Regarding Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court, sexual assault, and false accusations

Like many of you, I have been watching the coverage of the Brett Kavanaugh nomination-turned-fiasco. I have read the particular accusations against him and the many, varied responses to them. I read this coverage with a slight partisan perspective as someone who believes in Constitutional originalism and as someone who has concerns about a society that permits the killing of its young, and yet…I’m troubled.

I am concerned by the very serious accusations against Kavanaugh, and I am distressed by the responses to them.

I believe that there is more at stake in this moment than the nomination of an individual to the Supreme Court, no matter how important that is. How we handle sexual assault allegations, how we speak about women, what we expect of young men, and how we handle investigations into accusations of years-ago crimes that by their nature delay reporting of them—all of these questions are in play. We would do well to slow down, listen closely, and think deeply.

Toward that end, I commend this article: Between Brock Turner and Brett Kavanaugh, When do Girls Matter? Two warnings before you click on it, though. To all my readers who have been sexually assaulted or abused, this article may  trigger renewed trauma in you. Please click carefully, if at all.

To everyone else: I find the author’s logic to be very sound…and deeply painful. This is not an easy read. It is worth our contemplation, nonetheless.

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I have noticed that some of my friends with sons have a different reaction to the Kavanaugh allegations than I do, as a mom of daughters. Several times in the last week, I have heard the issue of false accusations raised. This may seem easy for me to say, but I think our societal fear of false accusations may be a red herring.

Yes, if your son were to be falsely accused of a sexual crime, it would be devastating and life-altering. I get that. The incidence of false accusations, though, is quite small.  Regarding that question, I found this article well-researched and helpfully detailed: What Kind of Person Makes False Rape Accusations.

Please do not allow the bogey-man of false accusations to stand in the way of you supporting investigation of sexual crimes and caring for victims. In my personal friend circle, I see a prevalence of sexual assault that matches or even exceeds the reported percentages. The numbers are real and shockingly high. In contrast, I do not believe a single one of my friends has ever been falsely accused of sexual assault.

The numbers of false accusations do not remotely compare to the number of actual sexual assaults. We must not put off grappling with something that happens often by an overblown fear of something that does not.

 

©Laura Goetsch and Thinking about Such Things, 2018.

Evangelicals, we have a major blind spot

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I have become convinced that white, American evangelical Christians have a major blind spot. I say this as a member of this community, reflecting on my own people.

Very often, we evangelicals do not see power. We are blind to power dynamics in the world and blind to them in the Scriptures. We cannot assess whether power is being used ethically and justly because we do not notice it is being used at all.

Here’s one way to test the teaching you’ve received and the lenses you’ve been given: were you taught that David’s sin with Bathsheba was primarily sexual? Or were you taught that his sin was the way he abused his power?

Continue reading “Evangelicals, we have a major blind spot”

The insufficiency of “consent”

IMG_2291I had just turned 22 when the Monica Lewinsky story broke. I remember a phone conversation with my dad at that time in which we disagreed on the relative guilt of the parties—he argued, if I remember correctly, that the preponderance belonged to President Clinton. I argued that Lewinsky and Clinton shared near equal culpability. After a bit, my dad concluded the conversation by saying, “Laura, I think you may be too young to understand.”

He was right.

I was too young, too inexperienced in the world. Here’s what I did not understand: power.

Continue reading “The insufficiency of “consent””

Choosing to live and love (puppies)

North America is being racked by disasters. Harvey, Irma, Maria, José, and now an earthquake, for crying out loud. Which I am. North Korea is firing missiles. The President of the United States is firing ill-advised tweets. White supremacists are gathering force.

The speed and variety of calamities bewilders both heart and mind. Where to focus? How to grieve? How to understand? Where to serve? What to give whom?

These are not easy questions, but they press on us. We must lean into them, discerning our individual calls in the midst of the suffering and the destruction.

For some, the temptation is to withdraw. To shut your ears, hunker down, pretend all is fine. We cannot do this. Too many are suffering and too much is at stake.

We also cannot neglect daily living and go into survival mode. At least those of us outside the disaster zones cannot. We must face our small lives and the large questions with equal tenacity. This is a tricky balance, a dance we must do day-by-day. Continue reading “Choosing to live and love (puppies)”

My favorite thing about the Bible may surprise you

It’s the beauty.

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Images that burst into color in my mind’s eye. Phrases that stop me cold.

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Malachi 4:2

I feel myself already warming in the healing rays of that sun, playing like a frolicking calf.

Continue reading “My favorite thing about the Bible may surprise you”

On reacting and writing slowly

Have you noticed that I’m always behind? I never offer “hot takes” on my blog, only stone cold ones. Sometimes I wait two weeks to discuss an event, sometimes a year.

Lagging behind is not what the experts recommend for bloggers and opinion writers. You’re supposed to respond to events within 24 hours, offering incisive analysis on call.

I have deliberately chosen not to do this. It takes me longer than 24 hours to understand an event—what happened and why. And then I need to mull it over—reading wise commentators, feeling my feelings, praying, and discussing it with people whose perspective I trust.  This is how I discern both truth and wisdom.  Neither one comes quickly. 

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It may not be obvious from this blog, but I am actually an impulsive person. I have strong and immediate reactions that I enjoy acting on. I am comfortable letting my gut lead me.

I have chosen, however, to never hit “publish” impulsively. When I put my thoughts online, I want them to be well-considered. I need to be confident I have thought an issue through from multiple angles, that I have treated the players graciously, that I can stand behind both my opinion and my tone.

And when I have failed in either regard, I welcome feedback from readers. Such failures are far less frequent if I take time to listen, think, and write slowly, however. I save myself a lot of trouble when I am “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

We all know the dangers of a quick tongue. How much greater the dangers of a quick keyboard?

 

©Laura Goetsch and Thinking about Such Things, 2017.

 

Mean Mom: middle school edition

In a few short months, my oldest daughter will graduate from elementary school and become a middle schooler. (Hold me.) In addition to all the perennial challenges of the junior high years—hormones, mean girls, a larger school, kids who party—we must figure out how to navigate social media and smart phones.

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How I prefer she spend her time. Outside, playing badminton.

For the first time in my parenting, I cannot look to my parents’ model or that of my wise friends with older kids. Even five years ago, smart phones were far less ubiquitous than they are today. My cabinet cannot help me here because when their daughters were in middle school, flip phones were socially acceptable. Snapchat hadn’t been invented.  Today, 50% of kids have smart phones in 6th grade and 90% have them by 8th grade.

Continue reading “Mean Mom: middle school edition”