A little while ago, I wrote about The ‘Energy’ of Violence, in which I suggested that violence can never be fully and truly defeated by violence; it takes something much more powerful.
In response to this, my friend labalienne reminded us that the sort of argument I advanced in my original post must take into consideration the violence against women that, scandalously, so often gets brushed aside.
In response to labalienne’s excellent response, I’d like to offer three points:
Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge that I was wrong.
My first instinct, when confronted with this point, was a kind of self-defence, arguing that this wasn’t what I was talking about and that I would never advocate a kind of ‘passive-ism’ that accepts but does not confront and expose such violence.
Such for my ‘mansplaining’.
My first response *should* have been unconditional listening.
The point that labalienne makes is all too real, and all too often ignored. Us men so often respond with #notallmen (or #notmyblogpost, it seems), without necessarily allowing the gravity of the point to sink in. This is real, and it’s disgusting, and we—I—need to listen to the voices of women far more attentively.
Secondly, I feel it’s necessary to post the links to the series of articles written by Julia Baird in the Sydney Morning Herald, on the topic of the theology of ‘submission’ and ‘headship’ in Christian marriage and domestic violence (labalienne linked to the first of these in her post, but the second two were not yet written):
- “Submission is a fraught mixed message for the church”
- “Doctrine of headship a distortion of the gospel message of mutual love and respect”
- “Church cannot afford to walk past domestic abuse”
Thirdly, and finally, I want to make a point that I should have in the original post.
I’m white. I’m very, very white.
Violence in our world disproportionately affects people of colour (and especially women of colour), and is all too often inflicted by white men—by people like me.
What we don’t need is for people like me to stand up and talk like we’ve figured out all the ‘solutions’. In my post, the examples I was thinking of as I wrote included a poor Jewish rabbi (Jesus of Nazareth), masses of Indians standing up to the might of the British Empire (Gandhi and his followers), the Civil Rights movement in the U.S., and the nonviolence outlined by (post-prison) Nelson Mandela.*
My job is not to suggest (or appear to suggest) that I have the answers to these things, but to point to those who have experienced such violence and who have overcome not through responding with violence of their own, but with something more powerful. I also need to acknowledge the very real bodily pain and suffering that they experienced, and those who lost their lives in the process (and I thank labalienne, again, for reminding me of this point).
I’d like to keep this conversation going, and I hope the points above are helpful.
* Yes, I am aware (and somewhat disappointed) that all the main examples that were in my mind (Jesus, Gandhi, MLK, Mandela) were male.