Carol P. Christ’s Legacy: Please Keep It in Your Pants by Carol P. Christ

This blog was originally posted on November 6. 2017. You can read the original comments here.

Trigger warning: this post describes sexual abuse

Last week while responding to a comment on my blog, I suddenly remembered a series of incidents in which men I did not know exposed themselves to me in public places. The first time occurred at a park around dusk during an outing with a group of girls. I was about 11, I may have wandered away from the group, or I may have been with others. What I remember is seeing a man with his pants down sitting on a park bench, possibly the first time I ever saw an adult man’s penis. I told or we told, but the man was not reported by the adults. Fast forward to the beautiful gardens of the Palace Schoenbrunn in Vienna where I was confronted by a penis while lost in thought when I was 19. I ran, but said nothing. In my 20s at the early showing of movies in New York City men would sit next to me and jerk off into paper bags. I learned to move whenever a man was near me in the theater, but I never told the ticket seller. A few years later, I crossed paths with a man who had his penis out on my favorite walk in the hills of Alum Rock Park in San Jose. I never walked carefree in that park again. When I was looking for the cave of the Furies on the Acropolis Hill in Athens, a man followed me waving his penis. I told the guard, but when the police came, he was gone. I arrived home in distress. My boyfriend said I was over-reacting. I learned to stay clear of men in cars on the streets of Athens at night after seeing things I did not want to see more than once in their hands. I coded this behavior as part of the background of my life. There was a man who from the basement apartment a few doors up from the Cycladic Museum pressed his erect penis against the window. I told the guard at the museum who said, “We have called the police more than once, but he always cries, and they let him go.” On a trail I had walked many times with my dogs near Lafionas in Lesbos, coming around a bend, I encountered a young farmer, who as soon as he saw me, pulled out his penis and urinated against a fence. That was the last time I walked the trail. We are supposed to learn to consider this behavior as well, if not normal, anyway, not such a big deal. After all, I wasn’t hurt, or was I?

Continue reading “Carol P. Christ’s Legacy: Please Keep It in Your Pants by Carol P. Christ”

From the Archives: #MeToo and the Idolatry Trap by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee

Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade that they tend to get lost in the archives. We are beginning this column so that we can all revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted January 20, 2018. You can visit it here to see the original comments.

Really – everywhere we look – there are dead white guys. National holiday? Most likely in honor of a dead white guy. Statue on a green? Founder of a major Christian denomination? Dead white guy. Classic literature, painting, play, music ‘everyone’ is supposed to know about? Yup, probably by a dead white guy.

It’s a little exhausting.

It’s easy to develop a pretty negative attitude about all these dead white guys. I mean, some of them were pretty questionable if not downright oppressive people. Enough, already! Am I right?

Yes! Yes. Well… sort of. The thing is, some of them really did say and do wonderful, important things. I suppose we should not dismiss an entire portion of our history just on race and gender alone. And, truth is, I have a confession to make. I kind of really love the insights of some of these folks. I guess it’s easy to complain about all these dead white guys… until you fall in love with one of them.

Continue reading “From the Archives: #MeToo and the Idolatry Trap by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee”

Peng Shuai and Tennis’ #Metoo Moment by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

I am a fervent tennis follower in all its forms. I both play and watch tennis. That is, perhaps, why this story caught my eye. As I’ve written before, I am also a survivor of sexual assault, so these #metoo stories are personal.  

On Nov. 2, Peng Shuai, a member of the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association), charged a high-ranking Chinese official with sexual assault via social media. Her post was taken down in under 30 minutes and for 2 weeks she was not heard from at all by any independent person. An uproar ensued with major tennis stars speaking out including Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic. Peng, a 3-time Olympian herself, has been ranked as high as #1 in doubles and #14 in singles.

Could this be the case where there might actually be consequences for silencing a woman who has credibly charged abuse? It appears, at least for now, that the WTA is doing the right thing. After some initial dithering, the WTA is, as of this writing, standing strong saying they will withdraw tournaments from China until there is a satisfactory resolution to this situation. This is a billion-dollar industry with 11 tournaments scheduled to take place in China yearly. In other words, its a big deal.

Continue reading “Peng Shuai and Tennis’ #Metoo Moment by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

Women’s March 2019–Orange County, California! by Marie Cartier

Author (Marie Cartier) pictured on right Photo by: Kimba Wild All other photos by the author.

