Hear Me! Redux by Winifred Nathan

She Said; He Said 
And How 
She won! He lost!

On May 9, 2023, in New York Supreme Court, “she said,” won. E. Jean Carroll was awarded a judgment of five million dollars in compensatory damages in her defamation and sexual abuse case against former President Donald Trump. YES, she won! He lost!  

How did this happen?

The starting point is looking to a New York state change in its law regarding sexual assault. The assault took place in early 1969. Like many women, Ms. Carroll didn’t seek immediate legal help. She waited until 2019 to file a suit. Her explanation: at her trial, she opined, “I was born in 1943. Women like me were taught and trained to keep our chins up and not to complain.”

In November 2019, E. Jean Carroll did bring her first lawsuit against Donald Trump, which grew from his remarks when she accused him of sexual abuse. The suit was, however, limited to defamation. (Applicable statutes of limitation precluded any potential criminal action for sexual assault.) The Justice Department appealed the case. 

Continue reading “Hear Me! Redux by Winifred Nathan”

ESCORT SERVICE by Esther Nelson

These days, I spend most of my time in Roanoke, Virginia.  I moved here—a three-hour drive west—from Richmond, Virginia.  One of the ways I’m settling into my new community is by volunteering as an escort at Planned Parenthood.

The job is straight-forward:  Greet people as they exit their vehicle when they arrive at the medical facility’s parking lot.  Usually, there are several protestors in front of the building, and clients must drive past them before turning right into the driveway.  Protestors wave pink, plastic bags filled with anti-abortion literature as well as pamphlets that outline a specific, Christian view of “salvation.”  Not many drivers stop.  If they do, I walk over to the line that divides Planned Parenthood property from public space and wave the cars forward.  The drivers are grateful.  So many clients are nervous, upset, and unsure of protocol.  One woman asked me if I was associated with “those people out there,” pointing to the protestors.  “Not at all,” I assured her.  She smiled with relief.

Continue reading “ESCORT SERVICE by Esther Nelson”

Legacy of Carol P. Christ: When Violence is Normal and Normalized

This was originally posted on January 14, 2019

Warning: this blog discusses spanking and bodily violence

“No Whips, No Punishments, No Threats: Women’s Control of Social Life” is the title of one of the chapters in Iroquoian Women, Barbara Alice Mann’s stunning reconstruction of female power in a matrilineal society. According to Mann, the European settlers were “unsettled” by the lack of strict punishment systems for children in Indian societies. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” was the backbone of European child-rearing practices. The settlers viewed Indian children as naughty, disobedient, disrespectful, and horror of horrors: self-possessed.

It is perhaps no coincidence that after reading this chapter, bodily memories of violence inflicted on me as a child began to resurface. My strongest bodily memory is of being hit repeatedly on my left upper arm by my younger brother’s fist. It is as if my arm is still stinging in that particular place. My mother wanted us to play together, but when we did, we usually ended up fighting. My brother, who was two and a half years younger, was later diagnosed with dyslexia and given “little red pills” to help him control his temper. I was a quiet child (there must have been reasons for that too), and though I soon realized that if I hit back I would only be hurt more, I learned to use my tongue against my brother. This too was a form of violence and my brother remembers my cruelty to this day. Once when I asked my mother what she wanted for her birthday, she responded, “Two children who do not fight.” I didn’t even try to give her that because I didn’t know another way.

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: When Violence is Normal and Normalized”

Remember! by Mary Gelfand

“There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that.
You walked alone, full of laughter, you bathed bare-bellied.
You say you have lost all recollection of it, remember! ….
You say there are no words to describe it;
You say it does not exist.
But remember.  Make an effort to remember.
Or, failing that, invent.”

