The past months have been dark and difficult for our home, Charlottesville, Virginia. The murder of Hannah Graham in September sent the community into mourning. Last week, Rolling Stone published an investigative article detailing a gang rape at a frat house party, but beyond this, the expose pointed to a broader systemic failure to believe and protect victims. (Severe Trigger Warning for this article should you choose to read. When I first read the article, I had to set it aside and return to it later.) There is outrage here at the University and in the city, as there should be. Institutions face a powerful temptation to maintain equilibrium, but this is an occasion where at least a few leaders need to lose their cool and light a fire and where everyone in power needs to make justice and truth their first priority.
This is not at all about only UVA; cities and universities everywhere face these horrors. However, this is also not only about the crimes but about our wider cultural impulse where sex-as-objectification exists as the norm. Other people (and their bodies) are often little more than material for us to use and then discard at will. We learn a lot of truth from our clichés: sex sells. It is not lost on me that this article came from Rolling Stone, and while I’m thankful that they brought evils to light, I can’t forget how the Stone has sold more than a few issues with overtures to sensationalized and dehumanizing sexuality.
In this one moment, I want to speak to my fellow men. Can we have a collective backbone and stand up to create a different reality? Can we become men of integrity and character who are a safe community for women? Can we have true friendships with women, where they know that we want nothing from them other than their true self, their heart and their soul and their wisdom and strength, their imagination, their laughter?
Can we throw down the hammer when another man in our company demeans a women or objectifies her or uses power in ways that harm rather than heal? Can we return to our best ideals? Can we help one another become better men? Can we have courage and learn again what it means to love, to give rather than take?
9 Replies to “For the Women in Our Lives”
Thanks for these words, Winn. Of all the things we think we need to do, this is something we simply must do.
I think you’re right, John. We must.
Thank you. Especially for this: “Can we have true friendships with women, where they know that we want nothing from them other than their true self, their heart and their soul and their wisdom and strength, their imagination, their laughter?” There’s a great contrast in there among wanting nothing at all — the fear of women and our dangerous bodies and voices — and wanting sexual advantage — and wanting real friendship, what is good and deep and holy and personal.
yes, Marcy, there’s quite a difference between the two.
As long as global societies, cultures and religious systems continue to support hierarchy and patriarchy, what more can we expect for our future as women? When we are seen as one down or less than based on a mindset of inequality then men can excuse the ways they treat us. This lack of respect for women is played out in objectification, domestic and sexual abuse and workplace inequality. Our male-female relationships were broken and then cursed in the Garden. Who today is compelled to restore them to God’s Plan A? What will Christian men – and women – purpose to do about this brokeness?
Thanks so much for standing with women Winn.
you’re welcome, Melinda. We are in this together, our wholeness and our healing are bound to one another.
I say “yes”! Thank you for challenging us to stand up and create a different reality.
alright, Michael, I knew we’d be on the same page
Thank you, Winn. Yes, and amen.