Today, I had hoped to march with the millions of other women and men around this country. March for women. March as a woman. March as a mother. A wife. A daughter. A sister. An aunt. A pastor. Unfortunately, my life dictated that I was not able to attend a march. So instead of protesting with my presence, I protest with my pen, (or my keyboard.)
So here’s the thing, the first time I was ‘grabbed by the pussy,’ I was four or five years old. I was a young child, still too young to know that I wasn’t supposed to be touched ‘like that.’ I was with my mother at the public library… of all places. I was just a few aisles away, in the children’s section, when an older boy, probably a young teen, thought it was his right or maybe he would just, ‘try it out’… Either way, he groped me over and over and over again.
When I told my mom, my mom told the librarian. The librarian found the boy’s mom and that was it. He got a ‘talking to.’ I went home and took a bath.
Now, I am not blaming my mom for doing anything wrong… but this boy just got a good ‘talking to’, literally.
It happened again when I was closer to ten years old, this time a friend of the family, again, an older boy pushed me against my friend’s bed and started humping me. He did it again a year later.
As an adult, I know that I have been cat called and have had men ‘accidentally’ brush up against me. I have been cornered by coworkers and have been looked up and down by teachers in high school.
I know that I have not had overly traumatic experiences with harassment or unwanted sexual advances. But that is just it, my experiences are pretty ‘normal.’
I think about my friends who have experienced much, much worse.
Today’s marches are a protest, a protest to a president who brushes off talk about sexual assault as if it’s ‘normal.’ The problem is, it is normal. And it shouldn’t be.
So, I protest. I protest by going on the record. I am going on the record to say that it is not okay for boys to grow up thinking they can ‘do whatever they want’ to women. It is not okay for women to be looked at or talked about like sex objects. It is not okay for grown men, men who aspire to be leaders to brush off sexual assault like ‘it’s no big deal.’
As a Christ-follower, I don’t have to look far to know what to do. I look to Jesus’ own close circle of disciples, the ones who stood by him until the end, at the cross, the tomb, and finally resurrection… Mary, Martha, and his mother. Women.
I look to the way Jesus affirmed the bleeding woman, healed Jarius’ daughter, sharing a drink with the woman at the well, standing up for the woman about to be stoned… I can look to Jesus’ own genealogy – born to an unwed mother, the relative of a widow, a prostitute, a woman entangled in terrible abuse, a woman barren and then miraculously healed.
As a Christ-follower, I see that our God values women, all women, all the time.
I also see that as a Christ-follower, Jesus was unafraid to stand up to the religious leaders, the political leaders, the masses of people, the businessmen, the wealthy, even at times his own followers to show us how to love and care for one another, to show us how to seek wholeness for the whole of the world.
So, I do protest. I protest a world that wants to deny the teachings of Jesus and seek its own self-interest above the wellness of others. I will pray for my government. I will pray for its leaders. I will teach my children to respect all people. I will preach Jesus’ teachings. I will read God’s word. I will not apologize for the Gospel.
As a Christ-follower, I do not expect my law makers to necessarily be moral. I cannot expect those who have not truly experienced or seen redemption to act like the ‘redeemed.’ I cannot expect those who look to themselves first, to care about others first. But I absolutely expect that our leaders do their job, which is to serve the people, all the people.
So when I look to my government, I demand better. I demand that they work for all people, show respect to all people, as public servants. A protest is not really a protest unless a solution is proposed. Protest demands more of those protested against. So today, I protest and call upon our president, our government, my neighbors, my family, and even myself to stop. Stop allowing sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexism be ‘normal.’ Stop allowing anyone to have power over a woman’s body, life, or choices. Stop making a woman feel ‘less than’ simply because of their sex.
I demand that our president and government acknowledge that these behaviors hurt mothers, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters, aunts, neighbors… women and men. And in in this acknowledgement, I demand that we reject past wrongs, seek sincere reconciliation, and just watch.
Watch what women are capable of… watch what happens when we are empowered, when we have confidence, when we forgive.
Today I protest, I protest by claiming my story and promise to work for a better story for my children, my sons and daughters. I protest by bearing witness to the harm that can come from ‘locker room talk,’ or from a world that allows men to ‘do whatever they want.’ I protest because my own story compels me. I protest because the teachings of Jesus demand it.