Unladylike: Author Interview with Pam Hogeweide

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“I was gravely warned by some of my female acquaintances that no woman could expect to be regarded as a lady after she had written a book.” —Lydia M. Child, a 19th century women’s rights activist and abolitionist, as quoted in “Unladylike,” by Pam Hogeweide.

By Idelette McVicker | Twitter: @idelette

“I feel a significant and strong connection to my virtual sisters,” wrote Jennifer Luitwieler in her recent post, Six Degrees of Sisterhood.

Can I hear an Amen?!

For me, Pam Hogeweide is one of those virtual sisters. I look forward to the day I may meet Pam in person (at The Justice Conference in Portland at the end of the month, no less!) We were first introduced via email by Kathy Escobar (another virtual sista), but I had been noticing Pam’s writing and tweets around the blogosphere for some time, even before our introduction. I knew she was writing this book, “Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church” and watched the development carefully.

Gender equality is a hot topic, causing much division, and yet, through my own awakening to injustice in its many forms over the last decade, I hoped and prayed this book would shine a bright light into the unnecessary silencing too many women still endure. Personally, I am thankful for my faith community where women’s voices are heard–it’s not even a question–and we can get on with the business of what God uniquely calls us to do on the earth. But I grew up in a silence and a stifling and I know what she’s writing about. Moreso, I hoped her book would bring more language, tools and clarity to the gender justice conversation.

I wasn’t disappointed. Even that first night I slid open my Kindle and began to read Pam’s words, I encountered a wave of freedom in my own heart.

She said:

“In writing this book, I’ve discovered that freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. Women must discover our personhood and our God-given voice and power for ourselves. A good Christian woman must be willing to be unladylike to defy the forces of inequality that have held her back.”

Pam reminded me that I have a responsibility to lean into freedom–not just for myself, but for my sisters. Injustice doesn’t just run away. We have to say, Enough! If I am tired of silencing, I have to take a stand. Plus: If we want to be part of empowering women everywhere, understanding our value–and our equality in the eyes of God–is essential. It’s from this place that we can go on and transform our world.

In “Unladylike,” Pam drew me in with her gracious spirit, comfortable writing style, yet well-researched strength.

Through the lines, I heard a whisper, Another way is possible for our women.

My own reading has been a powerful experience and I really wanted to share it with you, my friends, here on SheLoves. So, I emailed Pam and asked her several questions, hoping you would also catch a glimpse of her heart and her passion and be awakened on your journey. I certainly was.

Conversation with Pam Hogeweide:

Idelette: When did you know—decide, really—that you needed to write this book? What was your tipping point?

Pam: I’d been blogging about six years and began to really wonder if I ought to try writing a book. I looked at the backlog of hundreds of posts I’d written and realized that the topic of women was one of the most written about themes on my blog. It’s also been one of the most controversial. Whenever I have blogged about women in the church and leadership, equality, etc. … my comments spike and the discussion gets quite lively. Passions run high from all points of view, including mine. I realized that this was a subject deep in my bones, something I could write about with wholeheartedness. So when my friend Kathy Escobar urged me to talk with her publisher, I decided to pitch it to him. That’s how Unladylike was born.

Idelette: Why is this your story to tell and who did you write this book for?

Pam: When I first began to reflect on writing about women and the church, the first mental obstacle I had to cross was the fact that I am not a pastor nor an elder. I do not have that story of being banned from following my calling because of my gender. And that’s when it hit me: despite the absence of a leadership call in my life, I have been acutely affected by inequality in the church towards my gender. My womanhood and identity have been profoundly affected and shaped by the messaging of the church that women are to remain in subservient roles. That is my story, and I realized it is the story for many other women, too. Most of us are not called to be pastors or leaders, yet women of faith bump up against what I refer to in the book as “an inner stain glass ceiling,” the personal censorship we put on ourselves out of a sense of lacking power. That’s the story I wanted to tackle and these are the women I wanted to reach, women like me who are ordinary Jesus women scarred from inequality.

Idelette: What do you say to women who experience inequality or have been silenced in church?

Pam: This is a very important question and one that I wrestled with throughout the writing process. Am I going to tell women to leave their faith tribes? In one sense, yes, I do tell women to consider the option of leaving their community of faith if their personhood is being diminished. Otherwise, we are training the next generation of daughters how to remain disempowered in the body of Christ. Yet I am also aware that every woman has her unique story, her unique journey and circumstances. I encourage women to at least empower themselves with knowledge and determine what steps they can take to resist inequality in their lives. I am a strong advocate for resolution rather than acquiescence, which women are such experts at.

Idelette: Did anything surprise you during the process of writing Unladylike?

Pam: I was caught off guard by the awakening of forgotten memories of times I’d experienced the sting of inequality. I’d be writing when something would emerge from hiding. It forced me to pause and allow myself to remember, to relive the discomfort or shame that I’d long forgotten. Some of those memories ended up in the book.

Idelette: Do you have a favorite line or paragraph from the book?

Pam: I have a few favorite passages, but this one was such a delight when it appeared during a writing session. I had fun crafting it:

“I tried hard to follow Jesus with my pleading prayers for him to transform me into a better person, into a good Christian woman. I was chasing a myth and praying for heaven to help me catch her. But I never did. Instead, I caught myself. Being me is the best fitting role I could ever imagine. I am not a good Christian woman. I am a Christ following human being, a unique individual with customized features that are all my own. I have been made in the image of God, my singular life a sliver of the grandness of who God is and what God is like. My femaleness is a part of me, but it is not all of me. I do not have to conform to the image of a good Christian woman; I want to instead, conform to the image of Christ. Jesus was not a good Christian woman either.”  (page 160)

Idelette: What is one thing you’d like readers to remember from Unladylike?

Pam: That we each need to determine our own story and how to resist the polite oppression of women that still flourishes in our faith tribes.

* * *

I have been engaged in the conversation (ok, more of a listener and a learner) around gender justice for quite some time. I have attended two PASCH conferences with its firm roots in biblical equality. I listened to biblical scholar Catherine Kroeger herself explain “headship” and what it actually means. I read my friend Danielle Strickland’s “Liberating Truth: How Jesus Empowers Women.

Now I would recommend Unladylike to anyone who has ever felt diminished, silenced or less-than inside of their faith tribe, because, for me, in reading it, I had my own personal encounter–a commissioning, if you will–that felt akin to that of Isaiah.

In the commentary on Isaiah 6:7, one writer says this:

” … whatever obstacle there existed to your communicating the message of God to this people, arising from your own consciousness of unworthiness, is taken away.”

In reading “Unladylike” Pam has helped remove some of the obstacles I have felt in my own unworthiness. In an email, I told her this: “Thank you for making an active stand against the silence, friend, because your resistance has now become part of my freedom.”

I pray it become part of yours too.

You can watch the book trailer of “Unladylike” here:

_________________________________ 

Questions:

  • Where do you find yourself in this conversation around gender equality?
  • In your own faith tribe, do you feel silenced and held back or empowered and encouraged to be who God created you to be?

_______________________________

About Pam:

Pam Hogeweide is a blogger and writer in Portland, Oregon. She has been published many times in both print and digital publications, including Christianity Today and Geez.

Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church is her first book and is available in print and on Kindle at Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Idelette:
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women.

I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth.

My word for the year is “Roar,” but I have learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice.

I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago.

I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet@idelette.

Photo credit: Katie Tegtmeyer

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

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