Does TJP Hear the Voices and Experiences of Women?

by | Apr 12, 2018 | Gender, Justice, Sexuality, Spirituality

I occupy a great deal of space. I’m 250 lbs. My laugh booms and I speak loudly (imagine Gimli but with a less impressive beard). I spread out when I work. I forget my belongings places and create nests of books, schoolwork, and hats. When watching TV or playing with the family dog, I happily sprawl out on the floor like a child.

But I’m trying to take up less space.

Frankly, the space I take often belongs to others. Whether it be my voice or my physical presence, I can easily dominate. I particularly noticed this the other day – I was in the weightroom and joined a conversation with several students about structural racism. It was ten minutes before I realized I had taken over the conversation from the students of color and made it my own. I occupy a great deal of space.

This is the forty-second piece I’ve written for The Jesuit Post. I want to occupy less space.

One of TJP’s readers, Kaitlyn, once asked me why I don’t spend more time highlighting the voices and interests of women. She was absolutely correct in noting this shortcoming in both my writing and classroom teaching.

America Magazine recently conducted and released a survey of over 1,500 Catholic women. Questions ranged from frequency of Mass attendance, to models of faith, to political leanings. In addition to this survey, Executive Editor Kerry Weber profiled several women and their experiences of survey questions.

In Weber’s piece, Kathleen Sprows Cummings, an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, stated “Let’s show women that there is a space for them in the church, a place at the table.”

Herein lies a great opportunity for highlighting our diversity of voices. This challenge leads to a myriad of questions

  • How and why do women in the Church and the wider world go unheard?
  • What other questions of diversity and justice impact the voices of women?
  • How do the voices of women impact questions of diversity and justice?
  • How can The Jesuit Post do better in listening?
  • What is the message of youth?

It feels fitting, just having celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation, to recognize the absolutely vital roles and contributions of women. But it would be unconscionable to limit that recognition to a day or a month.

Rather, the Annunciation celebrates an inbreaking of justice, mercy, and faith into the world. It marks both a waiting and a recognition of what has begun. We too, then, are called to look at how the voices and work of women have impacted our world, as well as continue recognizing, celebrating, and making space.

As such, several TJP authors are committing to interviewing, listening to, and highlighting the voices of women in our communities. Our goal is to listen to diverse voices from a wide range of backgrounds, occupations, vocation, and thought. We’ll be listening to academics, leaders, and hotel workers. We plan to offer regular interviews and in depth stories to highlight the voice of women. We also recognize that some might not identify as male or female – we want to hear your voice, too!

Our efforts will likely be incomplete. We are still a group of men who often do not share in the unique experiences of women. We risk forgetting, tokenizing, or compromising some voices. And so we need your help in this undertaking.

We want to listen to you, our readers: Who do you think we should interview? What topics, issues, questions, or events do you want us to cover? Where are our places of ignorance? What can we do to better honor and learn from the voices of women? What are ways we need to grow in our listening and understanding?