Thursday, October 26, 2017

Me Too




Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/FrameAngel
Well, me too. How ‘bout that?

It’s a subject I notice Christians seem to be skirting around, not addressing from any aspect, let alone a scriptural one.

So…me too. I’m one of tens of millions, probably more. For women in this lucky country…Australia…the figure sits at a disturbing one in five women. Look around you. Yes, you! In Church. Look around you. One in five females has been a victim of sexual violence. That’s not counting every-day, garden-variety sexual harassment. If we factor that in, I reckon the figure is more like one in one. That’s all of us. Married. Single. Engaged. Divorced. It doesn’t matter. We’re all ‘fair game.’

The ‘Me Too’ campaign has erupted in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein expose. In case you haven’t caught up on the news this fortnight and don’t know who Weinstein is, I’ll briefly recap.
Harvey Weinstein is a vastly successful, renowned and widely lauded movie producer. He is, of course, also immensely wealthy. That goes with the territory.

So too, it seems, does an enormous sense of entitlement that underpins the ugly underbelly of the current climate of rampant narcissistic machismo that sets the tone for our entertainment industry. He has, seemingly without reservation, propositioned, touched, threatened and downright sexually assaulted (let’s call it for what it is…raped!) huge numbers of actresses…sorry ‘actor is now the politically correct term. But the ‘actors’ he targets are all female. So far he’s been accused by around 50 women and that figure is escalating by the day.

Some of his targets have tried to report his actions. Others have been cowed. The overwhelming complicity from other men in the industry is, possibly, even more disturbing (and I’ll never watch another Matt Damon movie again. And then there’s Tarantino, not so much of a surprise but a bigger disappointment, given the sway he holds in the industry. He’s sorry now, but hey, too late). They knew. They observed. They were told. But they did nothing. It would compromise their careers if they did. Actually, I have that wrong. They did more than nothing. They actively worked to cover up Weinstein’s sexual abuse and harassment. And so, these women were left unprotected…un-championed. Disbelieved. And so they were shut up.

The real ‘shock’, however, (not to me) is that women the world over…ordinary women with ordinary jobs and lives and families, experience the same humiliation and degradation that well-known actresses are only just now feeling safe enough to expose. Think about that. Wealthy, ’perfect’ women in privileged positions, living fairy-tale lives, are only just now gaining the fortitude and courage to tell the sordid stories that are part and parcel of their daily existence.

Their stories have been enormously triggering for women and girls the world over. Add to that the widespread lack of empowerment the average woman experiences, even in this so-called enlightened age, where women are supposedly valued and equal…and you have a seething, boiling, wave of anger and resentment that is gaining momentum with every ‘me too’ posted on social media. Many of us don’t know what to do with the pain that is rising to the surface; pain we bury deep in order to survive just being female in this world. We desperately hope the whole thing doesn’t just fizzle and die, and yet, it may well do.

I have absolutely no idea how I would navigate life with its everyday experiences that include, for me as for so many, the degradation and humiliation of being reduced to an object of little value; something to be judged, sentenced, tortured and humiliated by the very beings God put on this earth to protect me and provide for me - I do not know how I would have survived so far without Jesus. I truly don’t.

I’ve worked in a Christian counselling environment wherein I was entrusted with the files and stories of hundreds of people, right here where I live, in this small, conservative, and overwhelmingly Christian city. If you’re under the illusion things are vastly different in Christian communities, please think again. The complicity of the Christian hierarchy mirrors that of the secular world. In many ways, it’s worse. There’s more than just a cover up. There is enablement through lack of condemnation for the perpetrators’ actions, a noticeable absence of any consequences and a widespread hushing up of victims.

Overall, there’s still a distressing tendency for the blame to be placed on ‘Eve’. Where there is seduction, she (the woman), is all-too-often deemed the temptress, even if she has rebuffed the advances. If sexual harassment has taken place and is made public, it’s overwhelmingly the woman who loses face, support and fellowship within the Church. She is far too often cast out of the community…while ‘he’ remains in leadership and worship positions. He is forgiven and allowed to continue his spiritual life, without missing a beat. She is left floundering, wandering alone in the desert…to pick up the threads…start a new life…somewhere else where she hopes they know nothing of her past.

Yes, I have witnessed it. Yes, I have experienced it. Not just harassment (as if that’s a trivial thing?) but sexual abuse and rape. I’m here. I’m raw. I’m telling it like it is.

I’ve experienced it first hand, and through the stories of hundreds of others.

So, yes. Me too. I have a tender saviour, who holds me so gently, and yet with such power and strength. In the final analysis, I’m okay.

But the Body of Christ has the distraught and damaged spirits of many of its women to answer for. We cry out for understanding and help. We reach out, mostly, to each other – other women who feel our feminine pain.

And yet…it is not yet enough.

I don’t propose to have the answers or the expertise to suggest a course of action but I do feel compelled to bring this issue before you all; to ask the question; to open the dialogue. We have an opportunity to be part of a massive wave of change and healing that will benefit the entire Christian community. Half the body of Christ is deeply wounded…and floundering.

Let’s go to Jesus with that, shall we? Men and women alike.