From Les Guerilleres, by Monique Wittig, mid-20th Century French feminist writer

The first time I heard this quote from Wittig was in the mid-1990s when I took ‘Cakes for the Queen of Heaven,’ an introduction to feminist thealogy and the Great Goddess, created by the Women & Religion committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association.  Cakes was my introduction to Carol Christ, feminist thealogy, and the Goddess.  It changed my life forever.  I’ve been teaching this program for close to twenty years now and as my understanding of women’s history and the role of patriarchy in our suppression has deepened, I continue to find new resonances with Wittig’s words.

“There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that.”  This statement is relevant to all oppressed peoples and especially to women.  History tells us that enslavement was a part of European culture long before Africans were kidnapped into slavery on this continent.  Enslavement of the defeated was a common aspect of war, dating back to Biblical times.  Many aspects of the feudal system dominant in western Europe for centuries were little better than slavery. 

Continue reading “Remember! by Mary Gelfand”

From the Archives: Recognizing Abuse by Karen Tate

This was originally posted on March 8, 2019

I’ve been thinking a lot about abuse. Of course, most of us know about the domination, exploitation and  need for control meted out by patriarchy, but I wonder if we have actually normalized many abuses? Abuse in the home, in the workplace, in our culture. Perhaps  we accepted it unconsciously because so many of us are conditioned by religions that tell us to make noble sacrifice and tolerate suffering silently. I wonder if we’re calling it out when we see it – often and loudly – or if we’ve become conditioned to quietly accept the abuse with little push back.

My intent is not to offend anyone with this. I want to find common ground and defeat the polarization we find around us, but our President is the poster child for abusive behavior.  Do we recognize his lies and fear-mongering and so many of the ideas he gives credence and license to as abuse?  Not only is he eroding our democratic institutions but he poisons the political, social and cultural arena with negativity, fear and hate, rather than uplifting us and encouraging us to evolve and be the best version of ourselves. I equate him to poison in a well from which we must all drink.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Recognizing Abuse by Karen Tate”

The Patriarchy Strikes Back by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

I suppose no one is all that surprised but it is still stunning how quickly certain politicians are rushing to pull back women’s rights. It’s become a race to regulate women’s bodies of with draconian and cruel laws.

Each law is more extreme than the next. In South Carolina it has even been proposed to make abortion a crime subject to the death penalty.

Commentators say the bill isn’t going anywhere.  But it was still proposed. It is now in the eco-system of abortion politics. It is being imagined and that opens up all possibilities of where it can go from here. We never thought, after all, that Roe would be overturned.

Continue reading “The Patriarchy Strikes Back by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”


Elvis Presley (1935 – 1977) popularized the song “In the Ghetto” written by Mac Davis in 1969.  The following TikTok video, featuring an artist with whom I am not familiar, is better—in my opinion—than any other rendition I’ve heard.  Such depth!  Such raw passion!  Such strength!  Such vulnerability!


Here are the lyrics:

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto…

Continue reading “PATRIARCHY’S OFFSPRING by Esther Nelson”

Marketing in the New World and Karen Tate’s New Book on Normalizing Abuse by Caryn MacGrandle

Marketing was my thing in college.  And my first professional job out of college was in Marketing at the Regional Headquarters of Canon in Dallas.  And then my life took me out into the weeds: a marriage to an Airforce pilot following him to the snow filled tundra of North Dakota, the swamps of Mississippi, two divorces, four children, twists and turns and ups and downs all landing smack dab to where I sit in front of my computer at the moment outside of Huntsville, Alabama at 53 finally feeling like I’ve got somewhat of a handle on this crazy ride called Life or at least a better idea of how to buckle in and enjoy the ups and get through the downs.

Continue reading “Marketing in the New World and Karen Tate’s New Book on Normalizing Abuse by Caryn MacGrandle”

Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Religions and the Abuse of Women and Girls: God Is the Problem

This was originally posted on November 12, 2018

At the 2009 meeting of the Parliament of World Religions, former US President Jimmy Carter called the worldwide abuse of girls and women the greatest unaddressed human rights crisis of our time. In the book that followed the speech, he compared sexism to the racism he witnessed in the US South, stating:

There is a similar system of discrimination, extending far beyond a small geographical region to the entire globe; it touches every nation, perpetuating and expanding the trafficking in human slaves, body mutilation, and even legitimized murder on a massive scale. This system is based on the presumption that men and boys are superior to women and girls.

