Announcing Thomas Talks!

I am so excited to announce that ThomasTalks.net is live! This is the culmination of my life’s journey and working for 3 years with a ministry coach and a team of amazing women who God has brought into my life to help me on several projects — I’m so grateful they have continued alongside on this one!

Please, check it out! If there is anything you would like to see addressed there, or you would like to talk to me about contributing there, please let me know. There will be memes and voices and I hope it will be an encouragement to many of you as you navigate the journey of life and ask questions about how faith impacts who we are and what we do.

On Complementarianism . . . or, “But I know a marriage that . . . “

I’m excited that we have launched Thomas Talks and I’m moving some articles over there! http://thomastalks.net/2017/06/22/on-complimentarianism-or-but-i-know-a-marriage-that/

Thoughts on Shabbat

I’ve heard people argue that women weren’t expected to observe lots of Torah because it was sexist and they had to take care of children. it is true that women were excused from the obligation of certain things in Torah because of caring for the children, but it’s more that God views caring for the needs of children and the elderly as most important. God doesn’t consider these things work!

Everyone in Israel — Jew and the sojourner, the servants and the animals, was expected to rest. It isn’t just for Jewish people. In fact, Sabbath means “rest.” And it’s commanded, but it’s a gift and an invitation extended to us. God finished creation and then rested and invites us to rest with him in his completed work. I’ve most loved the analogy that it is like a date day with God. That God set aside a day to spend with us and invites us to join him in what he’s doing and we either show up or don’t.

Shabbat is a "date day" with God

Shabbat is a “date day” with God

Lots of people ask me “what is work that we have to avoid?” I tell them Scripture speaks of not engaging in buying and selling in the market, not lighting a fire, and not doing your every day work. And then I tell them, “You know when you’re working.” Sometimes I start something and then realize I’m working so I stop 😛 Jesus spoke about the acceptance that if your ox falls in a ditch on Sabbath you pull it out. A friend once shared that her father added, “If your ox falls in a ditch every Sabbath, fix the fence.” 😉

When we were able to faithfully observe Sabbath it was a wonderful time in our lives. Moves, pregnancies, near death experiences, life . . . honoring Sabbath changed a bit in what it looks like, but here’s what I learned . . . being able to really rest took planning. I cleaned the house over the week and kept to my routine and knew what we were eating on Sabbath and kept to fresh or crock pot meals so that I didn’t have to work at food prep. Some weeks now I just intentionally set aside work that didn’t get done in advance – if I couldn’t be bothered to do it over the last 6 days it will keep for one more 😉

I love that it’s forbidden to fast on Sabbath — it is a day of love – loving God, loving your family, loving your neighbor, loving yourself!

I love the quote from Abraham Joshua Heschel from “The Sabbath”:

“One who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screen of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man.”

One of the things that I love is that the New Moon celebration every month is also a Shabbat — for women only! Women aren’t allowed to work that day.

I think our culture has so completely abandoned the appreciation of rest in the shadow of the Protestant work ethic. We need to rest. We were created for it.

Privilege is what we have to share

Privilege comes in a variety of areas of life and is not the same as “perk, benefit, blessing, gift, or unearned anything.” Privilege is potentially damaging to the people who have it if they don’t handle it appropriately, which is why it’s important to some of us to talk about it. It isn’t anything to feel guilty about. It is simply the reality that within cultures there are some things that come with inherent value that the people who have it enjoy without thinking about it but those who don’t have it are aware that they don’t have it. That isn’t an excuse, or a justification for being a victim, etc. Usually it’s in the area of the things that we wake up not having to think about or be aware of. We may or may not have done anything to get it. But we have it and it has value.

