Lucy Report — june 5, 2016
I have a young friend, who is smart and brave and beautiful inside and out. She is fit, teaches spin classes, and likes to walk. Everywhere. Recently we got together in Adams-Morgan, a neighborhood in DC, with a mutual friend for drinks and snacks and sweets. It was just beginning to get dark when we said our goodbyes.
It would not have been unusual for my friend to take off walking; it’s about 4 miles from Adams Morgan and her SW Waterfront home. But we cautioned her against it. “It’s getting dark,” I said. “You are too pretty,” our other friend said. She acknowledged there have been a couple of times recently while walking that she felt a little threatened as men cat-called (i.e. harassed) her. She took a self-defense class and learned “that if there are two men, then I’m toast.”
She relented and ordered an Uber. As we waited she said: “What makes me mad is if I did walk, and something happened, I would be blamed. People would say I shouldn’t have been walking after dark. They wouldn’t say that men shouldn’t harass or assault me. They would say it is my fault.”
The victim of Brock Allen Taylor likely would agree. Taylor, a former Stanford swimmer, was convicted of assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman. He was sentenced this week. Prosecutors asked for a six-year prison sentence; the judge gave him six months county jail time “because a prison sentence would have a severe impact on his life.” Severe, you say?
At the least — and it is the least — the victim, for whom the attack will unquestionably have a life-long impact, was allowed to stand in the courtroom and address her attacker, and the letter she read has now gone viral, thanks to Buzzfeed (words I rarely utter.) Below is a graphic Buzzfeed created that makes the point I’m driving at.
Baptist and Feminist? The most powerful read for me this week — and sadly on the same themes of campus rape and accountability — is this opinion on the Baylor case by Kyndall Rae Rothaus, pastor of Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. This is the same Baylor rape case that forced Ken Starr — yes, that Ken Starr — to step down as president of Baylor and football coach, Art Briles, to be “removed.”
I can only think of one other time I’ve put the words Baptist and Feminist together (when quoting Jimmy Carter.) To be fair, I don’t keep up with Baptist news. It’s clear from this blistering essay, there are some active Baptist feminists. This. Woman. Is. Preaching.
“I was not surprised to learn the extent of Baylor’s mishandling of sexual assault cases, however, because I have been a Christian feminist among Baptists in Texas for some time,” writes Rothaus, who attended seminary at Baylor.
“I fear that if we don’t draw the connections between what has happened at Baylor and the unrelenting persistence of sexism in Baptist life, then most of us outside of Briles and Starr will be let off the hook. We won’t have to face our own culpability in creating, sustaining, and preserving a culture that relegates women to a second-class status, thus making it possible to view women as property for the taking. We have made it easy to prioritize athletic success over justice and safety. We have made it commonplace in Baptist life to dismiss women’s voices — whether they say, “I am called to preach,” or “Help, I’m being violated,” or “No, I don’t want to have sex with you.”
Give this one the 3 minutes it takes to read. Rothaus makes an excellent case that applies to other religions and other institutions. The degree to which sexism is baked into our culture, and thus those institutions that relay and reflect our culture, continues to surprise me. Which I think means I have a large capacity for naiveté. Or maybe I just keep calling the visceral reaction I have “surprise” when I mean “recoil with disgust.”
But if you are going to be president, what about us? Another moment this week when I…recoiled with disgust came when I read an anecdote in this New York Magazine story about Hillary Clinton. This is the best piece on Hillary I’ve read from the campaign trail; though the writer Rebecca Traister comes across a bit smitten. Okay, even with my endorsement, I know most of you won’t read it. But if you do, I recoiled at what Hillary shared about taking the LSAT, the exam to get into law school, at Harvard. Nasty stuff. It does explain some things, though.
Speaking of women as “property”: This disgusting interview with the Republican candidate for President Donald Trump surfaced this week. It’s from 1994; an interview with Nancy Collins of ABC News, in which he comments on his first and second wives, his expectations for dinner, and that “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing.” Turns out that danger is she might sound more like an executive than a wife (wife=soft.) And he basically compared his role in turning his wives into celebrities and executives to that of building buildings. You know, property.
The Taliban is still afraid of girls: In case you missed it, Nicholas Kristof’s column today lays out another story of a girl who just wants to learn. Here’s hoping Sultana makes it to college, and the world finds a way to tamp down the Taliban, perhaps by making sure all the Sultana’s get an education.
For your viewing, um, not sure I would say “pleasure” exactly, check out UnREAL: When I read in Vulture that UnREAL on Lifetime is ideal summertime viewing “both for fans of The Bachelor and for people who would rather set their pinkie toes on fire than sit through a rose ceremony,” I knew I had to check it out. So I did. And yes, I binged. I only have two more episodes to go to finish up season 1, just in time for the second season starting this week.
This show is a dark, dark dramedy co-created by a former producer of The Bachelor. It is a behind-the-scenes, fictional look at what it takes to produce such a reality “romance” show. It is shocking, absurd, familiar, disturbing, unflinching in its portrayal of women. And men. Season 1 is on Hulu.
Once you get through, say, the first five episodes or so watch The Faith Diaries, too. Faith is a character on the show; the diaries are a web-only series, doled out in 10 three-minute episodes (also on Hulu.) If you aren’t going to watch UnREAL, at least watch The Faith Diaries, to meet one of the most likeable characters I’ve met in a long time and to marvel at the storytelling form.
Another honor, past due: Stephanie Czech Rader was a Cornell chemistry major, but it turns out there weren’t jobs for women chemists in the 1930s. Born to Polish immigrants, Stephanie became a government translator, which ultimately led to a career as a spy in Poland. Thanks to a very persistent neighbor in Alexandria, Va., she finally received (posthumous) recognition this past week. Read her story and how she came to be honored.
I don’t think we’re related: Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (1832–1919) was a surgeon, abolitionist, outspoken advocate for women’s rights, dress reformist (she wore pants), and an all-around character and badass, according to womenyoushouldknow.net. Naturally, she became known as Contrary Mary.
Check out the Lucy Report page on Facebook between newsletters and follow on Twitter @thelucyreport.
Thanks for reading — Editor, Reagan Walker