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Religions and the Abuse of Women and Girls: God Is the Problem”

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.

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

The Patriarchal Dilemma by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

I was listening to a newscast when it was reported that the Ukraine sent missiles into Russia. My initial thought was “it’s about time they took it to the Russians.” The next moment I was horrified at myself.  I am a pacifist.  I think the proliferation of weapons is one of humankind’s great evils and here I was cheering on an attack.  One that could escalate an already nasty war, lead to nuclear weapons use and possibly even a world war. And yet when I look at what is happening in Ukraine, my mind simply can’t comprehend what the people are going through. The trauma of the children cuts particularly deeply. And I can see no sane reason behind the strikes other than rank cruelty.

There it is in a nutshell, what I have come to call the patriarchal dilemma. It’s a no-win situation with no right answer. While life might place us in such positions all on its own, the patriarchal form of this is created by design. It is nasty, it is cruel, and loss of human life and ecological destruction are not glitches but features.

Continue reading “The Patriarchal Dilemma by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

Legacy of Carol P. Christ: On Believing Things That Are Not True

This was originally posted on August 19, 2019 (when the former guy was President. Although former guy isn’t in power now, Carol’s points are still operative in our world.)

Anyone who is following American politics these days knows that the American President and his acolytes have little respect for what the rest of us consider to be the truth—or at least the best approximation of the truth that we can discern. Last week, while discussing the “lie” of white supremacy that approximately 40% of the American public has bought hook, line, and sinker, I had occasion to reflect again on the relation between traditional religious beliefs and rejection of reason and common sense. As is also well-known the President and his supporters have no respect for factual truth.

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: On Believing Things That Are Not True”

The Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Meeting the Windigo

Towards the end of Braiding Sweetgrass, mother, biologist, and member of the Citizen Potawami Nation Robin Wall Kimmerer sets out at the end of winter to visit a forest area near her home that she considers hers not in name but in virtue of her love and care for it. On arriving, she discovers that the forest is no more, having been clear-cut by the owner. The wildflowers and the plants she has harvested over the years have sprouted up, but Kimmerer knows that without the forest cover they will be burned by the sun and their places taken by brambles.

Kimmerer is overcome by anger and despair, her feelings for the land she loves merging with her knowledge that not only her forest, but the earth itself is being treated as nothing more than a product by so many—without second thought for all that is lost.

Continue reading “The Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Meeting the Windigo”

Legacy of Carol P. Christ:“Ursula Niebuhr, Ursula Niebuhr”: Unacknowledged Co-author of Great Works of Theology?

This was originally posted on August 26, 2019. It fits in with our new project of Unsung Heroines.

A few days ago while watching the movie The Wife, I kept hearing the words “Ursula Niebuhr, Ursula Niebuhr,” in my mind. I knew the reason was Ursula’s unacknowledged collaboration on the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, which I discovered while writing an earlier blog on uncredited co-authors.

I had not been particularly interested in seeing The Wife because I assumed it was the familiar story of the woman who gives up her career interests when she marries. Want to become a rabbi? Marry one. Want to become an artist? Live with him and become his muse. This is a very old story, and for me, not a very interesting one.

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ:“Ursula Niebuhr, Ursula Niebuhr”: Unacknowledged Co-author of Great Works of Theology?”

Legacy of Carol P. Christ: His Terror

Moderator’s Note: This was originally posted on March 25, 2019. AND the issues are still with us and as vivid as ever.

The first two parts of Susan Griffin’s Woman and Nature, “MATTER” and “SEPARATION,” are written in the authoritative voice of western philosophy and science that declares matter to be dead and the body an impediment to thought, and proceeds to separate the mind from the body. All of this, Griffin suggests, is based in the fear of death.

