Danielle Strickland talks about gender mutuality at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit
We’re in a strategic cultural intersection where the relationships between men and women are eroding. Women are exposing the pain of sexual harassment. And thank God. I believe the truth will set us free. But that disrupts us and we hate chaos and being out of control. Our reaction is to deny or blame or hide or try to find knee jerk reactions.
For those of us who want to be transformational leaders we’ll see this as an opportunity to create a different better world. Years ago I met a woman who changed Sweden’s mind about prostitution. She said it was easy. She said there’s two things: 1) to be able to imagine a better world and 2) to understand oppression.
The first day my son came home from kindergarten he said it was boring. We told stories about what we did over the break and I wanted mine to be really good so I made one up. The thing my son was after is what we’re all after—a better story. I want to live a better story.
I’ve got a story that’s possible. Women and men are better together. We desire this deep inside of us because we’re designed for this. When God created He first tried a man by himself in charge and God said, “This is not good.” Then God creates woman as a helper so we could be better. The world will be better if we lead together.
Step 1 – Believe it is possible. If it became accessible for women to achieve their potential it would add 12 trillion dollars or 28 trillion to the world economy. A necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world is gender equality. Believing it’s possible is to refuse despair—to shatter the status quo and believe for the future to change.
Step 2—Do not be afraid. 2/3 of women in the world are not optimistic gender equality can be obtained. Gandhi said we think the enemy is hate but it is fear. God’s design is for every single person to be free. Exodus 1 says because Pharaoh was afraid of the Israelites he oppressed them. If our decisions and dreams are fear-based we will be oppressed or be oppressors. Fear is the currency of oppression. So how do men and women work together without fear. Difference and mutuality.
Difference=we are not the same. To be human is to be unique. Part of our humanity is difference. When we over-emphasize one difference it leads to a distortion of our humanity. Difference through the lens of fear is a threat but through the lens of faith it’s an opportunity.
Mutuality=the sharing of a feelings, actions, and relationships between people. Ubuntu: the belief in a universal bond between us. Power and sex are the foes of mutuality. 35% of women living globally hae experienced physical or sexual violence; 1 in 4 women in US will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. We hear the pain of women who have suffered inequality, injustice, and sexism on any level. The truth you are telling is essential for us to understand to make the world a better place.
We believe the future will be better together. We have to look at one of the main sources fueling that oppression. Pornography—1 in 6 computer searches are for porn. 60% of men admit to using porn once a week. What happens to the way you view gender if the lens through which you view it objectifies women. Pornography needs to be confronted by a generation that will not be afraid to tell the truth.
Objectification is the opposite of mutuality.
Power is the other foe of mutuality. Power is the ability to influence the behavior of others. Abuse: use to bad effect or purpose. How do we use our power for change?
How we use our power is the measure of our leadership. Misuse of power is coercion and threats; a good use is negotiation and fairness.
A misuse is intimidation and a good use is non-threatening behavior.
Isolation is a misuse of power; trust and support is a good use of power.
Minimizing, denying, and blaming is a misuse; honesty and accountability is a good use.
Economic abuse is a misuse; economic partnership is a good use.
Male privilege is a misuse and shared responsibility is a good use.
Poverty is not just about economics; it’s about power. Great leaders use power to empower other people. If power is a tool, how are you using yours.
This is so clear in the life of Jesus. Jesus’ modus operandi was to give power away. In a culture where women couldn’t sit in a room with men he invited women to sit at the feet of a rabbi. Jesus invited women to be part of the Kingdom of God. Jesus shows us how to live our lives by using power to empower other people.
Step 3—Start now and start with you—How are we going to do that? I’m part of a movement called Amplify Peace. We listen intentionally to voices we don’t normally hear.
Step 4—Never, Ever Give up. –Morgan Stanley—Gender equity is a long term objective with demonstrable goals. It takes a lifetime of doing things a different way.