Yes means yes, no means no

I read about the allegations against Bill Cosby.

And my stomach churns.

I post about the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

And my head hangs heavy.

I read the Rolling Stone article about rape at the University of Virginia. (Note: as I wrote this,  it was reported that the University of Virginia has asked for an investigation of events described in the article.)

And my heart breaks.

highlight-fact-evaw-en-244 pngI read  The Guardian report that “One in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence from their partner, while 7% will be assaulted at some point in their lives by a non-partner.” A new series of papers in the Lancet provides the source. The World Health Organization and UN Women report similar figures to document further the violence women endure.

And my tears flow.

I recognize that only a portion of the sexual and physical violence against women is reported.

And I wonder.

I wonder about what I have done and left undone. I wonder about what I will do. And I wonder if I have taught my sons and other men well enough not to rape and to challenge rape culture.

In my speaking and my acting, have I said clearly enough:

People, all people, all people of every sexual orientation and gender identity, are precious and to be treated with dignity and respect.

Rape and sexual violence are wrong. Don’t rape. Don’t commit sexual violence.

Yes means yes. Sexual relations must be consensual. Without consent, sexual contact is rape. No nuances. No maybes. Consent. Freely given. Yes means yes.

No means no. Whenever no is said. No matter how many yeses may have preceded it. No means no.

No circumstances justify rape or sexual violence. None. No one “asks” to be raped. No one “deserves” to be raped. No circumstances!

Each person is a human being. No one, no group of people, are objects to be exploited for other people’s pleasure.

Believe someone who says they have been raped or violated sexually. Alleged perpetrators deserve their day in court. But too often people who report rape are automatically discounted and discredited. That needs to stop. Perhaps there are a few false reports. The overwhelming, overwhelming majority are not. It takes enormous courage to come forward and report a violation. We need to have the decency to listen and believe. We need to make sure that systems and structures are in place to support those who report abuse and to make sure full investigations followed, when appropriate, by trials or other legal measures, take place.

Patriarchy must be dismantled. Masculinity redefined. Ideas of control and power and violence that combine to fuel rape must be re-imagined and replaced with ideas of mutuality and equality.

Intervene. If you witness rape or sexual violation happening or about to happen, say something. Do something. Report. AND say something when you hear people objectify or describe about others inappropriately. Or express a desire to treat others inappropriately.  Or tell jokes that demean or degrade people sexually.

People, all people, all people of every sexual orientation and gender identity, are precious and to be treated with dignity and respect.

I wonder. And I hope and pray that I have taught my sons and others well. I hope and pray that I will continue to do so. I hope and pray that I will work to end rape culture and honor all people.

See you along the Trail.

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Orange Your Neighbourhood – End Violence against Women and Girls Now


adapted from an email sent by UN Women’s Civil Society Section and originally published on Swords into Plowshares

November 25 is the International Day to End Violence against Women and the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign! As you may know, this year’s UN celebrations will take place under the theme “Orange Your Neighbourhood – End Violence against Women and Girls Now“. The initiative led by the Secretary-General’s UNiTE campaign focuses on local actions towards ending violence against women and girls, while using orange as the uniting colour of all advocacy efforts.

As part of  the online campaign for the 16 Days, UN Women’s Civil Society invites everyone to join in the effort and orange their social media accounts. It’s quite simple – you can show your support and orange your Twitter and Facebook profile pictures by adding an orange Twibbon filter.

Could consider adding the Twibbon filter to your organization’s and/or personal profile picture any time between 25 November and 10 December to raise awareness on ending violence against women and girls. We can join the conversation on social media through the hashtags #orangeurhood and #16days, and are welcome to use any of the suggested messages and images available in UN Women’s social media package.

Learn more about the PC(USA)’s initiative to end violence against women and girls.

Presbyterians against Domestic Violence provides a number of liturgical and resources to address domestic violence.

Presbyterian Women offers suggestions for actions to end violence against women and girls year round.

See you along the Trail

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Equality, Dignity and the Link Between Gender-Based Violence and Sanitation

From the United Nations:

toiletday2014“Equality, Dignity and the Link Between Gender-Based Violence and Sanitation” is the theme for this year’s World Toilet Day, which seeks to put a spotlight on the threat of sexual violence that women and girls face due to the loss of privacy as well as the inequalities that are present in usability. Toilets generally remain inadequate for populations with special needs, such as the disabled and elderly, and women and girls requiring facilities to manage menstrual hygiene.

See you along the Trail.

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Beyond tolerance

ToleranceThe United Nations has designated today as the International Day for Tolerance.

This action followed on the United Nations Year for Tolerance, 1995, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 at the initiative of UNESCO , as outlined in the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance and Follow-up Plan of Action for the Year.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls “all people and governments to actively combat fear, hatred and extremism with dialogue, understanding and mutual respect.”

Tolerance is good.

Tolerance is important.

Dialogue, understanding and mutual respect are good and important.

But they are all starting points as we seek to honor and welcome one another as God’s children, live together as the human family, learn from one another, dismantle privilege and systems of oppression, build liveable communities of co-equality, and care for all creation, including the human creature.

May this day be a time to renew our efforts.

See you along the Trail.

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Purple flowers, Second Street, Louisville

Purple Flowers Louisville November 9

Delicate purple petals
graced the way to
Christ Church Cathedral this morning,
for a wonderful worship experience
with friends expected and unexpected,
although the plan to go to an early service
so the Steelers game could be viewed,
which turned out to be something of a disaster
given how poorly they played.

9 November 2014
Louisville, Kentucky

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Purple peppers, Crescent Centre, Louisville

Purple peppers

While waiting for a friend
at the Crescent Centre apartments,
I spotted a number of peppers.
I know not why they are there,
but they included these that are

9 November 2014
Crescent Centre apartments
Louisville, Kentucky

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Kenneth Bae is Released

W. Mark Koenig:

Great news! Delighted to share this from my friend Grace Ji-Sun Kim.

Originally posted on Grace Ji-Sun Kim:

kenneth_bae_ap_imgSo excited and happy that Kenneth Bae is on his way home. He will be reunited with his sister, Terri Chung, his mother, family and friends in Seattle tonight.

We praise God for his release.

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