As Griffin notes, in this equation woman is identified with the body and her voice is silenced. Re-reading these parts of Woman and Nature for the umpteenth time for a class I am teaching felt even more painful than it had before. I was reliving parts of my own story.

I was brought up in the tract home suburbs of post-war Los Angeles in a world of women. Both of my grandmothers played central roles in my upbringing, introducing me to nature and the spirit of life they experienced as we explored trails the Los Angeles County arboretum before it was fenced or when we frolicked in the waves and picked up sand dollars at the seashore south of San Francisco. When I was ten years old my family moved to a new neighborhood that was almost entirely made up of families like ours with small children, fathers who worked, and mothers who stayed home.

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: His Terror”

Legacy of Carol P. Christ: It’s Time to Thank Stacey Abrams Again

This was originally posted on January 18, 2021

The insurrection in the Capitol on January 6 has dominated the news ever since. Coverage of the Democrats’ victories in the two Senate runoffs in Georgia has been virtually nil. Now that it seems that at least as long as the National Guard is deployed to defend the national and state capitols, the insurrectionists have been stopped, it is time to thank Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff–and most of all to Stacey Abrams–for returning control of the Senate to the Democrats.

As is well-known to most readers of FAR, Stacey Abrams narrowly lost the election for Governor of Georgia in 2018 due to voter suppression.

Voter suppression of voters of color and young voters is a scourge our country faces in states across the nation.  Georgia’s 2018 elections shone a bright light on the issue with elections that were rife with mismanagement, irregularities, unbelievably long lines and more, exposing both recent and also decades-long actions and inactions by the state to thwart the right to vote. 

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: It’s Time to Thank Stacey Abrams Again”

The Guru Question: Are Spiritual Hierarchies Inherently Oppressive?

Painting of a noblewoman seeking counsel from two Tantric yoginis, in the Mughal style, about 1750. From the British Museum’s recent exhibition, Tantra: Enlightenment to Revolution. A beautiful starting point to learn about Indian spirituality in its original context. May all our paths be crossed by wise teachers.

I’ve received a tremendous response to my essay on cults, published on Feminism and Religion in December last year. The topic continues to be a burning issue as more and more survivors break their silence on the spiritual abuse they suffered. Cults are a feminist issue because women and girls suffer the worst abuses at the hands of male cult leaders.

To fully understand how this cult dynamic works, I highly recommend watching Dan Shaw’s lecture on the subject, in which he explains how cult leaders are traumatizing narcissists whose goal is to subjugate their followers and “purify” them by utterly destroying their sense of self. Yet for me, the most haunting moment of his presentation came just near the end, during the Q & A session. An audience member and survivor of Siddha Yoga, the same cult that Shaw once belonged to, asked, “Are there gurus that people can trust?” She asked if guru-driven spirituality was “inherently subjugating.”  

Shaw, perhaps understandably not wanting to come across as a white man casting judgement on another culture’s deeply-rooted spiritual traditions, wiggled out of answering by saying that it was up to the individual to discern if a particular guru was safe or not.  

But I think this anonymous woman’s question deserves a more nuanced answer.

In Hinduism, since the age of the Upanishads, gurus have played a crucial role in preserving wisdom teachings in a religion with no centralized authority figure or governing body. The teachings are passed on orally to disciples who worship the guru as a divine being in order to realize their own innate divinity. I would love to hear from Indian feminists on how this guru-disciple relationship plays out in India today, particularly with female practitioners.

However legitimate and honorable these systems might be in their original cultural context, I think it’s fair to say something gets lost in translation when Eastern spirituality moves West. Great abuses have come to light. Katy Butler, in her article, “Encountering the Shadow in Buddhist America,” writes that guru abuse has become so prevalent due to the “unhealthy marriage of Asian hierarchy and American license that distorts the student-teacher relationship.”