One example (and by no means a defining one, but it is a relevant one and it resonates with me because my undergraduate degree is in theatre) is how represented you are in media. White men are everywhere — they are the majority of heroes, main characters, romantic leads, historical characters movies get made about. Prior to discussions about privilege and representation most black characters were slaves, bad guys, minor characters or not represented at all. The impact of growing up seeing yourself as the hero and the main character in every setting has an affect on you — just like growing up not seeing yourself adequately represented, or only represented in relation to the main character, has an impact on you. It’s not white men’s fault that they were the ones most represented, but they benefited from that. That benefit is the privilege. All they did was watch the movie — and they got to see themselves portrayed in amazing ways. All the time — every movie.

This is a systemic issue — and there are lots of privileges that are granted to all different people depending on their subculture and personal accomplishments. But the issue isn’t about blaming privilege or people with privilege — it’s about what we do with our privilege. And until we acknowledge the areas where we have privilege we are not doing anything productive with them. It takes humility to consider where we might have been granted something unearned, undeserved, and unsought that others had withheld. And when we engage honestly and humbly with the issues we see that there are ways that we are empowered to help others.

Just as an example, if I’m in a group where someone makes racist jokes I tell them it’s not okay. I don’t expect any person of color present to stand up for themselves because clearly the person telling a racist joke isn’t interested in hearing from a person of color. There is no respect there. There is no privilege granted them in that position — they could speak up, they have every right to speak up, but I’m not in the group being demeaned so I’m going to say something. In the same way, when people are denigrating women I don’t hesitate to speak up but I’m also grateful for the men present who step in and call it out. A man who demeans women is less inclined to listen to a woman than they are a man — so when a man says it’s not cool that carries more weight to someone who listens to men and not women.

Think about the Beatitudes — they aren’t just words of encouragement to those who are down on their luck until God sees fit to bless them and change their circumstances. They are pearls of wisdom for how we are to live. Meek, humble, merciful, peacemakers.
When it comes to privilege if we can stop being defensive and honestly and humbly consider the areas where we are privileged we can engage with meek humility and seek mercy for all as we try to be peacemakers. Jesus had the privilege of being the Son of God and he did not think it worth holding onto but he came to earth and endured what humans do when we’re confronted with holiness — and died for us so that we might live. He laid down his privilege.

Privilege is what we have to share

Privilege is what we have to share

So this isn’t about victimhood anymore than acknowledging our struggle with sin is victimhood. And I don’t personally need anyone to acknowledge their area of privilege in order for my life to go on exactly as it has and will continue to go on. But I know from experience that when we can acknowledge our areas of privilege and lay down our lives for those who don’t have that privilege, and if we all did that for each other, we’d be living in a much better world. I know that because it’s following the example of Jesus.

I know you think we agree

Not on everything, but on what the Bible says everywhere. At least, that’s your thought if you believe there is a “clear and obvious meaning of the text.”

You think we read any portion of text and we all know it says X and that means if I do Y I have obviously rejected the “clear and obvious X meaning of the text” and I am rejecting Scripture.

I know that’s what you think because that is how you have behaved. It comes out in how you talk to me. It comes out in how you post to me. It comes out in your dripping sarcasm in that Facebook group. I’m not blind to it — I’m ignoring it. (Or, sometimes, just calling it out and letting you know I’m okay with it.)

I don’t take offense because I get that you think we agree.

I’m writing this to make it very clear to you that we do NOT agree. bible-428947_1920

For decades I have been studying the Bible — taking it very seriously, learning how to read Hebrew and study in the original languages, learning how to use study tools, learning everything I can about the culture in which it was written and the context around the verse in question, getting a Master’s in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and studying for my career — and sometimes where you believe it says X I am convinced to the core of my being and the depth of my soul and the fullness of my mind that it says Y.

You are free to disagree with me but know this . . . I disagree with you and I believe you are wrong.

I’m comfortable with that if you are. I feel no need to be right and have no interest in trying to prove you wrong. I believe you have come to your belief with what you’ve done to get there and that’s fine with me. If you believe it says X then you definitely need to be obedient to X. That is your conviction.

