Believer? I Hardly Know Her…

“I’m very grateful she’s a woman
And very easy to forget…”

~ Professor Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady

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On the cover of New York Magazine is this striking photo of 35 women who have accused Cosby of drugging and raping them. Read the full article here. But, I don’t want to talk about Cosby. I really don’t. Not his issues, motives, what he did or didn’t do for America in terms of race, his moralistic judgements or even the Jello commercials. If I didn’t have to mention his name, I wouldn’t.

But let’s talk about the women that don’t have dozens of others backing their story up for a minute. Why, why, why do we not listen to women?

Sexual assault statistics, are astounding, yet we still live with the myth that women are calling “rape” the way that Peter cried “Wolf”.

What I can say is that women live in a culture were when it comes to sex, we are not to be believed.

Women are not to be believed because we are all whores and sluts- It is believed that women say we are waiting for our knight in shining armor to save us when really we desire the dark knight who will “ravage us”. The more handsome, popular, famous, successful you are, the more entitled you are to release a woman’s inner whore. The more quiet and conservative she may be, the more repressed she is. Some women really like sex, I would dare to say most, just like men, still not a reason to assault. Women can proudly claim their love of sex and still be believed when assaulted. Even if she was raped by a “such a nice boy.”

Women are not to be believed because they were asking for it- Yes, this one again… “Did you see how she was dressed? She was asking for it.” Sometimes women dress up to go out, sometimes women wear low cut shirts or they wear short skirts, or stiletto heals because they like the way their legs look. OR sometimes they wear yoga pants and sweatshirts. You know what? We are not sexual objects. We are not just boobs and butts and vaginas. We have eyes in our heads that you should look at when you talk to us, even if there is a little cleavage showing.

Women are not to be believed because they are too emotional- Women are emotional creatures (as are men, by the way…Which begs the question of which a man is using when he sexually assaults?) But as we *all* know feelings are not as important as thoughts. We may have a mouth but it’s not connected to our brains.  We easily write women off because they are being “too sensitive.” They should develop “thicker skin” and “not take it so personally.” When a man tells a woman he’d like to bend her over the board room table and hold her down moments before she is to give a presentation. “It was just a joke. Don’t be so sensitive.” We are irrational and therefore not to be trusted. We’re ambitious and will say anything to get ahead.

Women are not to be believed because we less than people– It is believed that women were created for companionship to the man (Genesis 2). I am not agreeing with this interpretation necessarily, but this has been the common cultural assumption. Men don’t understand women’s bodies- smaller muscles, hormones, menstruation, just to name a few differences. My ex-husband used to say, “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for 5 days and doesn’t die.” That one caused a big laugh. We are to serve at the pleasure of men, we are to “receive” their will and “give” of ourselves. Feminism has taken us a long way,  but the cultural assumption is still there. Women’s bodies do not belong to themselves, they are compared to voluptuous mountains, delicate flowers, and the curves of fruit. Things to gaze upon, to be desired, plucked and devoured.

I’m so proud of these 35 women on the cover of the New Yorker, I honor them and their stories. I also honor the thousands of women who go without anyone to believe them, not one. I honor the women who continue to believe these assumptions about themselves. I honor the women who should be protected and won’t be in the future. I honor them all, and mourn. Oh, and if someone tells you they have been sexually assaulted? Have compassion, and sympathy, and above all, believe her.

(a note: not all sexual assault is male to female or heterosexual, I am not assuming that, I am however talking about that dynamic specifically in this post.)

I love being told what women care about. 

family-buying-a-new-home1I love being told what women care about.  No really, it’s insightful.  Especially when men tell me.  I do it to men.  I think with the exception of a small minority we all make general assumptions.  But just because it’s insightful and I store the information away doesn’t mean I’m any less offended.

My husband and I are in the process of buying a house.  We found a house we loved, made an offer and are now in the inspection process.  This is a strange process admittedly we are about to go into a huge amount of debt for a house we love, but really, have spent very little time in. My husband could not come to the inspection but I came.  Yes, I was there so the inspector could tell me what he saw, but really I wanted to spend as much time as possible in my potential new house.

Today I had another excuse to stop by and before we left I walked through the house, realizing that I wanted to see all these little things I hadn’t seen before.  Like what kind of shower head there is, the doors on the closets, was there extra paint in the garage, etc.

When my broker and I were almost done the seller’s broker came back and as we walked down the stairs he asked if everything was okay.  Because my broker and I had been talking about what to ask them to fix I tried to made some small talk like so I said something like, “just checking out the closet space”.

He then proceeded to tell me that women care about closets and kitchens and men care about back yards and garages.  Now these two brokers have shown a lot of houses, with a lot of couples, and I’m not going to argue with his stereotype, BUT I had to laugh because the whole point for my husband and I was the back yard.

Yes, I am interested in the kitchen, but my husband is also interested in closet space.  The garage was on my “must have” and not on his list at all.  But why would I care what this broker thought?  Did I think it made me seem shallow?

Mostly I don’t like other people telling me what I do or do not think.  What I can and cannot care about.  But I make generalities about boys and girls, men and women all the time.

I have a 5-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy and they do play differently.  She is nurturing to her toys, protective of them.  My son rams them together like they are fighting over their last meal.  It’s not because they’re dinosaurs, he bangs Barbie’s together too, runs over Hello Kitty with a dump truck, and rams the princess bike into the deck as hard as he can.

In the Acts lectionary text for this week (Acts 16:9-15) Paul has a dream about a man who needs his help, however the story is about a woman named Lydia.  Now the commentaries I’ve been reading have been wondering who this “man” is?

Yes, it could just mean a ‘man’ as in human or it could be (according to Jung) that the man is a shadow and as Paul is wandering around Asia Minor he is the one in need of help.  But nonetheless he meets Lydia, who deals in Purple cloth, not only making her a prominent business woman, but a woman of the world, a woman of the cultures.  She already worships the God of Israel, somehow she was already exposed, she further commits and opens herself to prayer and becomes a great woman of faith.

Paul finds her to be so and stays with her and her household.  Now Paul is often categorized as being a sexist.  I have said this on many occasions.  He notoriously ‘promotes’ stereotypes in his letters that keep women in their place and silent in church.  HOWEVER I think Paul, like Jesus lifted all those in positions of less power, including women and did not find that they were less in the eyes of God.   It is we that keep the stereotypes alive, it is we that don’t read past the first verse and look at the context of why this was said.

So I re-frame my questions… What does it say that “women care about the closets and the kitchen?” What does it say about us that “Men care about the garage and the back yard?” I could easily make stereotypical jokes about shoes space and muscle cars, but really they are both about caring for the heart of the family.  The kitchen and back yard promote family togetherness and the closets and garage are shelter for our needs.

So I wonder today, instead of jumping to conclusions next time I say I care about something or consider it a priority I want to ask myself what is at the root?  What is it I really care about? What is it God is calling me to care about?