This week in Australia we had women protesting in every captial city including the Capital, Canberra. Now I am only just starting to walk again after 2 foot operations so I did not participate. But just becasue I was not physically there did not mean that I withheld my support. No I prayed for and applauded all the women who were there.
Women who may have experienced the same injustice as the woman who sparked this controversy, women who the Law Courts of our country have left without justice or a voice to express their story.
Teenagers who may have or fear that this behaviour may happen to them.
Those men who supported partners, children or just saw the injustice of the situation.
Women who have supported friends or aquitences, feeling thankful but concerned that it may be them next.
The Elderly who have kept secrets all their lives, and still find the only expression open to them is to protest rather than share their stories and unravel a lifetime.
But it’s not enough to pray when words and actions are needed. But sometimes the weight of the past and the sercrets it holds pull at our tongues and we stay silent and away, when we should stand up and be counted.
I stayed still, frozen, in unother time and space, locked in my own secrets.
Then after the shock came the anger.
Why are we still having this fight? This has been a fight since I was a young adult. Why are we not done with it? Why has interenerational chnage not happened.
When I lived on campus, we would be organised into groups to walk home from the library to the residences. We were given self protection classes, but the one thing that we did not do, was talk about the danger of living in residence. Did we just assume that as our home we were safe in it. That we didn’t need protection there in the same way that people closed there eyes to Domestic Violence in the homes we had come from.
I have nothing but personal expereince, no stats to back up my claim that walking home from the library had much lower odds to being raped then in our residences. We shared bathrooms, it was not unknown to be joined in a shower behind a locked cubicle door. Staying too long in someones room, or leaving the door open for air, seemed justification enough. I have seen the clean up of the academic system in my lifetime to reduce inappropraite use of power sexually, but not in residences.
In leaving this space, and living alone, the problem did not cease, those invited into my space failed to realise it was a home and being safe in your home and requesting permission in your home was important and not to be disregarded, but I did feel I had the skills to articulate this even though my name is followed by numerous letters.
What sparked this massive march of Australian women also happened in a house, a different type of house, Parliment House, our nations legal heart. A place we want to think is above reproach. Another illusion shattered.
Over the years I have tried to have these discussions with my daughters. A conversation they neither wanted nor took seriously, it took a couple of attacks on women walking home for them to start to pay attention, but not to me. They had believed the rehtoric that society was a safer space for women.
So why am I sharing all this on this page.
Because I set this up with the aim of helping families share faith together it’s important that we have these conversations in the home, as well as the broader community, whether or not our children want to listen. Beacause if they don’t hear about it in terms of a faith context the influences will come from other places. But neither do I see faith converstions around rape, pornography, respect and self worth as a pancea. It’s not, our stories are devisive, particullary the Old Testament stories. We need to remember they were told to spark discussion, open debate about much braoder issues than the obvious and so they should be used that way today. But there is a chance that someone will not see the same worth in them as we do. Which opens us to learning how to have safe and respectful discussions, the very crux of the issue.
But equally, we will not hear the feminine voice in the Revised Common Lectionary. Too often they are cut out and silenced so until these stories and their lives can be validated in the pulpit we need to speak about them in the home.
How many know of the story of Tamar, (2 Samual 13), Jethphah’s daughter (Judges 13) and the imagery of Jeremiah, and many more, let alone would discuss it in their homes, with their children, not ever having respectful discussion modeled from the pulpit. Most Minister’s working along side Child and Family workers get fidgety everytime the Story of Abraham and Isaac appears in the Lectionary.
WE need to chanllenge the stories, we need to hold the Old Testament stories up against the standard of the cross in the New Testament, and WE need to have these converstions starting in our families but also in community.
Our families need to be supported by the church to enable them to have meaningful discussions at home.
They need modelling, they need information, they need a church that preaches about the real community in which it stands.
So if this weekend you don’t hear something about this this weekend.
You need to make a stand.
You need to ask for it and you need to be assured that your family is supported by your community.
And if your congregation doesn’t have any children and families, then that’s no reason not to talk about what is happening, they hdave grandchildren, children, friends and above all have lived lives of silencewaiting for permission to open their mouths.
References: Battered Love by Renita J. Weems
Brave Girls Bible Stories by Jennifer Gerelds
Forgotten Bible Stories by Margaret McAllister