#yesallwomen

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.

How are you praying today?

By Inge Schmidt

Notes:

  1. 1 Genesis 1:27, 31
  2. Science and Health, p. 516

Comments

  1. Emma says:

    One more prayer. As a mother, my heart  goes out to Elliot’s parents who no doubt love him dearly and have to deal with what he did and what the world thinks of him.

    MBE says “It is ignorance and false belief, based on a material sense of things, which hide spiritual beauty and goodness” (SH 303). Elliot has actually always had and will always have that “spiritual beauty and goodness.” And, no doubt, he is right now continuing on his journey of learning more about how good and loved he really is.

  2. Isabel says:

    I wonder about the fundamentally united comment.  Are we united as separate individuals or are we actually united because we are the complete and accurate expression of one Father-Mother God?  If we are, how does that affect our relationships without complete expressions of God?

  3. Gordon says:

    Elliott Rodgers was afraid of women. And acting on his extreme fear, he did something absolutely reprehensible. He acted out some of the worst behaviors imaginable. In response to this, women have shared millions of stories via Twitter, describing why they have been — or still are — just as afraid of men. These stories have highlighted many other examples of bad human behavior, and frankly have inspired more fear.

    People can find solidarity, support, and friendship by joining in common condemnation of others. But Mary Baker Eddy is clear that real healing is not found this way. She states:

    The sculptor turns from the marble to his model in order to perfect his conception. We are all sculptors, working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought. What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering? Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it? Then you are haunted in your work by vicious sculptors and hideous forms. Do you not hear from all mankind of the imperfect model? The world is holding it before your gaze continually. The result is that you are liable to follow those lower patterns, limit your life-work, and adopt into your experience the angular outline and deformity of matter models.

    To remedy this, we must first turn our gaze in the right direction, and then walk that way. We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives.

    Most people can tell you stories about how they’ve been mistreated by a member, or even multiple members, of the opposite sex, to some degree. But what if we, as Christian Scientists, worked to change that dialog from being fixated on the imperfect model, to showing examples of how we’ve felt supported, encouraged, cherished, appreciated, loved? I think when you focus on the perfect model of manhood and womanhood, it actually isn’t that hard to recalls situations where one experienced the protective, Fatherly love of God as well as the nurturing, Motherly love of the God. We see God’s Love reflected clearly in our human expressions of love, which can come as the encouragement of a teacher, the protection of a mentor, the unselfish support of a friend. And by focusing on the perfect model we can start to draw out that perfection in others.

    So rather than men and women being afraid of each other, in this way we can better realize the truth that Inge wrote about, that men and women are “united in their Godlikeness.” I’m not sure what that hashtag would look like, but that’s something I could support.

    • Rachel says:

      Wow, thanks for lifting this conversation up higher!

      I ran across another Mary Baker Eddy quote that expresses this idea: “Holding the right idea of man in my mind, I can improve my own, and other people’s individuality, health, and morals; whereas, the opposite image of man, a sinner, kept constantly in mind, can no more improve health or morals, than holding in thought the form of a boa-constrictor can aid an artist in painting a landscape.” Mis 62:1

      Now I know how to move forward in this prayerful work. No more stories of cruel men, or “boa-constrictors.” If I’m going to paint a landscape of divine Love’s reality, I’ve got to hold only the right idea of man in mind. It’s time to celebrate the evidence of everyone’s inherent goodness and kindness, online and off-line.

      • Gordon says:

        And thank you, Rachel, for continuing that upward trend! The quote you included from Miscellaneous Writings is just so perfect and apropos. I’m going to share it with my Sunday School tomorrow; thanks!

  4. Rachel says:

    Thank you for this Prayerwatch. I love joining in a concert of prayer with everyone, creating a whole symphony of healing. I’m lifted up by all these ideas.

    I was reading Ephesians in the New Jerusalem Bible and found a passage that shows me what’s actually happening when we pray about this subject of misogyny and violence.

    “The things which are done in secret are shameful even to speak of; but anything shown up by the light will be illuminated.” (Eph 5:12)  In the notes at the bottom of this page, the New Jerusalem Bible includes, “The wrong sort of way to talk about sexual immorality [or harassment, or violence] is the way that leaves the subject in a dangerous obscurity. To talk about it in such a way, however, that it is recognized for what it is will lead to its being corrected; this sort of light is the light of Christ that puts an end to darkness.”

    The internet, especially the hashtag #yesallwomen, has enabled people to react to this recent tragedy, which was fueled by hatred and misogyny, by revealing their own experiences of harassment and violence in unprecedented volume. The ultimate consequence of illuminating a culture of tolerating misogyny in any form will be its destruction. As we speak up together, more and more women will have the courage to hold perpetuators accountable and more and more men will rise to womankind’s defense.  We can literally watch this unfolding right now online!

    Most of all, people around the world, just like us, are turning their prayerful attention towards this subject, affirming the inherent freedom of all women, and original innocence of all men.  In my prayers, I will continue to defend everyone from the mesmerism of lust and selfishness because I know the Christ, spiritual Truth and Love, is the only power, and the only attraction, and the true light.

