Patriarchy is an unrelenting crucifixion of women and girls worldwide. Females are at constant risk of masculine violence and bloodshed. Women and girls are never fully free of this pressure upon the psyche.
How many of us assess the danger of merely walking alone at night, even in our own neighborhoods, regardless of our age, race, class, ethnicity? The pornographic male gaze locks females in a lens of control and degradation, seeing her as less than human, certainly not as Imago Dei, and never as Imago Christi.
Religious men can be among the worst offenders.
The streets of Louisville and all of Kentucky see the highest rate of stalking in the US. How many girls and women near us are living in terror right now? Untold numbers of men spend money to rape trafficked girls in Louisville hotels every day.
We don’t have enough shelter space for battered women and children. Our college campuses are a hunting ground for male sexual predators. The United Nations tells us that women who defend women’s human rights are at increased risk worldwide for rape and murder.
Mary of Nazareth, poor, pregnant, and unwed was at risk for masculine violence and bloodshed. In a patriarchal context she proclaimed the Magnificat, a song of resistance about her liberating God undoing the oppressors and freeing the victims. It is the longest passage spoken by a woman in the New Testament yet patriarchal Christianity still perpetuates the fiction of Mary’s passivity under an almighty father god.
Julian of Norwich called Jesus,
“Mother Jesus.” While dying on the cross, Mother Jesus gazes into the eyes of the woman prophet who birthed him, fed him, and taught him. Mary in turn, gazes into her son’s eyes, seeing the gentle man and healer who held so many suffering ones at his breast. In the throes of trauma, they hold their tender gaze of love.
Let us be drawn by Divine Gentleness into the heart of this Mother-Child gaze of love. May their sacred gaze be our liminal space, our dwelling place of human dignity and transformation. The dawn is near when God our Mother will undo the violence and bloodshed and raise us out of darkness.
Reflection written by Rev. Mary Sue Barnett, ARCWP
Founder, Louisville Coalition for CEDAW
Reflection read with Natalie Pope
Cindy Starr tied a teal scarf on the cross (Teal is the color for Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month)