It’s pertinent to point out that many of these misbehaving gurus, lamas, and swamis are white men. Spiritual hierarchies can be abusive across cultures—look at the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. Cults are not necessarily “Eastern” or “foreign.” There are plenty of Christian cults, self help cults, and wellness cults.

Another thing that often gets lost in translation is what Eastern spirituality actually intends to offer the student. Many Western students turn to Eastern disciplines like meditation and mindfulness for stress reduction, but that is not their original purpose. These disciplines are intended to liberate the practitioner from the wheel of death and rebirth, to transcend this world of suffering and our worldly attachments, in order to enter an enlightened state—i.e. not to be reincarnated again, a goal some Western people might find world-denying and nihilistic.

Dr Willoughby Britton, professor of psychiatry at Brown University, speaking to Rachel Bernstein on IndoctriNation podcast asks, “How problematic or paradoxical is it if you believe that enlightenment is a destination that someone else can take you to? What dependence does that create?”

The goal is unmeasurable and the endpoint keeps shifting according to the power dynamics. You become much more dependent on the teacher who decides if you have reached this invisible destination. If you’re being charged a lot for the teachings, the teacher may decide that you don’t achieve the end result for a very long time.

Willoughby says practitioners can empower themselves by asking themselves the following questions:

Where do you want to go with this practice?

If you are seeking enlightenment, what does that mean for you?

You get to define your own outcomes and measure your success by what you want to show up in your life, i.e. better sleep, reduced anxiety, improved relationships, and inner peace.

In evaluating teachers and spiritual groups, ask yourself:

What were you initially promised?

Has it been achieved after all your hard work?

Do you feel you are closer to your goal?

Or have your initial reasons been shifted by the teacher into their reasons and their goals that are no longer yours?

Are you under pressure to perform for and please the teacher?

Are you expected to use scripted, stilted language to describe your experience?

If you question the teacher and the teacher retaliates, that’s your tipping point, says Britton. If you say that a practice isn’t working for you and the response you get is, “Well, that’s because you don’t have the right karmas/aren’t dedicated enough/haven’t reached the right level of spiritual maturity”  etc., you need to leave and find a different group.

In order for anyone to have a healthy experience with a teacher, you need the freedom to say, “I think this isn’t working for me, and, in fact, it’s hurting me and I need to move on.” Depending on how people respond to you setting your boundary, you’ll know if you’re in a healthy space or not.

As Dan Lawton says on another episode of IndoctriNation Podcast, a spiritual practice can only be as healthy as the person teaching you that practice. The endgame for a lot of teachers is often building a personal brand around the supremacy of a certain spiritual practice. Once you’re locked into that box, there are a lot of things you’re not going to be able to see and there’s a possibility of doing real harm to your students.

Good, ethical teachers, whether they call themselves gurus or not, are deserving of deep respect. But they need to be vetted and held accountable. And maybe in the West, at least, the obligation to see the teacher as enlightened or divine is indeed too subjugating. Maybe it would much healthier to look up to them as a wise elder or mentor. Surrendering our agency to another human is always going to be subjugating.

Perhaps we can follow the example of the female seeker in the 18th century painting above, who is taking counsel from two yoginis, female practitioners who live in the forest, outside the strictures and hierarchies of patriarchal society. Instead of placing all our hopes in one exalted individual, why not instead seek the deep wisdom of the female collective?

Mary Sharratt is committed to telling women’s stories. Please check out her acclaimed novel Illuminations, drawn from the dramatic life of Hildegard von Bingen, and her new novel Revelationsabout the mystical pilgrim Margery Kempe and her friendship with Julian of Norwich. Visit her website.

Memoirs of a Cult Survivor by Chasity Jones

This blogpost is a reflection on my experience creating a podcast series concerning religious trauma experienced in cults as well as how to heal from traumatic cult experiences.

Firstly, I had to be very intentional about the word survivor as opposed to victim. Survivor was the obvious choice because I used to cringe when thinking of myself as a victim. However, As I heal, I can honor both the survivor and the victim, for they are the same. I cannot forget to acknowledge though that some victims do not survive and this is the same concerning cults. Many people at this very moment are in exile or in hiding from their cults when they escape and for that reason some of the people who engaged in this series were forced to engage anonymously.

