Another mass shooting. Syria. #MeToo. Hunger. Animal extinction. Iraq. Climate change. Deportation. Slavery. Central African Republic. Hate crimes. Rape. Animal cruelty. Oppression. Accidental nuclear war alerts. Homeless encampments. “Illegal immigrants.” Afghanistan. More mass shootings. Sex robots. Trafficking. Russian bots. Racism. Police brutality. Myanmar. Child abuse. Prostitution. Torture. Poverty. The war in Chicago. The privatization of water. Patriarchy. Prison industry. Islamophobia. Migrants.
This is our world. And I can’t breathe.
I often wonder – is God breathing? Does God care anymore? Does She wonder why we can’t stop harming each other? Has She given up on us? I certainly wouldn’t blame her.
As I sit writing this, the world outside continues. As we awake to more news that numbs us to the every day atrocities we commit upon each other, I believe, inside each and every one of us, we are screaming. We want out. We want this to stop. We are scared. We can’t breathe.
But, we don’t know how to stop. So we keep moving. We keep going. Because that’s what humans do. We keep hoping. We wonder how much time the universe will give us. Will we get a break? Will something or someone finally stop us? Are we even deserving of the chance after chance we continually receive – to get it right?
I will add my #metoo, but don’t feel like going into details. I will just say that in light of my past experience and Al Franken’s statement of apology, I’m realizing why some of us don’t tell at an even deeper level.
Roy Moore is the next in line to be exposed as a sexual predator in a long list that has unfolded since the Harvey Weinstein scandal. I find it both comical and distressing that Moore has attempted to justify his behavior by saying “I’ve never dated a girl without her mother’s permission.” In addition, he argued that such claims against him could not be true; it was so long ago; who would wait forty years to tell?
Apparently Moore has not heard the term rape culture – one he is clearly a product of – and how it leaves victims feeling silenced and ashamed. Perhaps he has not listened to the woman he assaulted sob on television as she spoke of her fear, embarrassment, and pain? Recounting her victimization, Beverly Young Nelson said she didn’t speak out because Moore told her no one would believe her. At only sixteen, Nelson knew that reporting the assault would lead to more trouble for her and no consequences for Moore. Continue reading “Why We Don’t Tell by Gina Messina”
My “me too” went out for all to see way before Facebook existed, way before there were hash tags and internet pages for unveiling our secrets to the world. In all the years that have passed since I first spoke publicly and published about my experiences with sexual violence, there has been a steady stream of people (mostly, but not all, women) who have come to me with their #metoo.
Survivors tend to hold lots of secrets—they become heavier with time and the more the secrets stay secret, the more power they have to distort and rupture and isolate. I held mine for many years and I planned on never telling anyone. But, those memories began to disrupt my life more and more—and finally they had to come out. That was the only way I could ever be free, that is the only way I could truly be alive.
I needed to check out a camera for an assignment. I was in the small equipment room looking at equipment I clearly did not know how to use yet. But, I was required to check out a camera and start. I was excited to begin.
I turned around to ask a question of the guy who helped us check out equipment. I was surprised, and then stunned to see him close the door behind him. I don’t know if he locked it, but he stood in front of it, blocking my exit, and asked me, “How bad do you want that camera?”
I was a radical lesbian separatist who wore “ACT-UP FIGHT AIDS” T-shirts regularly to school. I stared at him and said the first thing that came to my mind, “I am not the person you want to do this to. Trust me.” We stared at each other. He laughed and slowly moved away from the door. I left, with the camera (I think), I finished that assignment and somehow passed the camera class. What I do know for sure is that I never checked out a camera again, and somehow convinced myself that the “equipment” part of film making was somehow too technical for me.
I had come out to LA from Colorado and was extremely proud to get into one of the best theater and film schools in the US. However, I was completely not “used to” the level of casual and cruel sexism women in the industry were subjected to. There was an unwritten code that if you wanted to make it as a woman—well, you better toughen up and get used to what the industry looked like for women. Continue reading “#MeToo or Why I Didn’t Make a Film in Film School by Marie Cartier”
The diversity of the stories of people who have experienced sexual harassment or assault shows that this is not a partisan issue. Conservatives and liberals, rural and urban, religious and non-religious, sexual harassment and assault cross every boundary. It happens on college campuses, in the workplace, on the street, and, yes, in church.–Rev. Kira Schlesinger
When I was a teenager, a friend in my church youth group somehow mustered the courage to come forward to disclose the sexual misconduct of our youth group director. What happened next was ugly and my first real-life, in-your-face lesson about how patriarchal systems treat victims who dare to speak truth to power. Later, after the initial chaos began to subside, grown women with jobs, lives, and families of their own who had once been teen girls growing up in that same church community began disclosing to their families that he had preyed on them as well over the years.