I believe it says Y. I must be obedient to Y. I answer to God for Y. I’m not going to do X just because you said I have to.

I’m writing this to share with you the real issue here . . . if I do X it will be out of fear of men. If I continue to do Y it will be out of respect for God. I’m going with God.

I’m willing to continue sharing. I’m open to hearing how you concluded it said X. I love engaging in dialogue with people and many times as they share their process I learn new things and I may end up respecting their position more. I am willing to share my process and how I understand the text and why. We can get to now each other’s opinions.

If you’re open to that let’s do it! If not, I respect your choice and we can end this dialogue. Perhaps our path will cross again. It will be interesting to see where we are if that happens. I wish you well and pray blessings on you.

Ephesians 5 . . . husbands/wives and Christ/Church

A human has a head with a brain and a body with a heart. If either is dead the person is dead. In Ephesians, Paul explains that, for the purposes of the analogy he is making — AFTER saying that all believers are to submit to one another — the man is the head of the person and the woman is the body. This fits with the idea held at his time that the man was closer to the mind of God and the woman closer to the heart of God . . . it also fits with the belief also held at his time that the heart was the ruling organ of the body and the Jewish belief that women intuitively understand things about God that men need to study to learn.

The human — who was one person until divided into two and then called to be Echad — a word that translates “one” but which is not “singular one” but is more like “one bunch of grapes” or a plural, multi-faceted one. I express it as plural unity because it is the word for the two shall become one AND the word used when Moses says, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” Just as Jesus said “I and the father are one” and he explains that he hasn’t do anything the hasn’t seen the Father doing. They function in plural unity.

One bunch of grapes

One bunch of grapes

And that’s important because Paul ends the section of Ephesians 5 with this statement “29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (yes, there is one additional verse here but it’s a practical summary moving back from the analogy and it’s been twisted so much that it warrants it’s own discussion)

Jesus loves the church how? By sacrificing, laying down his life, redeeming, and loving us thoroughly! Men — imagine your wives are like your own body — imagine you have literally become one flesh with them. That’s the mystery and that’s the picture — as well as you do this, that’s the picture you are giving to the world about what the relationship between Christ and the Church looks like. Your picture will be imperfect, but that’s what you’re aiming for.

Christ and the Church is NOT the analogy of husband and wife. Husband and wife is the analogy for Christ and the Church

So Christ and the Church is NOT the analogy of husband and wife. Husband and wife is the analogy for Christ and the Church. And just as the church is supposed to strive for plural unity with Christ, that is intended to be expressed to the world when they see husband and wife functioning plural unity — the picture we give is what they will understand. And where we fail we destroy the picture . . . kind of like how Moses struck the rock and destroyed a picture of Messiah and the Jews know they needed and credit with their errors from that point on.

Women and Men really can be Friends

I know that most messages in our culture are saying the opposite. I know that everywhere we look we’re told that men and women can’t be friends.

Sam and Diane (Cheers)
When Harry Met Sally
Selfie (for the Millennials who might now know it was a modern adaptation of the classic My Fair Lady which also fits the list 😉 )

The reason that most books, tv shows and movies appear to be sending the message that women and men can’t be friends is that they are primarily about the two main characters who ultimately get together. This is why we watch — we like the romance, we like the idea that two people will find each other in the midst of the crowds of people we interact with on a daily basis.

The two finding each other is the crowd is so exciting is because it’s not our experience with everyone. We don’t fall in love or into bed with every person we meet. Which means that everyone we don’t find that romantic connection with has the potential to be something else . . . a friend.

women and men really can be friends!

women and men really can be friends!

Let’s be honest, it’s not cool to hang out with people who don’t have integrity and you don’t want to be romantically involved with someone who lacks integrity either! Just avoid them! And if you only hang out with people of integrity you can have wonderful friendships whether they are women or men.