As I have done in 2017 and 2018, I am showcasing photos of protest and resilience from The Women’s March, which began as a response to the “election” of 2016, and was a show of solidarity of women, especially in response to Trump’s remarks overheard from an Access Hollywood tape that he was entitled to “grab pussy” because he was “a star.” Hence the creation of the iconic “pussy hat” and the many signs which read then and now, “pussy grabs back.”  He lost the popular vote by over 3 million, but was still elected. Women grabbed back.

The country erupted with a march that was the largest protest march the US had ever seen, with Los Angles having the largest of those marches. In 2017 organizers had planned for 100,00 and over 750,000 showed up—over three quarters of a million people.

In the previous photo essays you can see what women and others were saying in Los Angles (and mirrored around the globe).

This year, I went to Orange County, CA. Famously in the 2018 midterm election, the Orange Curtain came down—and now Orange County of California is blue! Many protesters celebrated this new blue wave. Since Santa Ana is a city with a huge Latinx population, many protesters held signs illustrating solidarity with immigrants and an embedded protest was staged against deportations. Also showing was what is happening with the “promise” of DACA, the health of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the upcoming elections, and overall girlhood. These were all some of the rather recent illustrations of protest at this year’s Women’s March.

Continue reading “Women’s March 2019–Orange County, California! by Marie Cartier”

All Are Welcome – Including Tom by Esther Nelson

It’s between semesters so am back in Las Cruces, New Mexico, but just for two weeks.  Due to circumstances out of my control, I’m not able to spend my usual month—mid-December to mid-January—here in the high desert.   When I am here, though, I usually visit the Unitarian Universalist Church (UUC) of Las Cruces and so drove over there last Sunday to attend the 10:30 a.m. service.  Some of the faces were familiar. There were many folks I did not recognize. The place was packed—standing-room only.

One of the familiar faces belonged to Tom Packard, a retired pediatrician, from New Hampshire.  I remember Tom from a couple of years ago when he stood up during the “Joys and Sorrows” portion of the service to adamantly deny “charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault” that had been brought against him by several young girls.  During “Joys and Sorrows,” people are free to tell their own stories in a supportive environment. I remember last year as well when Tom reported to the congregation regarding his upcoming trial—all the while claiming his innocence. Continue reading “All Are Welcome – Including Tom by Esther Nelson”

This Is What Rape Culture Looks Like: Then and Now by Carol P. Christ

I was not paying full attention when I heard a news report on CNN saying that archaeologists had uncovered an “ancient erotic fresco” in Pompeii. Hmm, I thought to myself, this story deserves further investigation.

I had heard whispers about frescoes that only men were allowed to see when I visited Pompeii as a student years ago. I now know that these were idealized pornographic wall paintings in brothels of handsome young men engaging with beautiful prostitutes in variety of sexual positions. In real life prostitutes in Pompeii were slaves who worked in appalling conditions in dark, dank, windowless cells. No doubt many of their customers were unwashed toothless dirty old men.

The fresco in the news turned out to be an image of the rape of the Spartan queen Leda by Zeus disguised as a swan; it was found in a bedroom of a house or villa in Pompeii. Continue reading “This Is What Rape Culture Looks Like: Then and Now by Carol P. Christ”

What Part of “No!” Don’t You Understand??: Morality at Center of Mid-Term Election by Elizabeth Fresee

As my late and dearly missed Professor, Dr. Otto Maduro, put it, “One mile from the courthouse, it’s complicated. One hundred feet from the courthouse, it’s not.” In that spirit, with just a couple of weeks until Nov 6, I submit that the mid-term election of 2018 is a referendum on morality – not a particular moral issue, but the entire principle of moral limits as a crucial element in a functional society. We are answering the question “Is morality itself still a thing?” Vote Republican, you are answering “No;” vote Democrat, you are answering “Yes.”