Before hashtags were even a thing, that was my first experience with the essence of #MeToo — with women finding strength and solace in validating each other in their shared trauma.
As Rev. Schlesinger states above, this is not a partisan issue — or at least, it shouldn’t be. Nor, I would add, are Christianity and its churches the only religious institutions in which sexual harassment, abuse, and assault happen. While this particular teenage Confirmation class drop-out went on, as an adult, to find a spiritual home in a Pagan tradition, I am well aware that Pagans, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. all see the same abusive situations play out over and over again within our traditions and our specific faith communities. Cardinal Pell, Kenny Klein, Rabbi Greer, Imam Saleem. My old youth group director, your former JCC teacher, her current archdruid. Big names or just locally familiar ones, the tragedy of it all is that as we continue to stand at the crossroads of feminism and religion, we’re hardly surprised anymore.
The church occasioned one of my first conscious experiences with inequality — Sunday school to be exact. I was nine and bedecked in black platform shoes and a bright pink polyester suit. It was the 70s, a moment in fashion history never to be revisited. My Sunday school teacher, a spiritually angelic woman, was explaining the demise of the Woman Caught in Adultery. According to the story, the leaders of law and religion wanted to stone the woman to death for having intercourse with a man that was not her husband. Although she was vulnerable to the death penalty, the man was not exposed to any punishment. This lopsided sanctioning plagued my young mind. Little did I know, I would spend my legal career, as a federal sex trafficking prosecutor and as a legal scholar, trying to vindicate the Woman Caught in Adultery.
During my last months in Cape Town I have been facilitating a series of workshops on Rape, Gender Justice and Culture of Consent. I am blissful for the opportunity to teach and learn with a group of people with whom we have navigated in the approach of Rape and Sexual Assault in their different perspectives, from the socio-political to the intimate tenets.
This has been an exciting journey of healing and soul blooming. I have realized the critical role that Cape Town has played in pushing me towards empowerment and thriving, enhancing my taking back ownership of my body and all the experiences happening through it.
This journey started few years ago when I decided to come out of the closet as a rape survivor. I wrote about it on Feminism and Religion. This was the first step of my breakthrough. Little by little I became confident and shameless about saying: “Yes, I was raped”.
The recent killing of 17 year old Nabra Hassanen is on my mind. Not only was she killed—brutally beaten with a baseball bat—but it is thought that she was raped, too. Twice. During Ramadan. By an undocumented Latino from El Salvador.
It is said to be a case of “road rage.” I am having a difficult time believing this. Maybe this man was drunk. Maybe he was angry at his partner. Maybe it was a hate crime. Maybe we’ll never know the whole truth.
What matters, however, is that Nabra—a young woman, black, and a Muslim—was killed. Do not tell me, or anyone, that these three aspects were not factors in her death. That her death had nothing to do with her being a person of color. Or that her death had nothing to do with her wearing an identifying, religious headscarf. Or that her death had nothing to do with misogyny. Because it did. All of it did. Continue reading “In This Fractured World, I Will Not Remain Silent by Karen Leslie Hernandez”
Last weekend was a special one for me. After many years of study and dedication I graduated with my Ph.D. and am now, officially, Dr. Katie Deaver. The weekend was filled with celebrations to mark the completion of a milestone that I have spent years working toward. The amazing outpourings of love, support, and care that I have experienced throughout the last few days is quite humbling. The happiness and pure joy of my family, friends, professors, mentors, and multiple church communities have left me in awe. As I reflect on this love and support it helps to heal the wounds and scars that have accumulated throughout the process of earning this degree.
The undertaking of a Ph.D. program is significantly more difficult than anyone tells you. This difficultly lies not necessarily in the course work or the dedication to constant reading, writing, and learning but rather in the personal growth and vocational affirmation that takes place within the process. My dissertation explored the primary understandings of the doctrine of atonement and addressed how this doctrine can, and has, been used in ways that perpetuate, and in some cases even encourage, domestic violence.