17 comments:

  1. Thank you Melinda for highlighting something that needs to be brought to the light. I grieve with you and with others who have faced such trauma and are living with the scars of it. Thanks so much for your honesty and for telling it like it is. May the conversation you've brought to the open be one that is helpful and healing. Love your words at the end about coming with it to Jesus. He is after all our Only Hope. The world can be a terrible place. Unsafe. Brutal. Traumatic. Thank God we have a Saviour. Thank you for sharing so skilfully and for opening our eyes and heqrts to the enormity of the problem. God bless you dear friend.

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    1. I honestly would never have got through some of my experiences with Jesus and have no idea how women who don't have our faith cope. We all need to be believed and loved through our pain; not rejected because of it. Thank you for your continued support; for uplifting me on so many occasions. My sisters in Christ mean the world to me. I truly hope we can keep the dialogue going throughout our Church communities and be part of that huge wave of healing that God desperately wants for us. Big hugs.

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  2. Thank you for sharing and for writing about such an important topic. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s true that being a Christian doesn’t give you immunity from experiencing sexual harassment or assault. Silence is also a problem. I don’t know how people cope without Jesus’ healing and love. A brave and true post, Melinda. ❤️👏

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    1. Ah, the silence. Yes ... the silence is meant to prevent us from speaking up and being real. It prevents us from becoming effective vessels for God; stops us in our tracks. I think there is a huge spiritual oppression involved - one that operates right within our Church community. We need much prayer and wisdom. Thank you fro your insights.

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  3. Thank you, Melinda, for your very brave, passionate, articulate post. I can feel your pain through your words and also the pain of others whose lives you have touched and read about. This whole issue must so grieve God's heart.

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    1. Yes, God weeps for us, I think, Jo-Anne. I'm sure He truly desires healing for His daughters and accountability for His sons. If half the body is wounded, then the whole body can't function effectively. It's time. Bless you.

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  4. Medlinda, thanks for speaking up about such a difficult issue. I too have typed #Me Too (in a comment rather than the post - because even though I did nothing wrong on each occasion, I still feel embarrassed and vulnerable to share the experiences and rarely speak about and even then it took me years). As writers (and bloggers) one thing we can do is give voice to the voiceless - or speak up ourselves. And as Christians (for we are the church), we can stand up for the vulnerable and call wrongdoing what it is.

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    1. I'm grieved to hear you've been through this too and am quite sure you did nothing wrong. The toxic shame and the fear of being disbelieved and judged keeps us all from speaking up in a timely way. We're effectively silenced, even in our own church community. May God bring healing to his daughters and hold his sons to account where and when necessary. If the pen is truly mightier than the sword, then we have to use our words to fight this injustice. Big hugs for you.

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  5. #Me too ...
    Thank you, Melinda.

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    1. Sending you love, my sister in Christ. I'll keep us all in my prayers. I hope you're in a safe space now and able to heal from the wounds.

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  6. Thank you dear Melinda for opening your heart. As a young Christian I was naive and believed God wouldn't let it happen to a Christian. And then I heard the testimony of a medical missionary from Africa where there was a tribal revolt. It ended with her and a group of nuns taken as ?wives? Every day she ministered to these ladies and said only faith in God kept her from losing her mind. It is staggering how brutally women have been treated and Hollywood has a lot to answer for. Also so sad & horrifying at the covering up by church leaders. It's a case of 'sweep it under the carpet'. Too embarrassing to deal with. Actually they don't have the moral fortitude to even preach against it. Thank the dear Lord He does not see us how we feel about ourselves but sees us covered in pure robes of righteousness.

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    1. My goodness, Rita. I can't even imagine what that medical missionary and her fellow sisters in Christ went through. It's a horror story. I was going to say a movie should be made to help shed the light on these tragic events - but I fear it would be sexualized and otherwise trivialized by mainstream media. But in the right, sensitive hands, I wonder? And I agree wholeheartedly with what you've said about our church leaders not even having the courage to preach about it. That seems to hold true for so many men - secular as well. It seems as if they're terrified of being thought badly of by the brotherhood. Can't bring each other to account, after all! They might end up being derided and abused themselves - the way women have always been. Thank you for your insights ... and I particularly love that you draw attention to the way God views us - yes, covered in pure robes of righteousness. That thought alone is enough to bring some healing tears. Bless you.

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  7. Thank you for your honesty and rawness. It is so needed yet so hard, so it is brave women like you that make it easier for others to come forward. Praying that His gentle hand of healing is over you always and that through your testimony, others will come to encounter Him.

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    1. Thank you for your beautiful and loving response and prayer. I just hope that as we come forward, one by one, with our stories, it will encourage other women to do the same ... and to lose the toxic shame we unfairly wear.

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  8. The shame should be on the perpetrator, not the victim. However, sadly it is not. An added burden to the overwhelming violation. Thank you for 'airing' it. Hidden it has more power.

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  9. Thanks for stopping by, Susan. What you say about the shame belonging to the perpetrator and not the victim is absolutely true. Sadly,at this point in time it doesn't play out that way. The more voices we add publicly, the more 'revealed' it will become. Hidden things certainly do have huge amounts of power. Bless you.

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  10. Thank you for writing this. #metoo
    Yet it is still a struggle.
    And where do you turn?
    When a family member is involved it is difficult. Can I send you a private message?

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