Thursday, November 1, 2012

Woe to Those Through Whom They Come: Day 21 of 31 Days of Falling by Faith

"My rebel persona was a liea lie I created in an effort to protect myself from the lies imprinted upon my psyche by my abusers. Child sexual abuse thrives upon lies. The abuser lies to the victim, while the victim in turn, trying to cope with her wounds, often finds herself living a lie.... I mentally dissociated myself from my victim identity in favor of a persona in which I could feel powerful.... Beneath the posturing, however, remained the soul of a little girl desperate to be told she was valued not for what she did, but for who she was."
—Dawn Eden, My Peace I Give You, pp. 52-54
These sentences are from chapter three of the book I've been weaving into my posts here the past couple of days (see here and here). Today there are two more reasons that reading this book now is uncanny. First, it seems appropriate on All Saints Day to be reading a book about the help provided to us by those saints who have gone before us (if even just through the stories of their lives). Second, we are near the end of a presidential campaign season in which women and sex have been major talking points—and they are being talked about very differently on each side of the campaign.

Feminism was originally a response to abuse—the social, political, economic, physical, and sexual abuse of half the human race by the other half. The need for it has been and still is real in many ways and places, but some of the solutions have only morphed rather than resolved the abuse, and they have done so by morphing, corrupting, even downright abusing the understanding of what and who a woman is, and then imprinting that distorted understanding on the psyches of vulnerable girls and women.

I am almost fifty-five years old. I have "survived," and been inscribed by, sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. I have rebelled against that abuse in the way Dawn Eden has described, by creating a "rebel persona," even several such personas over the years, "in which I could feel powerful"—or at least not powerless. And all this rebellion, which has caused me much harm and suffering rather than rescuing and healing me, has been reinforced, encouraged, even fueled by a feminism that treated my pain by telling me I didn't need that baby, didn't need that man, didn't need that home, didn't need that identity, didn't need that God.

So, when I see videos like the recent Obama campaign ad in which Lena Dunham poses as a first-time-voting college student and compares voting for Obama to losing one's virginity, I bristle. It feels abusive to me, and the most heartbreaking aspect is that so many young people will not realize that they are being abused. They will believe they are being offered freedom. They will believe they are being validated, respected, and even protected (by "birth control"). They are not. They are being endangered and taken advantage of through appeal to their basest instincts and vulnerabilities.

A presidential administration that doesn't understand this is not to be trusted to have the best interests of the people—all of us—in mind.
"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come' " (Luke 17:1).
Amen.

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