‘Eve-teasers’ inside and outside the church

‘Eve-teasers’ inside and outside the church May 24, 2012

In Bangladesh, apparently, the sexual harassment of women is called “Eve teasing.”

This social problem exists everywhere be it in rural or in urban areas. One of the main reasons of girls being married off at an early age or them dropping out of school is “eve teasing.” Many times these incidents lead to violence and even deaths.

Just look at that term — “Eve teasing” — and ponder its biblical roots.

The etymology of this term is an accusing finger pointing directly at the patriarchal religion that men use to justify this debasing, predatory behavior. That term is a powerful indictment of this patriarchal religion — a reminder that it is directly linked to daily, relentless abuse, harassment, “violence and even deaths.”

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At Jesus Radicals, Andy Alexis-Baker wrestles with what it means for the legacy of John Howard Yoder that the great Mennonite theologian was also a horrific Eve-teaser.

For Jesus Radicals like Alexis-Baker, Yoder is a big name — a man whose books shaped the thinking of a generation. I’m part of that generation, and I understand Alexis-Baker’s anguished disappointment here.

Yoder was the equivalent, for Christian progressives and peacemakers, of those un-named “big names” whom Ericka M. Johnson discusses at Friendly Atheist in a post titled “It’s Almost Time to Start Naming Names.”

“Private conversations with these people have to come first,” Johnson writes. “These are our allies and we have to give them a chance to make amends. But if none of those efforts work, then we have to start naming names. Not to shame them but to protect women in our community.”

I appreciate the painful difficulty here, but whether the Eve-teaser in question is a revered theologian or a revered non-theist, I think Johnson has steps 1 and 2 backwards. Protect the vulnerable first and foremost. Then — and only then — can you start to worry about protecting the reputation of any person, institution or affiliated movement.

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Roman Catholic priest Jonathan Morris says the Department of Health and Human Service’s regulations requiring equal health insurance coverage for women entails “the obvious raping of our First Amendment rights.”

This is appalling for at least three reasons:

1) No one should be using rape metaphors.

2) No one should be using rape metaphors to argue against equal health coverage for women.

3) No one should be using rape metaphors to argue against equal health coverage for women when he belongs to a hierarchy that has been committing, facilitating and defending actual rape for decades and is now, at this moment, fighting to prevent changes to statutes of limitations that would ensure rapists can be brought to justice.

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This post by David French exemplifies how the politics of abortion is used to define the boundaries of the evangelical tribe.

This is one of the main functions of the politics of abortion in American evangelicalism. It’s not about being “pro-life.” It’s about ensuring that you can’t be accused of not being sufficiently “pro-life.” It’s about keeping people in line, keeping them obedient and voting as they are told. It’s about control of women, yes, but it’s also about control of everyone who wishes to be allowed to remain in the community.

French sees Millennials and younger evangelicals losing their taste for the culture wars of their elders and he’s terrified that this will mean that the Republican Party will lose their votes. So he plays the only card he’s got left: the baby-killer card.

Do as you’re told, young people. Repeat the required phrases or you’re not really Christians. Do as you’re told or you’re no longer welcome in the tribe. Do as you’re told or we will question the firmness of your “pro-life” stance and thereby cast you into the outer darkness with the Satanic baby-killers and the evolutionists and the homosexuals, where there is weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, and fabulous gay weddings.

Do as you’re told. Or else. That’s what being “pro-life” is all about in American evangelicalism.

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Now go read this: “I Am (Not) That Mom: Raising a Kid with Cardiomyopathy,” by Laura Fitch.

And if you’re one who prays, say a prayer for every name in that story.

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