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.
In her book The End of Men, Hanna Rosin states that we no longer live in a patriarchy, and that the establishment of an American matriarchy is just a matter of time. Although Ms. Rosin does have some insights about the ways in which our culture is changing around gender, her definitions for both these terms are incorrect—which means that she misses the very clear signs that America is a thriving patriarchy.
“You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you, we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs upon the reasons they are dying.” —Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider
“The clock is ticking and the time is late. This situation has been thirty years in the making.” —Malik Ahmed, the C.E.O. of Better Family Life in Ferguson, to New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb.
During George Zimmerman’s trial, as we waited to find out if he would have any legal consequences for killing Trayvon Martin, I read the words of black mothers and grandmothers—some of them friends or acquaintances, some of them strangers. I heard their anguish, on Facebook and Twitter, on blogs and sometimes in news outlets—will my boy be next? I tucked my son into bed, lying next to him and knowing that if I were black, I’d be thinking, He could just be walking down the street. And there’s nothing I can do to protect him.
There are some matters of deep injustice that even feminists would rather turn away from. The pictures of wounded, bleeding, dying children in Gaza are on that list for me. They have been in the newspaper as I eat breakfast. They have been in my Twitter feed. I haven’t wanted to see, and I haven’t known how to speak. I knew why I didn’t want to see: I couldn’t heal, or save, that baby in front of me. But why couldn’t I speak? Why did I see the pictures without engaging with the issue, even as I watched others engage?