Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading the book Half The Sky as part of a journey I’m on to better educate myself on the global oppression of women.
Or maybe it’s because I have a natural inclination to fight for justice.
Or maybe it’s because I have to sign my name with thousands of other women and say, “Me Too.”
But I am fired up.
“Me too.” It’s not a badge of honor; it’s an admission that something is wrong. When I was a little girl another older, much larger child threatened to hurt me and my family if I didn’t touch him or let him touch me inappropriately during free play at school. He held me down and forced bits of his torn up shoes into my mouth. I was terrified, and didn’t tell a soul for years until my mom happened to come across my journal and read about the terrible event.
In high school it was “normal” for guys to comment about my body, both high school students or older men that would come into the cafe that I worked at.
In college I had a stalker who used threatening language to attempt to manipulate me and make me afraid of him.
In my early professional career, another employee–my boss— asked a married man to evaluate my body. Thank the Lord that man stood up for himself and for me and declared that moment to be highly inappropriate. My boss was later fired.
I now work in the ministry world. In Evangelical circles standing up for the defense of women and women’s rights can be a touchy subject. Most church leaders want to avoid being labeled as “man haters” or “leftist.” But regardless of political or theological lines, it is an irrefutable truth that women throughout the world are objectified, abused, and often oppressed. The church cannot be silent on this issue when one in five women sitting in sanctuary seats every weekend has, or will be, raped. 1 in 3 has experienced some level of sexual harassment, and 1 in 6 will be stalked.
The Church (meaning the collective group of people who profess Jesus as King) has a responsibility to stand up and speak out against violence and predatory behavior faced by women and girls around the world. I don’t want to pretend that I have the answers, but may I suggest a starting place?
Listen. Thousands of women are telling us that they have been on the receiving end of some level of sexual harassment, assault, or otherwise predatory behavior. Thousands of women aren’t making this up. Please do not silence them. Please do not brush this issue off as women being “too sensitive.” Listen. Ask questions.
Men in particular, I realize that not all men act in these ways. I realize that many, dare I say most, of you value and protect women. As I think about the men in my life, most all of you speak value and worth into my life, and demonstrate tremendous protection and appreciation towards me and other women you know. But as this conversation grows louder and louder, can I encourage you to seek out ways to be more than “good guys?” Start by listening and striving to understand the systematic ways that your sisters have been mistreated, and ask God for the courage to stand against it alongside of them.