape well on her too-thin, very tall body – that alone doesn’t make her a positive image for women to emulate. There must be more substance. Maybe that’s why we have a tough time equating power with Beyonce in her underwear.

    God created us as ‘ezers,’ a Hebrew word which connotates so much more than the wimpy and mistranslated “suitable helper.” In other Biblical references, ‘ezer’ is used to describe God. In those instances it means “strong warrior,” or “powerful companion and rescuer,” and is used to describe God coming alongside to help Israel. THAT is the kind of image we need for women!

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