My own fascination with the topic of atonement and its links to domestic violence was brought about at the suggestion of one of my undergraduate professors at Luther College, Dr. Jim Martin-Schramm. From the moment that Dr. Martin-Schramm explained the links between theologies of the cross and domestic violence I knew that I had found my new passion. Writing a dissertation on the topics of domestic violence, theology and women of faith was an extremely personal, and intimate experience for me. This topic forced me to accept my own lived experience. To claim myself… out loud… as a survivor of domestic violence. As a result the writing of my dissertation was particularly personal, and painful, as well as extremely life giving.
In her 1975 manifesto, “The Laugh of the Medusa,” French feminist Hélène Cixous urges women to write: “Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it. . . . Women must write through their bodies, they must invent the impregnable language that will wreck partitions, classes, and rhetorics, regulations and codes . . .”
“The Laugh of the Medusa” remains a thrilling essay, challenging and inspiring women to “return to the body” and to language. “Woman must write woman,” Cixous insists, “for, with a few rare exceptions there has not yet been any writing that inscribes femininity.”
Although Cixous may not have been aware of it, Betty Smith’s beloved, perennially popular 1943 novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of those “rare exceptions” that “inscribes femininity” in precisely the way she advocates. This autobiographical novel, so often dismissed as sentimental or as a children’s book, is actually written through the female body—which may explain its lasting popularity and power. Continue reading “Writing Through the Body: Betty Smith’s A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Joyce Zonana”
Readers, please note: this post includes accounts of rape and violence agianst women and quotes distrubing statements of assault made by Donald Trump. These are easily identifiable by the use of italics or as indented, quoted text.
Of course I’m outraged.
I had someone the other day post on my Facebook wall that I’m “angry.” And I have also been told lately that because Donald Trump won and I didn’t, “get my way,” I should just, “get over it.”
What I really wish I could say to these folks is … “Of course I’m outraged, but I am not sure if I am more outraged that you can’t see past your privilege, or, that you think I am angry because Hillary didn’t win.”
Newsflash. I would be ecstatic if George Bush Jr., were in office again. Or, if Sarah Palin had run, and won. This has nothing to do with being a “sore loser” or not “getting my way.” This has to do with the fact that our POTUS is a sexist, misogynistic, racist human being. Continue reading “Outraged? Yes, I Am! by Karen Leslie Hernandez”
In March of 2011, at a symposium on trauma, healing, and spirituality in Belfast, Ireland, I spoke about shame in the context of war, addressing the experiences of women survivors of rape during the Rwandan genocide, US soldiers returning from war with PTSD symptoms, and cultures, such as those in Belfast and Bosnia, steeped in war and violence. While discussing how theology has a responsibility to examine how the church talks about shame, guilt, and sin to help survivors of war trauma heal, I recognized A. Denise Starkey in the audience, a woman whose work was instrumental in the crafting of my own. Her book, The Shame that Lingers: A Survivor-Centered Critique of Catholic Sin Talk, published two years prior, provided a critical backdrop for my presentation, and would be foundational to my dissertation and subsequent book: Affect Theory, Shame, and Christian Formation.
So, when they see a woman, the body overcomes the mind. If you have to rape, you rape. I have heard it many times, the same argument to justify cheating. “I am a man, I can’t control it, I HAD to do it, I DID NOT KNOW what I was doing”. Sure, they can control themselves. Sure, they DO KNOW what they are doing. Because they control themselves with other men. They can and know how to maintain alliances with other men so none of them will reveal their secrets. Secrets called women abuse. They are so updated in what they do, that if you call their machismo out, they organize a cold strategy to silence you. They will have a Masters in mind games and gaslighting to leave you full of bumps without touching you, and you will have to put up with the wall of silence from his friends defending the abuser. Continue reading “Why Is The Abuser Still Among Us? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”
After the shooting in Orlando I was numb. In fact, every time a mass shooting occurs now, I am numb. I think we all feel that way, but we all handle it in various ways. Within hours, there are blog posts, articles, and news pieces. People explode on social media with memes, arguments, and debates. There’s a whole lot of projection, a whole lot of persecution, and a mess of ideologies. Yet, what have I noted that is lacking? The ability to listen.
