The Twitter hashtag #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear brought to light harmful ways that misogyny, abuse, sexism, and rape culture affect women in the church. I had an opportunity to write an article for RELEVANT Magazine discussing what the hashtag revealed and what the Church can do about it.
What #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear Showed About the Struggle of Women in the Church
On April 18, Sarah Bessey started the Twitter conversation using the hashtag, #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear. It took off in a way few of us expected. By the next morning it was trending, and at the time of this writing, women are still sharing experiences.
#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear gives a voice to our often silenced experiences of misogyny, abuse, sexism and rape culture in the Church, and it highlights ways people twist the Bible to justify these things and keep us quiet.
This goes far beyond debating complementarian vs. egalitarian theology to sharing how we’re hurt and harmed by ways certain theologies are carried out in the Church.
OBJECTIFICATION OF OUR ‘DANGEROUS’ BODIES
We’re taught our bodies are dangerous sexual objects, and we must protect men because they can’t control themselves. Not only is it shame-inducing, but it messes with our identity and even our married sex lives.
ABUSE AND RAPE IN THE CHURCH
Beyond objectification, women shared experiences of abuse and rape—including marital rape—being ignored or even justified by the Church.
WOMEN’S ROLES AND IDENTITY
Women shared stories of being given responsibilities of leadership, but being denied the title simply because we’re female—or about being denied opportunities to use our God-given spiritual gifts. We talked about being told we exist for the primary purpose of being a wife and mother.
RACISM AND SEXISM
Beyond sexism, women of color experience a whole other level of pain within the Church. So #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear led into #ThingsOnlyBlackChristianWomenHear. We need to listen to their experiences.
A TELLING RESPONSE
Responses to the hashtags varied from support and “me too” to theological arguments about why the responders are wrong, to accusations that they’re not Christians, to personal attacks, to telling the women to shut up because they’re making the Church look bad.
People took Bible verses out of context to prove us wrong and try to silence us. People said Muslim women experience worse. People called others liars. And of course, they told women on Twitter that not all churches are like that.
Many of the responses that tried to shut the whole thing down did little more than exemplify why the conversation is necessary.
Even if you’re 100 percent complementarian in your theology, and don’t want to examine an alternate view, you can still listen and defend women from abuse. You can still speak up when your theology is being used to harm women. Your theology teaches that you are to protect us, doesn’t it?
Other people experiencing worse things than us does not mean we don’t have a right to shine light on our experiences.
And if your church isn’t like that, and you were never told these things, I am genuinely happy for you. Please don’t discount our experiences. In fact, please listen to us and use your voice to help us fight.