Friday, October 26, 2012

Just... stop... talking.

Dear Politicians:

I am a 30 something year old woman who would like you to stop talking about my reproductive organs since you CLEARLY do not have a good understanding of anything about my body.  Listening to YOUR understanding of my body, my reproductive organs, and the choices I make with them feels a little something like this.

While this video is adorable and I celebrate the creativity and understandings of a child - YOU are not a child.  Neither are you a doctor, nor are you a theologian, nor are you a woman, and you just....

I understand that many different professionals have to come together in order to make policy surrounding issues such as abortion, rape, birth control, medical care for my uterus, etc. but you can also make sure you understand this clearly, and focus on YOUR profession, leaving those other professionals to do their jobs.  I have never been pregnant, I have never been in the situation of needing to make a decision about an abortion, nor have I ever been raped.  But I am a woman, I am a theologian, and I am a minister.  Those three things alone make me qualified to tell you to STOP TALKING AND LISTEN.

I am not advocating that you have agree with my personal decisions, nor compromise your own personal beliefs.  However, leave the job of professionals up to those professionals.  Use them as guides and help along the way but actually LISTEN to them as you work together, doing YOUR job, not the job of others.

If you listen to them, ministers, rabbis, imams and other religious leaders will tell you that theologians around the world have been pondering, discussing, arguing, and praying about why horrible things happen in our world for CENTURIES.  So let that serve as a reminder, that you, on your soap box during an election year are NOT qualified to make definitive statements about why rape happens; nor are you qualified to speak about something that might happen as the result of that rape.  Doctors will tell us the HOW things happen in an instance of horrific assault, theologians and ministers can help women and their loved ones grapple with the WHY.  But you Mr. Politician, you can deal with the WHAT and that is your only job.  What needs to happen now that this unspeakable sexual assault has happened?  What needs to happen so that this woman feels like she should report it, because she trusts that all efforts will be made to bring her attacker to justice?  What needs to happen so that this woman does not feel condemned to a life she did not choose?  What needs to happen so that this woman can use her OWN personal, moral and religious convictions to work through this horrible experience?  What needs to happen to remind this woman that she lives in a free country that seeks out her liberty and well-being?

I am a religious leader, and I am telling you that your religious convictions DO NOT matter to me, nor should they heavily influence your policy making discussions.  I know they will some, but we live in a free country where your religions convictions should be as separate from your policy making as possible.  Instead, your policy discussions should surround the question, "Does the United States government, the government of a free nation where its people are allowed to practice whatever version of religion they choose, or choose not to, have the right make decisions for women OR MEN who have been raped?"

Do not ponder why this happened, if the woman's skirt was too short, or if you think she was "asking for it."  Do not ponder why this woman chose not to come forward right away, or why she still felt violated, assaulted and attacked even if it was someone she knew and trusted.  Do not ponder why this woman only said STOP sixteen times instead of seventeen.  Do not ponder why this woman's grief and fear have kept her from remembering every single detail of every single awful moment.  Do not ponder why this woman conceived a child out of this horrific experience.  JUST STOP.

Instead, ponder what the social services of our governments can do to support this woman, her loved ones, and possibly the child that comes out of this experience.  Ponder what policies need to change so that they are SUPPORTIVE and not CONDEMNING.  Ponder the ways that our government can give liberty and well-being back to someone who has been violated on the most intimate level possible.  Ponder the ways that you can get as much information as possible from professionals in their various fields so that you can make INFORMED decisions.

Most of all - if you do not have these lady parts constantly in question and discussion - SIT BACK.  Invite a WOMAN to your party of professionals and LISTEN to HER.  Invite women who have experienced these horrific acts to come to share their stories, without fear, and LISTEN to them.  Just stop talking.  Start listening to those who are directly involved in these experiences.  Stop talking and listen to the professionals that are qualified to do so.  And then... after you have done all the listening you think you have to do.  Listen some more.  Then, and only then are you qualified to do your own job.


Susan said...

From a fellow woman minister I say, AMEN!

Unknown said...

As a male minister I'd like to add my Amen! as well. Let grown ups behave like grown ups and make the best moral decisions they can - and let them seek the help they want, not the help others feel a need to force upon them.