It seems Omar Mateen was gay. No one will ever know for sure. Lovers have come forward, information was found on his computer and phone that points to him being gay, yet, it is all speculation. Mateen didn’t just attack a gay nightclub because he was homophobic. It seems his inner demons ate away at his soul. The fact that he was Muslim on top of that, which, if you follow the doctrine, forbids homosexuality, obviously lent to his actions that fateful night.
Let’s say Mateen was gay. His faith dictated to him that he couldn’t be. He struggled. He prayed. He married two women. Then, he killed 49 people.
In my previous post, I mentioned a book I am writing about how theological and ethical considerations in architectural design can define good architecture. In that post and in ones to follow, I am acknowledging the feminists and womanists and mujeristas who have influenced me while also opening up the dialogue to the feminists in this community who continue to inspire and guide me to do my best work.
On Monday, the picture was on my Facebook feed again: The picture of a girl lying face down in the grass under a police officer pressing his knee in her back. It was from the video of an African-American teenager being pinned to the ground by Eric Casebolt, the police officer in McKinney, Texas who was responding to calls about a pool party. When I saw the picture this time, it was in a screenshot with these words below it:
“Funny how a 14 year old bikini-clad black girl being publicly assaulted by an adult male does not accrue mainstream feminist outrage.” – Yohanna
If you haven’t seen the images we’re talking about, you can view the video here with a description of what is concurring or below from YouTube. I was reluctant to watch the video. It seems voyeuristic to view this young woman’s suffering and screaming. And, if I am honest with myself, it also seems useless. Viewing this from my computer screen, I’m in no position to help her. I hear her cries and it make me cry too. But I can’t push him off of her. When other teens tried to come to her defense, Casebolt pulled a gun on them and chased them. I don’t even have the power to get him fired from his position of authority immediately. No, we must have the investigations and inquiries and due process that seems so indiscriminately afforded to the privileged. Casebolt was put on administrative leave on Friday, and on Tuesday June 9, he resigned.
So how should I respond?
I had a conversation with one of my closest friends a couple days ago that provoked me to reflect on what to do when I’m conflicted about how to respond. Her background is in acting and theatre, and now she is a pastor and artistic director of a Christian church and arts initiative who believes in supporting arts, imagination and creativity. In our conversation about discerning the next steps in our lives, she was reminded of a book by Samuel Wells that proposes “theatrical improvisation as a model for Christian ethics.” That reminded me of books I’ve read that talk about musical improvisation or call-and-response as model for living, and some pieces I’ve written about that. Inspired by ethicists and theologians including Emilie M. Townes and H. Richard Niebuhr, I believe that to answer the question of how I should respond, I must first answer ‘What’s going on?” An improvised response or a fitting response is the response to what is already occurring. We must look at the situation critically to respond appropriately.
What’s going on in this video and the controversy surrounding it? I am certainly not an impartial or all-knowing observer, but here’s what I see:
A white man forcibly throws an unarmed, African-American teenager to the ground yelling “On your face!” We can see that she is unarmed because she is wearing a bikini.
The man is a police officer. He is upset that his authority is being challenged. Other officers are present and seem to be asking questions, but the violent one seems out of control and frantic, running around and yelling. He escalates the situation when he throws the girl to the sidewalk, which causes an outcry in the crowd.
As the video went viral, there were many protests and online statements against this violent event, but also statements of support for the officer. And sadly, I agree with Yohanna’s assessment. I may have missed it (and I hope I did), but I didn’t see a broad, mainstream feminist response against this violence.
I’m a feminist. I’m a black feminist. I’m a Christian feminist. I may not be a mainstream feminist (depending on your definition), but I’ll express my outrage anyway. It is sickening to watch his treatment of this teenage girl. This man’s mistreatment of a young black girl’s body is chilling. It is wrong and he should be held accountable for it.
I don’t think outrage is enough. But outrage does express that our moral sensibilities have been awakened and that we recognize that something profoundly wrong has occurred. In the face of comments that say she deserved this treatment, we as feminists must insist on the officer’s wrongdoing. “She had it coming.” “She incited him.” As feminists, we know that these kinds of statements are used in cases of rape and intimate partner violence to explain away violent actions and to shift the guilt from perpetrator to victim. The backlash against feminists and others who oppose these explanations argues that we ignore the victim’s responsibility or agency.
