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Monday, August 26, 2013

Pastorgraphs: “Sex and Civil Rights”

E-Vangel Newsletter
August 26, 2013

Pastorgraphs: “Sex and Civil Rights”

Maybe I should have entitled this “’Gender’ and Civil Rights”. But I wanted to focus attention on a very troubling subject.

I’ve refrained from jumping into the spectacle of soon-to-be-former Mayor Bob Filner’s deplorable (and possibly criminal) behavior. But his bizarre resignation speech last Friday, in which he simultaneously apologized for and then denied his wrongdoing, was the final straw for me.

Actually, it was his use of the word “lynching” that irritated me most. It is a code word intended to garner both sympathy and support of ethnic minorities for whom the “Good Bob” Filner advocated most of his adult life. He deserves credit for being a 1960s Freedom Rider. He won the respect of the Hispanic and African-American minorities in the San Diego District he represented for two decades in Congress. But “Bad Bob” Filner’s self-confessed actions show the breach of his ethical structure.

Here is the hypocrisy: You cannot be a “Civil Rights” champion when you treat WOMEN as Bob Filner treated them! Women have civil rights, too.

Getting thrown into jail with the ‘60s civil rights workers doesn’t buy anyone a ticket to exploit the civil sexual rights of women today.

If Filner’s term “lynching” irritated  me, the comments of some citizens blaming the women who spoke up for creating Filner’s “coup” made me just plain mad! Mad enough to write this Pastorgraph, for which I am sure some will be angry with me.

Blaming females for sexual assaults victimizes them all over again. That is why coming forth to report sexual abuse is difficult for those who have truly been victims. Many women question if it was an isolated incident, feel isolated, and know their personal lives will become fodder for the gossip mills if they speak up. That is tyranny.

Some estimates show a majority of sexual assaults go unreported; especially when that abuse comes from a supervisor, or when the event has to be reported within “the chain of command” which may get the woman fired, demoted, or end her career. When will we learn that reporting sexual abuse to the same chain of command that holds life and death power over a career is a deterrent for reporting abuse.

The US Military is only now beginning to face this reality. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York recently called the military justice system “dysfunctional”, pointing out that less than one out of 10 reported sexual attackers in the military are held accountable. She proposed creating a system outside the military chain to investigate reports of sexual abuse, which (of course) the upper brass at the Pentagon promptly denied. 

Sex offenders rely on this broken system to increase the odds females will remain silent after an assault.  If accused, this system reduces the odds the perpetrator will ever be punished.

Our San Diego cases are the exception, where at least 18 women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. Notice how it took one brave soul to step forward before others spoke out. But too often, the victim feels she is alone, will have her private life exploited, and ultimately wind up worse off than if she remained silent.

THIS IS INJUSTICE, just as much as denying a person the right to vote, sitting at the back of the bus, segregating schools, or denying equal access to dining counters, water fountains and public restrooms. In the 1960s, the system made it painful, even deadly, for Blacks in the South or migrant workers in California to speak up when they were being exploited. Fifty years ago this week, the Walk on Washington began to turn the tide by focusing the spotlight on injustices. It’s time we do the same for women’s civil sexual rights. Perhaps in a twisted way Filner’s reprehensible acts will have a positive outcome, focusing the spotlight on these shameful actions.

There was a TV commercial in the early 1970s, about the time the modern women’s rights movement began to get traction. The commercial showed a beautiful little girl, maybe six months old, with such pretty curls and blue eyes I can still see her in my mind. Then the announcer said, “This baby was born handicapped.” You could feel the collective “Oh, no!” After a few moments of silence, while viewers tried to identify her handicap, the announcer came back: “This baby was born handicapped…she was born FEMALE.” Being born female will not be a handicap when we finally respect the sexual civil rights of women. If all men treated women as they would want others to treat their daughters, mothers, sisters or wife, maybe we can cure this “handicap”.

I remember a comedian who said, “There are two things I cannot stand. One: Bigots. Two: The Dutch.” (PS: My grandmother was a Vanlandingham, so no offense to all the Dutch out there. I’m part of you, too.) It is impossible to miss the hypocrisy of claiming to be an advocate of civil rights while sexually exploiting the rights of women. But for women who are subjected to sexual harassment and violence, especially in the workplace, there is nothing funny about it.

So, Bob Filner, you cannot have it both ways. Don’t play the Civil Rights Activist card unless you respect the Civil Rights of everyone…ESPECIALLY WOMEN!

Devotedly, Bill Jenkins

(Congratulations to Pastor Donald Owens and the leaders of Exodus Church and Lay Minister Jonathan Reyes and the leaders of Unidos en Cristo Mision Metodista for a successful combined Vacation Bible School. The precious children in the photo were but a few of the 75-90 children, youth and adults who attended the week-long VBS. The photo was taken at Friday night’s graduation at Christ United Methodist.)

From the Quote Garden:
“The disappointment of Bob Filner’s implosion is proportionate to the grandeur of the vision, which he — along with many, many others — was beginning to articulate. The noble vision, however, is destined to outlast the flawed messenger, because it is born from this ascendant demographic profile.”
~ The Rev. John Fanestil, United Methodist Elder ~
Director of Foundation for Change, Union-Tribune, August 8, 2013

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205

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