What You Can Do for Women Right Now

There has been more than enough written about all that has transpired this past week in regard to Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford. My concern at this point is less about who will be appointed to the Supreme Court (although I still have concerns), but more about the many, many women in our country who are hurting as a result of this confirmation hearing-turned-fiasco.

So here are my suggestions for what men and women can do for the women in our country right now.

Listen to their stories

Just listen. Don’t pass judgment or question what they could have done differently or why they didn’t call the police or come forward sooner. Don’t even think about asking them what they were wearing or how much they’d been drinking. Just listen. The only commentary you should offer is to express how very sorry you are that this happened to them and the only question you should  ask is “how can I help?”

Don’t talk about how Brett Kavanaugh is innocent until proven guilty.

First of all, he’s not on trial for criminal behavior. The ship on that statute of limitations has sailed. The issue at question is whether or not he has the character or temperament to be appointed to a lifetime judgeship in the highest court in the land. Secondly, if you are talking to a woman who has been a victim of assault (and statistically there’s a good chance that if you are talking to a woman, you are talking to someone who has experienced some kind of sexual assault), the idea of not being able to prove what happened is the very reason she never told anyone the story or sought justice for what was done to her.  To insist that Kavanaugh is innocent until someone can prove he’s guilty is like pouring salt on a wound.

Do not express your concern about a wave of false accusations

You may have these concerns. According to the FBI, about two percent of sexual assault charges do turn out to be false claims. But right now, telling women that you are concerned about men being falsely accused is akin to shouting “All lives matter” after an unarmed black man is gunned down by police or asking “what about prostate cancer” at a Susan B. Komen race. It may be a valid concern, but it’s not the point right now.

Let women know that you believe them.

If you’ve never been in a situation where people don’t believe you, you have no idea how empowering it is to have someone finally say that they do, indeed, believe your story.  If you’re someone who plays the odds, when you believe a woman who says she’s been assaulted, 98 percent of the time you are going to be right in believing her. Play the odds.

Be like Jesus.

Jesus was all about supporting women. From the woman at the well, to the Syrophoenician woman, to the woman who was about to be stoned, to the woman who came to anoint his feet with oil and dry them with her hair, Jesus stood up and spoke up for women that men were determined to dismiss or destroy.

Wounds have been opened.

Stories have been shared for the first time.

Shame is (thank God!) being shed.

Years have been spent looking over shoulders, clutching keys between fingers to make like Wolverine and fending off advances of men who have had way too many beers.

Now is the time to be radically kind to women.

–Rev. Anne Russ




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