I appreciated this post entitled: 12 Reasons Why Being a Male Pastor is Better. (And 10 more reasons here.) While I have no desire to be a pastor, I have still encountered the various prejudices or false assumptions people have about women in ministry.
I particularly relate to #5: “People almost never assume that I have a particular gift for ministry before they know me.”
When I was a seminary student, I can’t tell you how many times it was assumed I was a counseling major. I’d sometimes answer that my seminary does have a counseling degree but I purposely did not choose that as counseling is not my gift or desire. I then shared I was a biblical studies major and interested in Bible teaching. Oh. I once had someone not agree with this response and told me all Christians should be competent to counsel – as though I was dissing counseling or was inferring that I’d refuse to provide counsel to someone. There is nothing wrong with counseling! Certainly we need Christian counselors, and all Christians should be able to provide biblical advice to another. But why is it such an issue for a woman not to be a counseling major?
Another assumption I have encountered so many times is that I want to do women’s ministry. IF A MAN is ministry minded or has formal Bible or theological training, is it automatically assumed he wants to do men’s ministry? No!!! And if a man does not want to do exclusive men’s ministry, it is not considered odd or a problem. No one thinks anything of it; there are plenty of ways to serve. Yet for a woman it is a big problem! “Why wouldn’t you want to work with women?” You can be considered a bunch of undesirable things if you prefer not to work exclusively with women…you are haughty, not flexible, considered strange, or your motives are suspect. Sigh.
(By the way, it is not that I never want to work with women but I could not see myself working exclusively with women. I prefer and feel most comfortable in mixed-sex adult settings or using my gifts in other broad ways in the church. I should not even have to explain myself like this, and the fact that I must sadly proves the point!!)
Am I a bit sensitive? Perhaps. But I appreciate the male pastor who creatively wrote the above posts pointing out male privilege in the church.
On another point, I had decided to publish my book by using L.L. Martin as my pen name and make other efforts to be evasive about my gender in the book. This is a common thing – historically and in the present day – for female authors to be evasive about their gender. My main reasons: 1) Concern that a Christian book by a female will be considered a book for women. No, my book is for anyone who wants to read it! I definitely did not write specifically with women in mind. I wrote with adult Christians in mind. I did not write like this “on purpose”, rather it is just how I naturally write. 2) Concern that a book by a female would be considered to lack depth or substance.
However, I am having second thoughts and may decide to use my full name. Maybe if more women did not hide their gender when writing books of substance (or books outside of the stereotypical for women), it would begin to break down prejudice.
“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” Virginia Woolf
While my book is Christian non-fiction, here are some interesting articles primarily about secular fiction female authors using initials or other pen names to be evasive about their gender.