Continue reading “Memoirs of a Cult Survivor by Chasity Jones”

Remembering “The Burning Times,” Part 1 by Beth Bartlett

I first saw it when looking at their faces while showing The Burning Times in class — the blank stares, the pained expressions, the tears, the looking away. The scenes and sounds of women tortured and burned alive touched something deep and ancient in them.  Here it was — the historical trauma of women.[i]  The lasting impact of historical trauma is experienced by subsequent generations for hundreds of years, manifesting in such things as depression, PTSD, self-destructive behaviors, anger, violence, suicide, and more. As Native LGBTQ activist and writer Chris Stark so eloquently put it: “The experiences of our grandparents and great-grandparents are written into the library of our bodies . . . . My ancestors’ loss and screams are written in me – their pain and murder and rape merged with my own as a child. . . We carry them through time. We remember.”

Continue reading “Remembering “The Burning Times,” Part 1 by Beth Bartlett”

Legacy of Carol P. Christ: The Devil’s Bargain: “If You Can Convince a White Woman”

This was originally posted on August 12, 2019

This week’s news from America. Where to begin? When will it end?

The President of the United States is a racist who incites racist violence. Republicans have been slow to condemn the President and are not likely to pass a complete ban on assault weapons and to make those currently in circulation illegal.

After reading a speech condemning hate speech and gun violence that he obviously didn’t write, the President scheduled a round-up of brown people working in chicken-packing factories in Mississippi to coincide with his unsympathetic visits to the cities of Dayton and El Paso, where two recent mass killings by assault weapons occurred. The next morning, we were greeted by images of little children coming home from school in small towns in Mississippi to find their parents missing. We were told that none of the surviving victims of the El Paso shooting wanted to meet the President.

This is not the America I want. But it is the America that many Americans seem to want. I would like to think that women as a group reject the President and his agenda. Sadly, this is not true.

Continue reading “Legacy of Carol P. Christ: The Devil’s Bargain: “If You Can Convince a White Woman””

The Fall of Patriarchy: I Got Scammed by Caryn MacGrandle

I am a few months out of my second marriage. There will be no third. I know my task right now is to become self-sufficient.

Thanks to my second husband, I have valuable Project Management skills. He set up an S-Corporation when he was out of work in Illinois and handed it over to me when he found a salaried job. I gained needed self-confidence over the past eight years and figured out that I am good at Project Management.

Now I need to convince another company of that. Because I am not good at sales and no longer have my main client in my company and with my divorce, I need a steady income.

I thought I had found one.

I was reached out to by a supposedly Swiss company called HAND-Lease that leases and sells extremely large equipment from $25,000 up to $55 million. They had just established a Pennsylvania office and were now opening a Birmingham office. I was phone screened by a customer service employee who said if they were interested, the Human Resource department would reach out to me for a longer interview. 

Continue reading “The Fall of Patriarchy: I Got Scammed by Caryn MacGrandle”

The Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Who Is Jephthah’s Daughter? The Sacrifice of Women and Girls

Moderator’s Note: The was originally posted on January 20, 2014

Last week I reflected on Angela Yarber’s insightful essay and painting on Jephthah’s daughter. For those who did not read the earlier posts, the story of Jephthah’s daughter is found in the Hebrew Bible.  Jephthah’s daughter was sacrificed by her father after he swore in the heat of battle that if his side won, he would sacrifice the first person he would see on returning home.  Angela called us to reflect on who Jephthah’s daughter is in our time.

In my earlier midrash on the story, I invoked Daniel Cohen’s powerful retelling of the story of Iphigenia.  Cohen concludes that Artemis told Agamemnon that his ships would sail only if he sacrificed his daughter not because she wanted him to do it—but because she hoped this challenge would induce him to realize that the costs of war outweigh any possible gain.

