I help to change people’s perception of the poor & marginalized -and in doing that help people change their perceptions of themselves. My writings here are always based in reality and experience-education and action are my buzz words. I like to use this space to tell the truth and show unvarnished pictures of the world around us. Its how I think, and honestly its my most authentic voice. Today I am proud to step away from my “voice” and to utilize this space to highlight the voice of another “Truth Teller”. Her voice is powerful and moved me. I hope it does the same for you.
I want justice to be so pervasive that it will be taken for granted, just as injustice is taken for granted today. ~Gloria Macpagal Arroyo
The issue of social justice for women makes my heart start racing. I want to stand up and scream for things to change. They have to, right? Women continue to know levels of hardship and harm that defy my comprehension: objectification, inequity, discrimination, domestic violence, sexual trafficking. How can such continue, be propagated, and even allowed without a collective battle-stance against such realities? Social justice is defined as “the distribution of advantages and disadvantages within a society.” For me, that (mis)distribution emerges directly from our held perspectives and beliefs; the lenses through which we view and understand everything: religion, philosophy, politics, ethics, social constructs. Most of the time these lenses go unnamed and unacknowledged, thus becoming match-to-flame for social justice’s absence – again and ongoing.
How did we get here? And more importantly, how are we to make headway, restore hope, or ever tilt the scales within our world? Can we really expect such deeply-entrenched perspectives and beliefs to change, thereby enabling new ones?
After I sit back down and let my pulse slow, I begin to ask questions and allow my mind to wander into stories and texts that have shaped, if not contributed to and created, our current realities. And though disturbing, I begin to feel a spark of hope. Here’s why: I believe that social justice can and will (at least in part) be powerfully present when we look back, reimagine, and reinterpret our past; when we name and acknowledge our interpretive lenses; when we change our foundational perspectives and beliefs. Instead of letting history repeat itself, we create a new future. We write a new story.
When I look back I often go to old, old narratives; sacred texts that have undeniably shaped nearly every philosophical, religious, and social construct we now hold. And I often begin with Eve. At least in the Christian tradition, her tale lays the foundation for every subsequent perspective and belief affecting women; the ones, in my opinion, that must change, that can actually invite social justice in new and powerful ways.
The earliest interpreters understood Eve as the tempter of man (thus leading to our endless downfall), as willfully disobeying, listening to the serpent, and thereby escorting evil into perfection and single-handedly securing our banishment from Eden. Clearly: a disadvantage from which we have not been able to regain equilibrium. With this abiding belief system, it’s not hard to make the leap to the realities of injustice. Women have unwittingly borne the consequences of Eve’s choice in a world that tells her she is impossible to trust; a seductress whose curse is to bear any and all pain and suffering – silently and without recourse. (I admit it and apologize: these are broad generalizations. ‘Hope you can go with me just a bit further…)
What if we chose to reinterpret Eve’s story, to reframe this applied interpretive lens?
What if we could shift the attribution of original sin, shame, and scandal to curiosity, truth-telling, desire, and strength? What if we honored her contribution to civilization, to motherhood, to enabled relationship with the Divine? It changes everything. It tips the scales from disadvantage to advantage. It invites social justice.
And what if we reinterpreted the snake? In many religious traditions, it holds an honored status as a symbol of wisdom. Instead of being the embodiment of evil and temptation (which then somehow transmuted itself to Eve), what if it was understood as a wise messenger that invites us to listen to our own voice, our own heart, our own intuition – and then to act? It changes everything. It tips the scales from disadvantage to advantage. It invites social justice.
I could go on and on. The ramifications of textual interpretation – particularly those that are tightly woven into our culture’s subliminal systems and structures – are vast and deep. Women have been and continue to be impacted; yes, harmed. And, as such, men as well. The scales of social justice tip.
Not a small topic, social justice’s manifestation is profound, weighty, and multi-faceted. But movement and hope occurs when perspectives and beliefs change; when a new telling of an old story occurs. A story that holds social justice as commonplace, affirmed, and desired. A story that tells of women as honored, valued, and esteemed. A story that feels far closer to the Eden we continue to long for. A story that shelters a tree, the fruit of which we all eat liberally. Go on, take a bite…
Ronna Detrick speaks, writes, and has amazing, RENEGADEconversations about Faith, Feminism, and Telling the Truth. She is compelled by ways in which these three topics weave themselves together in individual lives, relationships, and systems and can’t stop talking about such! Join the conversation! Twitter: @RonnaDetrick, Facebook, and via her blog/newsletter: https://www.RonnaDetrick.com.