18 Nov

#MeToo and Shades of Gray..

I’ve been down with the bug that’s going around as has hubby so I’m way behind in many things around here. After I write this I will be prepping the latest in the series on ROMANS. AND… I have a special houseguest coming for the week so when able, I’ve been trying to tidy up the place and get ready for winter. As a result, I will be taking next week off, just too much going on! In December I’ll be resuming the Romans study with “Chapter by Chapter” study. I honestly AM trying to be more consistent in writing. In the meantime…

Today I did one of those Facebook “most words” things and realized how I’ve been more involved with the current political climate. In the past when I’ve done this my loved ones and my faith have been those BIG BOLD words but not this year. An issue that I haven’t yet talked about is the huge uptick in women coming out about the humiliation of various forms of sexual harassment to outright forcible rape. What seems apparent to me is the varying degrees of these claims and what it means not just to these women but to the men involved and the much bigger issue of the prevalence of it in our culture. And it disturbs me. It used to be worthy of expulsion to commit such acts and now well, it seems you can even be a president or maybe a senator! Have we become that uncaring?

A lot of what I’m going to say is personal opinion based on my experiences as a counselor as well as being female and a victim of many forms of abuse. First, I’d like to offer a few of my personal definitions for the varying degrees this abuse might take. While abuse is abuse, I am of the thought that some is more serious and harmful than others. I know there are some women out there who may disagree with me and that’s ok. Keep in mind I don’t think a single bit of it is ok! IT IS NEVER OK and NEVER THE VICTIMS FAULT!!!

First, there is harassment. This is strictly verbal by the perpetrator. Innuendo, out of line comments on anatomy( not to be confused with “I like your new hairstyle” etc), cat/wolf whistles, and stuff like that. You may be “sexually harassed” if something a colleague or other acquaintance says things that make you feel uncomfortable. This can happen on the job, in school, and yes, even in church! Best defense is a good offense-TELL SOMEONE as soon as possible.

The next is sexual assault. This IS a crime and should be reported immediately to someone in law enforcement and/or a rape crisis hotline!
The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent. Some forms of sexual assault include attempted rape
fondling or unwanted sexual touching, forced performing of sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body. While touching may not be involved, someone performing an act in front of you is also assault.

The last is rape. Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Keep in mind that this includes what is often termed “date rape”.

Now that I’ve defined these terms, let’s talk about how we got here. Throughout history, especially ancient history, we gals were often considered valuable only as a means to end. Often more property than person. And yep, a “lesser” human being. This wasn’t always the way it was and definitely not what I believe God had in mind. Consider that woman was created to be a helper (Genesis 2:18 ) In Hebrew the term is עֵזֶֶר ˓êzer, ay’-zer;to aid:— help. Derived from another Hebrew word עָזַר ˓âzar, aw-zar’; to surround, i.e. protect or aid:— help, succor. OK you got the idea. And then came the fall! It seems that after that women started to be less regarded as helpers and more subject to the menfolk. ( see Gen. 3:16).

Sexual assault was also told of in scripture…
The gruesome story of how a woman traveler was sexually assaulted and murdered in the town of Gibeah is no doubt a typical example of what was going on during the time of the judges. (Judges 19:1–30). If you read on from there, you see the outcome. Consider also the rape of Tamar by her brother Amnon found in 2 Samuel 13:1–19 …. this is not only forcible assault, it’s incest. Other victims include Jacob’s daughter Dinah ( Gen. 34:2), and some may even say that Bathsheba was “ordered” to submit to David. Being summoned by your king can be pretty intimidating!!

On the other end, we must also mention that Potiphar’s wife wrongfully accused Joseph of assault which got him in prison. And therein lies an issue that can complicate the entire discussion!

In today’s political climate, many women feel that legislators are still trying to control our bodies. Some states are trying to criminalize legitimate forms of birth control under the guise of the “pro-life” movement. While I hate the NEED for abortion, there are reasons for the medical procedure (think rape, incest especially). Many states don’t allow needed education for our teens to learn not just how to prevent pregnancy, but also how to behave with and toward the opposite sex. Our culture, in general is highly sexualized especially in advertising. Body shaming is out there and too many young women think if they’re not a size 2 that they aren’t going to be “wanted” unless they acquiesce to the unwanted attention of co-workers or fellow students. While it is cheered when young men “get there”, women are maligned for the same behavior. It’s all part of the bigger issue!

Getting down to brass tacks, the multitude of revelations of sexual abuse have brought the issue to the forefront. And yes there ARE degrees of this kind of abuse. It’s one thing to have one accuser and a disgusting act photographed, no matter the reason. BUT when there are more than one, A pattern is developed. Many of these men are the same that seem to want to rule over women and indeed common belief says that men who abuse are all about power and not sex at all. Yes, I know men can be vulnerable also, but in recent months it’s women who are coming forward, raising their voices to make us all aware that it is more common than just political candidates and movie stars. Just think – how many have suffered that don’t garner headlines? (Just search on “#MeToo on Twitter)

I am one of the #MeToo folks. I’ve been harassed, assaulted and worse! Strangers aren’t the only offenders. Our husbands, boyfriends, brothers, uncles, fathers may also victimize. Our bosses, teachers, superiors and co-workers too! So, ladies, speak up, speak out, stand tall! Talk about it with someone!! Let’s stop it!

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.

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