I must first clarify what I mean by “morality.” For some, it is about a traditional, hierarchical social order. The Almighty Father lays down the law and “No!” here means “No, you may not do anything I forbid, according to my will, regardless of your needs, including walking away from my authority and demands.” For most others, myself included, morality is about egalitarian, mutual concern for the well-being of all and a social contract obligating members of society to: a) not be mean jerks to one another and b) ensure those in need are basically cared for. “No!” here means “No, you may not trespass upon the integrity of others, nor may you walk away from your responsibility to them.” While many world religions have elements of the former version of morality, even the patriarchs generally have some obligation to social responsibility. The real heart of religiosity, though, is the mutual social contract, aka “The Golden Rule.” Continue reading “What Part of “No!” Don’t You Understand??: Morality at Center of Mid-Term Election by Elizabeth Fresee”

God, Consent, and Freedom by Chris Ash

a picture the author in her yardOver the summer, I started at a new job, which I’ve decided I can safely describe as a “dream job” – one to which I can bring my full self, and in which I can use all my gifts and strengths. Whereas my old job focused primarily on anti-sexual violence work from an advocate perspective, my new job focuses primarily on sexual violence occurring in the context of human trafficking from an advocate, trainer, and policy perspective. Sex trafficking exists along and as part of the spectrum of gender violence, and yet the history of the modern movements against sexual violence and human trafficking have had very different drives and trajectories.

A few months ago, I attended a training webinar in which Marissa Castellanos of Catholic Charities of Louisville presented on best practices for faith-based organizations involved in anti-trafficking work. She encouraged agencies to use trauma-informed practices, and spoke clearly and strongly against the somewhat common practice of tying services to participation in faith-based activities. “We don’t want to replicate the patterns of the traffickers,” she said, noting that trafficking survivors, by definition, have a traumatic history of being required to do things they don’t want to do in order to have their most basic needs met. When our actions as advocates require survivors to cede their power to our concerns, we counteract any verbal messages we may offer about empowerment, agency, and freedom. Continue reading “God, Consent, and Freedom by Chris Ash”

A Better World is Impossible Today (#WETOO) by Adam F. Braun

At the end of the second Matrix film (Reloaded), Neo (the messianic figure, “The One”) is told by the Architect of the Matrix, itself a program in the system, that Neo was in fact the sixth iteration of messianic figures that the Matrix had itself created.  In such a case, what hope is there when the System creates messiahs in order to produce a hope it allows—a hope it allows for the sake of reproducing itself through the exploited labor of others, who are able “to get by” because they have this same hope.  A hope that a better world is possible.

In the midst of the young #metoo movement in Japan, this story emerges from one of its medical schools:

Japan’s government urged a medical university to promptly disclose the results of an investigation into its admissions process Friday after reports alleged it had altered the test scores of female applicants for years to deny them entry and ensure fewer women became doctors. Continue reading “A Better World is Impossible Today (#WETOO) by Adam F. Braun”

Solidarity Thy Clothing is a Black Gown by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

On Sunday, January 7th, a highly visible and poignant protest and stance was made. The 75th Golden Globes was the frontline to which the privileged Hollywood A-Listers took a stance. They collectively drew a line, a call for change.  A straightforward act of wearing the color black, spoke volumes. Gone were the entertainment commentators stating which color was bold or trendy. The focus was on the collective statement that was being made on the red carpet. Countless actors voiced their own stories of #WhyWeWearBlack, they called out executives who are complicit in maintaining pay inequality, in hiding sexual abuse and intimidation, in the unequal job opportunities, and even in the lack of recognition.

Continue reading “Solidarity Thy Clothing is a Black Gown by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

#MeToo and the Idolatry Trap by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee

Really – everywhere we look – there are dead white guys. National holiday? Most likely in honor of a dead white guy. Statue on a green? Founder of a major Christian denomination? Dead white guy. Classic literature, painting, play, music ‘everyone’ is supposed to know about? Yup, probably by a dead white guy.

It’s a little exhausting.

It’s easy to develop a pretty negative attitude about all these dead white guys. I mean, some of them were pretty questionable if not downright oppressive people. Enough, already! Am I right?

Yes! Yes. Well… sort of. The thing is, some of them really did say and do wonderful, important things. I suppose we should not dismiss an entire portion of our history just on race and gender alone. And, truth is, I have a confession to make. I kind of really love the insights of some of these folks. I guess it’s easy to complain about all these dead white guys… until you fall in love with one of them.

Continue reading “#MeToo and the Idolatry Trap by Tallessyn Zawn Grenfell-Lee”

Breaking the Silence by Chris Ash

Christy CroftYesterday, Time Magazine announced that its “Person of the Year” for 2017 would be “The Silence Breakers” – the name it has given to those women who helped launch and made headlines in the #metoo movement. This movement was started by activist Tarana Burke in 2006 to highlight the sexual abuse of women of color and was sent viral by actor Alyssa Milano in 2017. It speaks volumes that this designation falls exactly one year after Time awarded this honor to Donald Trump for the political shift heralded by his defeat of Hillary Clinton.

