Yesterday, foreign minister and long serving liberal politician Julie Bishop, resigned after over 20 years in politics. As I watched the news this morning, the most consistent comment has been around her shoes. Now, I am not averse to a Jimmy Choo or a cheeky Blahnik (not to buy or wear, obvs. Because why Miu Miu when you can Kmart?).
But it made me stop in my tracks. I felt embarrassed for her. It made me feel sad for women.
Bear with me – this is not going to be a “Big F” Feminist rant – this is observations from a very ordinary woman who’s probably representative of a lot of women.
I don’t know Julie Bishop. I sense I might quite like her, even if our politics don’t agree. But I think I would like her grit and resolve. I think I would respond well to her reserve, with a little hint of sass. I respect her as a woman working in a brutal male-dominated arena. Like her politics or not, she represents what women can and should be able to achieve.
So to see her public service boiled down to “sparkly red shoes” makes me feel deeply saddened and embarrassed for all women. It makes a mockery of her achievements but also, I ask myself “Is this the best that women have been taught to expect and accept?”
As a Christian woman I believe that God created men and women equal and different. Different doesn’t mean “inferior” though. Now before everyone starts reaching for their Bibles to argue which way and the other about #thishastag and #thathashtag – let me be clear. This is not about who can do what in church. This is about women being proud of who and what God created us to be. God created us to be different. He didn’t create us to be inferior. But much of the messages our culture perpetuates gives exactly that message. Julie Bishop’s shoes is a case in point.
Here’s what I think is the most important point though. Being a good and faithful servant does not mean that we can’t speak up about being treated as inferior when it happens. Being faithful to the “equal-and-different” paradigm doesn’t prevent us from using our voices when we are treated as “inferior-and-different” – because that is not what God created us for.
Obviously, we need to use our voices wisely and lovingly. To do otherwise would be to subvert the very functional difference that God so lovingly created.
But it should be OK to say that if we live in a world where my life’s work is summarised in my fashion choices then we live in a world that does not value or respect women – and women have been taught that that’s OK. And if this is happening in our churches, then our churches are more like the world than should make any of us comfortable.
My world is broken. But my God fearfully and wonderfully made me. I don’t want to be superior to men. I want to see a genuine expression of God’s created order so that we are all enriched by it. That’s the beauty in God’s creation. Striving for the unity in his purposes makes us all richer, and glorifies God in living in a way that points to him, and not the world.