In a recent appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Ben Affleck had a heated debate with Bill Maher about Islamophobia. This conversation, of course, was being held within the context of terrorist attacks, including the beheadings of American citizens, by the group ISIL. Affleck’s point was that it is racist to assume that, because some religious extremists commit terrorist acts, all Muslims are to be feared: “The question is the degree to which you’re willing to say, because I’ve witnessed this behavior, which we all object to on the part of these people—I’m willing to flatly condemn those of you I don’t know and have never met.”
This Saturday, October 11, is the International Day of the Girl—a day in which girls worldwide take action to address gender inequality. The day was declared via a UN resolution in 2011, and has since become a movement that takes on the issues girls face globally, from damaging representation in the media to sex trafficking, from work inequality to a lack of educational opportunities. I love this day—and I especially love that girls themselves are at the center of the movement. I am very pleased that this year, I’ll be celebrating the International Day of the Girl by participating in a panel entitled Empowering Books for Young Girls at the Virginia Children’s Book Festival.
It’s catalog season, don’tcha know. They’re arriving in droves in my mailbox—some from my favorite companies and some just hoping to ride the wave of the coming holiday consumerism. This week, I received a catalog from the Duluth Trading Company. The cover text caught my eye immediately, as I found it amusing: “Flannel Made Fetching.” In case we aren’t sure what this means, some subtext spells it out: “Free Swingin’ Flannel.” This, I like. Free Swingin’ Flannel.
Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that the divine feminine—naming God as She as well as He—is important to me, personally and politically. When I first entertained the thought that God might be female as well as male, I felt a bit like a heretic—as though I’d had a definitely rebellious thought, and one that just might land me in eternal trouble. Goddess was supposed to be a pagan word, vaguely connected to witches (who were vaguely up to no good, I thought), to serpents and temptation and sin. I am Christian, and I didn’t want to stop being Christian, as Jesus has always been my spiritual guide, my sustenance. Yet I needed a feminine aspect to God—and not just an aspect. I needed God to be a woman, as fully as God is a man. I needed this in my soul, but hadn’t named it a need, as I thought such a need was heresy.
When news broke of the release of a video showing Ray Rice beating Janay Palmer unconscious, I was in the middle of writing a topic for a book about sexism. The topic was “How is Sexism Related to Masculinity?”, and it discusses, among other things, the role of male violence against women in a patriarchy.