Pantene has said what every professional woman has wanted to say: “When I’m at my best, my colleagues think the worst of me.”
I’m sorry to say that this reality is much worse in the church than in the professional world. When I was in seminary, I was blown away by the number of young women that heard comments on Sunday mornings about what they were wearing. I have preached since I was 19 years old- about 15 years. I typically dress as casually as I can get away with (without offending) on Sunday morning. I have never had a single comment made to me about my clothing. My female colleagues hear comments on their hair, clothing, and shoes nearly every week. When I’m thinking about the Word of God as I get ready on a Sunday morning that I’m preaching, she has to think about what people will say about her skirt length.
Check out my follow-up to this post: Double Standards, Women, And The Church – Part 2
This isn’t just about clothing. Your pastor (or the female staff at your church) is not your “sweetie,” your “honey,” or your “young lady.” She is a minister of God’s Word. Sure. I got some of these condescending comments when I was a 20-something, but not like my female colleagues. If you don’t believe me, check out some things that have been said to my 30-year-old friend, Rev. Jill Moffett Howard.
Oh, and do you know how many times women clergy have been grabbed in unspoken places during a receiving line after preaching? When did that last happen to you, pastor?
At the heart of this video is one of the most concerning aspects of this series of double standards: women leaders in the church will be called names for the same leadership practices that a male leader will be commended for. This undermines some of the best leaders the church has to offer by branding them with a second class status that in most places has ended officially but persists in expectations. I know a quite progressive church in Illinois that was really concerned that now both of their pastors were women. “We can’t have two women can we?” They never asked those questions when they had two men.
This is the definition of double standard. This is sexist. This is wrong. We can’t let it continue. It undermines the most under-utilized leadership resource in the contemporary church. Name it when you see it. Thanks Pantene.
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Related Post: 4 Reasons Why Ordaining Women Is No Longer An Option