No more games, I'm a change what you call rage
Tear this muthafudgy roof off like two dogs caged
There have been the expected responses. We have had media outlets seeing an opportunity for clicks, leading to them generating as many tie-in stories as possible. We have seen the contrarians seeing an opportunity or clicks, leading them to throw up their attempts to diminish the validity of the topic. I’m never surprised that some troglodytes emerge from the woodwork at these moments, just to prove there still are backward thinkers around. We also saw the usual mass of people freak out who, up until this particular news broke, were perfectly fine letting Weinstein continue to mow his way through the female population of Hollywood. That is always amusing and annoying - celebrities tripping over themselves to condemn a person that most of them knew was doing something wrong.
This whole song and dance is so common, and such an easy red herring. People love jumping all over the (mostly) liberal celebrities who now must express outrage at a big-time Democratic donor. We see posts and blogs and tweets shooting at how both sides handled it. The battle builds so much that it is easy to forget WHAT exactly the argument was about. You know, like the whole National Anthem kneeling fight. The saddest part of that whole kerfuffle is that the extremely important issue that started the protests (systematic racial discrimination and mistreatment) is completely ignored.
Well I am not going to let that happen. The issue is out there, so let’s deal with it. There have been some really thoughtful pieces out there on the topic of sexual harassment in the last few days, and I don’t pretend to bring anything revolutionary to the table. But I’ve been trying to be more consistent in voicing it when my righteous anger is stoked. This offering doesn’t get any clever allegories or poems. It is about as straightforward as can be.
The status quo in this country is that women are routinely marginalized, harassed, and demeaned. They make less money. They have more difficulty climbing the work ladder. They consistently have to deal with guys who believe it is in their rights, as men, to say and do whatever they want to women. These men are protected by their status in their company, church, community. Women have gotten to where they feel they have to just accept this as the way things are. And the only time something is done about it is when things are grievously out of proportion to “the norm.” I have no doubt that Harvey Weinstein would still hold his position if it were not for the sheer volume of accusers. Even still, the more extreme accusations are met with some doubt. Rose McGowen’s claim that Weinstein raped her was uncomfortably ignored or refuted in favor of more exciting names on lists.
This is WRONG. The “good old boys’ club” mentality is wrong. The “dirty old man” mindset is wrong. The “scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” exchange is wrong. The “how far will you go to get the job” question is wrong. The “little bit of humor” excuse is wrong. The “she was asking for it” defense is wrong. It is all wrong. It was wrong back then; it is wrong now.
|Of the Highest Value|
It is wrong for my brilliant wife to have to be talked down to by male doctors just because she is a woman. It is wrong that when she walks into a patient room she is assumed to be a nurse. It is wrong that patient’s father’s say how cute the female doctors are. It is wrong that she will make less money because of her gender.
It is wrong that my female coworkers have to consistently deal with high school and college boys hitting on them during classes and events online. It is wrong that these boys think they have to right to write sexual comments to them, just because they are women.
It is wrong that women are taken advantage of at car dealerships and repair shops. It is wrong that attractive women are treated differently than other women.
It is wrong that females in journalism - especially sports journalism - have to not only prove their skills and knowledge, but also show off their legs, cleavage, rear ends, and voluminous hair. It is wrong that still after all of that, they still have to hear how cute and funny it is to hear a woman talking about pass patterns.
It is wrong that a woman wanting to break into movies or music or the entertainment industry in general has to at some point take her clothes off to get a job or advance her career or be taken seriously.
It is wrong that women are not believed when they tell people about this harassment. It is wrong their character and clothing and choices come into question instead of the person who really did something wrong. It is wrong that women know that it is so difficult to actually get anything done on this front that they don’t even bother. It is wrong that this is so prevalent that I would be hard pressed to find a single woman who could say “not me” instead of “me too.”
I would hope that we all can agree that this is wrong. I would hope. People do not deserve to be treated this way. Women do not deserve to be treated this way. This is something that should be universally fought against - something we can all agree on for once. Which is what makes this next part so painful to me.
There has been one group that has been largely silent through this, one disgustingly and disturbingly quiet group. That would be Christians, especially men. I have seen only a smattering of Christian men standing up and joining in the chorus of those crying out, “This is WRONG!” There have not been a series of tweets from Christian leaders decrying this behavior. Did Franklin Graham echo the sentiments of how women should be treated better? No. But he did use his twitter account to again promote Donald Trump - another ADMITTED sexual harasser. What about the former reverend and governor Mike Huckabee? Did he use his status to stand up for women? No. But he did make a completely classless joke via Twitter about Harvey Weinstein piloting Flight 666 the other day. You don’t like the most traditional elements? What about Joel Osteen? Did he speak out? No. Steven Furtick? No. Matt Chandler? He talked about domestic violence, so he gets a half point. Tony Evans? David Jeremiah? Chuck Swindoll? Charles Stanley? Andy Stanley? Craig Groeschel? No. Let that soak in for a minute.