Thomas Talks about Contentment

There comes a time where you have to acknowledge your limitations and rely on the people who God has put around you to shore you up. When you cast the vision that God put in you and trust that the people it relies on are going to catch the vision and do what they need to do to see that vision realized.

In this case the vision is for something I’m so very excited about — Thomas Talks.

The people I need to rely on are the amazing team of women that God has brought into my life over the years who understand, much more than I do, what it’s going to take to get this going the right way. I’m so grateful they believe in the vision and see what God is doing — but of course they do, God brought us together to do this!

Thomas Talks is a Reconciliation ministry.

What does this mean?

1) Thomas Talks is purposed to make amends where people have been wounded and wronged by those who claimed to be representing God — whether institutions or individuals. If someone was wounded and wronged then the one(s) who came to them were not representing God — whether correctly or at all. We want to remove unnecessary obstacles to God that have been put in people’s lives. What comes of that we trust the Lord and the individual to work out and while we’d be honored to be a part of that, we believe it’s inappropriate to create goals for other people’s lives.

and

2) Thomas Talks is about open and inclusive dialogue about anything related to Biblical faith. In too many faith communities there isn’t a respect for questions and those who have them are deemed trouble makers, doubters, and, if they are women, Jezebels. This is wrong and God is bigger than our questions! We believe questions are valid and are often an expression of faith, rather than doubt. We say ask the questions — and then get good information as you seek out the answers. We also say that too many people have been arguing about the right answers to the wrong questions and we want to help you ask better questions!

We want to provide comprehensive answers to questions that include what is really found in Scripture (in context) as well as the history of how issues have been dealt with over time and encouragement for how to shine God’s love and truth into those situations today. Towards these ends we are committed to collaborating with amazing people and ministries who are addressing relevant and important issues — and doing it well.

We have a website that I’m so excited about! ThomasTalks.net As it turns out, to get us started correctly it’s going to take a lot more talent and skill set than I bring to the table. We opened up a membership chat room right after the election because we wanted to make our space available, and several people joined. In the end, it was easier to move that to a Facebook group, but right in the aftermath I was so grateful for that space! We’ll use it again. In the meantime we have put out information about a Pre-Inaugural Time of Meditation and Prayer that we co-hosted with Imagine Yoga in our local area. Eventually we want to provide resources and encouragement for similar types of meetings that people might want to hold to address various issues. Goodness knows there is no shortage of issues right now!

While I give my team the time they need to build the site in it’s entirety and correctly I’m focusing my energies on growing the community. As I mentioned, we’re on Facebook. We’re a closed group, but you can find us and we’d love to have you if you need this kind of space. I’m also going to be blogging here more while I wait. The goal will be to move the articles from here out onto the Thomas Talks site so many of them will be written with the goals of Thomas Talks in mind. Feel free to comment and engage with me. I keep the comments moderated but I really do approve them! Just want to keep out the very clever spammers and the people who troll around without good intentions. We don’t need that kind of negativity in our lives so I try to keep it out of yours.

In addition, if you have a ministry (blogging, books, speaking, music, whatever) and you think that your heart meshes with what we’re trying to do here, reach out to me. Post a comment or contact me through the group on Facebook. I want to know about you so I can let others know about you. When people want to find good resources I want them to be able to!

So there it is. We’re in the stage of moving towards and I’m accepting the things I cannot change and working on what is mine to do. In the end I am convinced that God’s timing is going to be perfect and what God has called us to do will be amazing. I don’t want to do it in my own strength anyway. I just want to put my strength towards what I can do today.

Screen Shot 2016-11-19 at 3.53.09 PM

All I knew about love I learned from . . .

Here’s a plot line for you. Try to guess the movie.

A guy is dating someone for a long time and doesn’t have much respect for them. He starts liking someone else and finds out they like him so he’s thinking of cheating on his girlfriend.

