Monday, July 1, 2019

Waking Up to Male Privilege

I went on a walk last night to pray. It was around midnight. It was in a pretty "safe" neighborhood. I was preparing to preach on Genesis 34 the next morning. It's the heartrending story of the rape of Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob.

At some point in that walk, it struck me that I wasn't worried (even though there are a few killer dogs I prefer to avoid). That lack of fear is a luxury I usually take for granted.

That's not a luxury most women enjoy. My wife was recently on a walk at night in that same neighborhood. At one point she noticed a vehicle that seemed to be following her (parking, then moving). She "tested" that theory, and got a little more concerned. She wasn't far from home, so she crossed the street and ducked behind our van in our driveway. I saw her through the window, so I came out to find out what was going on. After hearing what had happened, she described the vehicle and we realized it was right across the street, parked near the public mailbox.

My adrenaline was pumping and I started walking toward the vehicle, wondering what to do and/or say. I yelled across the street at the guy (his window was down), and after he gave me a lame answer to my questions, he drove away.

I take the safety of solitary late-night walks (or runs) for granted. Women don't.

Genesis 34 starts out like this:
1 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he seized her and lay with her and humiliated her.
It's likely that "going out to see the women of the land" carries negative connotations. It wasn't wise for Dinah to do this alone. Canaan was a dangerous place for young women. And she was most likely only 15 or 16 years old. But the text says nothing about her to chide or blame. She is a victim of Shechem's unbridled lust. This is rape. This is sexual assault. He saw her. He seized her. He forced himself on her, humiliating and degrading her.

If you wonder what the Bible, what God, thinks of this, we get the clear judgment in verse 7:
The sons of Jacob had come in from the field as soon as they heard of it, and the men were indignant and very angry, because he had done an outrageous thing in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter, for such a thing must not be done.
In Hebrew narrative, editorial explanations are rare. When they are given, they are the ancient near eastern equivalent of bold and underline emphasis. What Shechem did was an outrageous thing. Outrage is the righteous response. The brothers were right to be indignant and very angry. Such a thing must not be done!

If you believe the Bible, sexual assault is NOT the fault of the victim. NO ONE should lay any blame at her feet, and I don't care "how she was dressed."

No comments:

Post a Comment