Patriarchal attitudes, “mansplaining,” and women in church leadership

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Women Explain Things
Carol Howard Merritt, on her Tribal Church blog for the Christian Century, emphasizes the importance of women in religious leadership, including—perhaps especially—in the pulpit, as a symbol of “trust and authority.”  She writes,  “Also, it’s important that women explain things—especially when it comes to religion. If you spend time on the Internet, you probably know the term “mansplaining”—when men explain things to women without acknowledging their intelligence, knowledge, or familiarity with subject matter . . .  .  Religion has had a pretty devastating history of mansplaining.”  And it’s one important reason we need more women leaders.  Related. To underscore the point she is making,  Merritt refers to Rebecca Solnit’s famous 2008 widely-reprinted essay, titled, “Men Explain Things to Me.” Take some time to read (or re-read)  it.  It is classic! And it makes the point in a way you can’t help but remember and want to share with others.  Although Solnet herself did not coin the term mansplaining,” her essay struck a chord with many women who have had similar experiences. And somewhere along the line, as the essay was discussed and repeatedly reposted, somebody attached a name to the experience.  (You might also be interested in reading the Urban Dictionary’s definitions of “mansplaining.”)

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.


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