Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

Why I Marched

Today, I joined approximately 60,000 women, men and children marching in Toronto for women’s rights. Such marches, originating in Washington, D.C, took place in 50 states and over 600 hundred marches in solidarity on 7 continents. For some, this was a protest against President Trump and his tweets and speeches that put women down, sexualize them or mistreats them. However, this march stood for so much more!

When I announced on Facebook that I was going to this march, I received quite a bit of resistance which surprised me, claiming, for example, that this was primarily a pro-choice march. In Toronto, we had an hour of speeches and this divisive issue was not mentioned. Instead, there was a focus on the way that women of all backgrounds and beliefs have been treated. What I found special about this protest march is that it brought together people who may not agree on many things, but who all stood for fair and equal treatment for women. It was a peaceful and nonviolent protest. There were people in their 80s present as well as babies. There were men of all ages there and many of them wore pink – to all the men who came, I want to say a special thank you for standing in solidarity with women’s rights. In doing so, you speak volumes that women’s rights are something that everyone should be concerned about.

At the outset, let me say a few things. First of all, I did not agree with everything that was said nor did I stand behind each sentiment on a protest sign. At the beginning of the march, we were given pins that asked “Why are you marching?” I spent quite a bit of time in the presence of women who I know have experienced similar things to think through why I was marching. The organizers of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. posted a four page typed list of what people were standing for. And most of those things were why I marched. Second, I am also aware that this is a pretty negative post. It is all things that I think people need to hear. However, I’ve also been blessed with people who deeply respect women and value my input, gifts, experience and knowledge. I’ve been privileged enough that I haven’t felt that my gender has prevented me from work or from fair pay, a privilege I know many others do not experience. I’ve had the privilege of working for people who did not treat me differently because I am a woman. I am thankful for these people in my life and for the hope they give me in respecting women’s rights.

So let me get personal.

I have my own painful story of what I endured growing up and the consequences of speaking up. I’ve written about that elsewhere and want to focus this blog post on some other things I’ve experienced. However, this was one of the major motivations for me to walk today.

There is seldom a week that goes by when I haven’t been “cat-called” or had a comment about my body by a stranger.

I’ve grown so used to these comments that I don’t think about them anymore. Well, most of the time. Sometimes they still catch me off guard and anger me.

In the fall, I was assaulted on the bus by a stranger. I wasn’t the only one. Someone told the driver, who was subsequently required to stop the bus and wait for the police to show up. He was only allowed to tell us that transit control required him to stop. The men on the bus were quite upset that we weren’t going anywhere. Then the police showed up and removed the passenger in question. Then came the stories from all the young women on the bus who had been assaulted to varying degrees spoke about their experiences. This all happened in front of others. Granted, I know all to well how consumed in a book or my own thoughts I can become as I commute. But I have since found out that this is a common experience for women on our transit system.

Since that day, I’ve found myself sitting closer to the driver.

On Christmas Eve, I went to a candle light service that ended such that I would be at the subway station waiting for the bus after midnight. I could walk home, but the street is not well lit, there are a couple of bars with people drunk and smoking outside, and often shady characters. I asked a friend if she’d wait at the subway with me until a bus came as I didn’t feel safe.

If I’m walking at night, I am holding on to my phone – just in case I need it.

I am no longer surprised if I hear that someone has been sexually abused or assaulted.

In a workshop with youth about bullying, I had them write down on sticky notes things that they have been called. The words that the girls have been called break my heart.

Online dating is a thing for my generation. Many people have found their match through these sites and, as a tool, it alone is neither good nor bad. But for every polite conversation I have with a guy, I’ve had to delete a ridiculous number of messages that are overt in sexual come-ons.

In a recent Facebook discussion, I mentioned a stat that I had read that talked about how roughly 50% of girls who get pregnant, the father is 5-6 years older than them. Depending on how old the girl is, that is statutory rape. A person’s response was “Oh please, they wanted it”. If that was the only time I’ve heard such a sentiment, I think I could handle it ok. But it’s not.

Also in that discussion, the same person said that women should be in control of their bodies… because they are the ones that get pregnant. First of all, this dismisses the many people who have been abused, assaulted and/or raped and it’s a message we hear all the time. Why didn’t we do something about it? Why didn’t we kick or scream? Why didn’t we say no? Why didn’t we report it? But even in consensual relationships, it takes two to make a baby! Yet, I hear over and over and over how women are the ones who are to be responsible and the men get off. Interesting isn’t it, how in Scripture, the adulterous woman is about to be stoned and there is no mention of the man with whom she committed adultery!

I know what it’s like to not be believed. I know what it’s like to be dismissed because I’m hormonal. I know what it’s like prepare a sermon and have it called “teaching” simply because I was in a church that doesn’t allow women to preach. I know what it’s like to say something and have it dismissed, only for a man in the room to say the same thing and be applauded.

Today was a day that hundreds of people around the world said that all these things are wrong. It’s a day that we stood in solidarity saying that women have the right to be respected and a right to equality. It’s a day when we said no to hate. It’s a day where we said we will not be silent. It is a day when we said to each other – you are not alone. It was a day where people came together – despite their differences – to say that we demand that women be treated well. All the time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Do Not Be Afraid

I have to admit – the past few days I’ve been a bit concerned about what is happening in the world. Trump and Putin talking about expanding nuclear weapons – whether this is a joke, a threat, or policy -has made me feel the darkness of the world in a new way.
 
