Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Water We All Swim In

One of our members, Laura Wallace, wrote to me a few days before the election to express these thoughts.  They are all the more pertinent now, after it.  The Talk of TJMC was created to be an avenue for communication within (and beyond) our community -- a place for people to publish poetry, reflections, and other types of writing.  If you are interested in having something you've written posted here, or have an idea for something you'd like to write, contact me at

I wish sexism in our culture were an ongoing, specific and clarion theme of our worship, our communications, and our work. What we're doing against racism has been moving and encouraging. We've had Beloved Conversations, learned about white privilege and micro-aggressions, and have embraced Black Lives Matter.

But during a season in America during which underlying contempt for women has reached (or been revealed) at such acute levels, why isn't anti-sexism work also a audible religious imperative? Top-down solutions such as more female ministers are great, but that doesn't fully take care of the pews. I know women have been reliving moments of objectification (at the least) lately, over and over. And many men, too, who know what bullying and abuse are about.
Church doesn't take political stances, but speaking about sexism is a religious imperative, imo. Politics has brought more of it recently to the surface. It continues to distort and limit life for women and girls, especially when internalized, and also damages men and boys. Privilege can harm, too, especially when internalized. Blame isn't the answer, open dialogue and education is.

When a comedian like Seth Meyers talks so naturally about male privilege and male entitlement, and progressive young men and women routinely express feminist values--I often wonder why church does not. That silence is loud. It reminds me of the silence about racism in Charlottesville as I grew up. There was a clamoring dissonance between politesse and gender-based oppression. Now, it's more subtle in rarified communities, but that doesn't mean it's gone.

TJMC could be talking about sexism all the time. It rules the world and harms everyone. I hope it will become a larger topic for TJMC and not be relegated to small groups or Facebook, or separated out as a "social justice topic." It's not a topic. It's the water we all swim in.

The term "intersectionality" is going to become much more familiar in the days ahead.   It refers to, "the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage."  As the well known saying puts it, "none of us is free until all of us are free."

There are many ways to act, among which are supporting organizations that work to achieve truly justice for women in our male-dominant, misoginistic culture.  Four such organizations are:

You might also look into the work of our own Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation which is dedicated to, "advancing justice for women and girls and promoting their spiritual growth."