REFLECTIONS FROM THE EDITOR KRISTYN KOMARNICKI
The First Lie “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to Eve (Gen. 3:4). It was the first lie, and it was a whopper. For not only would Eve and her daughters die, but countless millions would go on to die in brothels and in utero; they would die giving birth before their bodies were fully developed; they would die of AIDS contracted from their rapists. And before that, they would live in slavery — to traffickers, to oppressive cultural practices, to poverty, and to the pervasive belief that they were second-class citizens.The value of their lives would be measured not by how they reflected the image of their Creator but by how much sex they could provide, the size of the dowry their families could produce, and the number of male children they could deliver. A Chinese proverb asserts that a woman should be like water: “Take no form and have no voice.” In India, where in some places it is culturally acceptable for a man to leave his wife if she bears only girls (or refuses to kill her girl babies), many believe that “raising a daughter is like watering your neighbor’s garden”— a costly and therefore undesirable undertaking since you are feeding her (and raising a bride-price) only for her future husband. Cows are more valuable than women in Hinduism, and in Islam a woman’s testimony in court requires validation by three men. Even here in the Land of the Free, where we pride ourselves on equal rights and the broad thinking of our Founding Fathers, it has been only 90 years since women got the vote — 10 years after foot-binding was outlawed in China! In their book Captivating, John and Stasi Eldridge advise against blaming men for this universal hatred of women. “The assault on femininity — its long
history, its utter viciousness — cannot be understood apart from the spiritual forces of evil we are warned against in the Scriptures,” they write, referring to “those mighty powers of darkness” discussed in Ephesians 6:12. They contend that Eve was singled out for special attack because Lucifer, so radiant and beautiful before pride led to his fall, loathes her as the representation of all that he lost and all that he desires to be. Satan hates Eve, they assert, for her beauty and her ability to produce life — the two things in which she most clearly reflects God’s image. For me, that goes a long way in explaining the variety and depth of oppression to which women have always been subjected. Human history appears to be one long experiment in civil war, for a species that assaults and undermines its females wages combat upon itself. Here in the Western world, where women enjoy unprecedented rights and opportunities, we have the time and historical perspective to marvel that the human race has survived the atrocities it has perpetrated upon itself. We also have the resources — economic, educational, political, and spiritual — to act against these atrocities. But even as we act, we must guard against our own blind smugness, as several of our writers reveal in the questions they raise: Are we as aghast at the practice among wealthy Western women of yielding to the plastic surgeon’s knife in order to meet conventional beauty standards as we are at the practice of “circumcising” young African girls to make them acceptable to their future husbands? Are we prepared to critique our freedom-of-speech-at-any-cost culture that scripts and films rape as entertainment, even as we denounce the terrorism of systematic rape in the Congo? Can we aggressively and lovingly expose the patriarchal attitudes that confine and accuse and condescend to women in the very place that should be most liberating — PRISM 2 0 1 0
the church of Jesus Christ? I pray that the content of these pages breaks your heart, arouses your ire, brings you to your knees, and then sends you into action: to write a check in support of a fistula hospital or antitrafficking campaign; to pen a letter to the editor or a petition to apply pressure to legislators at home or abroad; to volunteer at a local rape crisis center or sponsor a girl’s education in the developing world; to speak out at your church and challenge the victim-blaming that inevitably accompanies conversations about rape, prostitution, and even abortion and single motherhood. May we be people who invite our sisters (and brothers) to true freedom, just as our Savior did when he said to the woman who touched his healing hem,“Woman, you are set free!” (Luke 13:12). n Special thanks go to my friend Lisa Thompson, a fearless fighter against all that threatens the shalom of the human community. Her work for the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking at the Salvation Army National Headquarters has taken her to some dark places over the years, but that darkness has only fueled the intensity of her love for the Light. Inspired by Salvation Army Founder William Booth’s famous speech, in which he fervently pledged, “While women weep…I’ll fight — I’ll fight to the very end!” Lisa proposed devoting an issue of PRISM to identifying the enemies of womankind and to finding the best weapons with which to carry on Booth’s fight. It was Lisa who hooked me up with some of the best writers and experts in the field and who encouraged me throughout the painful process of researching and editing these topics.This issue is possible only because of her intrepid work and faithful friendship. This issue of PRISM is dedicated to the memory of Norma Hotaling (1951-2008), prostitution survivor, founder of SAGE (Standing Against Global Exploitation), courageous advocate for prostituted women and children, and founder of the much replicated “Johns School” program, which rehabilitates sex buyers by helping them understand the realities of the sex trade.