Recent events remind us that abuse against women, even in the hallowed halls of Congress, is alive and well in our nation.
Last Thursday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, took a stand on the House floor to raise awareness of and to condemn abusive conduct against women and girls—after an unpleasant encounter on the steps of the capital with her Republican colleague, Rep. Ted Soho. Soho had used obscene language to demean Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who responded in a speech described in the Washington Post as “a comeback of a lifetime.”
She was prepared to let the matter drop, until Soho raised the subject himself in the House and defended his behavior by pointing out that he is a husband and the father of two daughters. According to AOC,
And that I could not let go. I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little girls that I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal abuse and, worse, to see that—to see that excuse and to see our Congress accept it as legitimate and accept it as an apology and to accept silence as a form of acceptance, I could not allow that to stand.
Her “comeback speech” lit up the Internet. Her detractors and supporters had plenty to say and responded as expected. But she earned new respect from others who applauded her courage and her willingness to use her national platform and her power as a U.S. Congresswoman to engage the abuse pandemic on behalf of others.
One response on Twitter was especially poignant and worth repeating as it cuts to the heart of Part 2 of the #MeToo/#ChurchToo Pandemic discussion below between Paul Metzger and me. The response centers on AOC’s statement about daughters:
Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter too.
My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect . . . and I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.
That last line drew this response on twitter:
AOC said that her parents didn’t raise her to accept abuse from men. A friend said, in response, that she realized when she heard it that her parents DID raise her to accept abuse from men. So did mine. So did an entire culture. And now I can’t stop thinking about it.
Part 2 of the New Wine Tastings series focuses on the root causes of abuse that perpetuate the #MeToo/#ChurchToo pandemic to the next generation. Some of the roots are cultural, systemic, and multi-generational. Some are theological and have Bible verses to enforce them.
One generation passes on to the next generation flawed teaching about masculinity and femininity, male/female relationships, about power and authority, silence and submission. And the cycle keeps repeating. In the church, these teachings are sanctified as “biblical” and set in stone, instead of subjecting them to the scrutiny of the whole of scripture and to the radical, life-reconfiguring teachings and example of Jesus—God’s perfect image bearer.
Instead, as author Rachel Simmons puts it in her book Enough As She Is,
“Women have been taught, by every cultural force imaginable, that we must be ‘nice’ and ‘quiet’ and and ‘polite,’ that we must ‘protect others’ feelings before our own. That we are there for other’s pleasure.”\
We undermine efforts to to address abuse against women and children that surface in the church and elsewhere if we fail to uproot the faulty teachings and theological systems that create an environment that is conducive to abuse in the first place.
Part 2 of the #MeToo/#ChurchTooPandemic examines some of the root causes and points to the Bible’s #MeToo stories as an important resource in raising awareness and preventing further abuse.
Watch Part 1 here: Bringing Awareness to the #MeToo/#ChurchToo Pandemic