Legacy of Carol P. Christ: “What Would Happen If One Woman Told the Truth about Her Life?”

This was originally posted on September 24, 2018

According to poet Muriel Rukeyser, “the world would split open.”

This poem accurately describes what many women experienced in consciousness raising in the 1970s and what many women experience today in the #MeToo movement.

For many of us the world did split open. We began to take ourselves and our experiences seriously. To do so we had to question received wisdom encoded in such questions as: “What was she doing there in the first place?” “Was she drinking too?” “Why didn’t she change out of her bathing suit?” Underlying these questions is the assumption that: “whatever happened, she must have asked for it.”

A lot of people are wondering why congressmen and voters who claim to uphold Christian principles are not more outraged about credible allegations of sexual assault against a child whose name was Christine Blasey. What this question fails to address is the fact that the Christian principles (if any) held by conservatives are steeped in patriarchy. Liberals may argue that Jesus would have cared about the girl, and I believe they are right. But the Christianity that developed after his death was centered on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all of whom are male. This Christianity is patriarchal to the core: its deep message is that power belongs the hands of males and that male power is not to be questioned.

My mother loved her mother, her sister, and me deeply. But she also loved my father who was a patriarchal male, and she raised two sons who, though they loved their mother deeply, also became patriarchal males. If she and my father were alive, she would be one of those Republican women who doubt Christine Blasey’s story, or who dismiss it because it happened a long time ago, Blasey was not actually raped, and we all know that boys will be boys.

Many years ago a friend in her twenties who was visiting our family was pinched on her bottom by a friend of my father’s at a Christmas party. My friend said nothing at the time and only told me several decades later.

This admission made me wonder: had this happened to my mother too? My father’s friend was patriarchal to the core and a heavy drinker. I did not want to be near him because he bullied me and ridiculed my father when I surpassed my father in height. I find it hard to believe that this man did not touch my mother and other women in her circle inappropriately at some time too.

But if this happened, then why did she and my father continue to socialize with this man? I doubt that my mother would have told my father. I doubt that she would have told anyone. Even my friend did not tell anyone for decades.

What is going on here?

When I first became a feminist, I tried to share my new insights with my mother in letters. Finally, she wrote back, “Are you trying to get me to leave your father?” That was the end of our conversations about feminism.

My mother understood, as most Republican women do, that sexual abuse and rape—and other forms of abuse–occur. But she refused to continue our conversation about feminism for one simple reason: she was not going to leave my father.

She understood that if we continued it, her world would split open.

The world splitting open is cataclysmic: nothing can ever be the same. For my mother, divorce would have meant losing her home, her financial security, and her position in the community as a married woman. We all know that none of these things are easy. Besides that—my mother loved my father. So she denied or refused to take seriously the socially sanctioned abuse of women (including of herself and of me) by men. (What the psychological and physical cost to her health was, I can only guess. My mother died four months after her 72nd birthday. My father survived and thrived for another 26 years and died four months after his 98th birthday.)

This is why white married women continue to support the Republicans even in the face of clear evidence that Republican men care more about their own power than they care about the abuse of women and girls.

It really is as simple and as complicated as that.

They are afraid.

They do not want the world to split open.

BIO: Carol P. Christ (1945-2021) was an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator. Her work continues through her non-profit foundation, the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual.

“In Goddess religion death is not feared, but is understood to be a part of life, followed by birth and renewal.”  — Carol P. Christ 

Author: Legacy of Carol P. Christ

We at FAR were fortunate to work along side Carol Christ for many years. She died from cancer in July, 2021. Her work continues through her non-profit foundation, the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual and the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete. To honor her legacy and to allow as many people as possible to read her thought-provoking and important blogs, we are pleased to offer this new column to highlight her work. We will be picking out special blogs for reposting, making note of their original publication date.

8 thoughts on “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: “What Would Happen If One Woman Told the Truth about Her Life?””

  1. Oh, the wisdom… Carol raises the question of patterns repeating ad nauseam…. Carol is so right – we refuse to speak and don’t change because we don’t want our worlds to split open.

    I think the fear is getting worse.


  2. I have tried to comment but my comment will not post. This happens frequently on FAR.
    I wish the problem could be resolved. I log in & the system doesn’t recognize me. Happens over & over so that I just do not try to post comments because usually the system does not work properly & it is an exercise in frustration.


    1. Hi AliB- I’ve had luck posting comments without logging in. Perhaps that would work for you. Just go to the bottom of the screen: write your comment, then add an email and your name (both required). See the post “WordPress Alert – UPDATED” that usually appears as the first or second item under Recent Posts on the main page.


      1. thank you Contenta, I’ve tried that numerous times.
        It doesn’t let me post.
        Moreover, the login page continually acts like I’ve never logged on previously,
        which is very abnormal. I ask it to save my password & each time it instead suggests a new password, so there is some kind of glitch in the software.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. again, my post will not post.

    I actually do some website maintenance on several websites so if FAR would like a volunteer to troubleshoot this glitch. I know others have raised this difficulty previously and I think it could be resolved.


  4. Leaving the political aspect of this post aside, I can relate to the behaviour of women who tolerate and associate with abusers and bottom pinchers who exist in their community network.

    Yes you are right. Distancing oneself from such people breaks society and family. It takes a brave woman to go against those who look away and take a stand. And it takes financial independence or desperation or to do this within a family.

    Every conversation on this matters and you are brave to speak about it and how it worked in your family. Kudos to you.

    Politics is not my forte so I prefer to leave it aside – hope you understand.


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