On the first Wednesday of the month, we publish blog posts written by members of our Generous Space Community. This piece is by Vivian Gietz, a member of our Vancouver Generous Space Group.
“She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” – Proverbs 31:25
The Bible verse above has meant a lot to me since I was a young preteen girl on my way to becoming a “biblical” woman. In recent years as I’ve reclaimed this term, it’s been especially important to me to clothe myself in the strength and dignity God desires for me, but I’ve done so in very different ways than I thought back then.
Cisgender Christian-raised women are taught what it means to be a “biblical woman” from a young age, especially as the phrase relates to purity culture, heteronormativity, traditional ideas of femininity, and other fun things that come along with conservative Christianity. Of course, a lot of us don’t fit in to these boxes, especially as queer
women. Through reclaiming my own womanhood outside these constraints, I’ve come to know and love myself, and my relationship with my own womanhood, queerness, and sexuality.
This journey has also left me with a lot of questions, attempting to define what exactly being a woman means removed from all the nasty connotations of purity culture. While there certainly are a lot of nasty connotations, at the same time, I was also taught many good things about womanhood I still find value in today: the nuance of strength and softness, the deep and holy intelligence, the connection to Mary, Mother of God, and the many female Catholic saints I was taught to pray to, the knowledge that many strong, holy women have come before me and many will come after, and much more.
I’m definitely a Cafeteria Catholic. I take what I want and leave the bad bits – sexism, homophobia, and all those fun things – behind. Therefore, I’m able to reclaim my womanhood in many ways, including those I just mentioned, but most notably as it relates me to both the women that have come before me and the women around me every day. I also reclaim womanhood by being unapologetic about things like wearing short skirts and bright colors, taking up space, kissing girls, swearing, sweating, and standing up for myself – all things that make me stand out when I’m not supposed to, things many would argue make me a “bad Catholic”.
But how do we answer that question? What exactly makes me, or any other woman, a woman? It has to be more than a shared biological component, if we are to include our transgender sisters – which is absolutely necessary. It’s been argued by some feminists that what connects all women is the oppression we face from men and society. Our lives are governed by the things that harm us and those like us.
However, it must be more than this. As Christians, and most especially, as queer Christian women, if we are to believe that God created humanity inherently good, we have to believe that women are made of more than our trauma. For me, because of my connection to Mary and other female saints, and my connections with women in my life today, I’m inclined to think that the link which bonds all women is a spiritual connection to each other, a kinship. Perhaps the trust between women is rooted in our desire to stand up for ourselves and each other, to fight against oppression together. That connection, be it familial, platonic, or romantic, is God-given and holy in itself. It also makes queer women holy in a unique way that celebrates our queerness, allowing us to reclaim the negative notions we’ve fought against, crafting them into positive relationships with ourselves, those around us, and the God we believe in. It allows us to clothe ourselves in the strength and dignity of Christ. In my mind, there is little more biblical than that.
More about Vivian:
Vivian Gietz is a 23-year-old bisexual Catholic woman, writer, feminist, and activist. A communications and administrative professional, she graduated from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Gender and Woman’s Studies. She is primarily interested in exploring positive queer and feminist intersections with Catholicism and Christianity through her blogging, poetry, and everyday life.
Vivian’s abilities and passions are notably demonstrated in the publication of her 2016 poetry chapbook and in her past work as an academic club founder and executive of LGBTQ+ Christians UBCO. Her creative perspective allows her to navigate both personal and professional situations with an emphasis on diversity, inspiration, and spirituality.
Vivian’s other interests include fashion, coffee, and Taylor Swift. She currently resides in Vancouver, BC with her beloved cat, Baby.
You can check out more of Vivian’s writing here: https://viviangietz.com