Living in Canada, I’m pretty privileged. I am free to worship Jesus with fellow believers with the occasional jest made at my expense but nothing that really threatens my being. I really don’t know what it’s like to be a Christian in a closed Muslim country, a missionary to North Korea, a Syrian Christian in Aleppo. I understand from my Muslim friends that even fellow Muslims are not protected from ISIS attacks. I live in such privilege that I can choose not to even think about what others face.
 
But in the past few days, the topic of nuclear weapons has been on my mind. I read one article that talked about the capacity of these weapons to destroy – the capacity to decimate a large area and to cause 3rd degree burns in survivors. If the powerful countries with nuclear weapon capacity deploy weapons of mass destruction, the world could be a very different place. I shudder at the thought. I cry at the knowledge of how many nuclear weapons there are in the world – and these are just the ones that are known. And I fear. I fear the days ahead. The comments made by Putin and the President-Elect are not clear as what they would do with nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons may never be used. But the possibility that they could be – frightens me. Partly because of the world wide chaos that would ensue. But mostly because my own protection is not guaranteed.
 
Throughout the Gospel narratives, angels are telling people not to be afraid. Mary doesn’t need to be afraid because God has found favour with her. Joseph needs not be afraid because Mary is pregnant due to the hand of God and not infidelity. The shepherds don’t need to be afraid because the babe in the manger is the Christ child. In fact, one of the most common phrases throughout Scripture is “do not be afraid”.
 
I read the story on Syrian Christians in Aleppo celebrating Christmas (click here). In the midst of real danger – and danger from simply being Christian. And I am humbled. This is real faith. Faith in the midst of possibly losing your life for celebrating the birth of Christ. Faith that is determined to worship out of profound love for God and determination to not be afraid of man; The embody the words echoed throughuot scripture “do not be afraid”

Open Letter to Donald Trump

Dear Mr. Trump – you want to “make America safe again”?
I hear you say this over and over again in your campaign rallies, your interviews and the debates. I cannot comment on the veracity of your statistics or the genuineness of one of your go-to slogans.
Now would be a good time to demonstrate the leadership qualities of humility and to apologize wholeheartedly for your ‘locker room talk.’
You say that you apologized and others have backed you up.
But you have made the classic move that a sexual offender makes when caught for their actions.
You have said…
I’m sorry… if I offended anyone

I’m sorry… but I’m not a perfect person.
I’m sorry… but this doesn’t reflect who I am
I’m sorry… but I’ve done a lot of good
I’m sorry… but there are more important things to look at
I’m sorry… but Bill and Hillary Clinton have done worse.

This is not a sincere apology.

Mr. Trump – it was good and right that you said this in your public apology: “I said it. I was wrong. And I apologize.” You should have started and ended with these words. Maybe you could have offered us how you’ve worked to change your attitudes and words inciting violence against women. Though given the allegations that are popping up, it would be difficult to be honest or genuine. But owning what you did, stating that it was wrong and apologizing without any ifs or buts, would have been a good thing at a time like this.

As soon as you say “if I have offended anyone” – you demonstrate that you don’t really think you’ve done anything wrong. Instead, it is other people’s perceptions that cast you in a bad light, not your own words or actions. As soon as you say “but”, you negate the apology. As soon as you say someone did worse than you, you show that you really don’t know the gravity of your actions. As soon as you focus on how wonderful you really are, you minimize your apology.

So no… Mr. Trump did not offer a sincere apology. And until you make a sincere apology, I do not think you truly care about making America safe again. Until we see fruits of repentance – of a truly changed heart that has learned things along the way – the kind of America you have to offer is sadly the kind of society that so much of us already live in.

Why does this matter so much?

 
I suggest you do some research on how many women and children experience what you diminished and falsely label as “locker room talk”. Take a look into the prevalence of men using words, power, and actions to take advantage of far too many every single day.
 
You say it’s just words.
I don’t believe you.
But suppose for a moment, it’s “just words”.
 
Know that anyone who has experienced sexual assault will not feel safe in your version of America where it’s ok for anyone, let alone a presidential candidate to speak so crassly.
 
To deny it’s lewdness.
 
To diminish it’s effect.
 
It would do you good – if you really want to “make America safe again” to understand the gravity of sexual assault.
 
I know too many people to count who have to live out the reality of being sexually assaulted.
 
I have witnessed how long it takes to recover – if recovery is even possible.
 
I’ve seen the toll on their mental and physical health.
 
I’ve seen how it wreaks havoc in their relationships.
 
I’ve seen how the pain and memories can be all consuming.
 
I’ve seen how one is not the same after they have been assaulted.
 
I’ve seen the cost that victims of what you describe in your “locker room talk” bear.
 
Your words – even if they are “just words” – are not acceptable.
At all.
 
But even more so because you claim to be a leader and worthy of being the president of one of the most powerful countries in our world.
And in case this isn’t sufficient reason, it’s because your campaign is based on making America safe and great again.
 
(Maybe as a primer – watch this short clip by Joe Biden on Sexual Assault https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilOEuIxpfz4)