Bloggers and social media users know all too well the horrific statements that often appear in the comments section of online posts, videos, and articles. One comment I saw about the McKinney video says that the girl was “sassing back” at the police and that “if she wants to talk like adult then she’s going to be treated like an adult.” This kind of justification makes my blood boil! Sassing back is speaking up and saying something to an authority figure when you are expected to be silent. While the term sassing back doesn’t exclusively apply to women and girls, it is nonetheless a phrase with gendered connotations. How many boys are called “sassy”? Is it that no one had the right to say anything to this officer running around yelling at black teen boys to sit on the ground, or is it that this black female should have kept quiet? Regardless, throwing an unarmed person to the sidewalk for supposedly saying something disrespectful is not justifiable behavior to adults or children.
I wish I knew more about what’s going on and how to respond to the violence I see in the world. I know these perennial questions subvert easy answers. I only have a partial response. I am responding with outrage and questioning and take this to my feminist community and into my spiritual practice. “What’s going on?” and “How should I respond?” are questions I ask God. I pray for justice. I pray for God’s presence in the outrage and in the investigations, and in the lives of those children who were violated.
Elise M. Edwards, PhD is a Lecturer in Christian Ethics at Baylor University and a graduate of Claremont Graduate University. She is also a registered architect in the State of Florida. Her interdisciplinary work examines issues of civic engagement and how beliefs and commitments are expressed publicly. As a black feminist, she primarily focuses on cultural expressions by, for, and about women and marginalized communities. Follow her on twitter, google+ or academia.edu.
In a repetitive culture of abuse and silence, is it really shocking to find out that an individual who preached such hate and discontent for others actually perpetuated other forms of heinous abuse against others?
In 2013, I wrote an article about the then latest reality TV scandal featuring A&E’s Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson and his rampant foot-in-mouth disease that caused him to express, in the pages of GQ, his true distaste for the LGBT community and specifically for the sexual proclivities of gay men.
Now, two years later in another reality TV show, TLC’s ’19 Kids and Counting’, it isn’t star Josh Duggar’s anti-LGBT statements getting him into trouble but rather his sexual assault and molestation of 5 girls, including two of his sisters. However, while the Internet explodes with attacks against Josh Duggar and his Quiverfull background, it is vital to remember that the silence that he and his family inflicted upon his victims since 2006 has not only been ongoing since then but is also being reemphasized today with each keystroke focusing on the assailant rather than the victims. Continue reading “The Religiosity of Silence by John Erickson”
Whenever the epidemic of rape in Egypt makes the news, I am destined to think of Joyce Carol Oates.
Last summer, the author took to twitter to question whether Islam was responsible for the widespread incidence of sexual assault in Egypt, an argument people continue to make today. As a Muslim woman, I desperately wanted to respond to Ms. Oates’ tweets. I held my cursor over the “reply” button countless times. But I’ve been silent about the things I would have said, about why I follow Dennis Rodman on twitter, and why Pearl Jam is my favorite band, and how my heart shattered for women in Syria who felt like they had to be silent, too.
Reading the story of the Levite’s pîlegeš – found in the Hebrew Bible, Judges 19:1-20:7 – is unlike any other scholastic endeavor I have undertaken.1 The narrative is of a woman who leaves her husband’s house, only to be retrieved by her husband, gang raped on her way to his home, and dismembered upon arrival. This intense violence then escalates to the abduction and rape of more than 400 virgins and the death of many more (Judges 20-21).
The first time I encountered this narrative was while reading Phyllis Trible’s Texts of Terror as an undergrad student. While at the time I did not fully understand the textual nuances Trible points out, I did understand this story was sacred in a way I could not articulate. It was not until years later that I realized I was not truly listening to the story because I had not read it from the pîlegeš’ perspective and was yet to be affected by the horror of it.
