An observation was recently made about the absence of women in leadership positions in the emerging conversation in Canada, and this has been a subject of discussion. It’s not a unique characteristic to the situation in Canada from what I observe. Don’t worry, this post is not going to be about any kind of “affirmative action” or anything like that. I don’t believe those undertakings are genuinely helpful…. they tend to insist on taking an equal number of people from a smaller pool, which is itself an imbalance and necessarily means that less qualified people displace others. In general, I think they seek a good goal in a bad way.
Now, in prior contexts when the criticism of a lack of women in leadership has arisen, I’ve heard it responded to by saying that women teach Sunday School, work in the children’s ministry, serve in the hospitality area…. and let’s just agree that there’s no point in ranting on that one, at least not at the moment everyone knows that response sounds cheap. I’ve also heard the response that it isn’t actually true, because and then followed a list of almost every woman who had been in leadership of some type there in the past 25 years. Giving this response is just as hollow, but it isn’t really as immediately apparent to most. In resorting to this answer, the respondent is basically indicating they haven’t actually got a proper response and can’t see or admit that there’s a real issue. Why is it hollow? Think about this the retort that immediately comes to my mind in that situation is, “That’s great, thanks for that. By the way, off the top of your head, how many men can you name who have been in leadership of various types here over the past 25 years?” You see where we’re going, of course. There are too many men on the list to start listing, but it’s not a difficult task for the women.
So here’s the rub. Where are the women in the emerging church conversation worldwide? In the context of the aforementioned question, this evening I was asked by one of people in our little gathering (who seems to like being referred to as one of the “missional chicks”) what women were blogging in the emerging church conversation. She thought she gravitated toward the male bloggers, but I think my response would support a different interpretation, or at least explain that one.
At the risk of saying something offensive a risk I’ve taken and lost at far too often to count I told her that there were very few. I told her to visit Maggi Dawn, perhaps the most preeminent female voice in the conversation. I also directed her to Emerging Grace, a more recent entry into the conversation, at least as a blogger. I was a bit more hard-pressed to think of any others though, and told her that most of the female bloggers I knew of spent a fair bit of time talking about themselves, their kids, and what they did that day. They all have “wonderful” husbands (a description which I doubt that even they believe all the time, though that single word seems to describe all of them without exception in their profiles). It isn’t that we don’t like their kids or anything, and I really don’t want to offend, but for most of us, these are not that interresting to us unless (or until) we know the blogger. For these, even though they may be part of the emerging church, their blogs are not part of the emerging conversation in quite the same way. See, I told you I risked offending people. I’m not saying that personal entries are bad even I do those from time to time… what I am saying is that when they’re the vast majority, the blog in general takes on a different character, and the emerging conversation becomes somewhat secondary at best.
So here’s my question: who and where are the women bloggers in the emergent church, the ones who are talking about missional or emerging church subjects and participating in that conversation? I’m sure there are more out there, and I’d like to know.
Update: Don’t miss the followup post to this one, Located: Emerging/Missional Chick Bloggers.