I’m guessing some of you are pretty uncomfortable right now. Some of you are probably pissed off at me that I am pointing this out. Don’t give in to the temptation to attack the messenger. Think about it. Why is this the case? Why would all of these church leaders who have such a massive influence over the evangelical masses in America not take a stand on this? Why would so many Christians follow their example and stay conspicuously silent? These are very very uncomfortable questions and the answers are even worse. These are the answers I came up with. And none of them are pretty.
- They don’t believe this is actually happening. Sadly, I think there is a potential for this to be somewhat true. I used to go around to churches and talk to them about internet safety and purity and I’ve had church leaders tell me to my face that there isn’t a problem at their church - an hour after a different leader told me about multiple incidents that happened THAT week. The Church has been known to jam its head into the sand on issues. But I find it very difficult to believe that as a whole the Church doesn’t believe this is happening. And IF this is actually true, then things are much worse than anyone could imagine.
- This is traditionally a liberal/Democratic issue and something they don’t want to align with. I think there is a lot of truth to this. Having spend as long in the Church as I have, I have seen many issues that were discarded because they were promoted by the wrong party. We live in such a divisive society right now that people feel they have to take stands based on party affiliation. The big problem, to me and a lot of other Christians, is that it isn’t so simple any more. There are issues that I care about on both sides of the aisle. And this is one of them. To reject an issue just because it is from a donkey instead of an elephant is unacceptable.
- This strikes to close to home to the biblical patriarchy, male leadership, and biblical roles of manhood and womanhood. Personally, I think that this carries a lot of weight with a lot of people. They are concerned that taking too strong of a stand on the issues of female objectification and sexual harassment could lead to attacks on the entire issue. Ok. I can see that there would be concern there. But does that mean we continue to stay silent on a very disturbing issue? This has been a major issue for the Church for a long time - from Copernicus to slavery to tax reform. If Christians are truly supposed to be promoting the tenants of restoration and unconditional love and grace, how can they turn a blind eye to an entire GENDER being marginalized and debased? In addition, being a leader doesn’t mean being a pig. A man does not have the right to act in this manner regardless of his status. Isn’t that the very thing brought to light by the Weinstein incidents? A man in authority using his authority to demean others. There you go. If you want to be a leader, men, you should be the FIRST to lead the way on this attack. Show your sons the right way. Lead society away from this behavior.
- They don’t want to pull on this string because they know it will be disastrous. I have a queasy feeling that this plays too much of a role in why there has not been a wider Churchwide response. As we are already seeing, this snowball is turning into an avalanche in the entertainment community. An Amazon Studios exec has been fired due to his sexual harassment issue. More and more stars are coming out and talking about what happened to them by people not named “Weinstein.” Heads are going to roll on this. You can’t take a stand on something like this and then not do a thorough examination of your own house as well. What would that show? I am quite confident that there are a massive number of stories that could flood out from churches where this kind of behavior was the norm. But, I think this goes even further than just the fear of pastors losing their jobs. I think it goes right to the very top. A very large number of evangelicals threw their lot in with a professed sexual harasser. I don’t think you need me to remind you of the multiple quotes from President Trump over the years that indicated that he practiced this kind of behavior. What happens if the Church takes a stand against this? How can they say this behavior is unacceptable and then turn around and support someone who practices it? Things can unravel quickly.
- They don’t think that there is anything wrong with what is going on. Of all of the reasons, this is the most stomach-churning, but the one I am the most confident actually contributes to at least some of the stonewalling going on. I would be willing to guarantee that in churches across the country, there are members who are sitting there saying, “Look at how sensitive people are. Back in the old days, this was just normal behavior. Women knew that this was just guys being guys. They didn’t get offended by it.” This guys may be deacons or prominent church members or even staff members. It is the same truth associated with why churches have been hesitant to speak out about racial equality, to speak out against white supremacy. The ugly truth of the situation is that there are too many racists, too many misogynists sitting in church pews for the Church as a whole to take a stand against behavior like this. It is a horrible reason, but one that I know exists. I know because I have heard it in churches since I was small. I have seen it happen as long as I’ve been in church.
I know that some people will be furious at what I am saying here. They will say that this is not the venue to air these grievances. They will say that I have no right to attack the Church like this. To that, I say that this is the perfect time to address this. Let’s shine a white hot spotlight into the dark corners of the Church. I am not attacking the Church out of hate; it is out of love. I want this behavior eradicated. I want the people who claim to follow Christ to actually look like Him. What did Christ look like? How did He treat women? He was revolutionary in his treatment of women. In a culture where women were seen as property, He gave them value as a person. In a time when women were ordered around, He spoke gently and kindly. In a world where women had little hope, He gave them a vision of a place where they would stand tall. Don’t you DARE tell me that Jesus would look at the way women are treated in this world, by our churches, by our men, and nod in satisfaction. “Yes. This is exactly what I envisioned.” That is not the message of Jesus Christ. I am ashamed of the fact that the Church has turned a blind eye to people who need it the most. I am disgusted that the quietest group of all should be the ones leading the way. I am sick over the silence that shows that the Church is more of the problem than the answer.