An explanation is needed when one calls a story of violence sacred. To clarify, it is the telling of the story that makes it sacred, not the violence. In much of the world today, violence done to women is taboo.2 Not only are the violent acts ignored, but the victim and her retelling of the acts are also often ignored. Perhaps this is because our society is biased towards the perpetrator. Perhaps it is because our faith communities have self-identified as loving and to acknowledge violence is to acknowledge failure. But perhaps it is mostly because violence is hard to process, especially when the violent act is committed against a loved one, and we prefer not to struggle with the presence of violence all around us. Continue reading “Painting Women from Judges – Part 3: The Sacred Account of the Levite’s Pîlegeš by Melinda Bielas”
We find our versions of home in these communities and it is within these spaces where our home not only begins to define who we are but we, as a reflection of that space, begin to outwardly redefine the spaces we exist in. If we slowly begin, through our experiences to shape our homes based on privilege and power without self-reflection and acknowledgment of others, then we are no better than those oppressive forces we say we’re against.
This post is a response to a recent blog entry titled “Who is Gender Queer?” on this site from Carol Christ. The post can be read by clicking here.I want to thank my friend, advocate, and upcoming scholar Martha Ovadia for reasons only she knows! Stay brave, speak up, be heard! _________________________________________
It is terrifying to know that something is wrong but not be able to speak truth to power.
It is even more terrifying to know something is wrong, be able to speak to it, and then silence those voices that do not have that same privilege, power, or position.
The struggle that many of us in positions of privilege and power face is not just that of being ostracizing and essentializing forces—it is that we, as allies, members of communities, or even those dedicated to a cause, can ourselves participate in the oppression we are fighting against and can do harm.
It’s taken me a long time to not only be comfortable with who I identify as, but also how I go about fighting and defining my life based on said identity and experience. However, the one thing that I have the ability to do is choose that identity more freely than others. Unlike Leelah Alcorn, Ash Haffner, Aniya Knee Parker, or Yaz’min Shancez pictured above, I did not have to face the types of oppressions they did, to which they sadly lost their lives, as a result of the fact that we exist in a society that can’t deal with the inability to leave things undefined or to allow people to define who they are on their own terms.
It is vital that although my lived experiences could never meet nor match the same types of oppression that these brave individuals had to face, I, as a white, cisgendered gay male, do not become part of their oppression through my own position and privilege.
As a man who exists in the world of feminism and within various women’s communities, I walk a daily tightrope of privilege and power to insure that I do not silence those that I consider allies, friends, mentors, or colleagues. As a man who exists in the world of the LGBTQ community, I walk an additional tightrope to additionally not take away from or diminish the experiences of those members of our community that do not have the same type of lived experiences as myself. Even within minority communities, there are positions of hierarchy and within these hierarchies of knowledge, identity, or power, comes a responsibility to insure that the oppressed do not become the oppressors.
We find our versions of home in these communities and it is within these spaces where our home not only begins to define who we are but we, as a reflection of that space, begin to outwardly redefine the spaces we exist in. If we slowly begin to shape our homes based on privilege and power without self-reflection and acknowledgment of others, then we are no better than those oppressive forces we say we’re against.
I can’t speak for what identity feels like –I can only speak for what essentializing does, and what it does is reflected in the deaths of Lelah, Ash, and the many others who die nameless. It is our responsibility, as allies, members of communities, and those fighting to end sexist, patriarchal, and, even now, homonormative oppression, to make sure that no more deaths occur on our watch or that truth is spoken to power even when power is masquerading around as truth.
John Erickson is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Religious History at Claremont Graduate University. He holds a MA in Women’s Studies in Religion; an MA in Applied Women’s Studies; and a BA in Women’s Literature and Women’s Studies. He is a Non-Fiction Reviewer for Lambda Literary, the leader in LGBT reviews, author interviews, opinions and news since 1989 and the Co-Chair of the Queer Studies in Religion section of the American Academy of Religion’s Western Region, the only regional section of the American Academy of Religion that is dedicated to the exploration of queer studies in religion and other relevant fields in the nation and the President of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s LGBTQA+ Alumni Association. When he is not working on his dissertation, he can be found at West Hollywood City Hall where he is the Community Events Technician and works on policies and special events relating to women, gender, sexuality, and human rights issues that are sponsored or co-sponsored by the City of West Hollywood. He is the author of the blog From Wisconsin, with Love and can be followed on Twitter @JErickson85
As suggested in my first post on Poppaea it is likely she knew one or more of the women Paul refers to in Romans. Of particular interest is the woman Paul refers to as his ‘mother’ (Romans 16:13). If Poppaea knew her she surely knew about Paul. If that was the case, then it seems all but certain Poppaea was among those members of the imperial household to whom Paul refers at Philippians 4:22. Corroboration of that may have been in the source(s) of an anecdote Saint John Chrysostom tells, attributing Paul’s incarceration and execution to Nero’s anger at his interaction with a woman with whom Nero was erotically involved.
