Category: Gender and Sexuality

A Crisis of Faith: In support of Kay Ellen

Sexualized violence doesn’t only hurt those directly victimized. It ripples out and causes all manner of harm to the families, loved ones, colleagues, and broader communities of both victim-survivors and perpetrators. While Our Stories Untold prioritizes survivors’ voices, those who are secondarily impacted need to be heard too so that we get a full picture of the problem and understand its reach. Not a survivor herself, in this piece Annamary Kennell tells of the crisis Duane Yoder’s abusive behavior has wrought on her life. With the kind of vulnerability that is stronger than steel, she speaks from her own experience, in support of Kay Ellen’s. *Further documentation regarding credible accusations against Duane Yoder can be found on SNAP Mennonite’s MAP List. – Hilary J. Scarsella   After hearing Lauren Shifflet’s & Kay Ellen’s stories, I felt compelled to write the following article. Lauren and Kay have been victims of betrayal from their churches and church families. They trusted their ministers and church elders to protect them and help them grow spiritually. They could not have known that just the opposite would happen to them.[…] The post A Crisis of Faith: In support of Kay Ellen appeared first on Our Stories Untold.

White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Blogging Through Pt. 3

Feminist theology is a very broad term ranging a variety of theological traditions. This makes sense, given the nature of Christian theology, which is far from homogeneous. Without giving a detailed analysis of each tradition, which Grant does provide a brief overview, let’s look at the general goals and themes within Christian Feminist theology as … Continue reading "White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Blogging Through Pt. 3"

White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Blogging Through Pt. 1

I lived with my mother throughout childhood (not that my father wasn’t present – he most certainly was!). Most of my close friends have been women. I am, according to American culture, probably about as feminine as masculine. Despite all of this, I am still a lower middle class white male.  Continue reading "White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Blogging Through Pt. 1"

Femininity (Part 3)

I blame the paint.
Cleaning has never been my strength. Growing up, I quickly learned that if I waited long enough the mess would annoy my sister so that she’d eventually go on a cleaning rampage, and I wouldn’t have to bother. Yet, I always pictured myself as one of “those women” when I grew up. You know, the women whose houses are always perfect; their decorations are tasteful; their cupboards are always full of snacks and their doors are always open. Then, I became an adult and moved to my first apartment. When I made my apartment choice, I cried (which my brothers would say really isn’t that surprising since I cry about everything), Out of my two main options, I'd chosen the shabby option. Although it was the logical choice (location, lawn care, cost, etc…), I had already imagined myself decorating and having friends over in the nicer, bigger house. The very night I moved into my apartment, I found out that despite my landlord’s no pet rule, crickets came with it (Thankfully, most of them left when I moved in). The first couple weeks I scrubbed and scrubbed the kitchen floor before eventually realizing that the scratches would make it look forever dirty. I have an unopenable cabinet door, water damage under every sink, bare walls since I can’t nail pictures up when and where I want, and then there is the paint. The paint.
Cleaning has never been my strength. Growing up, I quickly learned that if I waited long enough the mess would annoy my sister so that she’d eventually go on a cleaning rampage, and I wouldn’t have to bother.
Yet, I always pictured myself as one of “those women” when I grew up. You know, the women whose houses are always perfect; their decorations are tasteful; their cupboards are always full of snacks and their doors are always open.
Then, I became an adult and moved to my first apartment. When I made my apartment choice, I cried (which my brothers would say really isn’t that surprising since I cry about everything), Out of my two main options, I'd chosen the shabby option. Although it was the logical choice (location, lawn care, cost, etc…), I had already imagined myself decorating and having friends over in the nicer, bigger house.
The very night I moved into my apartment, I found out that despite my landlord’s no pet rule, crickets came with it (Thankfully, most of them left when I moved in). The first couple weeks I scrubbed and scrubbed the kitchen floor before eventually realizing that the scratches would make it look forever dirty. I have an unopenable cabinet door, water damage under every sink, bare walls since I can’t nail pictures up when and where I want, and then there is the paint.
The paint.
Cheap paint that displays every grease splatter, every furniture bump, and every sticky tack mark (limited nailing, remember!).
I hosted some --but the flops stood out in my mind more than the successes. The time I served freezer burnt buns with sloppy joes. The family of five crowded around my tiny kitchen table, and then the kids who were bored afterwards. The time my guests noticed the plants growing in my rotting window sills (no, there are no window boxes), and I realized that I had never washed my windows since moving in (not that I washed them after that realization).
I melted a mouse trap on my stove and couldn’t get the remains off which was embarrassing because 1) I had mice. 2) I had mice in the kitchen. 3) I used the inhumane glue traps. 4) I was stupid enough to leave a trap on my stove and then turn it on.
Gradually, it became easier to visit others (something us singles often can get by with) instead of inviting others over. I compared myself to my friends (many of whom had been housekeeping for a lot longer than I had) and gave up. I cleaned less because, well, why clean when the first thing everyone is going to notice is the atrocious cheaply painted, scuff-marked and grease-splattered walls?
It’s a domino effect. The cheaply painted walls led to unclean windows which led to dusty corners which led to….well, I won't share all my dirty secrets.
A statement I read several years ago has nagged at the back of my mind ever since. Margaret Clarkson, a single teacher, wrote the following: “Having a home has given me greater credibility….I have had to face the same situations that householders everywhere must face---appliances that break down, carpenter ants in the basement, a broken water main causing the front lawn to sink, a roof that leaks, gutters to be repaired or renewed, a house that must be painted” (66).
She also wrote, “Although for the Christian single, chastity must supersede any sexual activity, the enjoyment of sexuality, in ourselves and in others, is God’s rich gift to us all….I enjoy being a woman….I enjoy doing the things that women do….I find great pleasure in caring for my home and garden, in handwork, sewing and other feminine pursuits...I have innumerable ways of expressing my own sexuality and enjoying that of others” (86).
While reading her book So You’re Single!, I realized that I had been waiting to host, waiting to decorate and waiting to express my femininity in certain ways until I married or until I got a nicer place --which obviously might never happen.
I enjoy a clean home. I enjoy hosting. And I enjoy decorating.
So why wait?
And so I started. One summer,  I painted a waterfall hanging for my living room. The next summer, I painted furniture. The following summer, I bought pillows and a rug.  And you know what I discovered?
When I paint a wall hanging, then I dust the bookshelves which leads to inviting a friend over. It’s the domino effect again.
Perhaps, I’ll eventually figure out this whole homemaking thing.
Work Cited:
Clarkson, Margaret. So You’re Single! Wheaton: Harold Shaw, 1978. Print.
Creating Blogpost Series:

