On Friday, a student at UC Santa Barbara killed six people, wounded 13, and ultimately took his own life in a brutal, premeditated outburst of violent rage. Authorities later discovered that not only had the shooter posted a YouTube video venting his sexual frustration, but that he had also written a 141-page manifesto planning the murders as a means of retaliating against the young women who had spurned his advances.
In response to the despicable misogyny behind the crime, the #yesallwomen hashtag on Twitter became a virtual space to actively call awareness to, and speak out against, misogyny, and a culture that both passively and actively allows it to persist. Women were tweeting their own experiences—the moments in which they were dismissed, belittled, or even worse, violated, simply because they were women. Some were utterly tragic: accounts of rape, incest, and sexual assault. Others were testimonies of injustice and inequality at the office, while running errands, among family members, and so on.
The sense of empowerment that women were finding to tell their stories—in some cases, for the first time ever—moved me. I was encouraged as I saw men and women alike express disdain for the way women’s experiences had previously been dismissed or diminished. And I was dismayed as I saw men—especially young men—respond not with empathy, but with further disrespect for women. The pivotal moment was when I realized that I, too, could write similar tweets. None so brutally horrific as some of those that I read, but moments in which I was made to feel small, disrespected, and of little worth because I was a woman.
As I thought about these experiences, however, I found myself inwardly rebelling against them. It’s not that I wanted to dismiss or repress the experiences. Quite the opposite. There was something cathartic in realizing, after many years of accepting blame for the way I was treated, that in fact, these experiences were not evidence of my weaknesses, but a larger cultural problem. The inward rebellion sprang from my desire for something more than awareness. What I want is redemption and progress. And I know I’m not alone in this desire. For every tweet sharing an experience of misogyny, there were many more tweets expressing sympathy and advocating for real change.
There’s a power in coming together in the interest of raising awareness about this kind of issue. But what if we took that awareness one step further and united in prayer? What might that look like?
My prayer is three-fold. First, I’m hunkering down to better understand the spiritual nature of man and woman. The Bible says that God created man in the image and likeness of God, male and female created He them. It then goes on to say that “God saw everything that He made, and behold it was very good.” [emphasis added] 1 This implies that man and woman are not inherently opposed to one another, but instead, fundamentally united in their Godlikeness, in their goodness. As Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God.” 2
Yet, each day, we’re faced with individuals whose actions seem so contrary to this notion. It may be a coworker, a family member, or even someone we read about in the news, such as the shooter at UC Santa Barbara. That’s the second part of my prayer. In the face of anger, hatred, ignorance, and disrespect, I’m actively looking for evidence of humility, gentleness, kindness, and unselfishness. In men and women. It’s more than wishful thinking or hopeful optimism. Just as Jesus, in his spiritual clarity, was able to discern the innocence and purity of those who came to him for healing, I’m praying that my own clearer understanding of man and woman’s spiritual identity opens my eyes to see God’s goodness in action.
Finally, I’m praying that the collective power of prayer can transform not only individuals, but also societies, cultures, and the world, such that these crimes of hatred cease, and these hashtags are no longer necessary.
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Topics: Etc., Health and Identity, Safety, School, Jobs & the Future, Womanhood, Womens Issues, World Issues