Category Archives: Feminism

“STJ 86: Taste and Bee” – Process & Theology

This art piece – STJ 86: Taste and Bee – thinks through Anglican, Sarah Coakley’s, articulation of desire in a Mennonite context. Here are a few slightly edited excerpts of an essay I wrote for professor Jeremy Bergen this year at Grebel Uni.:

STJ 86 Taste and Bee

“STJ 86: Taste and Bee” by Lisa Obirek, December 2015

5 reduction linocut on stonehenge paper with added media: water soluble oil, paint pens, raw bees wax, nail polish, gold leaf

This piece is called a “print” and fits within the broader artistic medium of “printmaking.” The more specific term for this particular print is called a five-reduction linocut. This means I use a traditional piece of rubbery linoleum which is essentially just heated up linseed oil and I carve designs into the same block of linoleum in five different stages.  I use carving tools that are similar to traditional wood carving tools on a smaller scale. These carving tools have different ends, or “bits,” that make their own distinct cuts into the linoleum. Continue reading “STJ 86: Taste and Bee” – Process & Theology

Becoming a Mennonite and then a workshop at the Mennonite World Conference

This evening I returned home from a week gathering in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for the Mennonite World Conference. Unlike many attendees of the conference, Anabaptism (the “mother” of “Mennonites) was not something that I inherited from my parents and then stepped into as I became an adult. Rather, it feels like I have been slowly immersed into the Mennonite faith. A number of different experiences, communities and individuals have brought me further into the world of Mennonites: studying Christian theology at a Mennonite institution has indelibly left its mark on me, researching the NGO work of Mennonite organizations (like Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Mennonite Economic Development Agency (MEDA)) from those within the organizations and those the organisations partner with, worshiping with a Mennonite congregation, and seeing women and men in their eighties and nineties actively pursuing activist-peace movements. It was this latter point that kind of “sealed the deal” for me in terms of making a commitment to a Mennonite way of life. Continue reading Becoming a Mennonite and then a workshop at the Mennonite World Conference


Yesterday morning I saw a twitter exchange between Dr. Brittney Cooper and somebody-else that incorporated the hashtag #AskAWhiteFeminist. Cooper told somebody-else to #AskAWhiteFeminist about the problems with a white feminist’s speech at the Oscar awards ceremony Sunday night. And then somebody-else went on a name-calling rampage – bigot, hater… – towards Cooper.

Now, I’ve been following Cooper’s work over at The Crunk Feminist Collective for almost three years. Continue reading #AskAWhiteFeminist

Woolf on “genius”

The rhetoric of Genius is a tricky thing. What constitutes genius? Some kind of transcendence where authorial context  need not be considered? What kind of spaces are required for someone create a work of genius? On this blog, I’ve read about the genius according to Proust and Madmen. All this is to say, the language of genius doesn’t sit neutral with me and it appears to carry some weight with both Joel and Gerald.

On the silliness and sadness of genius Virginia Woolf writes this piece describing what it might have looked like if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had had Shakespeare’s genius:

Let me imagine, since facts are so hard to come by, what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say. Shakespeare himself went, very probably — his mother was an heiress — to the grammar school, where he may have learnt Latin — Ovid, Virgil and Horace — and the elements of grammar and logic. He was, it is well known, a wild boy who poached rabbits, perhaps shot a deer, and had, rather sooner than he should have done, to marry a woman in the neighbourhood, who bore him a child rather quicker than was right. That escapade sent him to seek his fortune in London. He had, it seemed, a taste for the theatre; he began by holding horses at the stage door. Very soon he got work in the theatre, became a successful actor, and lived at the hub of the universe, meeting everybody, knowing everybody, practising his art on the boards, exercising his wits in the streets, and even getting access to the palace of the queen. Meanwhile his extraordinarily gifted sister, let us suppose, remained at home. She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic, let alone of reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers. They would have spoken sharply but kindly, for they were substantial people who knew the conditions of life for a woman and loved their daughter — indeed, more likely than not she was the apple of her father’s eye. Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly but was careful to hide them or set fire to them. Soon, however, before she was out of her teens, she was to be betrothed to the son of a neighbouring woolstapler. She cried out that marriage was hateful to her, and for that she was severely beaten by her father. Then he ceased to scold her. He begged her instead not to hurt him, not to shame him in this matter of her marriage. He would give her a chain of beads or a fine petticoat, he said; and there were tears in his eyes. How could she disobey him? How could she break his heart? The force of her own gift alone drove her to it. She made up a small parcel of her belongings, let herself down by a rope one summer’s night and took the road to London. She was not seventeen. The birds that sang in the hedge were not more musical than she was. She had the quickest fancy, a gift like her brother’s, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theatre. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said. Men laughed in her face. The manager — a fat, loose-lipped man — guffawed. He bellowed something about poodles dancing and women acting — no woman, he said, could possibly be an actress. He hinted — you can imagine what. She could get no training in her craft. Could she even seek her dinner in a tavern or roam the streets at midnight? Yet her genius was for fiction and lusted to feed abundantly upon the lives of men and women and the study of their ways. At last — for she was very young, oddly like Shakespeare the poet in her face, with the same grey eyes and rounded brows — at last Nick Greene the actor-manager took pity on her; she found herself with child by that gentleman and so — who shall measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body? — killed herself one winter’s night and lies buried at some cross-roads where the omnibuses now stop outside the Elephant and Castle.

That, more or less, is how the story would run, I think, if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had had Shakespeare’s genius.

From Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, Chapter 3.

What’s the difference between feminist theology and good theology?

I often hear this question (stated rhetorically with the expectant answer being “none”) used to dismiss feminist theology, while seeming to legitimize its concerns. There was a time, the argument runs, when all theology was at least accidentally patriarchal, but thanks to feminists in past years good theology has learned its lesson: it will no longer use only male pronouns, it will advocate (if the matter comes up) for equal rights and responsibilities in the church, and while it would be awkward to entirely avoid using male pronouns for God it will at least put in a footnote stating that such use is a necessary evil. Thus, feminist theologians today would do well to give up their unnecessary (and self-indulgent) preoccupation with female experience and concern, and focus instead on just doing good theology. Continue reading What’s the difference between feminist theology and good theology?

The example of women’s politics in A Thousand Plateaus

One of the most difficult aspects of reading Deleuze and Guattari is the fleetingness of helpful examples. Let me clarify. There are many quite illustrative literary examples and there are many historical examples that help to give a sense of their differentiations of the various political modes they explore. However, for this reader none of these help much when thinking about where and how Deleuze and Guattari may or may not position themselves politically, or how we might use their tools of analysis in the various political movements and landscapes of today. Having said that, I just came across a helpful one on women’s politics. Continue reading The example of women’s politics in A Thousand Plateaus