I have been thinking a lot these last couple of weeks about violence against women. As college students have been moving onto campuses across the country, stories have been emerging about how campuses are handling sexual assault prevention. One story has been catching attention about a woman protesting the handling of her rape case by carrying around a mattress on campus. I also listened to a story on NPR as students debated about effective prevention methods. Those stories made me realize how far we have to go on understanding culpability and protection.
Then, over the course of this week, the conversation about Ray Rice has been in the forefront. Though the footage of his attack on his then fiancée is horrendous, what the footage has highlighted for me is how desensitized we have become when we talk about domestic violence. Domestic violence has become an issue we talk about, but for many, not an issue for which we have a real, visceral understanding and sympathy. The conversation and hashtag campaign, #whyIstayed, about why women stay in abusive relationships has enabled us to see how murky this issue really is.
Then today, my friend also shared a video from a non-profit in Atlanta that supports victims of domestic violence. What caught my attention in the video was a statement from a volunteer from the agency. He says, “It’s important for men to be involved in this work because we are both the cause of, and I believe the solution to, ending violence against women.” His statement is one of the boldest statements I have heard about the responsibility to end violence against women, especially from a man. But I would modify his statement. I think we all have a stake in ending violence against women.
In Genesis, the text says, “God created humankind in God’s image, in the image of God, God created them; male and female God created them.” Though we cannot erase the systems of power and patriarchy in our world, we can work toward reclaiming the fact that we are all created in the image of God – male and female. God created us and blessed us, and I believe God longs for us to love and protect one another equally. I know this is loaded blog entry, on a very complex issue that I could talk about and we could argue about for a very long time. But I find myself this week mourning the ways in which we degrade God’s creation – in particular women. I believe the confluence of events lately is not an accident, but an invitation to remember how God created us in God’s image – male and female; and perhaps an invitation to be better stewards of God’s creation, in whatever ways feel most compelling to you.