Unladylike Manifesto

"Bruised Beauty" collage art by Pam Hogeweide

A new friend in Facebookland posted on my timeline a link to a site called The True Woman Manifesto. She made it clear with her comment (this is nauseating) that the site is decidedly not in keeping with her womanhood.

Before I had even clicked on the link I knew I would have trouble with it, no matter the content. Let’s just start with the title, True Womanhood. True. A wonderful word that can be defined as meaning the real deal, pure, honest, unfiltered, authentic….true womanhood than communicates a rather sour message just from being strung together that there is somehow the capacity to be an inauthentic woman–an inauthentic human being–and so before I even hopped on the internet highway to roll into this site, I kinda figured I’d be looking in a distorted mirror that would tell me, Pam, you are not a true woman.

And I was right.

There is no place in the way of Jesus for inequality to remain unchallenged. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of justice for it is a kingdom of love and goodness. We need Jesus’ daring spirit that defies oppression in favor of equality, for love and justice will trump theology every time. – Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church

The True Woman Manifesto is a collection of signatures from Christian women who are asserting their commitment to the complementarian view of themselves. Complementarianism is one of those theology words that obscures an ugly truth: Christianized sexism. In the world of church, complementarians hold that God has a created divine order of men leading and women following. This mindset is evident in several points of The True Womanhood Manifesto:

We are called as women to affirm and encourage men as they seek to express godly masculinity, and to honor and support God-ordained male leadership in the home and in the church.

When we respond humbly to male leadership in our homes and churches, we demonstrate a noble submission to authority that reflects Christ’s submission to God His Father.

Selfish insistence on personal rights is contrary to the spirit of Christ who humbled Himself, took on the form of a servant, and laid down His life for us.

God’s plan for gender is wider than marriage; all women, whether married or single, are to model femininity in their various relationships, by exhibiting a distinctive modesty, responsiveness, and gentleness of spirit.

Mature Christian women have a responsibility to leave a legacy of faith, by discipling younger women in the Word and ways of God and modeling for the next generation lives of fruitful femininity.

I address this kind of thinking in my book, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church. I address it head on offering readers a primer in a theology of equality, historical context of patriarchy’s influence on Christianity as well as many stories of how this kind of subservient posturing is damaging to a woman’s soul.

Instead of picking apart this manifesto, I would like to offer a different kind of manifesto, an unladylike manifesto for women and men who embrace the full personhood of woman alongside the full personhood of men.


Unladylike Manifesto

  • We believe that male and female are created to collaborate, co-lead and co-exist in a mutuality of submission to one another. (Gen 2:18-23,Galatians 3:28)
  • We believe that gifting is appointed according to the will of the Holy Spirit and that calling is determined by gifting, not gender. (1 Corinthians 12, John 20:1-20)
  • We believe that the power of the Gospel restores men and women in right relationship to one another to live, serve and lead side by side rather than in patriarchal hierarchy. (Galatians 3:28, John 4:7-39)
  • We believe that the voice, influence and authority of women is meant to be fully unleashed in accordance to the full personhood that women possess. Male headship is a myth. (Joel 2:28-29, 1 Peter 2:9-10)
  • We believe in the mutual submission and partnership of marriage where neither has authority over another by virtue of gender. We reject the headship/submission model as a biblical truth and instead embrace the liberty and wisdom of deference to the other. (Ephesian 1:22, Ephesians 5: 15-33, 1 Peter 5:5)
  • We believe that the leadership of women is needed in full partnership with the leadership of men in all arenas of culture and church. Women were not created to follow anymore than men were created to lead. (Numbers 12:15, Judges 4 & 5, 2 Kings 22:13-14, Acts 2, Romans 16:3-4, 7)
  • We believe that Jesus modeled a radical agenda of respecting women’s full personhood in how he treated them as noted in the Gospels. Jesus went against cultural and religious norms in his treatment of women. (Luke 13:10-17, John 4, Luke 8:1-3, etc…..)
  • We believe that men and women of faith ought to resist the injustice of inequality wherever it is found, including the halls of the church. Justice is a kingdom of God value and is the language of love. (Hosea 2:19, Amos 5:15, 24, Micah 6:8)

So this is my manifesto, my unladylike declaration that true womanhood is liberated personhood. The kingdom of God does not perpetuate the injustice of inequality among women. The kingdom of God frees women from sexism, even within the house of faith. Because being human is true womanhood


Unladylike Manifesto — 33 Comments

  1. reading that pseudo manifesto made me sick. Thank you for your unladylikeness!
    I am so glad to know there are ‘others’ (other couples, other women, other guys!) out there, my husband and I are reading all of your blog with great joy!

