This year as we approach Father’s Day, I remember my father. He passed away on May 12 after a short illness. He was 97 years old. He was a small business owner and church lay leader. He loved his garden and had been nurturing geranium starts in his greenhouse to be ready for the summer flower season. Family and friends were his priorities with college basketball a close second. I remember that he was a decent and generous man who generally spoke his mind but usually with the grace and charm of a Southern gentleman. Fortunately his mind grew more open with age. Although his strong will and mine did clash from time to time, we always circled back to what was most important. I am grateful that he was always present in my life.
The recent song, “Accidental Racist,” by Brad Paisley and LL Cool J got me thinking about how one accidentally oppresses other people. As a white woman raised in the South, I’ve heard the angst expressed before. I just don’t buy it. Yet it inspired me to write another version.
Dear Forty-five Obstructionist Senators: The President used the word “shameful” to describe the Republican filibuster two days ago in the U.S. Senate of bipartisan legislation to address gun violence. “Shameful” doesn't even begin to describe what you did. This was an act of pure cowardice.
As I have continued to ponder and worry about the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case which I blogged about last week, I came across a two very interesting pieces. First is an open letter from Melissa Harris-Perry to the survivor of the Steubenville rape: “Dear Steubenville Survivor, I Believe You.” It is written from one survivor to another in appreciation for the courage of the young woman in coming forward in spite of knowing the response she would get. Please listen to it.
The fact that two teenage football players raped an intoxicated teenager is bad enough. They have now been convicted of their crimes. But the additional fact that other teens not only watched and did not intervene to help the victim but also took photos which they then broadcast with social media is even more disturbing.
We have received several calls from people questioning the quote that I attribute to pope Francis in my last blog.
Ten years ago, the Center for the Prevention of Sexual Violence (now FaithTrust Institute), published A Journey Towards Freedom: A Haggadah for Women Who Have Experienced Domestic Violence. The text, borne out of a series of ongoing workshops with survivors of domestic violence, and lovingly crafted by a dedicated group of advocates, educators, and spiritual leaders spoke to the command l'hageed, to tell of our story at Passover.
In the face of high profile, horrific violence against women - the attempted assassination of a schoolgirl in Pakistan who had campaigned for education for girls, the brutal rapes and murders of young women in India and South Africa, and, lest we assume this is someone else’s problem, the rape of a drunk woman student in Steubenville, Ohio, by football players - one might assume that the meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women focusing this year on the elimination of violence against women and girls would have a singular agenda to speak in one voice on the pandemic of gender based violence that plagues every country of the world.
Dear U.S. Bishops: What is the matter with you? The headline "Catholic Bishops Oppose Violence Against Women Act" speaks volumes to women in the pews. It confirms what many Catholic battered women and rape victims have long feared or suspected: the church is not a safe place for them. They cannot expect to receive appropriate pastoral care and support from their priests. And sadly, they are probably correct.
Every year in early March in observance of International Women’s Day (March 8), hundreds of international delegates gather at the United Nations for the meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women. This year will be the 57th session. The priority theme for this year will be the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.
“Involvement in a faith-based institution does not protect teens against unwanted sexual experiences.” This was the conclusion of a study done in 2003 entitled Faith Matters: Teenagers, Religion and Sexuality. Perhaps this was news to some in faith communities who, in their wishful thinking, assume still that teen dating violence, acquaintance rape, and incestuous abuse don’t happen in our church/synagogue/mosque.
Dear Archbishop Gomez: Kudos for doing something. In response to the release of the personnel files on clergy sexual abusers in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, you actually did something about Cardinal Roger Mahoney and Bishop Thomas Curry who oversaw the years of silence, cover-up and non-response to the reports of sexual abuse of children by priests, though of course I wish you had done it earlier.
Once again the legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act has been introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress. This action stalled in the last Congress due to partisan bickering and efforts to undercut important new provisions in VAWA. These provisions are still included in this current version and include enhanced protections for tribal, LGBT and immigrant victims, who were identified as critical priorities by advocates across the country and also received bipartisan support last year.
In 2013, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation ending legal slavery in the United States. But slavery isn’t only a painful and tragic fact of our national history; it persists even today in the U.S. and around the world. Now we call it trafficking. Human trafficking is a big, global industry. It generates at least $32 billion per year worldwide—more than Nike, Google, and Starbucks combined. The U.S. is both a source and a destination for human beings who are trafficked.
The presence of guns is what makes domestic violence so deadly. The American Judges Association reports that, “If the abuser has access to a firearm, it is far more likely that homicide will indeed be the result. Research shows that family and intimate partner assaults involving firearms are 12 times more likely to result in death than those that do not involve firearms. Approximately two-thirds of the intimate partner homicides in this country are committed using guns.”
It is the darkest of days, the longest of nights as we approach the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. The murder-suicides pile up: a football player, a mall in Oregon, an elementary school in Connecticut. And then there are the daily deaths from gun violence in every community that don’t make the national news. The darkness seems overwhelming.
There are two important stories this week within the Orthodox Jewish community in the U.S. The first is the conviction of Nechemya Weberman, a Hasidic Jew in Brooklyn, for sexual abuse of a child who had the courage to come forward and report him.
A head injury? Alcohol? Drugs? Depression? An argument? Everyone who knew Jovan Belcher is grasping for an answer to “why?” We only know what we read in the paper, but there is nothing all that unusual here when a man kills his partner and himself. The story is pretty predictable. This is domestic violence.
The New York Times is right on this one. If politicians are serious about fixing the perception that they don’t understand or care about women, they would do well to move quickly to pass the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) immediately.
In the midst of the campaign, Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock was asked if abortion should be allowed in cases of rape and incest. He responded negatively with this explanation: “I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something the God intended to happen.” Apparently, Richard Mourdock knows the mind of God.