This defeat that was fueled, at least in part, by the way Trump’s own normalization of sexism, harassment, and assault played on the fears and bitterness of misogynist voters hell-bent on preserving what racial, gender, and economic privilege they could continue to hoard for themselves and those like them. This defeat, and the ensuing glorification of a sexual predator and rampant misogynist, in turn fueled a movement of people, mostly women, tired of being scared into silence to protect the powerful who abuse. Continue reading “Breaking the Silence by Chris Ash”

Gas-lighting on Al Franken(stein)’s Street by Elisabeth Schilling

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.

This is Al Franken’s statement:

“I’ve met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I’m a warm person; I hug people. I’ve learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many. Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that. I’ve thought a lot in recent days about how that could happen, and recognize that I need to be much more careful and sensitive in these situations. I feel terribly that I’ve made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry, and I want to make sure that never happens again.”

Summary: It’s super hard to be a guy in this society.

Continue reading “Gas-lighting on Al Franken(stein)’s Street by Elisabeth Schilling”

#MeToo by Michele Stopera Freyhauf

metoo image 1Once again it is time for another blog post, and once again I find it difficult to write.  The news embroils you in a landslide of negativity and you feel like all common sense and rationality has dissipated – I even made the comment that I am glad I am not young because I fear the state of the world in the future.

With that said, the one thing discussed and needs to be discussed is the #MeToo movement.  First, yes, I have several stories, and yes, I stayed silent for over 25 years.  Did I attempt to resolve the issues with the remedies available? Yes.  Did I suffer backlash? Yes. To the detriment of losing my job?  Yes. Did I consult an attorney? Yes.  What was I told – move on or risk being blacklisted from your field – as a new career professional in her twenties, there was no choice?  Yes.  Did it happen again?  Did I out of fear, just try to stay away from the person but never reported it?  Yes. Continue reading “#MeToo by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Why Not Me? by Marcia Mount Shoop

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.

Continue reading “Why Not Me? by Marcia Mount Shoop”

#MeToo or Why I Didn’t Make a Film in Film School by Marie Cartier

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”

Me, Too: How do we heal rape culture? — Part 1 by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

Along with others, I have felt relief, sorrow, and frustration watching hundreds of “me, too” posts and narratives flood my feed. Relief that our society is paying attention to the epidemic of misogynist violence in a new way, that we are having crucial conversations about how bad it is and what to do about it. Sorrow at the amount of suffering and oppression it highlights (I will not say reveals… anyone who bothered to look would know the scope and severity of this nightmare). Frustration that it seems no matter how many media campaigns emerge – #VDay, #YesAllWomen, etc – I cannot tell whether we are making any progress at all. It does not seem to me that my daughters are any safer today than they were ten years ago. If anything, it seems that our culture has begun accepting open, flagrant misogyny in new and unprecedented ways and degrees.

However, it does seem that more and more people are pointing out that in order to stop most rape and harassment, we must teach boys and men not to rape and harass people, especially not girls and women who are the main victims of abuse. Various types of pledges, apologies, question prompts, confessions, and other statements from male allies have emerged on social media. In addition, there’s the usual round of women criticizing each of these responses from male allies. As usual, the Left loves to eat its own.

I view allies on a spectrum, and I try to recognize where different men are on this spectrum, and how to help them move forward to the next level. If we truly want to heal rape culture, if we truly want to build a world that is safer for each generation, we must put down our egos, our need to win every argument, our smugly satisfied self-righteousness, and adopt effective strategies that will actually do what we claim to want to do. Continue reading “Me, Too: How do we heal rape culture? — Part 1 by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

In Church, Mosque, Temple, Coven, Synagogue, Whatever — #MeToo Lives There by Kate Brunner

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

Image by Juana Medina

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.

As the #MeToo posts across various forms of social media continue to stack up by the hundreds of thousands, we’re heartbroken and rising, bitter and healing, triggered and refusing to be silenced, filled with love for our fellow survivors and brimming with righteous fury. But the one thing we’re not, is surprised.  Continue reading “In Church, Mosque, Temple, Coven, Synagogue, Whatever — #MeToo Lives There by Kate Brunner”

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