She’s drunk one night so he just gives her to the guy who tells him information about the new girl and sends him off with her. It’s okay though because when the guy sleeps with rapes her — her thinking it’s her boyfriend because she’s so drunk — she kind of likes him more and he’s really tender and sweet.

The guy who gave her away like that is still the desired guy of the new girl and all of these things were just an obstacle to their love so when he shows up for her she’s over the moon and her wish came true.

Did you get it? Does it at least sound familiar? If you grew up watching John Hughes films you might have already pegged it as Sixteen Candles And if you haven’t watched it recently you might be having a moment of disconnect because we were sold this as an incredibly romantic movie and that doesn’t fit with what we now understand about rape and romance.

I watched it with my daughter last night. I was sharing old movies with her and we watched Pretty In Pink. We talked about how far at least our area of the world has come with breaking tPretty In Pinkhrough socio-economic barriers that would have meant so much more in the 1980’s and she asked questions about why these people couldn’t even talk to those people and why was this even an issue? I told her movies like this caused us to question our social expectations and made us look at people differently.

We did talk about the reality that Duckie was an unapologetic stalker who sexually harasses every girl he comes in contact with all while declaring his undying love for our main lady who gets 100 messages from him while she’s not home and he forces a kiss on Annie Potts’ character . . . but it’s okay because it’s a good kiss.
I had seen Sixteen Candles on Netflix. A friend had mentioned watching it with her daughter recently and being a bit surprised at some of the subject matter and the language that we just took for granted. I was prepared. . . but I wasn’t. Because I was suddenly confronted with scenes that we just took for granted as being normal that were horrifying me.

Like the scene when she is physically trapped on the bus by the King of the Dipshits as he tries to force himself on her and he blames her for being rude and not wanting his advances. She’s made to look rude and even feels badly enough about it that she gives him her panties so that he can tell everyone in the school that he slept with her.

Sixteen CandlesI’m not even going to get into the ageist portrayal of the grandparents or the racist portrayal of the Asian exchange student and what a mess Long Duck Dong was–from his name to his finally having a “place to put his hand” on his “sexy American girlfriend.”

I want to grab the birthday girl and ask her what she’s thinking. Does she really want to imagine spending the rest of her life, or even giving her virginity, to this guy who treated his ex-girlfriend likes such human property and garbage. He literally sold her to a guy she didn’t know in exchange for information and the underwear he’d been given. He told her, in her drunken state, that the other guy was him and then sent her off into the night with him. Is that what she wants for her future? That is really her dream guy?

So we have John Hughes to thank for calling our generation to question socio-economic barriers and how we treat people who are different from us. And he carries blame for reinforcing sexual abuse of women and dismissing men behaving horribly.

At one point in the movie I turned to my daughter and said, “If you ever wonder why women my age are often so unapologetically feminist, this is why. We were sold this bucket of garbage as romance and some of us are really pissed about it.” She just nodded her head.

I am so grateful she lives in a different reality than I did and she can see this for what it is at such a young age.

Consent, Rape, Agency & Privilege

WARNING! This is sensitive!

And, yes, this is CRAP!

The big news for the past week is the Stanford swimmer who raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and received a sentence of six months in jail.

Story here

Woman’s statement here 

I don’t want to talk about the rape. If you are able to read the woman’s statement, you will find that she has captured the vulnerability of being violated in all of the ways that a rape violates you—your body, your soul, your privacy, your confidence, your future —and REviolates you if you go through a court trial. She can speak for herself.

I don’t want to talk about the rapist. Nothing can undo what he has done and he has to live the rest of his life knowing who he is and what he did. I hope it bothers him and that he is motivated to change. I fear that won’t happen, especially after the judge trivialized everything to the level that he did. I still hope.

I don’t really want to talk about the judge.*

I want to talk about the ruling.

The details of this rape expose the actions of a man who has no regard for women and who used and violated a woman who had no ability to give consent. She was an object to him. He used her in the very place he threw her away. She was, quite literally, garbage to him.