    • @Nina, I blogged this within minutes of reading the True Woman site. Had to put another perspective out there to counter the patriarchal fueled view of women the TW people defend and promote. Ugh.

      Honored that you and your husband read my stuff. I def intend to blog more about marriage in the coming year. Stay tuned and thanks for hanging out in my corner of cyberspace !

    • Hi Tania, you can go toy homepage and look on the right sidebar for the link to subscribe to my blog. And you can also subscribe to my newsletter if you like.

      Thanks for reading and I look forward to getting to know you!

  2. Love this post!! Thanks so much for writing it!! I loved your book and have gotten copies for my sister and one of my friends. You are putting into words things I have felt for a long time. The same goes for this manifesto. Keep writing!!!

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  4. Well Pam, after reading several items on your website and reading a lot of reviews about your book on Amazon, I ordered your book, “Unladylike:….”. About 6 years ago I came across the website Gods Word To Women and was first enlightened that what I felt in my spirit for decades – that women were equal with men in God’s eyes – was in fact true! I will be 67 in July and I find that most of my peers look at me like I’m nuts when I try to share this with them. I guess they are afraid of rocking the boat. I must be a rebel at heart! I’m excited to read your book. Will give you some feedback once I get it in my hands! Thanks for your courage to take a stand. It’s time to get radical!

    • thank you so much Clair for getting Unladylike. I appreciate your support!

      You are reminding me that I used to read God’s Word to Women a few years ago. Thanks for that! I have now added them to my blog roll of resources for women.

      I love that you are 67 and still the unladylike fire continues to burn strong in you. Way to go!! Injustice knows no age and women in all stages of life need to walk in the full personhood of who God has made us to be.

      I look forward to bumping into you more around the web. Find me on Facebook and Twitter if you are there, and please do come by the blog often. You’re voice is needed!!!!!

  5. Great post and manifesto! BTW I couldn’t help noticing, on the quotes pulled from the “True Woman” thing, that one could reverse the gender nouns and come up with scriptural truths… for example: “We are called as men to affirm and encour­age women as they seek to express godly femininity, and to honor and sup­port God-​​ordained female lead­er­ship in the home and in the church” or better still, “Mature Chris­t­ian men have a respon­si­bil­ity to leave a legacy of faith, by dis­ci­pling younger men in the Word and ways of God and mod­el­ing for the next gen­er­a­tion lives of fruit­ful masculinity.” It’s a shame they don’t see it.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Peg, thanks for reading and for your comment. Brilliant suggestion to switch up the pronouns in the True Woman Manifesto. Love it. It definitely makes the point very clearly. I wonder what a True Human Manifesto would look like?? Which again, as I mentioned in m post, would beg the question, What is an inauthentic (or fakey, untrue) human???

      Thanks for your encouragement, too. And feel free to spread the Unladylike Manifesto and message !!

  6. As someone who is still wrestling very much with where I see myself on the complementarian-egalitarian spectrum, this post was very refreshing! First, everything needs to be scripturally based, and you demonstrated that well. Secondly, the fact that you didn’t attack the other side is also rare – seeing as usually the debates are quite fueled. Thanks for this!

    • Thank you Connie for taking time to read and also comment on this. I am glad to hear that you are wrestling this out and considering scripture from other perspectives besides complementarian. If you have not yet read my book, Unladylike: Resisting the Inequality of Injustice in the Church, I encourage you to do so. I devote two chapters to examining the Bible and theology and how equality is a mainstream biblical truth. I offer a primer on this (as I’m not theologian!) and direct readers to scholars and books that provide overwhelming compelling scholarship that the Bible is not uniquely complementarian in message. I hope you’ll continue on your journey and discover for yourself the more than ample evidence that Women and Men are meant and designed to be along side one another rather than the headship/submission model that the True Womanhood project affirms.

      • yes, just added…and actually, a little techno difficulty so I just updated the form. Please resubmit if you did not use the current nicer form. It is more updated than the first plugin I tried. I’m kinda clumsy at this stuff….but thanks for reading and signing. Spread the word!

  7. Pam, I appreciate your perspective and boldness! Love the manifesto. Currently reading your book, which results in even more awareness of the inequity in our faith settings. Thank you!

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