Making Peace not War

Bodies Matter 2

There’s a war on women’s bodies.

Earlier this year, a 33 year-old Indiana resident named Purvi Patel was sentenced to twenty years of imprisonment. She had sought medical attention in a Mishawaka, Indiana emergency room for excessive vaginal bleeding and eventually revealed to the medical team that she had miscarried, and disposed of the fetus in a dumpster, which was later discovered there by authorities. At the crux of the legal case was the issue of whether Patel had miscarried or self-aborted, whether she had delivered a live baby or a nonliving fetus, and whether her pregnancy was even far enough along to deliver a viable live child.

Yet, Patel is not the first woman to be convicted of feticide here in Indiana as she follows Bei Bei Shuai, who in March 2011 was charged with the murder and attempted feticide of her child and jailed for 435 days.

There’s a war on women’s bodies.

About a month ago Bloomingdale’s ran a shiny Christmas holiday ad: A woman is dressed in a black skirt and white cardigan clutching a white purse looking to her right laughing at a conversation or joke. To her left is a man in a tuxedo looking at her with a secret in his eyes. In the space between the two people is the following copy: “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Bloomingdale’s later apologized for it.

Earlier this year Budweiser had a similar ad with the tagline: “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever.”

There’s a war on women’s bodies.

There was a massacre in my hometown of Colorado Springs, Colorado. A white American terrorist armed with an assault-style rifle opened fire went on a rampage at the Planned Parenthood. According to the New York Times he “began shooting at officers as they rushed to the scene. The authorities reported that three people were killed, a police officer and two civilians, and nine were wounded before the suspect finally surrendered more than five hours after the first shots were fired.” He spouted sentiments like “no more baby parts,” and was described by later as a “recluse who longed for women and mixed religion with rage.”

There’s a war on women’s bodies.

In October, an Indiana University student was arrested over the weekend after police say he attacked a Muslim woman, yelling racially charged comments at her and trying to remove her headscarf. Police on Monday did not identify the woman, but said that she had been dining in a Bloomington, Indiana, restaurant’s outdoor seating area Saturday night with her 9-year-old daughter when she was approached by the 19 year old male who was yelling things like “white power,” “kill the police” and derogatory statements about black people.

There’s a war on women’s bodies.

In July five women died in police custody: Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman, Joyce Curnell, Ralkina Jones and Raynette Turner were all found dead in their cells after being arrested by local authorities.

There’s a war on women’s bodies.

Here’s the thing about the Planned Parenthood tragedy. “The shooting last Friday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was horrifying, but according to a former Planned Parenthood worker, it wasn’t shocking,” (emphasis mine). The former employee goes on to note, “the attack that left three people dead was a continuation of decades of extremist tactics directed at the health care organization’s facilities, staff, volunteers and patients,” as found in this recent Mic article. This former employee went on to explain in detail the various tactics people would employ to harass and terrorize the clinic, and make it a place that employees feared going to for work.

There’s a war on women’s bodies.

In a day and age where what matters is fiercely contested on every turf and street what does it mean to say that our bodies matter?

That what is fundamental to our humanity is anchored in our flesh, our faces, our skin, our cells, our blood in every possible way? Click To Tweet

There are so many ways we can expand the reality that bodies matter, and yes, all bodies matter. As Advent allows us space to consider the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, what would it mean to enter into the story of God? To enter into the Son of God coming into the world through the body of a woman, theotokos? How can we let that shape our language, our policies, our systems around the undeniable reality that bodies must matter after all?

To label the realities of violence upon the bodies of those marginalized, often women, often women, women of color, transgender women, and transgender women of color is a way of agency and enacting of power. Though employing a rhetoric of war and violence is often viewed as problematic it is actually one way towards peace – speaking truth, telling the real stories, and naming clearly the realities that are there. It is preparing a way, it is making smooth the rough and leveling the ground.

For those of us who have experienced that violence and long for and hunger after that peace in our flesh and blood we feel those powers against us, and to name it is a way to hold onto and embody that sliver of peace.Click To Tweet

As we journey towards the second Sunday of Advent having feasted on hope, may we name, make, embody peace.

#bodiesmatter