This has been a strange and interesting time to be a woman. It all started with Seth MacFarlane being a misogynist at the Oscars. He made jokes about domestic violence, alluded to women as poor leaders, mocked women's bodies, and made other offensive jabs at the women and young girls in the room and about women in general. It was disgusting and inappropriate. It was not funny.
But things then got worse. During the show, the satiric website The Onion posted a repulsive Tweet calling 9-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis a cunt on their official Twitter account. This little actress starred in the film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and came to the Oscars with wide eyes and a beautiful spirit. The Onion apologized the next day but did not disclose if the offender was fired (as they should be). How can anyone think that what they posted was humor -- satire or not? How can one post something like that about a 9-year-old girl? It was not appropriate. It was disgusting.
Later in the week, the fairly new CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, made news asking all telecommuting employees to come into the office instead of working from home. She was criticized from both the right and the left, from men and women, but many also commented repeatedly about her being a new mom who built a nursery near her office so that she could be close to her child while she worked. She was ravaged by the media about her own office practices and about the ways the new policy would affect both men and women working for Yahoo. As a woman she was critiqued in vicious ways as being insensitive to the needs of other parents while she had the best of both worlds. It was another attack against mothers who work and all of those who work from home. It was not OK.
In Washington, D.C., our Congressional leaders were debating the re-authorization of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Many thought it was a no-brainer to pass a bill that protects women from domestic violence and that creates ways to gain redress against those who perpetrate violence against women. But it was not an easy bill to get passed in the House of Representatives. Women's groups have been calling for this re-authorization for months and finally it was passed. It is wrong to not value women's bodies as sacred and deserving of protection. It took too long to get this done.
This week, Connecticut state Rep. Ernest Hewett was stripped of his office as deputy speaker for a lewd remark made to a 17-year-old. The young woman was testifying about her involvement in an ambassador program that helped her overcome her shyness and get over her fear of snakes.
"I am usually a very shy person, and now I am more outgoing," she said. "I was able to teach those children about certain things like snakes that we have and the turtles that we have. ... I want to do something toward that, working with children when I get older."
Hewett then said: "If you're bashful I got a snake sitting under my desk here." Good grief. Seriously? In 2013 we're still saying things like this? Hewitt apologized for the remark and the young woman accepted his apology, but the fact remains -- he said it. He said it in a state house committee hearing room. He said it to a 17-year-old. It was totally wrong and repulsive.
I wish this week was an anomaly. But if you have watched any news in the past few election cycles, you know that it happens all too often. I wish these kinds of things did not happen to women -- women of color, survivors of domestic abuse, young women, innocent girls, working moms, teens advocating for programs -- all women. It should not happen.
I think that many have grown complacent with the belief that women "have come a long way, baby." Women have made great strides in the past few decades. But the truth is we still have a fight on our hands.
We still have to work for justice and equality. Women still make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. Women still get critiqued for their attire if they are raped. Women still have to fight for their rights when abuse occurs in the home. Women still have to fight for their little girls to be treated with respect and honor.
Women fight this fight everyday -- here in the U.S. and around the globe. I am getting tired of fighting for my place at the table and -- once there- - fighting to not be called names, belittled and ridiculed for my gender. But we have to keep on fighting. No matter how tired we are, we owe it to Quvenzhané Wallis, to the young woman in Connecticut, and to all girls and women everywhere.
Men have an important role in this. Men must stop perpetuating this crap. They have to stop belittling women in public and in private. They have to honor the women in their lives by not seeing them as a punching bag or a punch line. They have to teach their girls to expect more from the boys and men around them. They have to teach their boys to honor girls just as their sons deserve to be honored. And men have to stop letting other men around them get away with all of this either. Men have to be advocates for women -- everywhere.
And the church has a role as well. The church has to affirm the presence and role of women in active places of ministry and leadership. And the church needs to advocate for better education, engagement and advocacy for women in the world, in society, and in their very midst. We have to teach respect and honor of all persons. We have to listen to women's stories and help them find resolution and grace in their lives.
In Galatians, we read, "In Christ's family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ" (Galatians 3:28 - The Message).
As a Christian and as a person of faith, I believe this. I believe it to the core of my being. I believe it as a woman and as the aunt to four young women. I believe it as a mom to a teenage son who I am raising to respect women and advocate for them.
I pray we all find a way to live into equality. I know it will be hard but we deserve a world where all persons are valued and treated with respect.
And it begins with us -- all of us. I for one will NOT accept this crap. I will continue to speak out. And I will hold others accountable for what they say and do.
I invite you to join many of us already in this fight, to continue on this justice journey, and to hold folks accountable. During this Women's History Month -- let's all demand a change.
We all deserve better.