No Place for a Woman

noplaceforawomanThe story broke yesterday. A passenger on a Westjet flight left a note to their captain, stating that the cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman.

And then he quotes Proverbs 31. Great. Just. Great.

What this world needs is more publicity for another misogynist using the bible (rather ineffectually, to be clear) to bash a woman over the head. Am I right?

Dear Sir:

The bible is not a weapon. And (I hate to break it to you but) Proverbs 31 doesn’t mean what you think it means. I hope this doesn’t prove inconvenient to your argument.

Now, for starters, Proverbs 31 is not about putting women in their place. Or perhaps it is. It’s just not the place you’re putting them. Shocking, right?

It’s been written in many places before, but I think the words of Ahava, an Orthodox Jew, on Rachel Held Evans’ blog put it most succinctly. I know, I know, I’m listening to a woman (two, in fact) and that probably doesn’t add up in your worldview. But these incredibly brilliant God-created beings are smart. And they read the same Bible that you and I read. I just think they happen to read it more faithfully. Take it from me, I’m a man. I teach in a church. I should know these things (insert eyeroll here).

In that post on RHE’s blog, Ahava shares:

Here’s the thing: Christians seem to think because all the Bible is inspired that it all should be taken as literally as possible also. Jews don’t do this. I get called an Aishet Chayil (virtuous woman, Prov. 31 woman) all the time.

Make your own Challah instead of buying? Aishet Chayil! Do work to earn extra money for the family? Aishet Chayil! Make Balloon animals for the kids on a holiday? Very Aishet Chayil!!

You see, even though [Orthodox] Jews take the TORAH very literally (all 613 commandments!) the rest is seen differently, as a way to understand Our Creator, not as literal commands. Every week at the Shabbat table, my husband sings Aishet Chayil (right after blessing the kids) and it’s special, because I know that no matter what I do or don’t do, he sees everything past the minimum needed to survive as me blessing the family with my energy and creativity. All women CAN do that, and many do already.

Not that we need any more mansplaining, but do you catch the drift of what happens in this orthodox household? Each and every week at Shabbat, the man, the husband, sings his wife’s praises. She is Aishet Chayil, a virtuous woman, a Woman of Valour.

And so that leaves us in a quandary, doesn’t it? If you’re gonna go throwing Proverbs 31 around, realise what you’re saying. Realise that your invocation of that passage is completely inconsistent with your culturally inherited misogyny.

So next time you’re putting a woman in her place, might I suggest this: put her in her rightful place. She is a woman of valour. Treat her accordingly.

And if I may be so bold, let me put you in yours. Your little note has nothing to do with Christianity. It has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus is good news for all. I’m just not hearing good news for women in your pissy little note. They, like you and I were created good, in God’s own image. It’s time we all started to realise this and live accordingly, honouring the many women of valour in our own lives.

Andrew Stephens-Rennie on FacebookAndrew Stephens-Rennie on Twitter
Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Andrew is a writer, dreamer and organizer with a keen interest in developing leaders in faith, compassion and justice.

He currently serves as the Director of Missional Renewal for the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Syilx, and Ktunaxa nations. He previously served as the Director of Ministry Innovation at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC.

Andrew is cofounder and contributing editor at, and co-editor of "A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh" with Marcia Boniferro and Amanda Jagt.

4 Responses to “No Place for a Woman”

  1. Deborah

    Thank you. We need to see more truth telling like this on so many issues. I would be happy to leave the ignorant in peace but they give false teaching, and that is certainly a sin.

    • Andrew Stephens-Rennie

      Deborah – It can be exhausting, yet I guess there’s something to be said for not letting the haters dominate the airwaves. There is too much good and beauty in this world to let this particularly violent and misogynistic approach get all the press.

  2. Jane

    The interwebs is giving me all sorts of awesome today.
    Love this!

    • Andrew Stephens-Rennie

      Thanks Jane! The interwebs can be a good place!


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