Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sections

Donate Now

MeaningfulVoicesBookClubPORTLET.jpg

 
Blog Section Banner
 
You are here: Home >> Blog >> Guest Blog: Sharing the Torch: Intergenerational Cooperation

Guest Blog: Sharing the Torch: Intergenerational Cooperation

Feb 18, 2020

Not too long ago, when I was first learning the ins and outs of Anita Hill’s testimony against Clarence Thomas and the “Year of the Woman,” I called my mom and asked what she remembered about it all. I was just a toddler in 1992; my mom was a camera woman at the local NBC affiliate—a boys’ club. Despite having worked at a news station, she didn’t remember much about the hearings or how many women joined the Senate (4) or the House of Representatives (24) the next year. What she did remember were her coworkers’ unwanted kisses, the sexist comments, and that time she threatened to quit her job, while pregnant, because of the perpetual sexual harassment she endured at the station. 香蕉视频app安卓

Guest Blog: Sharing the Torch: Intergenerational Cooperation

Lauren Sawyer

By Lauren D. Sawyer

Not too long ago, when I was first learning the ins and outs of Anita Hill’s testimony against Clarence Thomas and the “Year of the Woman,” I called my mom and asked what she remembered about it all. I was just a toddler in 1992; my mom was a camera woman at the local NBC affiliate—a boys’ club. Despite having worked at a news station, she didn’t remember much about the hearings or how many women joined the Senate (4) or the House of Representatives (24) the next year. What she did remember were her coworkers’ unwanted kisses, the sexist comments, and that time she threatened to quit her job, while pregnant, because of the perpetual sexual harassment she endured at the station.

I am grateful I have not had to endure such toxic work environments as my mom. This is thanks in part to policies like the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Violence Against Women Act which protect women in their careers and against gender-based discrimination and violence. It is also in part to the activists, scholars, and clergy that have devoted their life’s work to challenging the norms of male violence against and control over women.

香蕉视频app安卓And yet, there is more work to be done.

My generation has been at the forefront of the #ChurchToo movement, since fellow Millennials Emily Joy and Hannah Paasch created the hashtag in light of the #MeToo exposés. #ChurchToo is a reminder that sexual violence happens even in our most sacred spaces.

I had wrongly assumed, perhaps like many others, that the messages of #MeToo and #ChurchToo were completely novel, unlike anything our foremothers had accomplished. In some ways, this movement is different. Social media has made the widespread organizing of campaigns easier. The fact that a diversity of organizations like FaithTrust, the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church, and a number of Bible colleges and universities recognize the impact of #ChurchToo says something of the momentum it has.

As someone who internalized the harmful messages of as a teen, I am most excited about the slew of recent books connecting the harms of purity culture to the perpetuation of sexual violence in the church and in Christians homes. These books, like , , and , are written by feminist-minded Millennials who are fed up with silence around this particular mode of injustice. This work seems, if not wholly new, incredibly relevant to the world we live in now.

But we must remember that these movements exist because of the brave folks before us: Anita Hill for one—my mother too. I sometimes worry that people my age are not willing to seek out the work that has come before us. We too easily dismiss movements that were not as successful or as revolutionary as we perceive ours to be. But just because there is still a need for #MeToo and #ChurchToo campaigns does not mean that there have not been great strides in the past that we can learn and grow from. We can still recognize there is more to be done—especially toward antiracism and LGBTQ-inclusion—without forgetting how far we have come.

True, we cannot always call our moms for a history lesson. But we can read the canon of work before us. We can listen to the survivors, activists, and clergy who have been a part of this justice work since before we were born—and, I hope, they will listen to us and read our books, blog posts, and tweets. Together we can do impressive, impactful work against violence in our churches, workspaces, and homes.

 

About the Author:

Lauren D. Sawyer is Ph.D. student of Christian Social Ethics at Drew Theological School. She studies how women and LGBTQ folks develop moral agency under the constraints of evangelical purity culture. Between paper-writing and impressive amounts of coffee, she works as Submissions Editor for the .

 

We welcome your comments.
Your comments will not be visible until approved by a moderator.

 

Document Actions