Value Yourself

Mika Brzezinski, author of the 2011 bestseller “Knowing Your Value,” is launching a new venture this year — a series of day-long interactive conferences for women in Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Boston and Orlando, in which she will offer tangible, useful, hands-on advice to women about knowing their value in the workplace and communicating it effectively.

It got me thinking about the patriarchy and how it deliberately inhibits, and I would even go so far as to say prevents women from knowing our value. Furthermore as women we are systematically and systemically taught NOT to value ourselves. Our value is measured only by our status in relation to men rather than found intrinsic to ourselves. Women are told to “know our place.” We are cautioned not to assert ourselves but to be compliant and complacent with the way we are treated, in short, not to value ourselves as complete, competent human beings. We can only measure our worth if men find us worthy to do so.

Jesus on the other hand truly valued women. He welcomed them, sought their company and interacted with them as equals. Mary and Joseph must have been wonderful role models to bring up such a son.

So why is it that men in the Church today don’t follow him? Why does Francis use such disrespectful words, even without meaning to, when talking about women and their place in the Church? Why is the work of women theologians over the millennia dismissed in the call for a “new theology of women” (presumably to be written by men)? Why is supporting women priests seen as a “sinful act” on a par with pedophilia?

I can only conclude that it because women are not valued in the Church as complete human beings, made in the image and likeness of God. We are considered “second class” after men. And this sin is compounded by not valuing ourselves as men’s equals and our willing collaboration with them in denigrating our worth. Yes, we need to “know our value” for our Church, our families, our communities, our world, but most of all for ourselves. In short, we must value ourselves and that “value” cannot and should not ever be dependent upon how we are regarded or defined by men, but only by the Divine Presence within us.

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