“You’re a good girl, I know you want it
I know you want it” from Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke
Student Unions across the country have banned the catchy pop number by Robin Thicke on the ethical assertion that it promotes rape culture. This led me to be thinking about that controversial F word that has become so taboo in many British institutions: Feminism. Should campaigning against the objectification of women should be at the top of our priorities? Furthermore, in what ways should the Church respond to gender discrimination? And more importantly as members of the SPEAK Network, would Jesus have blurred lines?
My search to find authentic feminism led me to book into the Feminism in London conference. There were hundreds of feminists at this conference. There were black feminists, Asian feminists, LGBT feminists, male feminists, feminists with disabilities, feminists from varying social-economic and religious backgrounds, as well as one feminist who described herself as an “intersectionalist”. An intersectionalist in regards to feminism is a person who recognises the layers of humanity and strives to SPEAK against discrimination of all types, rather than gender discrimination alone.
The conference started with anti-male humour and a jovial celebration of the inclusive nature of feminism. Environmentalist and MP, Caroline Lucas was just one of the great speakers at the conference. However, amongst the hurrah and the hurray of feminism was some much darker topics that I had to confront with. Katie Piper, a former model and television presenter was raped by her boyfriend for not giving into his sexual advances. This led to the ex-boyfriend arranged someone to attack Katie with phosphoric acid, causing permanent facial disfiguration. This is a great tragedy, yet what is a disgrace is that acid attacks happen to women all around the world.
The NHS received 105 submissions in the year of 2011-2012 for “assault by corrosive substance” and Acid Survivors Trust claims that there are 1500 cases every year internationally. India, Bangladesh and Uganda are just a few of the countries where there has been many reports of acid attacks. I found the links below helpful regarding the great injustice of acid attacks.
Furthermore at the conference, a woman spoke tearfully about how she was sent to prison for drug possession. The surrounding factors of her crime involved her great vulnerability after being raped and peer pressurised to collect illegal drugs from Barbados into the UK. Sadly, while thousands of women are being raped, pop records that patronises and objectify women are selling in the millions. Nobody wants to be raped, dehumanised, and in many cases lose their sight or hearing.
To me the God of justice in the Bible does not turn a blind eye to these attacks and if a gospel proclaims “there is no male, or female in Christ Jesus” then should not the massive injustice of gender inequality grieve us to the point of us actually doing something about it ? Is it the kairos moment of history to stop this system of engendered oppression? When Jesus approaches the woman at the well did he asked say to her “You had five husbands, so therefore I’m going to dehumanise you and demand sex off you” The answer of course is that Jesus would never do anything that would dehumanise women, in fact he radically broke social conventions by freely associating with them, giving them a prominent role of the mission of God’s kingdom. In light of this, I offer the following questions that I would like The Speak Network to reflect upon.
Reflecting on John 4, is there a process of gender liberation?
Is Jesus passive or active in his response to the Samaritan woman’s cry?
How would Jesus respond to the so-called blurred lines that degrade women?
Would Jesus call a woman ‘a lady’ or ‘good girl’?
Is the church a help or hindrance in ending unhelpful stereotypes about women that prevent them from achieving their full potential?
Please respond by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com or the Speak Network Facebook page if you have any thoughts on this issue. We will aim to have conversations like these at our Network meetings like Flower Model, Soundcheck and Vocal Training too.