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by rev. abby mohaupt

July 24, 2020


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"Having a daughter does not make a man decent."  (Photo from NY Daily News)
AOC to Yoho: 'I am someone's daughter too' - via CNN. "New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke on the House floor Thursday about a heated exchange earlier this week with Florida Rep. Ted Yoho after which he reportedly called her [obscene names], saying that by accosting her, he gave 'permission to other men to do that to his daughters.' Ocasio-Cortez recounted the incident and repeated the term, saying she has an issue with 'using women, our wives and daughters as shields and excuses for poor behavior.'"

"She said Yoho's comments 'were not deeply hurtful or piercing' because she has experienced the same type of behavior from men while working as a waitress and in everyday life."
“Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” - Judges 4:9
This morning I was on a run with a friend. On mile 2, she recounted a recent conversation with her 16-year-old daughter about the job to which she wants to apply. Her daughter wants to work at a nearby country club, because the tips are good. My friend told her that this would open her up to comments about her body and lewd looks from drunken old men. Her daughter replied that this would be true about her life anyway, and she should at least be paid for the harassment. 

My friend and I, as we worked our way into mile 3, wondered how we could teach the next generation of women that the problem isn't that we must face sexual and verbal harassment for free. The problem is that we live in a society that accepts that men will harass women. We live in a society that objectifies women and female-presenting people and does not see us as made in the image of God.

And we are well aware that it is we who are women who must teach the next generations of humans; in our experience men are not likely to leap to hold each other accountable or to stop sexual and verbal (or physical, or any other kind) of harassment. 

My own father tries and has tried. He has four daughters and, alongside my mother, has taught us to be bold and to expect respect. I am grateful for his support. And: he has also failed to stop harassment against me - or any of his daughters - failed to interject when other men have sexually harassed me. Where he has failed, he has apologized, using his identity as a husband and a father as a reason to apologize and to do better. This is not an indictment of my father. This is an indictment of the social system that says it is acceptable to harass in the first place. 

This is an indictment of a social system that allows a white male representative to call a woman of color who is also a representative a b*tch and then fail to apologize, hiding behind his identity as a father and a husband.

AOC claims her position as someone's daughter as part of the reason why she deserves to be respected. She deserves respect, however, because she is someone. Her power and influence as a human being, her identity as a person (not an object) - she is made in the image of God. 

Her response to Yoho claims her personhood and honor for herself - and she claims decency and care for other people by demanding respect.

Still: until we dismantle the pervasive sexism that teaches the next generation of women to seek jobs where at least they will get paid for harassment they see as inevitable, we have a long way to go until that respect is for all.
Check on the women in your life. How are they?
Check on your own language. How do you perpetuate the objectification or subjugation of non-male people in the world with your words or actions?

And, since Yoho invoked his identity as a father, if you're a father, check on this article for more steps to dismantle patriarchy.
A blessing for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

May you remember that you are strong and courageous, even when men try to tell you that you are weak and afraid.
May you remember that you are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses and supporters, even when men try to convince you that you are alone.
May you feel held by the women and gender-nonconforming people who have fought for gender justice for generations before you.
May you hear the gratitude from generations to come.
And may you remember how deeply beloved you are, as you bring honor and decency into the world.
Amen.
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