50 Reasons Why I Love Singleness (a.k.a. My Selfishness Revealed)

Sorry. I didn't mean to be back on the topic of singleness quite so soon, but there was this conversation.... The topic of singleness was brought up in a group of mostly married people. The immediate natural reaction was pity and empathy as different people shared times they went to events without their spouse.
Singleness definitely does have its negatives, and I deeply appreciated the responses since it's nice to know people understand and care. Of course, I had to put my 2 cents in, so I made a comment about how singleness has its benefits too. A woman in the group turned to me and said, "And we need to hear that." I agreed. Thus, I decided to make my personal, still-growing list public:
  1. I can spend money on what is important to me --no compromising on finances.
  2. I can quadruple dip from the pickle jar and eat ice cream straight from the box.
  3. I can dance in the middle of the night with the music blasting and all the lights on. I can be crazy without driving anyone else crazy.
  4. I can take long, hot showers and keep my home toasty. I can put ten blankets on my bed and keep the fan off in the summer. I can have my desk in front of my couch and paint my bookshelves purple and black. I can hoard peanut butter jars and watch the same movie three times in a row in one night.
  5. I can drop everything and hang out with someone.
  6. I can hit a project hard and let other responsibilities slide for a while.
  7. I'm forced to turn to God --rather than tempted to put my trust in a human-- when I'm desperate. My immediate tendency when I have a problem is to talk about it with someone else, but not having someone who is as familiar with my life as a spouse frequently forces me to turn to God.
  8. No person can fulfill me. Married people obviously have to learn this too, but perhaps the truth stares me in the face a little sooner and in a different way. My desires point me to the One who truly satisfies. As the hymn states, "We have enough, yet not too much to long for more."
  9. I have more flexibility in serving others. I can change my schedule on a whim.
  10. I get a different perspective and connect with a variety of people that I otherwise might not get an opportunity to connect with --not only do I have more time and energy to socialize since I'm not investing in a family, but my flexibility and freedom sometimes allow me to participate in unique experiences. Plus, people find it easier to invite one more person to dinner than a whole family.*
  11. I'm more sensitive to the elderly, the single, the widow, barren, lonely, etc...than I might be otherwise.
  12. I can flirt ….(with many qualifications obviously).
  13. I have more time to invest in my students (e.g. go to sports games, write notes, pray for them, host an after school club, etc).
  14. I can yell at God. Literally yell. No one is sleeping or working or whatever in the next room.
  15. I can travel more.
  16. I get to watch the church be Jesus to me when I lack what a spouse might provide.
  17. I can withdraw when the introvert in me needs a break; I don't have someone depending on me for emotional support.
  18. I have time to invest in self-improvement: taking a class, reading a deep book, following inspiring blogs, enjoying the arts (painting and music), etc.
  19. I've learned the power of silence.
  20. When I'm angry with someone, I have more time to think through what I say because I don't live with them.
  21. I get to be an example of a contented virgin --something lacking and unpopular in our culture. I hesitate to say this because it sounds like I'm being proud, but it actually is exciting and humbling when I find that God uses me in spite of my GIGANTIC faults to encourage others.
  22. I have no one to blame but myself.
  23. I see God's sufficiency when I lack. To my surprise, I've learned that the marriage analogy in the Bible is very applicable to my life. God is my Protector, my Provider, my Leader, my Encourager, and my Friend. He is the One who knows all my faults and quirks and loves me anyway.
  24. I have more career freedom.
  25. I get the entire closet to myself (plus, the downstairs coat closet which is now my second shoe closet).
  26. The fridge is full of what I like to eat.
  27. My choices only affect me --less pressure.
  28. I can take advantage of riskier opportunities since I don't have a family relying on me.
  29. I don't have the temptation to worry about my kids' or husband's bad choices. It's got to be extremely hard to watch and not be able to make choices for those you love.
  30. I get to laugh at all those little annoyances couples have since I don't have to deal with them.
  31. Generally, my best friends are the ones who point out my faults. Unlike a spouse, I can hang up the phone on them (Yes, I’m talking about you, Audrey and Carmen). :P
  32. I am completely convinced that I am in the situation that God wants me in at this moment. That's extremely comforting and exciting.
  33. People let singles get by with a lot. Doritos are acceptable at a potluck. They don't ask us to host or be in leadership positions. They don't expect us to be committed. It's really nice (but not good for me at the same time).
  34. I don't have to share data or mushrooms. :P
  35. I can connect with Jesus, Paul, Daniel and the eunuch in Isaiah.
  36. I can stay in my pajamas all day and no one knows.
  37. I'm forced to study the Bible and decide on my own convictions.
  38. I've learned far more about cars than I ever wanted to know (which still isn't much).
  39. I can cry all day long and no one tries to "fix me".
  40. I can go on a reading binge (You knew that one was coming, didn't you?).
  41. When I do something stupid, I embarrass only myself.
  42. My need is very evident. It's humbling.
  43. I can easily get excited about how God can use me as a single. Having purpose is an awesome feeling.
  44. Being a single gives me more opportunities and more authenticity to encourage the church and other singles to embrace the beauty of singleness.
  45. I don't have to split the holidays between 2 families.
  46. Flexibility. Flexibility. Flexibility.
  47. I can leave the party early or late --depending on my mood.
  48. I don’t have to hang out with my husband’s friends and listen to them talk about sports and cars.
  49. Other singles are cool. Really cool. I get to connect with them in a way I might not otherwise (just like parents connect with other parents, and married people connect with other married people, etc...).
  50. I have singleness of purpose (1 Corinthians 7:34).
  51. No one steals the blankets from me in the middle of the night (added 2/3/16).
* "The excessive value the Western world has place on individualism fosters a psychological tendency to associate singleness with living alone. This is a tendency the church should resist. Christian singleness is not a denial of the underlying principle of Genesis 2:18, that it is not good to be alone. Neither Jesus nor Paul as single men were devoid of relationships. On the contrary, their relationships flourished in both number and depth by the freedom and flexibility their singleness afforded them” (Danylak 215). Works Cited: Danylak, Barry. Redeeming Singleness: How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010. Print.