As part of the ruling the judge had this to say:

“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Persky said at Turner’s sentencing on Thursday. “I think he will not be a danger to others.”

Did the judge mean to say this guy wouldn’t hurt anyone ELSE?

The woman who was raped could not remember the attack. Read in her own words how she found out what had happened to her (from her statement and edited to remove the most graphic details):

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, (description of violations)…. by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. .… I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. .…

And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming.

I want to talk about the ruling.

Six months.

Six months for rape.

Six months for rape of an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

No matter how many times I say or hear it I just can’t wrap my brain around it.

Six months because the guy is good at swimming and the judge didn’t think he’d hurt anyone.

This ruling is INSANE!

Six months of which he will probably only serve 3 months . . . and he won’t need to go to prison. He can serve that in the local jail.  And now he’s appealing!

And then my head exploded . . .

Did the judge really think that this action was done without enough empathy and understanding of how much it would hurt her? Because if that is the case I’m terrified.

When I talked about this case with my daughter and her friends I validated her outrage and encouraged her to rage on, because this is rage-worthy! I also shared my perspective after being part of this society for as many decades as I have.

What I hear in this ruling is not that the judge really thinks that this sick rapist isn’t going to hurt anyone else.

What I hear in this ruling is that the judge had the opportunity to give a white, athletic, college kid at a good school a chance to achieve his potential.

And even more than that, I hear a judge paying it forward.

Please do not misread me — I am not accusing this judge of having raped someone under these or any circumstances. What I mean is that somewhere along the line this judge did something—could be anything—that had the chance to dramatically impact his life. When he did, someone was in a position to give him a break and a second chance and he went on to achieve something. I mean, look at him, he’s a respectable judge now!

This judge connected to something in this young Stanford swimmer standing before him and saw the opportunity to give him a second chance to make something of himself.

That is not an inherently bad thing. There are so many times when someone who can empathize with your plight and extend you some mercy can give you that needed second chance. In this case it was done by excusing such a heinous crime that the absurdity would be hysterical if it wasn’t so horrific. This young man was privileged to have a judge in a position of authority who could be gracious with him, regardless of what he was accused of, because in some way the judge had been there, done that, and knew how important it was to get that second chance when he did.

“Prosecutors had asked for Judge Persky, a Stanford alumni, to sentence Turner to six years in a state prison. The maximum for the three felony charges – assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object – was 14 years.

In justifying the six-month sentence, Judge Persky said positive character references written on Turner’s behalf, such as that given by his father, had factored into his decision. His age, his lack of a criminal history, and the role that alcohol played in the assault were also mitigating factors.”

CkNAfpIWkAAGIEt

Positive character references like the one given by his father — the one where he bemoans the fact that his son raping an unconscious woman has taken away his appetite — are what moved the judge to compassion. For a rapist. The rapist just doesn’t enjoy steak anymore but there is no compassion for the woman who will always live with the damage done to her without her consent. Did the judge even ask if she’s enjoying her steak? Did the judge care? Or does he agree that what happened was merely “20 minutes of action?”

The rapists dad is honestly standing before the woman his son raped and saying he’s suffered enough because he doesn’t enjoy steaks anymore. As if these two things are even in the same universe. She was raped. He got in trouble for raping her. He’s the victim. I can’t even . . . NO WORDS!

What is most disgusting is that the rapist’s father considers the “wrong” his son did, “20 minutes of action.” Not 20 minutes of raping an incapacitated woman. Not 20 minutes of the worst decision he ever made. “20 minutes of action.”

He even referred to the rape as sexual promiscuity. The definition of promiscuous is “characterized by or involving indiscriminate mingling or association, especially having sexual relations with a number of partners on a casual basis.” I have to wonder how many people you are having indiscriminate sex with that you don’t notice the one you’re currently shoving yourself into isn’t conscious and hasn’t given consent. Or maybe you’re raping so many women that you didn’t realize this one would say something.