Continue reading “The Legacy of Carol P. Christ: Who Is Jephthah’s Daughter? The Sacrifice of Women and Girls”

A Chorus of Need: I Need an Abortion by Marie Cartier

I need an abortion and I can’t get one

Because I don’t have the money to fly somewhere else other than …here

Where I can’t get one

I need an abortion and I can’t get one

Because the kid, or the cells of a maybe kid, were put in here by the guy that raped me and if I have to have it, I will kill myself

I need an abortion and I can’t get one

Because I have four kids already and I can’t feed another one

I need an abortion and I can’t get one

Because it’s my dad’s…did you hear me say that? I have never said that. I have never said what he does to me…and now I have to show everyone… if I can’t get this out of me I will…

I have to get this thing out of me

I need an abortion and I can’t get one

Continue reading “A Chorus of Need: I Need an Abortion by Marie Cartier”

From the Archives: Politicians Make Dangerous Theologians by Katey Zeh

This was originally posted November 21, 2017


Accounts and allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse perpetrated by mostly straight white men in power have flooded the U.S. news cycle for months. Each new revelation confirms that sexual violence is an epidemic fueled by systems of unchecked power and authority, including patriarchy, white supremacy, and Christian supremacy.

After The Washington Post published the story of Leigh Corfman who recounted the sexual abuse she suffered as a teenager at the hands of Roy Moore, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler came to his defense and argued that this would have no political impact since Moore “never had sexual intercourse with any of these girls.”

We all ought know by now that such allegations of sexual abuse, even when the perpetrator admits to them, bear little weight on the electability of white male politicians (see: November 8, 2016). Even so, I was stunned by a poll that revealed that 29% of Alabama voters answered that they are now more likely to vote for Roy Moore since allegations were made against him.  

Continue reading “From the Archives: Politicians Make Dangerous Theologians by Katey Zeh”

From the Archives: I Believe Anita! by Marie Cartier

This was originally posted on April 7, 2014

During the past week I attended a Los Angeles premiere of a new documentary Anita: Speaking Truth to Power (Dir: Freida Lee Mock USA, 2013). The screening was sold out and I had great seats saved for me– sitting with a friend who works at Samuel Goldwyn, the distributor of this fine film.

In 1991, Anita Hill provided testimony she hoped would serve to dissemble the nomination of Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court justice. Although the vote would end up being close (52-48) Hill’s testimony did not serve to dissuade the decision — Clarence Thomas’ nomination was confirmed and he was appointed to a life term on the Supreme Court four days after Hill’s testimony concluded. Here is an outline of the debate.


I remember watching the hearings in 1991 at a friend’s house in Sacramento, CA where I was couch-surfing with another friend while we were in Sacramento from Los Angeles to protest for gay rights—to speak our truth to power. I remember being amazed that she was doing this—and that it was being televised. We were glued to the set before we went off to the protest we were attending.

Continue reading “From the Archives: I Believe Anita! by Marie Cartier”

Post-Roe Dirge by Liz Cooledge Jenkins

I have seen a sad thing.

Faces twisted in strange (un)righteous anger outside a clinic

Or sitting around the dinner table laughing

Like the world was not just shaken gravely beneath the feet of half of them

(No, all of them)

(No, all of us)

Or shouts of celebration when a wail of grief is due.

We played the pipe for you and you did not dance.

We sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.[1]

(What is wrong with them?

What has gone so wrong with us?)

Continue reading “Post-Roe Dirge by Liz Cooledge Jenkins”

From Kavanaugh to Hell by Sara Wright

The glorious blue and gold summer day permeated by the scent of wild roses faded as the ominous words swirled around my head trying to get in. Roe overturned.

For a moment rebellion – disbelief, NO, something screamed in silent anguish. NO. Then mind flooded with poison… Pure hatred rose in a frightening swell that threatened to overpower my instincts.  But I heard the words: “Go parallel with your hatred –do not give in.” Words that brought me back to my body, to my senses.

