A Path with Pith
14th February is associated with red roses, love hearts, and romance, together with the marketing of Valentine’s cards, and special romantic meals. The myth of romantic love continues unabated in 2018, and young folk follow this tradition because that’s what we’ve always done. Warm fuzzy feelings of romance and a perfect future abound; no-one enters into a long term intimate partnership expecting it to fail – but fail it frequently does.
1 in 4 women in the UK will experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lives, and, yes, some women are violent, but not to the extent male violence dominates our culture, and, clearly, not all men are violent toward their parners.
The subjugation of women has been a dominant cultural theme throughout the world for millenia. In this month (February 2018) when we celebrate women over 30, and householders, winning their battle for the vote, we can see that women still have a long way to go to be treated as equals in our society. From equal pay, to equal responsibility for caring duties in families, women still need to campaign to have our human rights upheld and applied.
One place where this inequality continues is within faith communities. Yes, we now have female ministers, and rabbis, but the institutions continue to follow traditions, and teaching which often ignore women. Religious institutions seem to find it difficult to acknowledge the issue of male violence against women, while continuing to promote the sanctity of marriage.
In 2011 I was on Scottish Women’s Aid’s Faith Group Forum with women and men from a variety of Christian traditions, together with Muslims, Sikh’s and a representative from the Jewish community. We were all commited to tackling the issue of violence against women, and many of us were faced with our leadership not recognising it as a problem; many leaders were shocked that such a problem could exist within a community of faith. The outcome of our time together with staff from Scottish Women’s Aid was a pocket sized leaflet with 10 Things Faith Communities Can Do to Overcome Violence Against Women which was made freely available to all faith communities. They are no longer in print, so with permission from Scottish Women’s Aid, and with minor alterations I have reproduced it in A4 size.
Since 2012, 14th of February has been given over to One Billion Rising, the number of women the UN estimates have experience Gender Based Violence . Originally V-Day initiated in 1998 by Eve Ensler, the creator of The Vagina Monologues. On each 14th February she offers performances of The Vagina Monologues royalty free to those raising awareness of violence against women and girls. V-Day became absorbed into the international movement One Billion Rising in 2012, when women across the world were involved in performances of The Vagina Monologues together with Flash Mobs, and panel discussions raising awareness of intimate partner violence, rape, female genital mutilation, and child sexual exploitation.
This 14th February enjoy celebrating with your romantic partner, but also consider what you can do to erase violence against women and girls, and for those of us who belong to communities of faith, please bring 10 Things You Can Do To Stop Domestic Abuse to the attention of your community leaders, and consider following up some of the suggestions you can implement as an individual. Many of us raised in a faith community have fallen away from the institution but still carry with us the traditions instilled in us as children, and in the whirl of a new relationship these values can become our default positions. On 14th February give some time to examining these values, and consider if they match up to our Human Rights.
Entertaining, and accurate in my experience.
1. When it comes to remembering birthdays, I …
a. often forget (thankfully my partner remembers for me. She’s amazing like that).
b. often forget (thankfully I’ve set up a series of complex alerts on my work computer, since for some reason I’m not only meant to remember for myself but my partner too).
2. When taking public transport I always …
a. take up as much room as possible in order to get my money’s worth.
b. try to avoid being groped.
3. In a partner I try to look for …
a. someone who won’t laugh at me.
b. someone who won’t kill me.
4. When it approaching difficult technical tasks I …
a. pretend to know what I’m doing in order to avoid embarrassment.
b. pretend not to know what I’m doing in order to avoid embarrassment.
5. My favourite books and films tend to feature …
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Thank you to my small band of followers for your encouragement and support in writing this blog. Many blessings for Christmas and wishing you a peaceful and healthy New Year.
Please be aware that families living with domestic abuse do not share the anticipation of warmth and loving embraces at Christmas. Christmas is a time for increased police reports of domestic violence, and given the prevalence of the problem, we are all likely to know someone being abused or who has recent raw memories of abuse. Please offer support where you can, allowing the abused person to say what they need.
My blog has been quiet recently due to ill health, but I’m hoping to be back in the swing of things by the end of January 2018.
Best wishes to all
A reminder to all that many will not have peace and joy at Christmas.
Ask anyone what they want for Christmas and you’ll hear all sorts of lovely requests for toys, clothes, food and such sundry. This Christmas Eve, I am thinking about all my sister victims, the ones who aren’t ‘out’ yet and the real Christmas lists they are longing for.
A little hug.
A gentle touch from someone who doesn’t require anything back from me. A hug that doesn’t make me flinch in protection. A hug that is full of love.
A little bit of Peace.
Peace in my home. No more tension in the air. A peace that isn’t scary in its silence but exciting in it predictability.
A little bit of quiet.
A break from the yelling. A break from the fighting. A pause for just one day that doesn’t make me shrink in fear of what will happen next.
A little bit…
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