The Freedom Papers No. 2: Token Women In The Church (Part C)

The Male Establishment And The Token Woman Fits The Complementarian View Of Scripture 

The Complementarian model (read, ‘sexist’) requires women who are obedient, submissive, and compliant. ‘Christian femininity’ is a socially constructed image that has been carefully modelled by pastor’s wives and other token women in the public eye. 

It fits in with the image taught from the Complementarian view of Scripture: the basic characteristics of the socially constructed superiority myth of the male. This image is unconsciously internalised by most men. This male model is mirrored to reflect the obedient, submissive, compliant woman. 

The token women’s role is to fit in as unobtrusively as possible into the all-male organisation. She must understand how to stroke the male-ego. This is considered ‘women’s work’, that is, helping the man. It therefore does not attract the same wage as men. 

The Socially Constructed Male Image of Superiority

The basic characteristics of the socially constructed male ego unconsciously internalized by most men are driven by recognition, attention, and action. Men are assumed to be more active beings who do important things (such as political leaders, soldiers, scientists, mathematicians, serious scholars, and writers, etc.) 1 This means automatically men are deserving of attention by others. 

How To Be A Successful Token Women

This false image allows him to do most of the talking and the women in his entourage nodding agreement and appearing to be listening intently conveys to him her rapt attention. The token woman especially must not be seen to be in opposition to this image.

She must make sure she allows him time to talk, she must display good listening skills and make gestures to assure him what he says is relevant. She must not be interjecting or giving her opinion in opposition to his. The male establishment will continue to persuade women to be assertive or to pursue activism, especially activities that are in any way expose the male covert behaviour and tactics, de-feminises women.

When token women enter the male (main) mainstream, they retain their socially required femininity by becoming honorary men. But this means sacrificing their womanhood, having been co-opted as a member of a male club. To be accepted they are required to adopt the male attitude toward other women. 

This will include their having to take sides and speak against many of their sisters in Christ, even some with whom they once enjoyed a close friendship. Approved women on the periphery of the all-male hierarchy themselves conspire, perhaps unconsciously, to let the token woman in. 

Token Women In The ChurchThe System Is Sustained By Token Women Knowing Which Women Will ‘Fit’.

The wives of established males allow it and will even encourage it. The token women will scrutinise her, to ensure she will ‘fit’. She must fit the ‘good woman’ image of feminine and womanly behaviour. Consequently, to keep their position, token women will not show the least interest in women’s issues. They will deny that feminism has won them anything and will back the patriarchal system. They owe it everything. 

Hence the token woman will disappear, unnoticed, into the male structure and under the shadow of pseudo-male protection. The token woman cannot risk being associated with other women who advocate for change. Such women are spoken of pejoratively as men-haters or suffer prejudice due to their less than acceptable social status of that particular group. 

Backlash: Women Who Do Not Fit

The women the token woman must distance themselves from the following women: single, childless, single mothers, married to an unbeliever, divorced, gay, leading an alternate lifestyle, educated, competitive, ambitious to get ahead but remain single, outspoken, opinionated, swear, feminist, collective groups of ‘sisters’ and everything that makes up womanhood in between. 

Men Who Also Don’t Fit 

Godly men who recognise the call of God on women and respect them for their work may also suffer by association. I have known some to lose their church position and income because of it. The reproach of being a woman who chooses not to be a token for the male establishment, but instead chooses to make her own way in the world and of those who choose to dedicate their lives to serve the Lord without male approval, will fail to pass the test.

All sorts of awful persecution are railed against those women and men, who in these days are standing up for and speaking out about the obvious and not so obvious inequality in the church. Many have paid the price already. Many others are yet to follow. Never underestimate the power of the alpha male in the church to protect himself and other men in his closed circle. These men and their token wives are determined to keep women from gaining their full freedom and stature in Christ.

Token Women Can Be Found Anywhere Other Than The Place Of Decision Making. 

Perhaps you are reading this, and you are a woman who has been granted some measure of ‘position and authority’ in your local church. Yes, you may have been given a piece of paper. Yes, a few token women can be found, but not in any place of decision making. At least not any that will affect the direction of the church and the spending of finances.

Those places are referred to in the upper echelons by the hierarchy as ‘government’ and ‘office’, ‘elder’ and ‘board member’. These are generally filled by businessmen, accountants, lawyers, and the like. Women may be invited onto boards. However, they will not be appointed the senior pastor nor asked to be making the final decision.  

Further to their shame, where matters of the church are discussed in exclusive men’s meetings, the work of the ministry exercised by the men and women doing the real work of the ministry are generally last on the discussion list. These government positions are rarely if ever trusted by a woman. 

Women In Ministry Must Have The ‘Oversight’ Of Some Male. 

Where entrusted, only one woman will be present amongst many alpha males to represent all other women. The only women I know who are in a place of leadership, freely exercising their gifts and following their dream without some male approving them and ‘allowing‘ them a position, are there because they shunned obedience to man and followed the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

How Not To Become A Token Woman: Pay The Price 

It is sadly true that many women give up after being beaten down by disapproval and pressure from well-meaning but ignorant believers. Having initially been given a place of leadership in some area that has thrived they find themselves edged out by men who now decide that the work having gained a measure of success would be better if taken over by a man. 

Poor church! Women work in the church without promotion or recognition. Its members passed by and passed around like non-entities, without consultation or real care. This kind of political maneuvering only serves to scatter the sheep and expose the lambs to other wolves and hirelings. Women work in the church without promotion or recognition while young men half their age and with far less experience are put forward for ordination and to pastor churches. 

More Mature Men Help Younger Men To Make A Success

The men’s world works for them. If a man chooses to start work on his own, eventually other men will begin to bond with him. Men help younger men to make a success for the benefits they can see in it for themselves. This is why single women will find it difficult to start work or build work without joining with a man. 

Women’s Lack Of Support 

Few women show interest enough to support women in the ministry. It is extremely difficult for women to be accepted for their work’s sake. The reasons for working with a man is so important to the success of any work. This is due to the network men set up and largely operate in. Few women show interest enough to support women in the ministry. 

The acceptance men extend to one another is not automatically offered to women. This is the reason women working together to achieve something will discover that though the will to succeed will be there in the beginning, yet defeat will be encountered after each flowering. People do not take her seriously or they do not give credit where it is due.

There will also always be women who will oppose her and the work she is doing. Until women are employed in the church on an equal financial basis as their male colleagues and on a large scale with every opportunity for their gifts, vision, and dreams, tokenism will continue to flourish.

(continued next Sunday) Part D: How To Escape The Patriarchal System

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  1.  Paper ‘ Ancient History and Mother Right’ due to be published February 2021: