For a girl
"You know, for a girl, you can really preach."
"I normally don’t read books by girls, but I read your book"
"I never listen in while I’m running sound for these lady things, but I listened this time and I thought you said a couple of great things!"
"We asked you to join this conference because we needed the whole diversity thing, but we never expected so many people to actually like your session so much!"
"I didn’t think I was going to like your bit of this – I haven’t ever heard of you before – but it was actually pretty good for a girl."
"I haven’t ever read your books because they’re not really my thing, but I think I might tell my wife you’re safe."
"I never thought I’d dig what you had to say but for a girl you were fine by me."
"You know what? For a girl, you’re pretty good! I even took notes!"
We’re just so past the need for feminism here. We’ve already taken care of this issue.
I usually laugh when people say these things to me – and yes, these are actual quotes from actual people at actual events over the past few years. I get it. I know people mean well.
No one really intends to give offense and I’m not usually someone who looks for opportunities to be offended. People intend to give a genuine compliment, however backhanded or sexist it comes across.
I get that.
Women in the Bible
For a girl, Deborah was a pretty good army general and strategist.
For a girl, Junia was a pretty good apostle.
For a girl, Mary was a pretty good student.
For a girl, Priscilla was a pretty good teacher.
For a girl, Esther was pretty good for such a time as this.
For a girl, I guess I can see why people look up to people like, oh, Rosa Parks, Corrie ten Boom, Madeleine L’Engle, Dorothy Sayers, Harriet Tubman, etc.
I think I’m getting a wee bit sarcastic now.
Leveling the playing field
Me, I’m an ordinary woman – I write things and I preach sometimes, sure, I lead in my own way in a regular sort of life. But I’m hardly a hero, I get that.
And still I hear this everywhere I go: "For a girl, you’re pretty good."
For a girl.
I’m not even going to touch the whole “calling me a girl” thing when I’m actually a thirty-seven-year-old woman, but whatever.
I wonder sometimes when I’ll stop hearing the qualifiers.
When being the woman in the room isn’t a novelty.
When being a woman who preaches the Gospel or teaches with authority or writes a book that actually isn’t expressly meant to be shelved in the “Women” section of the bookstore isn’t so worthy of note.
When a man doesn’t need a cookie for how forward-thinking he is just for being open to receiving wisdom or leadership from a woman.
When I don’t have to have a form email that I repeatedly send to conference organizers kindly reminding them to add women to the line-up.
When I am not invited to speak simply to keep Twitter backlash from the conference hashtag.
When the secondary string isn’t mainly female at a conference or a church staff or a school.
When women preachers don’t need twice as much education or platform for half the opportunities.
When there isn’t a tone of surprise to find that a woman can hold her own in matters of leadership and ministry.
When casual sexism isn’t acceptable, no matter what our theological labels.
When women aren’t overlooked as elders or leaders or pastors or deacons in their own right.
When the gift makes room long before the grudging quotas.
When we each operate in our gifts and anointings, running in the race to which we are called, in the Body of Christ with joy and grace and welcome.
I wonder when the response will simply be: glory to God for the word that has been given, we receive.
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