The F Word Feminist Reflection
Society & Culture, Practice & Voice

The F Word: 7 Months In

We are half way through our year-long series, The F Word: Perspectives on Feminism in the year of the Woman. Last week, as some staff gathered with Rev. Barbara Prose, she opened the meeting with a reading. She often brings staff into a space of understanding, connection, and acceptance before we dive into the inner-workings of the church. She noted the author was a feminist novelists and activist.

by Marge Piercy

We must sit down
and reason together.
We must sit down.
Men standing want to hold forth.
They rain down upon faces lifted.

We must sit down on the floor
on the earth
on stones and mats and blankets.
There must be no front to the speaking
no platform, no rostrum,
no stage or table.
We will not crane
to see who is speaking.

Perhaps we should sit in the dark.
In the dark we could utter our feelings.
In the dark we could propose
and describe and suggest.

In the dark we could not see who speaks
and only the words
would say what they say.

Thus saying what we feel and what we want,
what we fear for ourselves and each other
into the dark, perhaps we could begin
to begin to listen.

Thus saying what we feel and what we want,
what we fear for ourselves and each other
into the dark, perhaps we could begin
to begin to listen.

Perhaps we should talk in groups
small enough for everyone to speak.

Perhaps we should start by speaking softly.
The women must learn to dare to speak.

The men must bother to listen.

The women must learn to say, I think this is so.

The men must learn to stop dancing solos on
the ceiling.
After each speaks, she or he
will repeat a ritual phrase:It is not I who speaks but the wind.
Wind blows through me.
Long after me, is the wind.

This poem brought me to a space of reflection—from the beginning of conversations between men, leading our Men of All Souls group to do the work of Redefining Masculinity to Rev. Prose’s #MeToo sermon which activated 50+ women to start their own group, the Women of All Souls.

Now, on month 7 of The F Word series, I wanted to highlight the voices that have been shared with us so far.

We’ve had personal accounts, fears shared, poetry, book reviews, photos, historical starts, and at the core of it all … vulnerability. When I set out to ask an author or a group to share their perspective on feminism, I know what I am asking is not something easy or small.

I’m asking people to share themselves.
To put themselves out there.
To be vulnerable in our own community and online.

Playing the Game, from Sallie Godwin’s Feminism & Me: Bartlesville Women Stood Strong

 “We have to consider not just the patriarchy outside us, but the patriarchy within us.” —Gloria Steinem

I would have liked to have the rule changed without help from a man, but I couldn’t get anywhere on my own. And looking back over my 40-year career, it wasn’t an isolated incident.

After trying to score an interview in Phillip’s Public Relations department and failing, my husband’s boss got me in. I was introduced as a “housewife with a Journalism degree.” The men in the department told me their only female employee was “an old oilfield gal.” I still don’t know what that meant exactly.

Being Black and Being Behind the Scenes, from Yadenee Hailu’s The F Word: Dope Sidekick

The desire to be a ‘dope-sidekick’ was not just how my serving heart ‘happened’ to manifest. It was the product of desiring approval and stability within myself and in society.

I didn’t have visible examples of black women in charge or as the ‘protagonist.’ I subconsciously knew since I was a kid, the best role a black girl in American society could aim for was (drumroll)—the likable friend. And I was perpetuating the limited aspiration.

Maybe hoping to be second, was the poison poured for black women all over America. Maybe I needed to drop the erasure masked as humility and be willing to fill any position I could best serve in—including being the boss.

Women are a Super Power, from Quannah Scoggin’s kick off of the Women of All Souls

Earlier in March 2019, the official launch of the Women of All Souls group kicked off with great conversations, a potluck of awesome food, and lots of ideas. About 115 women showed up!

“Women know how to make community. We’re big celebrators and we recognize the joy of being alive every day.” – Lorrie McLaughlin

“It’s hard enough in the world and we all need support. In my life, I’ve never “needed” anyone else. But, as a parent, I need other women in my life. I need their support.” —Jessica Blake

Women are a super power. We connect and build each other up. – Francia Allen

Unpacking Feminism, from Mia Wright’s post Feminist? Well, It’s complicated.

My relationship to feminism? It’s… complicated. I have never felt that feminism was particularly speaking to, or advocating for, me.

Don’t misunderstand. I know equity for all genders is no trite notion, but an absolute necessity requiring the dismantle of our society’s intricate system of patriarchy. One element of this system centers on female bodies, which are generally coded and read by criteria that I don’t meet. 

Female bodies, seen through the hideous lens of misogyny, are objects. Objects of desire, objects of sexual pleasure and entertainment, objects of male conquest. Such bodies are both likely and worthy prey, essentially, because they are more vulnerable. 

Smaller. Weaker. Softer. 

A valid demand. But does it include me? 

Forces Pushing Up & Pulling Down, from Danna Vitt’s book review Lifting Up Women & Lifting Up Humanity

Occasionally, they’d say “wheels, wheels, wheels” more times than expected. She’d wonder why it was taking so long to get off the ground. Why do some things take so long and why do other things happen so fast? What takes us past the tipping point when the forces pushing us up overpower the forces pulling us down?

Melinda Gates strives to answer those questions on a macro and micro level, through research data and individual stories. It’s absolutely perspective-changing. She’s learned a lot of lessons through her experiences. And she beautifully and effectively passes those lessons along to her readers. I encourage you to read this book to broaden your knowledge and understanding of the importance of women’s issues, globally and in the United States. This book will break your heart, open your mind, and open your heart.

Creating a Legacy from Anita Larsen’s Day Alliance: Almost 100 years of Love and Service

The Day Alliance, initially known as the Women’s Day Alliance, has planned and executed countless meals for the parish as well as receptions for a long list of important life events like weddings, memorial services, infant dedications and seasonal parish celebrations. There is nothing the Day Alliance would like more than to continue its charge to deliver fellowship, knowledge, and service into its second century within our faith community. In order for that to happen, it is imperative that new members join its ranks.

The F Word

Now, I can’t ask for vulnerability without offering up my own. I kicked off the series with my small-town Oklahoma story in The F Word: An Introduction.  

On the cover, Gloria Steinem in all her glory, with “The F Word” bedazzled on her shirt, standing strong in her Wonder Woman pose.

I bought the magazine with my head down and stuffed it into a bag. With shame and secrecy, I read every word of that magazine, read every ad, and fell in love with Kathleen Hanna. Through that issue, I discovered one of my all-time favorite bands, Le Tigre which led to my first crush on a “girl with a mustache.”

My BUST magazine stayed hidden in my room.

I was so scared that someone would find out I was interested in this thing called Feminism. Looking back, I was probably more afraid of being called a feminist, than I was being outed as gay. I toiled with the liberation I felt stirring inside, the little feminist spark that would come to full blaze.

I hope you’ll take some time to re-read, or read for the first time, these different perspectives on Feminism shared by our members and friends. If you’re interested in sharing your voice, please email me. I will hold your hand. Give you freedom. Help you mold your words. Whatever you need. You have a story to tell. And, your story matters. FYI – men are feminists too. I’d love to hear from the fellas out there.

women's march

Bonita James is the Director of Communications for All Souls and editor of She is passionate about telling the stories of the church through the people who make it all happen. A recent transplant to Tulsa from OKC, she lives with her wife and three furbabies. The one-time closeted feminist can now be found wearing a feminist cape every chance she gets.

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