Of course immediately after starting a blog, I hit a two-week long wall of writer’s block. I have a list of 23 topics to write on in a list on my phone, and I could not write a cohesive paragraph on a single one of them.
I think the winds are changing.
This blog was born out of a lifetime of feelings, decades of women’s ministry, and many, many conversations with women on two particular topics:
- We feel like failures when at womanhood.
- We fucking hate women’s ministry.
If you’re not committed to reading this post to the end, please don’t read past this point. There are 980 words beyond this point. That’s roughly 3.25 minutes of reading for the average adult.
A lot of these feeling, according to the conversations I’ve had (and corroborated by my own experience), arises when we see these sociocultural standards of “womanhood” and “ladylikeness”, and we see how miserably we measure up to the standard. “I will never be that.” so the thought goes—and a seed of bitterness is planted.
For me personally, I’ve felt like a failure at womaning since I was a girl, because I generally fail at nearly every sociocultural standard that I see set before me—in the church, and outside of it. I always felt like the obtuse swamp monster at a royal tea party attending women’s ministry events.
(And women reading this, I need you to consciously decide not to reply with some sort of coddling, “encouraging” message. I want you to sit in this shit heap of feelings of failure with me, and address your own feelings of failure. For a little while, let’s just be shitty together.)
I’m a pretty solid poster child for failure to woman properly. Truth be told, that is likely because I gave up at this shit some time around the second grade. The first time I was called fat (and to suck in my stomach), the first time I was called a tomboy, the first time I was told I walked like a trucker (and not a lady, and that boys would never like me if I wasn’t a lady), happened in rapid succession around the time I was seven. The same titles are still hurled my way (in more diplomatic terms) regularly. (I’ll write about that someday.)
As a seven-year-old, I became acutely aware of just how much I was failing the status quo. I lost hope that I’d ever live up to ladylikeness/womanhood/girlishness as a second grader. And I’m not one to pursue things I see no hope in—so I gave up. I accepted, even embraced the titles, and decided I would be the best disappointment anyone could imagine. I rooted myself in telling the status quo to go fuck itself. This echoes in my personality today like a nuclear explosion in the Grand Canyon.
I didn’t just buy into the idea of being a failure of a woman at seven years old—over the next 18 years, I put every chip I had in that pot. Every time I failed to measure up, another chip went in. Every time I got made fun of or humiliated for not measuring up, or compared to a boy/man, I’d dump a pile in. When I left the laid back PNW and found myself in the Bible belt at Liberty University—surrounded by this new (to me) notion of “Godly Womanhood” presented by women’s ministry, I threw nearly every chip I had in that pot. If—if—if I had even one chip left after Liberty, it got throw in with the rest when a man told me he loved me, but wasn’t attracted to me.
And that was it. I ran out of chips to put in the pot in early 2010. I accepted that I would never measure up, and always fail. An identify of “Failure at womaning” became simultaneously my captor and my idol.
It also just so happened to be in late 2009 I started attending a church that aggressively preached Truth, and I slowly became immersed in community who echoed that aggressive, beautiful, sometimes offensive (to my idols), proclamation of the Gospel that I so desperately needed. I made friends who accepted my shortcomings—and were fairly shitty, too. They were, are, amazing friends—they were broken, too—and their facades were often reduced to ruins—still there, but incomplete so you could see past them.
They never responded to my failures and brokenness with the neutered women’s ministryisms that I had been inundated with for so many years before. I was never offered any DIY Bible fix-it tips. No one responded to me with the vacant “God’s daughter” and “God thinks you’re beautiful” shite that made no sense to me. They responded to me with the Truth of the Gospel—that I am a sinner (and so are they), and that Jesus didn’t just come to fix me, but save my soul (and theirs). The Gospel became less and less about hitting that bar of idolatrous success (in womanhood or anything else), and recognizing that no amount of failure (real or perceived) could actually separate me from the love of Christ.
Slowly but surely, over the last six plus years, I saw the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that I had never seen it before. The Holy Spirit whispered, “You are loved as you are.”—and my community echoed that. Over—and over—and over again. And over the last six years my identity—that used to be wholly rooted in being a fantastic failure—was uprooted from that rotten ground and replanted in the hope of Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong, I still hear (and experience) the lies—day in and day out. That idol is still a tempter, but its voice so much more distant. That identity echoes throughout my personality to this day—but I can see it being redeemed. I can’t count the number of times over the past few years that I’ve seen my utter “failure at womaning” be used by the Holy Spirit. And the more I learn about Biblical womanhood, the more I understand that the standards that I see around me are not the standards set forth for women in the Bible. I will likely never live up to the standards of womanhood I see around me, and that’s ok—because no amount of failure at achieving useless standards will keep “my Redeemer’s love for me”—and I know that now. Sometimes. Sometimes I forget—but am then reminded by my brothers and sisters surrounding me.
So that’s what A Blog for Shitty Women is about.
It’ll be about other things too, I’m sure of it.