by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 25 July 2006)
On July 13 I wrote a passionate response to a letter responding to one of my columns addressing the issue of women as leaders in the church. In that column, it seems I wrongly assumed the writer of the letter, Rayvonne P. Bourne, was female when the person is actually a male. Oops!
This is the second time I have done this in two weeks. The young woman to whom I attributed the "Bibi the Blunt" email in last Sunday's column was actually male too. It seems I have some growing to do as well since I just assumed that since he was defending women, the person was female. It's good to know there are men who want to fight this fight as well.
I must extend my apologies to Rayvonne as well. That was simply a silly mistake to make on my part. I should never make such assumptions and this is definitely a lesson learnt. However, although I was wrong in assuming you were female, I was absolutely, unequivocally right about everything else written in that column.
I must be completely honest about this matter. Had I known that Rayvonne was just another man trying to put me and the rest of the females of the world in our place – as per ordained by God – I would not have even responded to his first letter.
I do not feel any sort of drive to try and convert the men who adhere to this ancient patriarchal system. However, it is one of my greatest desires in life to show women how they can rise above the trivial lot assigned to them by this system, which is why I responded to the letter believing it was from a woman.
As such, had I know Rayvonne's gender from the start, I would have read his letter and subsequently mentally filed it away.
Now it seems I have been unwittingly caught in this debate of Scripture since Rayvonne has responded to me yet again with a very lengthy sermon on how I am to submit to men because God made them first. Although the logic in this statement is childish, I will humour Mr. Bourne with a response for no other reason other than he has named me as his "best columnist."
This debate really is childish. It is as if two four-year-olds are squabbling over who got a certain toy first and therefore assumes full ownership of the toy. The thought never even crosses our minds that if the toy were a shared property it would be even more fun. However, continues to Rayvonne maintain that since men were created first by God, they are therefore given the entire world and the rest of creation to rule over – including women.
Rayvonne said, "I believe that Ms. Stella Ramsaroop does not understand the Bible and women's purpose here on earth today because she would have recognised that God has given man the power to have control over everything on the face of the earth."
He also maintains, "Nevertheless, everybody already knows the creation story and believes that women's role should be secondary in our society because in the bible women had never played an important role in preaching the world of God."
In fact, I completely understand the Bible and what it ascribes as the purpose of women, I just choose to believe that those Scriptures were written by insecure men and ignore them as yet another way one group of humans attempted to assert themselves as better than another group of human.
This phenomenon can be seen in other aspects of life as well, such as race, religion and even those with money. Humans are always trying to find ways to prove they are better than their neighbours. I do not believe I am any better than anyone else regardless of race, religion, monetary status, gender, education, etc.
Nor do I believe anyone else is better than me, or as Rayvonne so keenly stated it - as secondary - based on these trivial attributes. I believe the quality of a person is determined by what is inside. As such, the only way I see a person as lesser is if that person has less than honourable intentions.
This is why, Rayvonne, I am no longer a practicing Christian. I have chosen to believe what my gut instinct tells me is right instead of what some men have written. My gut tells me that women are not secondary at all; they are simply victims of a society that views them as secondary – like you.
As such, I choose to go with my conscience on this issue and refuse to placed in a position that views me as a lesser person simply because I am a woman.
Rayvonne made this request of me. He said, "Stella, please don't use your intelligence to impress and mislead people away from the bible. Let us put the teaching of God's words into practice and make a difference in our society today."
Rayvonne, don't you see that those teachings have led to a society where one gender feels justified in beating, abusing, raping and degrading the other gender in so many heinous ways that it is simply unfathomable? I cannot believe in any teaching that positions half of the world's population to such a humiliating condition.
The human race has risen above most of these abhorrent tendencies. We have done away with slavery and we have recognised there is no so-called "superior race." Likewise, females are not "secondary" to men any more than the person driving a clunker of a car is secondary to a person who drives an expensive car. This type of reasoning is simply juvenile.
It is time we stopped trying to find reasons to project ourselves as superior to our neighbour. The sooner we realise that the worth of a person has nothing to do with our physical attributes, the better off this world will be.
Rayvonne, your worth does not come from your race, your social status or your gender. Your worth comes from the fact that you care about your neighbour and show others respect – just like you have shown me respect. Our differences are the parts of us that give spice to life – not what makes ones of us better than another person.