Though it is difficult to place much reliance on Chrysostom’s anecdote without more knowledge about his source(s), in the aggregate the evidence for Poppaea knowing about or even meeting with Paul is relatively strong, especially when compared to the sort of evidentiary problems with which ancient historians regularly grapple. Furthermore, it is easy to spot the issue Poppaea would have focused on (that precisely because it relates to sexuality could have led in antiquity to the sort of distortion or misunderstanding of her motivation in meeting with Paul) that may underlie Chrysostom’s anecdote: circumcision. The problem with understanding that issue today, however, ironically relates to modern perceptions of no relevance whatsoever to the ancient evidence. Continue reading “Poppaea & Paul: Was This About A Female Challenge To Male Privilege? by Stuart Dean”
My last article for Feminism and Religion had a very brief reference to an episode of sexual violence; since its publication I have received emails from women who decided to tell me their experiences with rape and abuse.
I am deeply grateful, ladies. I read each one of your stories. I am honored by the trust you placed in me to open your heart and let me go in to see your sorrow and hopes. My soul found solidarity in your words and I recognized myself in your struggle with physical and emotional scars, with your courage to pick up the pieces and coming back from the ashes to pursue justice, inner peace and build new self confidence.
Breaking the silence is not easy. We live in a culture where “women are prettier the more they remain quiet.” We’re taught rather to accept violence without complaints; if we talk, we will be blamed and vilified, isolated, ashamed or mocked. Rape is frequent topic of jokes and the medicine many males recommend for disciplining women who don’t behave “as a woman should.” Continue reading “Breaking The Silence About Sexual Violence by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”
Feeling safe again is often the healing and elusive aspiration of a person like me.
I have been living with the deep and cellular residuum of sexual trauma for most of my life—over thirty of my going-on forty-six years.
For many years, the grief and shame of losing my innocence cultivated an intense orientation to life’s doing. Safety for me back then was activity, noise, frenetic schedules, and a constant soundtrack to my life that meant I never had to be quiet with myself. Safety was in the predictable metrics of success that I could use to measure my self worth. I never had to stop and admit that I didn’t feel safe, ever.
I got a lot done all those frenetic years and my diligent efforts were affirmed with everything from scholarships to awards to pay raises.
But, trauma does not allow itself to be ignored. It demands attention. Its cellular ghosts haunt their host. They must be acknowledged, sometimes cast out, sometimes befriended, other times adapted or transformed. My trauma is tethered to the violence of a dangerous world, a world that knows no boundaries when it comes to annihilating innocence.
In these last several weeks, the horror that one out of four women will encounter domestic violence- sometimes referred to as “intimate partner” violence- in their life time has come to the national forefront. Indeed, women are more likely than men to be killed by their “intimate partner:” one in three women who is a victim of homicide is killed by an intimate partner. While sixty percent of domestic violence incidents occur in the home, this is not where domestic violence begins. It is the perhaps inevitable result of a culture of violence against women. It is the violence that violence creates.
This is a culture of violence in which women’s work continues to be grossly undervalued. One third of all women are living in or near poverty, what has been described as “the brink of poverty.” Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. The average white woman is paid 77 cents for every dollar her male counterpart man makes; for African American women it is 64 cents and Hispanic women 55 cents for every dollar made by white men. Women devote more than double the hours as men to “unpaid interactive children care.” Women over 65 “are twice as likely as men of the same age” to live in poverty—primarily because they are full or part-time caregivers. A 2013 “State of the World’s Mothers Report” ranked the United States 30th of the 30 best countries in the world to be a mother, based on indicators such as economic status, political opportunities and universal health care. And what this report makes most clear is that the status of children reflects the status of their mothers. This means that at least 28 million children are living in poverty in the United States.
