More Than 100 Attentions

A few Saturdays ago, (12th February 2022, to be exact), I spoke to a small gathering of women for an online Galentine’s event. The women were lovely, and we had some important conversations, including the increasingly too familiar ones revolving around church abuse, both physical and spiritual. In one conversation, a couple of women mentioned how former churches had called their salvation into question when they wore (or maybe simply wanted to wear?) trousers to a Sunday morning church service.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I am late to the “feminist” party, still won’t wear the label, and prefer to express mine through action and individual relationship rather than ranting on the internet. Additionally, I was raised to wear dresses and skirts to church and most of the time I still do it because I like to. However, even in my more “complementarian” days, my salvation was never questioned if I wore trousers instead.

Also, misogyny in all its forms is becoming more and more loathsome to me, and sometimes, as described above, it’s just plain idiotic. Also, the following day was a Sunday, and it was snowing here, and everybody knows that trousers and boots are better for navigating cold and snow that skirts and pretty much any other type of shoe. So on Sunday, 13th February, 2022, I wore trousers to church. Then I tweeted the following:

Little did I know the look on my face would become genuine by the time I went to bed that night.

I used to say (like, literally, somewhere on my original blog if not also offline before) that I secretly (clearly not, since I announced it on the internet) wanted to be famous, but not have to do anything about it–either to get that way, to maintain it, or to clean up any mess. I just, I said, wanted to be known.

I would like to retract that wish now. Or at least nuance it a bit.

I tweeted the above as a sort of public-but-inside snark-joke. I don’t have a vast following on Twitter and typically get under ten interactions of any type on anything I say in there. The women with whom I was conversing the day before are in my Twitter circles. If I was trying to make any real point, it was only that I “see” them and I wanted to stand in solidarity with them.

But apparently there is a lot of energy on Twitter for posts about women pastors and trousers.

I know you think I’m going to say things went horribly, horribly wrong, and they didn’t really. I had a couple of British people tell me “pants” didn’t translate, but that was okay because I already know that. I only had two white men all day tell me that the trouser thing was irrelevant because as a woman pastor I was clearly damned already and my church was merely a social club. Most people who interacted, especially at the beginning, were people I know or people who know people I know, and the level of snark with which I tweeted was the level of snark the tweet elicited. I also got some “You go!”s, including from some fame-adjacent people. That was kind of heady.

By the time I went to bed that night, though, the tweet had garnered 701 likes (a record for me), several hundred comments, and more retweets and quote tweets than I’ve ever seen on anything I’ve ever written. Even though almost all the attention was affirming, it was starting to feel…gross. It felt like the tweet wasn’t even mine anymore. Did I really mean that? And what, exactly? When I said “God-blessed women,” did some people think I was euphemizing to say the opposite? (That’s not an idiom we have in these parts, folks.) Did any of these people realize I wasn’t trying to make a fashion statement? Barely any statement, in fact?

That was when I decided I’m just not cut out for the internet, even though I’m sticking around for the foreseeable future. I require too much context, too much opportunity to explain myself, and too much actual relationship with the people I interact with for me to be able to tolerate not doing anything about people knowing (or thinking they know) who I am.

On Mondays I try to stay offline entirely, and since the tweet was well on its way to a life of it’s own and making me an empty, well, nester (tweet!), I couldn’t bear to discover what had happened to it by Tuesday morning, so I took it down. I’m not naive enough to think it’s really gone. I’m not ashamed of it. I just didn’t want to see it morph anymore.

With that, and the following tweet, I went to bed.

As you can see, it only has 23 likes and 7 comments. A week and a half later.

I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t disappointed. It’s complicated being human, isn’t it?

Published by Jennwith2ns

Jesus person. Wife and step-mom. Daughter, sister, auntie, friend. Collector of stories: mine, yours, tangible, not... Pastor of Central Baptist Church, founder and spiritual director at The Pilgrimage, and author of Trees In The Pavement and Favored One.

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