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.
Continue reading “An Algorithm for Capturing White Heteropatriarchy: The Woman Caught in Adultery and the Failure of the Civil Rights and Feminist Movements to Embrace Intersectionality by Blanche Cook”
Stalé mám žlutou knihu tak neumím slova. (I’m still in the yellow book, so I don’t know the words). Mluvíš o něčem ale nevím co říkáš. (You are talking to me about something I don’t know what you are saying). Neznám jí. (I don’t know her).
The Czech language has three verbs that express knowledge. The first umět expresses one’s ability. Literally, one doesn’t know because one lacks the skill or hasn’t been taught how to do something. The second vedět captures more the idea of stating facts or events. It almost always requires a connecting word like “that, what, which, etc.” One can’t use this verb with a direct object with one exception: to vím (I know (it)). The third verb znát signals familiarity and it can only be used with a direct object. So, if you want to ask if someone knows someone else, you use znát, if someone knows when the movie starts, vedět, and if someone knows how to play the piano, umět.
So in other words, the three sentences above are better translated as follows: I’m still in the yellow book so I haven’t learned the words; you are talking to me about something but I don’t understand what you are saying; I’m not familiar with her.
Continue reading “What Czech Has Taught Me about Knowledge by Ivy Helman”
Why satirists have become our public theologians (or why I am doubling down on feminist theological ethics as public theology)…
Did you see the Daily Show last night? I’m sure it was all over your Facebook feed and Twitter. The show just nailed the response to. . .fill in the blank. From Ferguson to pay inequality, from racism to culture wars the satirists have had quite the run lately. From political cartoons to the Onion to late night cable “news” shows, satire plays an important role in society. What satirists are excellent at is holding up a magnifying mirror to our society to show us areas of absurdity, oppression, and hypocrisy. The mix of political commentary and humor allows satirists to push further than many other interlocutors in public discourse.
Part of their success stems from our deep need and longing for collective moral reflection and humor allows us to do so in a way that feels safe enough to engage. What makes good satirists effective is their ability to do deep, critical analysis of society. They use sociology. The better they employ their analysis the better their satire. The better the satire the more they reflect to us what we need to hear. And many satirists have played that role really well. Continue reading “Satirists as Public Theologians by Melissa James”
Sex sells. The sexual objectification of women is used in advertising to sell anything from auto parts to cologne to alcohol. Despite the myriads of feminist critiques of women’s sexual objectification to sell products, it still exists. Open a Vogue Magazine or walk into an Abercrombie and Fitch store. Women are posed half, to almost totally, nude in sexually suggestive ways trying to entice the generic person in patriarchal society, the “average” male (usually white, middle-class and heterosexual) to buy the product. Sometimes that same sexually suggestive pose is meant to also sell a product to the “average” woman as well with the mistaken notion that she will look as attractive and satisfied as the model if only she own the product too.
One of my part-time jobs is as a clerk at a liquor store where there are a good number of sexually explicit ads for alcohol. I also have three other part-time jobs teaching in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Boston College, in the Religious and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and in my shul’s religious school. My combined income from the four jobs barely covers rent, food and bills and some months when I don’t get paid from teaching I use the little savings I have to make ends meet.
Recently I have noticed how silenced my feminist voice has become in the liquor store because of my precarious financial situation. I am hesitant to speak up about the sexist ads for fear of losing my job. This muted feminist voice is a class issue within feminism. Specifically, classism affects one’s ability to stand up for one’s self when one’s livelihood is on the line. Often, I find myself thinking about this as I sell customers vodka or beer.
But I also spend a lot of time at the liquor store thinking about religion. Continue reading “Alcohol is a Feminist Issue Too. By Ivy Helman”