The Struggle For Women to Be Believed
I watched the entire Oprah interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry a few weeks back. I have learned the hard way that just because someone seems believable doesn’t mean they are telling the truth. But it surely still means something when someone comes across as believable and sincere. Both Meghan and Harry came across that way to me.
Their most explosive revelation was that someone high up in the royal family had expressed concern over whether their baby’s skin would be too dark. This was said to Harry and then repeated to Meghan. For their part, they refused to reveal who in the royal house had raised the racist concern. Though I’m sure damage was done to the reputation of the monarchy, they could have named names. They appeared to be taking the high road.
Honestly, I would have taken no further note of it except the next day was full of high profile (mostly British) celebrities claiming Meghan was lying. Piers Morgan became so angry in his accusation that he ended up resigning from “Good Morning Britain.” There were many others making similar accusations, who had no way of knowing whether what Meghan claimed was true or not.
Let’s back up a moment. Who made the claim? Meghan was only repeating what Harry told her. Harry confirmed the story to Oprah (the first part of the interview was just with Meghan), but no one was calling him a liar. Why was Meghan the target and not Harry. If Meghan was lying then so was Harry (or even maybe just Harry). Why were so few people willing to name him the liar?
It could be that Meghan drew fire because she is an American, but it could also be, in part, because she is a woman. Why I am writing about royal intrigue on a blog about chronic pain and illness? Because I have heard again and again from women who are not believed by medical professionals and others concerning the pain they are experiencing. The same experience certainly happens to men, but it is much more likely to happen to women. This conclusion is not just based on a hunch. Studies back it up.
The reasons for this bias against women are varied, complex, and go beyond the scope of this post. And I know Meghan Markle’s story isn’t the same as being doubted by a doctor. But whether it is a story like Meghan’s, victims of sexual abuse, or disbelieving someone’s experience with physical pain, it seems harder for women to be believed than men.
Today is Easter. The first witnesses of the empty tomb were women. A woman’s testimony was not even allowable in a court of law. Yet, God purposely chose women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection. He chose those who would be doubted simply because of their gender. Jesus’ own apostles rejected their testimony:
9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.Luke 24:9-11 (Biblegateway.com, NIV)
Nonsense. But that’s who Jesus wanted telling his story first. God places a premium value on the word of women.
It isn’t that we need to believe the word of a woman more than a man. A good starting point would be that we believe the word of a woman as much as the word of a man. One of the most powerful gifts Broken and Mended can give women is to let them know that in this ministry you will be believed. Men and women owe that much to one another. And it is for that kind of culture we will strive.
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