This past weekend I saw a few of you at the Women’s March. Many of you were there, of course, but the crowd was too big for us to find one another. It was huge, it was festive, and there were a lot of funny signs. But in the midst of all the cutesy hats and laugh-worthy slogans, there were some that were more sobering. We live in sobering times, of course. The one that caught in my throat the most was “white women: we’ll see you on the streets after this, right?” – a reminder from women of color that protesting is not a once-a-year activity, and that, as another sign said, we need to be out there “every damn day.”
So what can we do, the other days of the year? How can we all – of any gender or any race – stay involved in the movements for justice? There are a lot of options, and most of them don’t require us to invent the wheels, but just to join what’s already rolling.
One thing that is rolling, and rolling strong, is the ongoing #metoo conversation about men who have abused women. I have had an insider’s view recently as I’ve been praying with and supporting a strong woman who has decided to come forward with the story of abuse she suffered many years ago. Her initial reports, years ago, had been quietly brushed under the table, but now she finds people are willing to listen and major news outlets eager to provide press coverage. She feels victorious and vindicated at last (albeit exhausted from the effort), where she used to be just frustrated, ashamed, and silenced. She has come so far… We, as a society, have come so far!
Your stories might not be big enough to make headlines and you might not be personally, publicly vindicated for wrongs done to you in the past. But you too (#youtoo?) can have the feeling of empowerment that comes from standing up and saying “we won’t be treated like this” or simply saying loud and triumphantly, “times have changed.” This is powerful and healing.
I’ll end with an invitation to the women of the church to join us this Saturday for Coffee & Conversation. We’ll stand in our own power, unload some of the burdens from the stories that have affected us, and build our “womanifesto” together: how do we want to be treated, from now on?
PS At the C&C, we may not be able to hear all the stories we bring. We’ll provide guidance about what and how much to share, and if you need to share something much heavier, I’ll arrange for me and/or some others to gather with you in a way that will allow for more time and care.