Over the weekend, a good friend offered a Twitter poll, asking: If Anita Hill brought in the Year of the Woman, what then of Christine Blasey Ford?
Forever. The overwhelming answer was the Forever of the Woman. Amen, may it be so.
The reality, of course, is that white men (and many white women, for that matter) are gonna’ white men their way into retaining power at all costs. That’s how this works: Fear of losing power will justify an assortment of ills. It allows Jerry Falwell Jr., ostensible Christian “leader,” to justify tweeting this statement:
“Conservatives & Christians need to stop electing “nice guys”. They might make great Christian leaders but the US needs street fighters like @realDonaldTrump at every level of government b/c the liberal fascists Dems are playing for keeps & many Repub leaders are a bunch of wimps!”
And while Christian Twitter has and will continue to theologically dissect a tweet to debate the gaping holes in Falwell’s version of Christianity, I’m more interested in how or whether we can move forward within a Christianity that has long conformed to the pattern of this world by reinforcing patriarchal norms and silencing women instead of being transformed by the liberating and healing work of Christ.
Women across the world have broken open, offering their stories of abuse and assault in a shared scream, searching for a new normal so our daughters and sons won’t have to deal with the same. The response we see from men in leadership has been a series of temper tantrums at the prospect of having to change learned behavior.
Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything.*
Part of the power of collective outrage is in the belonging: Your story is my story is my sister’s story. But collective outrage that doesn’t lead to change can instead lead to despair. Open wounds fester and decay. Alexandra Petri writes powerfully in the Washington Post:
In the Bible, Thomas says he will not believe what Jesus has survived unless he can stick his hand into the wounds. But this is not a reasonable thing to ask of someone who is not God, to stick your hand into their wound. I am tired of watching people become wounds.
Baring our wounds in public to say, “here, see and believe,” is all the more dangerous when the answer is “I believe, but I don’t care.”
If our wounds matter, you don’t elevate the people who caused them. If our wounds matter, the wounded get a seat at the table. If our wounds matter, the response is better than “I’m sorry, you needed to go to the cops.”
I was reminded recently of the power in seeing Jesus’ response to the Samaritan woman at the well not as an indictment of her lifestyle but rather as an invitation to be heard and understood: A woman in her time who had had five husbands and was living with another man certainly endured her share of trauma. Jesus’s words invite her to talk about it; he makes her feel heard and known.
“I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us,” she says. He listens, and offers her salvation — not just from the sin of her life but from the pain of it.
A lot of women are looking for an explanation for our leaders’ seeming indifference to their pain. A lot of women are filled with righteous anger — and they’re funneling it into action whether through protest or outright takeover. The success of the #MeToo movement is not just in the predatory men who come toppling down (or don't), but in the ways women and other survivors will lead us through this nationwide trauma and into the next configuration of power.
There is a crack in everything. That’s where the light gets in.*
*“Anthem” by Leonard Cohen