Sexual Abuse in Black Adolescence and Childhood

This is the third post in OSU’s fall blog series on sexualized violence and race. Today’s post is offered by Kishundra D. King. She is both a crisis counselor who works with Black women and children survivors of abuse and a researcher who studies the same topic with respect to psychology and religion. Kishundra is someone who has a lot to offer growing understandings of the way that race and systemic racism exacerbate the harm of sexualized violence. If you would like to look back on the other posts in this series, you can read my post here, and Regina Shands Stoltzfus’s excellent contribution here. As always, if you have a story or perspective or question on the topic that you would like to share, leave a comment for Kishundra or send OSU a message. — Hilary ***   “When I was four, my dad touched my private areas and kissed me like a grownup…I couldn’t tell anyone. It would ruin my family.” – an eight year old Black girl   Stories like this are not uncommon.

The Kindness of Strangers: A Fresh Air child hosted by Mennonites breaks her silence

Editor’s Note: I met Janice Batts on Facebook messaging. She was very angry with the Mennonite Church. She was angry like Jesus-turning-over-tables-in-the-temple kind of angry. My good white Mennonite privilege was offended. I was repulsed by her anger and found myself judging it harshly. But I mustered up some self-righteous ‘care and kindness’ and asked whether I could pass along her concerns to our denomination’s executive director, Ervin Stutzman. “The story has been told countless times and nothing happens,” she replied. “Then someone comes along and says that maybe they could talk to Ervin (you weren’t the first). Then when I bleed my story out, all of a sudden no one can do anything and suggests I tell someone else the story.” “Ervin Stutzman is not responsible for what happened to you,” I responded condescendingly, then with judgement spilling out all over the place, “He wasn’t even around at the time. He is a man who has a position in a church organization. That’s it. What happened to you is horrible. But if you are waiting for someone to make it right for you, you will die a bitter soul. Your anger and vicious attitude is very off putting. You need to know that. […] The post The Kindness of Strangers: A Fresh Air child hosted by Mennonites breaks her silence appeared first on Our Stories Untold.
Loading

Email Subscribe

Subscribe for blog posts sent to your email

Post Categories

MennoNerds on YouTube