Sunday, May 29, 2011

Half the Sky

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn should be required reading for anyone writing about the role of women. Kristof and WuDunn write about sex slavery, gender violence and injury and death due to child-bearing.

While the authors commend the presence and dedication of those conservative Christians who provide assistance of various kinds to women on an international level, they speak unequivocally for true gender equality. They write,
"Empowerment" is a cliché in the aid community, but it is truly what is needed. The first step toward greater justice is to transform that culture of female docility and subservience, so that women themselves become more assertive and demanding. As we said earlier, that is, of course, easy for outsiders like us to say: We're not the ones who run horrible risks for speaking up. But when a woman does stand up, it is imperative that outsiders champion her, we also must nurture institutions to protect such people. Sometimes we may even need to provide asylum for those whose lives are in danger. More broadly, the single most important way to encourage women and girls to stand up for their rights is education, and we can do far more to promote universal education in poor countries.

Ultimately, women like those in Kasturba Nagar need to join the human rights revolution themselves. They constitute part of the answer to the problem: There will be less trafficking and less rape if more women stop turning the other cheek and begin slapping back. (page 53)
If you don't think that standing up for your own rights is modeled by the apostles in the scripture, then you may have forgotten Acts 22.
The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.

25And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?

26When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

27Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.

28And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

29Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

30On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.

The Bible is full of women who demanded their rights, women who petitioned judges and kings, women who pleaded with God for a child, who deceived and seduced in order to bear a child. Unfortunately, there are few tales of women resisting violence. There is no story in the Bible of a woman simply refusing to live a life of violence. Or have I missed that?


David Reimer said...

"There is no story in the Bible of a woman simply refusing to live a life of violence."

Which implies the possibility of a choice for violence not taken?

One could read each of Rahab, Abigail, and Michal as refusing the violent life on offer (I wonder about Zipporah, too). But perhaps these aren't "simple refusals"?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Yes, Abigail of course and perhaps Rahab. But I am not sure how Michal fits this.

But overall, gender violence gets little notice. There is the concubine, killed by wicked people. But this book Half the Sky is about cultures where gender violence is part of daily life.

Anonymous said...

Jael WAS violent. :o)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Excellent! Yes, Jael did fight back.

Theophrastus said...

Egyptian cleric Sa'd Arafat on Al Rahma TV explains how Allah teaches men the proper way to beat their wives:

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Now I need to watch some late night comedy to cheer me up.

E.Louise said...

Reminds me of the book 'Texts of Terror' by Phyllis Trible.