Sunday, September 23, 2007

thanks to L-, this article in the NYTimes on the woman who was assaulted by her pastor husband: A Minister’s Public Lesson on Domestic Violence - New York Times

i'm reluctant to say that this story reveals a lot about the black community's attitude toward women, women in authority, gender roles or domestic violence but some of the attitudes described in this story (and in other stories about weeks and bynum) are familiar to me, since they were stories i'd heard from my own childhood church: the pressure for women to marry at any cost so they could enjoy sexual intimacy, the poor marital choice that follows, the accusations of homosexuality following a popular pastor, the vacillating congregation that empathizes with an alleged victim but also thinks she somehow 'deserves' her victimization.

i chatted very briefly with my dad about this story. it was brief because our conversations about gender tend to run a very short loop. sure enough, dad's attitude was a mish mash of hedging: 'well, of course the brother was wrong and the book should be thrown at him. no man should hit a woman. but you know, girl, she shoulda left that man alone. why was she running after him? she provoked him.'

roll of eyes. 'right, dad.'

when i watched the couples in my father's church this is what always got my goat: no matter what happened between a man and a woman - marital tension, infidelity, emotional distance, whatever - it was always the woman's fault. the man didn't have to take responsibility for anything, even if it was pretty clear that his contribution to the marital mess was huge.

the dr. sharon ellis davis mentioned in the article works with the Faith Trust Institute, an interfaith organization that educates about sexual and domestic violence in religious communities that was formed when it was clear that rape and domestic violence weren't being addressed adequately in various congregations. i find that stunning; a woman is raped or assaulted and can't go to her pastor, priest or rabbi because she's afraid of what her church will say. where is the failing here? with the victim of assault or with the religious leader whose beliefs about gender make him blame the victim for her own assault?

anyway. it's after 1 am and it's been a long day of unpacking, cleaning and running errands. i'm going to bed.

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