    “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.” John 1:5

  5. Rocky says:

    Hey Watcher, Thanks for joining in.  Can you elaborate a little bit about what you mean by validating the progress, and also what mind-set you are referring to? :)

  6. Watcher says:

    I think the ideas helps but not completely. At some point I was with the same mind set. And how do you validate the progress of this prayer watch.

  7. sandi says:

    Our Wed readings tonight included the story of the Gadarene with the unclean spirit.  (starts at Mark 5:1) I heard this story in a new way.  The man saw Jesus afar off and ran and worshiped him.  Listening, I wondered why, if he was so eager to worship Jesus, did he then say with a loud voice, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?”

    Then it hit me.  He felt so totally unworthy to worship the Son of God.  Jesus engaged him in conversation by asking his name.  His name was Legion.  There were thousands of reasons why he was unworthy.  By healing him, Jesus embraced the man’s spiritual worth.

    Thus a basis for my prayers:  In the presence of infinite good all are worthy, no one is left out, forgotten, unwanted, rejected.  Christ reveals the precious value of each of God’s ideas.  The lie of unworthiness yields to the irresistible power of Love.  Evil drowns itself, destroys itself, but that process cannot harm God’s children.  So may I see my fellow man bowing before Christ, clothed in holy garments and in his/her right mind.

    • A says:

      Thank you, Sandi. This sticks with me, maybe because I have been (to some degree) on both ends of the lie of not feeling appreciated. Feeling it myself, and, also, experiencing a push-pull relationship with certain people who I came to find out did not feel worthy of the love I was naturally giving to them.

      we all have an important song to sing here.

  8. Emma says:

    Thanks for bringing this up as an issue to pray collectively about.

    I love this passage from Misc Writings :

    “This action of the divine energy, even if not acknowledged, has come to be seen as diffusing richest blessings. This spiritual idea, or Christ, entered into the minutiæ of the life of the personal Jesus. It made him an honest man, a good carpenter, and a good man, before it could make him the glorified.” (Mis. 166:30-166:32)

    Sometimes I find it difficult to separate the desire to condemn violence towards and the fear of women from an underlying fear of men and male violence. But the quote above makes it so simple and straightforward. Something about the humility of MBEs words here helps me tone down the fear and take off the labels (victim, aggressor, misogynist etc).  The Christ here and now makes good people, honest people – good, gentle men and good, strong women.

    #yesallwomen&men

  9. A says:

    Dear Inge,

    Thank you for stepping forward in sharing your thoughts about this important prayer watch.

    Clementine–how cool that God guided me to Misc. Writings by Eddy this morning(specifically Love Your Enemies) =) and now, your sharing will take me to the Bible, so thank you.

    This is my prayer for Elliot (and all):

    “This destruction (of evil/fear) is a moral chemicalization, wherein old things pass away and all things become new. The worldly or material tendencies of human affections and pursuits are thus annihilated; and this is the advent of spiritualization. Heaven comes down to earth, and mortals learn at last the lesson, “I have no enemies.” Page 10, Misc Writings 

    may all things become new for him (And “her” and “you” and “I”)..and may we all come to feel the light that shines on the Truth of our being. We are one.

  10. Rocky says:

    Thanks so much for writing this and sharing your prayer.

    I just want to add a thought that I have returned to at various points when I’ve been challenged by ideas about inequality and hatred, which is that each one of God’s ideas can feel the love of his/her Father-Mother.  No child of God, not Elliot Rodger or anyone else can be abandoned and left feeling so unloved as to be tempted to do such a thing.  Divine Love is the only power, it is everywhere and nothing is untouched and unmoved by it.  And we, as the ideas of divine Mind, are receptive to that power alone.

  11. Clementine says:

    Thanks for sharing your ideas of prayer Inge. It’ll help guide my prayer today.

    I’ve been focused on the Sermon on the Mount (matt 5-7) recently. A bit that’s particularly relevant with this conversation is the bit about loving your enemies.

    Love Your Enemies

    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

  12. Amy says:

    Inge, such a well thought out blog.  Thank you so much for adding your prayers to this important subject and for galvanizing us all.  As the father of one of the victims said, “Not one more.”

    • Inge says:

      I love the idea that we can stand on the divine authority of “Not one more.”  Too often it feels like we just have to accept that these sorts of crimes and inequalities are part of the human condition and there’s no reason to hope for anything otherwise.  But Jesus showed us there was– in his words, “Thus far and no farther.”

  13. jenny says:

    Thanks so much, Inge, for tackling this important topic. I loved what you said here: “This implies that man and woman are not inherently opposed to one another, but instead, fundamentally united in their Godlikeness, in their goodness.” The idea of actually being created to be united in good is so powerful–not just in praying about this issue, but in addressing every division we seem to see at home, in our churches, and worldwide. I’m grateful for this Prayer Watch.

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