We’re Not That Far Along

“The ideal is a gender blind society… but in some quadrants, we’re slipping back into patriarchy.”


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Transcript for We’re Not That Far Along

We’re not that far along, I don’t think. I mean there might be people on campus who say that we’ve overcome a lot of gender issues, and I think to some degree we have but you look at the faculty especially in sciences, engineering, there’s no gender balance. The ideal is a gender-blind society, but to some extent the culture is revisiting a lot of gender issues and in some quadrants slipping back into patriarchy.

I think many women on this campus are not aware of sort of the movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s how profoundly society was changed over that time. They have become maybe complacent because they didn’t live through it, and they may think that if we don’t make gender a big issue that’s our way of sort of overcoming gender issues.

I define feminism very broadly. At one level it’s simply a person who is sensitized to gender issues and gender perspective. Now the next step of a feminist would be a person who is not simply sensitive to those issues but is an advocate in some ways. I find gender issues and the feminist approach still very useful in the classroom.

They’re seeing issues I think in the New Testament period that, that in some ways are still with us. This is, that we’ve got good instances in the early church of women in leadership roles. We see some instances where patriarchy from the larger culture is reasserting itself by the third and fourth generation of the early church. It’s not an exact mirror, but I think the issues of gender and power are at play in the New Testament as they are in contemporary society, and I hope they can make some connection between the history that I’m talking about and the history that they are living.

People from different backgrounds really do bring different viewpoints, and it’s good to get these things out on the table, and that can often lead to really good conversations. Kind of, it leads to a lot of aha moments and kind of great cultural sensitivity that we could really use. Uh, cause I think the culture is becoming more and more polarized. If anything there is less cultural sensitivity in some quadrants even as the culture becomes much more diverse.

I’m acutely aware of cultural difference and how significant an impact that has on simply how you look at the world. I don’t think you can just say we’ve got to have a common point of departure before we start talking about diversity. Maybe we don’t even need a common viewpoint. It’s our own anxiety about cultural chaos or upheaval. Maybe it’s a good thing not to have a single reference point or departure point. I was raised to be more comfortable with that, but I grew up late 1950s, 1960s America.