By Linda Bales Todd
Michelle Obama recently proclaimed that “enough is enough” when speaking to a crowd of men, women and children in New Hampshire about sexual violence and abuse. No truer words could be spoken! We know abuse comes in many forms – sexual, verbal, psychological, physical and economic, and far too many women, men and children experience abuse in their lifetime. Statistically, one in three women are abused worldwide. Men, too, live with intimate partner abuse, as are children. We face a pandemic of violence in our society – one that demands our immediate action as people of faith!
Regrettably women are sometimes blamed for whatever violence befalls them as if they were the cause for abuse. Advice givers – even pastors – sometimes encourage women to stay in harmful relationships instead of seeking help. And, we know women, over the centuries, have lived as marginalized citizens – many with few rights even today.
When I worked professionally on the issue of domestic violence, I would hear people say “It’s (domestic violence) a woman’s issue.” Yes, indeed, domestic violence is a woman’s issue, but, even more so, it’s a man’s issue because, in most cases, its men who cause the harm.
Too many societies, including the United States, perpetuate harmful cultural practices of giving boys messages such as: “You gotta be tough.” “Fight back when you are hit.” “Girls are not as smart as boys nor are they as capable.” “If a girl says ‘no’ to sexual advances, she really doesn’t mean it.” These messages can come from all sectors of society and must be debunked and eliminated if humanity is to survive.
With gratitude, United Methodist Men have committed themselves to reducing violence through the promotion of a newly released video called, “We are the Lions”. It’s a powerful presentation that may shock you, but nails the importance of men examining their complicity in violence against women. Gil Hanke, General Secretary of UMM says, “…produced by MEND, a Nashville YWCA organization, (the video) ‘bluntly and directly challenges male attitudes and inaction that demean women and attempt to make criminal behavior seem somehow acceptable’” Please promote this in your place of worship.
October is Domestic Violence Month, and October 11th was the International Day of the Girl – a day when the international community proclaimed to the 1.1 billion girls: “Every girl has the right to live in a non-violent environment, protected from physical, economic, spiritual and psychological abuse.” What kind of society do we want to create for our children? How can we live lives that are loving and respectful and also committed to challenging injustice? For those of us on Facebook, what messages bring hope? What messages bring more division and hate? How might we be complicit in the spreading of fear, distrust and hate?
Let’s keep asking the questions. Let’s examine our lives and cease those behaviors that cause harm. Let’s commit to voice the mantra “Enough is enough” and live it out in our daily lives as well as the voting booth on November 8th. God awaits our answers and our actions. The time is now.
Linda Bales Todd is retired and living in Dayton Ohio. She is a part-time consultant with the united Methodist global AIDS fund committee and also devotes time to Art and gardening.