A year ago when the Women’s march happened, I was in Colorado with some sisters who are my tribe of women writers and risk-takers. We met as strangers & decided that rather than be gross, compete and be jealous with each other as writers, we’d cheer each other on in our dreams, risks and aspirations. I was sad that I couldn’t attend the march in person, but felt thankful I could be with women who are trying to use our voices to empower women in life and faith. I also asked my friend Michelle to knit me a pink pussyhat so I could wear it in solidarity during my weekend away and throughout the rest of the winter.
Shortly after the march happened, I was in Grand Rapids, MI visiting my family. For those of you unfamiliar with GR- it’s one of the Bible belts of the North. My husband and I lived for 10 years and felt like weirdos for most of the time. I felt like I didn’t fit as the mold of what a Christian or woman was supposed to be like. I was a little too out there with my ideas, my desire to talk about Jesus with anyone who was curious about him, and choosing to work when our son came along while my husband worked part time. Thankfully God gave us some weirdo friends when we lived there to laugh with, play board games together and drink really good local beer.
My sister and I were meeting up with my mom to get pedicures and it being Grand Rapids in March, it was freezing cold. I happened to be wearing my pink pussyhat. My mom has never met a stranger and we saw that she had been chatting it up with the woman sitting next to her. As we picked out our nail polish, I began talking with the woman too, learning that she was going to volunteer with the ministry I had served with for more than a decade. As we talked I felt like she kept looking at me strangely, like I had lipstick on my teeth or something. I didn’t think much of it and settled down to enjoy the massage chair and warm water so soak my feet for the pedicure.
Afterwards as we munched on chips and guac, my mom told me about her conversation with the woman. “She was eager to meet you when I told her you had worked for InterVarsity & had spoken all over the country for them. But when you walked in with that hat on she froze. She looked at you with disgust and asked me- That is your daughter? Why is she wearing that disgusting hat? How could she be in Christian ministry and wear something like that? ”
My mom scooped up a bit more guac as my sister and I listened to her story. “I was so shocked”, she said. One moment we were having a nice conversation and she was eager to meet you. But when you walked in wearing that hat she completely changed and started attacking you. I didn’t know what to say- I was just shocked she was being so judgmental and hadn’t even met you.” My sister and I laughed- “mom, you do realize this is Grand Rapids right? super conservative for the most part?” She sighed- “yeah, but you’re my daughter! I couldn’t believe she would say those things about you.” She shook her head and said, “I told her; I’m not sure why she is wearing that hat- why don’t you ask her yourself?”
Mom folded up her taco wrappers and asked-“why do you you wear that hat?”
I explained- “there were things that I don’t agree with that were being advocated for at the women’s march, but there were a lot of things I do agree with.
I want sexual violence to stop and for women to break free of the shame that’s held them down.
I want women to be paid what they’re worth for their work.
I want to see better healthcare and resources in maternity leave policies.
I want to see women of color elevated to hear their stories and to gain positions of influence in this country because we need their voices, perspectives and experiences.
I want women to realize that see that they’re not alone in mental health struggles.
“Mom, if I can build a bridge with women who share these values, it’s worth it to wear the hat and catch some flak. I hope that I can learn something from women who have different political views and that they would feel respected and see that Christians don’t always fit the stereotypes. I hope that they’ll discover that Jesus cares about the welfare of women and find that we don’t need to agree on all the same political views to be advocates for women.”
She gave me a nervous look and shifted in her seat. “I just don’t like people saying mean things about you.” Again, my sister and I laughed. I thought to myself, no matter what- if you’re a mama, you will always want to protect your cubs.
This Saturday on the anniversary of the march I wore my pussyhat and joined other women In Kansas who hope to see women’s voices elevated. It was sweet to hear my sons say things like “I want to march if it’s going to help the ladies!” and “hey! there’s princess Leia on that sign!”
It’s been incredible this year to see women choosing to use their voices to uplift each other- women like Belinda Bauman, Lisa Sharon Harper and Katelyn Beaty are just some of the Christian leaders who are raising their voices for women. I hope as this year unfolds we’ll see more demonstrations of Christian women and men who will work to see women flourish everywhere.