Friday, August 24, 2012

Unqualified Rape, Life & Choice

Yes, rape is rape, and I believe in a woman’s divine and civil right to choose what she will do when she is raped or when her life is threatened.  Representative Todd Adkin’s recent remarks about women who experience “legitimate rape” and the utter nonsense about the rarity of pregnancy in those cases [tell it to the 33,000+ women who have been impregnated by rape] have sparked an old debate and spotlighted perennial attempts to control women’s bodies.  It is no secret now that the Republican Party’s platform includes on its political agenda a prohibition against all abortions regardless of how the woman was impregnated (e.g., rape, incest…); against a woman’s right to choose. 
Recently Rev. Eva Melton Billingsley asked for a response on a Facebook post that read: “If we use Todd Akin's logic then the thought of Bathsheba being raped is impossible because she got pregnant. What's funny is some won't even entertain the thought that David raped her. Biblical scholars what say ye?”
My response was/is: Bathsheba was raped by a man that exponentially outweighed her in power and authority, by a man who felt he deserved any woman he desired and had the power and authority to take what he wanted and cover it up. Many men who don't have David's power think this way. David even went the step further of murdering her husband and because of his power went unpunished by any civil or judicial system. And maybe we need to question that author's labeling of him and our reinscribing of him as a "man after God's own heart," which somewhat implies the crime was not so bad; that a man should serve no time for raping a woman and killing her husband, if he has enough power and authority and is God's anointed. He faced no time in jail for his crime but was allowed to live out his life. Yes, he lived with other consequences, but none that might not happen to others by just living and having children that make choices of their own or by being a bad example to their children.”
Rape is rape, whether the victim is female or male, child, run-away-teen, or a grown-up in or out of a relationship, drugged or sober, naked or fully garbed ­– rape is rape and it should not be tolerated in a civil society or among God-fearing people of any religion. I am “pro-choice” and I am for life.  I am for the life of an unborn child; I am for the life of the child born and living on the streets of America, or any country, homeless and dying; I am for the life of children who have easier access to drugs and guns than to a quality education, decent housing, and three meals a day; I am for the life of a child or adult whose spirit for living is murdered by other people who practice racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, hatred and/or with words meant to diminish and tear down.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Don’t want to Talk about Gabby’s Hair but about Priorities

It is nothing new for women to be convinced and try to convince other women and girls that physical embellishments should be one of our biggest priorities. An older woman once told a friend of mine that she was not a lady because she did not wear make-up.  I was once told during an interview at an employment agency in the DC area that I should polish my look with makeup (wasn’t wearing makeup at the time as a Seventh-day Adventist; still don’t wear much). Didn’t think twice about taking the recruiter’s advice, and I got the job I wanted. Fast-paced law firms preferred competency and efficiency to superficial embellishments.
 Don’t get me wrong, I take pride in my appearance and have received plenty of compliments about my personal appearance and dress. But I’ve seldom spent a lot of money on my hair; when I have, I’ve experienced more horror and disappointment than not.  Oprah is my model when it comes to my nails; I prefer them cut short and unpolished (though I could use a manicure now and then).
Since I’m not in the cosmetology, modeling, or some similar business, I don’t count personal embellishments as a priority.  When I was a student at Harvard, I was somewhat troubled, when a sister studying for ministry said she had to make a choice between getting her hair done (i.e. weave) and buying food.  Her sister friend advised her to get her hair done, and she would bring her some food—told her she had to look good at all cost! 
That said I love that at 16 years old Gabby Douglas (and her family) has her priorities straight. Gabby’s mother sacrificed financially and emotionally to help her daughter pursue her gifts and dreams.   Natalie Hawkins was probably neck high in taking care of her children and the struggles that accompany being a single mom, which can distract from focusing on the dreams of one’s children as one would like. After prodding from another sibling, Hawkins entered Gabby in gymnastics classes when she was 8 yrs old.  When Gabby achieved all she could with the coach she had, her mother sacrificed to send Gabby to live with a host family in Iowa (the first one didn’t work out) so that Gabby could have the training she would need to fulfill her Olympic dreams.  A girl does not become an Olympic champion by spending a lot of time in a hair salon chair, or a nail parlor. (If they were wealthy that might be a different story, of course; they could have the chair come to them). She and her mother set their priories based upon their dreams and the resources and energy needed to fulfill Gabby’s dreams.  Gabby did not become the first African American all around Olympian champion in gymnastics by chance but by giving priority to the necessary time and effort in training and constructing her dreams. Our priorities should be set based on the dreams we are pursuing.  If your biggest dreams are to be told how wonderful your hair looks or how beautiful our nails are, then let those things control your priorities. But if you have allowed peer pressure and your environment to sucker you into giving up on your dreams by giving priority to superficial stuff, it’s not too late to re-evaluate and make a u-turn.