Here’s the thing . . . this man SHOULD feel guilty for what he did. He SHOULD have trouble enjoying a steak after raping an unconscious woman. This is the only thing keeping me from asking if he’s a full out sociopath.

And all of this is being argued in front of “Judge Persky, a Stanford alumni

The judge couldn’t empathize with an unconscious woman who was raped. That had never happened to him. He didn’t grow up in the world feeling victimized or not having the opportunities he had as a Stanford student. He didn’t ever experience being at the frat party as a woman. He didn’t ever have anyone take his unconscious body behind a dumpster and insert foreign objects. In his mind she’s culpable — despite what the unanimous jury said. In his mind she’s the girl who showed up at the party, got drunk, and should have known that being there is the same as consent.

Except it ISN’T!

There is a lot of talk out there right now about women having agency, and about crimes like this robbing them of their agency. The issue of agency is that we, as women, are supposed to have the right to speak for ourselves. We get to have a voice in our own lives and make decisions about our own experiences.

The right to consent speaks to the Constitutional rights of life and liberty, not to mention the pursuit of happiness. Without it your life can be taken and you have no say. Without it your liberty can be infringed upon taking away your freedom and have no say. Without it you lack the opportunity to pursue happiness, because you certainly have no say about what may or may not bring you happiness.

This type of situation is where the right to agency and the ability to offer or withhold consent runs smack dab into the wall of privilege.**

Think about this rape and imagine yourself there. If you are already thinking that you wouldn’t have raped her you have identified a privilege.

Many of us imagine ourselves in that situation and we are fully aware we would be the rape victim. Or we find ourself triggered remembering the time we were the one being violated.

Far too many people seem to not get the fact that there should be NO assumption that a man will have sex with any woman at all — even his wife — without her enthusiastic willingness and freely offered consent. Why? Because to do otherwise is rape.

You read that right – if you don’t have consent then any penetration with any part of your body is rape.

Ignoring the importance of consent is robbing someone of their voice. Without a voice you have no agency. Without agency what is done is happening to you, not with you.

Privilege is about thinking you are entitled to something — like this rapist thought he was entitled to jam himself into an unconscious woman, and his dad’s assumption that his son is entitled to happily enjoy a steak while the woman he raped is living every day with the reality of what was done to her and what was stolen from her in the process.

I believe everyone should have privilege! I believe everyone should have a voice everywhere without fear of repercussion! There really is enough to go around.

The reason it doesn’t change anything to start listing all the ways your life has been hard as evidence that you can’t have privilege is that it’s given to you by those who can relate to you and your struggles. It’s something you give to others when you can relate to their struggles. It’s a kind of empathy that is great . . . except when it’s inclusive to ‘your kind.’ The only way to extend it to the “other” is to spend enough time getting to know them and learn about their struggles.

I have no doubt that in this man’s future he will bring up this situation every time he wants to prove that he doesn’t havep privilege. He will talk about how he was dragged to court despite being rich (by the state in defense of the woman he dragged behind a dumpster and violated). He will talk about how he had to go to jail even though he’s a great swimmer (but only jail and not prison, and for 3 months compared to Corey Batey who raped an unconscious woman but is black and is currently serving 15-25 years in prison). He will talk about how hard it was to not even enjoy a steak with his father. Poor baby.

He will probably not appreciate how much privilege he has because he believes he is entitled to more. But he got off so easy because he is privileged to be in a situation that the judge in his trial can empathize with.

The judge identified with the poor Stanford athlete who got drunk and did something so many guys before him have done.

The judge didn’t identify with the unconscious woman being raped behind a dumpster.

And that is a big ole pile of crap if ever I saw one.

*The judge identified with the poor Stanford athlete who got drunk and did something so many guys before him have done.

**The judge didn’t identify with the unconscious woman being raped behind a dumpster.