As for physical violence, one in four college aged women experiences an attemptted or actual date rape. Forty-two percent of women who have been date raped consider suicide. In the Shriver Report, Sister Joan Chittister suggests that in the United States, “rapes in military and rapes on college campuses go unpunished because ‘boys will be boys,’ and winning wars and football games are more important than protecting the integrity of the women who are victims of rape.” These statistics represent nothing less than systemic and cultural violence against women and their children.[i] And, such violence is a sin. Continue reading “Domestic Violence: The Sin that Sin Created by Kelly Brown Douglas”
I had an entire blog ready to go for posting this week, but as news broke of Jennifer Lawrence’s stolen pictures, I couldn’t bring myself not to speak up.
If you have not heard yet, hackers broke into Jennifer Lawrence’s personal accounts and uploaded quite a stash of private photos on to the internet. They are currently threatening to upload stolen videos as well. You can find the story chronicled here. I’ve decided to link to a feminist website that is withholding the photos because, trust me, you do NOT want to wade the waters of what is out there in regards to this story. It is rage inducing. Continue reading “We Are All Jennifer Lawrence by Martha Cecilia Ovadia”
I feel like I am a bit of a typical white, middle class, butch. Maybe not, but I feel like I’ve met me: I dress like a dude, take on what I consider masculine roles in relationships, and do ‘guy things’ like play video games or carry heavy objects. And then there’s that really feminine part of me, the soft-butch side that comes out when I can’t take something macho I’m trying to do seriously, or when my voice (already high) hits that pitch that (not ‘screams,’ but) sort of sweetly says ‘hello, I’m girly.’ When my soft butch side comes out, my students coo at me. It’s all very embarrassing.
But under a face which turns blotchy red in such moments, something my ex used to think was cute, I have been privately wishing that feminine part of me would die away. For the last year, I’ve silently hated her. This post is about when I decided to stop.
I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with a fiercely femme friend of mine about misogyny and masculine privilege in LGBTQ communities. About a month ago she sent me an article by Gabrielle Rivera titled Fat-Booty Butch Wears Leggings — Confuses World, Confronts Self. In it, Rivera dons a pair of leggings for the day and writes a post about her experience that addresses invisibility of femmes, butch privilege, and other well-thought-out and honest observations about queer folks and communities from the perspective of a butch/Queer Person of Color. Rivera rocked both the leggings and the post. (I highly recommend giving it a read.) What struck me most was how very much herself Rivera seemed to stay. Even as she engages a complex shift in the way in which her communities received and read her, she protests her invisibility – nothing about switching codes had erased her or her queerness. I wasn’t sure I would feel the same. I was so alienated from my feminine side that the idea of looking even a little bit feminine, just to touch her, seemed as though it might blank out my identity. Continue reading “The Day I Re-Learned How to Love My Femininity: This Butch’s Experiment in Healing by _Melody F.”
A former evangelical Christian friend of mine sent me information on the intriguing documentary God Loves Uganda. The newly released documentary addresses how the American evangelical movement has prompted a political and social shockwave in the country of Uganda. While missionaries are typically associated with delivering aid and improving the conditions of third world countries, the spreading of Christian values and ideals has inflicted suffering upon ethnic communities through evangelical indoctrination.
The intent of the film is to raise awareness of the political and social brutality that the evangelical missionaries are instigating; specifically through their teaching that homosexuality is a sin and should be dealt with accordingly. In Uganda this means death. Given the rise of globalization, transnational religious actors have been more enabled to engender other nations with their respective religious beliefs, often with minimal regard for the cultural and political landscape of the nation they wish to transform. Continue reading “Evangelical Missionaries Preach Death in Uganda by Andreea Nica”
According to a recent online CNN report (15 September 2013) an 8 year old girl in Yemani died from internal injuries after her wedding night. Apparently this was not the first time a young Yemeni girl died under these circumstances. Despite the fact that there have been various attempts to outlaw child marriage in Yemani, it remains legal. For some families steeped in poverty, the “innocent” bodies of young girls becomes a way to make money as these girls are sold for marriage to older men. One Yemeni woman lamented, “this is what poverty can do to people” (CNN online 15 September).
All around the world there are stories of young girls and women whose bodies are being “legitimately” violated. Even in those places where the violence against women’s bodies is considered a crime, the redress for these crimes fall short of justice. The story of the Yemeni girls and others like it have raised many theological questions in my mind concerning notions of innocence, the meaning of violence, and the implications of just war. In this blog, I will share my rather fragmented thoughts on these issues as an invitation to conversation. Continue reading “Unjust Wars and ‘Innocent’ Bodies by Kelly Brown Douglas”