My hair caught fire. How did they get away with it again? First Kavanaugh, a credibly accused rapist elected to the Supreme Court – a few years in between and now Roe overturned. Men deciding how women should behave, men insisting that women support ‘life’ at their own expense – rape doesn’t count. Women have lost their most basic human right – the right to have control over their own bodies.

Continue reading “From Kavanaugh to Hell by Sara Wright”

Inspired by Carol P. Christ: Patriarchy Rules the Supreme Court by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Along with the words of Justices Sotomayer, Breyer and Kagan.

The Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe was expected, but there was nothing that could prepare me (nor likely anyone else) for the devastation of the actual decision. My gut is reeling. I thought it would be useful to survey the landscape through the lens of patriarchy. Thanks to Carol Christ for having always written insightful comments about the roles of patriarchy. This is inspired by her work.

The dissenting judges were quite eloquent, so I will work off their words.

  • “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.”
  • “After today, young women will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers had. The majority accomplishes that result without so much as considering how women have relied on the right to choose or what it means to take that right away. The majority’s refusal even to consider the life-altering consequences of reversing Roe and Casey is a stunning indictment of its decision.”

My Commentary: Through the eyes of patriarchy here is no need to consider life-altering consequences because it only recognizes two roles for women: madonna or whore. We are never seen as full humans with civil and independent rights. Patriarchy doesn’t just hate the sexual freedom of women, it has spent millennia trying to quash it, make it into something dirty, control it. It’s a love/hate relationship with sex. Rape is really OK (look how hard it is to prosecute). Pedophilia OK too (look at the church). But a woman making her own sexual, reproductive choices . . . a bridge too far. Patriarchy will always force us to pay a price for having sex, for being alluring, for being female.

Continue reading “Inspired by Carol P. Christ: Patriarchy Rules the Supreme Court by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

From the Archives: The Story of Juneteenth by Kelly Brown Douglas

This was originally posted June 18, 2013

Tomorrow is a special day for me. It is Juneteenth.  On June 19, 1865, news finally reached Galveston, Texas that slavery had been abolished. This was of course two and a half years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. While the actual impact of the emancipation for the enslaved remains a source of historical discussion if not debate, the fact of the matter  is that the proclamation of emancipation and the reality of freedom for black women and men did not necessarily coincide. To be sure, for a variety of reasons, the Emancipation Proclamation did not have an immediate impact on the daily lives of enslaved women, men and children.  While the “official” historical records marks   January 1, 1863 as a day of emancipation, the historical record for the descendants of enslaved men and women marks June 19, 1865 as the day of freedom. For, it was on this day that the last slaves were free


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When Rabbis Abuse: Power, Gender, and Status in the Dynamics of Sexual Abuse in Jewish Culture, Part 2 by Dr. Elana Sztokman

Moderator’s note: This is a book excerpt in 2 parts. Part 1 was posted yesterday. When Rabbis Abuse will be published on June 14th, information on ordering below.

Grooming tactics: Targeting the victim

Although there are many ways to target a victim, there is a particular type of grooming that is available to rabbinic figures and other clergy, which comes in the form of pastoral care. Many stories involve glaring examples of this—funeral, bat mitzvah class, depression, or other moments of emotional vulnerability. Often the rabbi-abuser will target people who are going through a divorce—or even worse, recovering from sexual abuse. …

Brenda, for example, says that the rabbi targeted her when she was at a very stressful time in her life and having what she described as “emotional issues”:

I was making my son’s bar mitzvah, and it was a lot of work. I was having some emotional issues because I’m more observant than my family and most of my family is pretty secular and it’s always challenging to get my family to be engaged, and I was feeling stressed and hurt because a lot of my relatives had decided not to come.

Continue reading “When Rabbis Abuse: Power, Gender, and Status in the Dynamics of Sexual Abuse in Jewish Culture, Part 2 by Dr. Elana Sztokman”
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