Gender violence, the sexual abuse of women and children, is the #1 factor in global poverty.
A fact of this magnitude and certainty isn’t forgiving. It doesn’t allow us to breeze on by or offer easy explanations. This staggering truth forces us to stop in our tracks, to think hard, to zoom out and acknowledge with humility the single unifying thread that runs so scarlet through our world: when we think about alleviating poverty and all of its systemic issues, we must look at gender violence.
I am deeply saddened by all that has surfaced this past week at Baylor University (my alma mater). For those on the outside, the drama is almost intoxicating. A president fired! A beloved football coach disowned! Hitting the “retweet” button feels like serving up a dose of well-deserved “justice”.
But as we wait for more juicy details to surface, I can’t help but notice a pattern amongst the reactionaries, the satirical quotes around “Christian” University, and the sideswiping comments, of “Art Briles is the devil,” or “Karma has come to Judge Ken Starr.” We did it with Penn State, we did it with “Johnny Football”, and now we’re doing it with Baylor.
I have to wonder if our hunger for drama and justice is actually in danger of unwittingly exploiting the stories at hand. Though many are well-intentioned, it’s far too easy to use someone else’s story for our own gain, our own moral satisfaction, or own personal soapbox. We must be careful in our hunger for justice that we don't begin presuming judgements upon others. This stands true for victims as well as leadership. This is a heavy, horrible situation all the way around and reveling in the drama serves no one but our own selfish appetites.
Gender violence is bigger than Ken Starr, more influential than Art Briles, and covers far more ground than Baylor. Gender violence is a global problem, and the solution begins with YOU.
Baylor has always been a strong partner with Jesus Said Love. A number of my good friends and acquaintances serve in various capacities at this great University. We host internships for multiple departments each semester; we present at Chapel; we teach guest lectures in various classes, including a course on Human Sexuality. In this particular class, we have a brief opportunity to connect with students and student athletes to discuss commercial sex exploitation and its undercurrents, including pornography and its role in the demand for commercial sex.
During a Q&A session last semester, as the scandal was heating up, a male student asked "how do we change the objectification of women?" I answered: the true agent of change is you, me, the individual. I am presented with the entire buffet of choices every day, from the most inconsequential kind to the life vs death kind. I choose to shower. I choose to pay the bills. I choose to not hit my kids when they frustrate me. I choose not to drive 70 mph in a school zone. I choose to stand up for the voiceless and the abused. I choose not to be inappropriate with another woman and violate my marriage. I choose not to speak to my wife in a demeaning tone during an argument. The list goes on...but the point is: all day, every day, I choose.
And so do you.
Women are not objects, nor are they trophies. They are not reactionary sex toys or indentured servants to supply man’s needs or wants. They are not secondary. They are not an inconvenience when they become pregnant, nor are they simply "support role". They are daughters, mothers, wives, sisters, CEOs, coaches, entrepreneurs, pastors, judges, survivors, humans, made in the image of God.
Changing your thinking changes your behavior, and that will change the world.
God have mercy on the victims at Baylor and throughout the universities nationwide, both the seen and unseen. God have mercy on the offenders, the seen and unseen. God have mercy on the past and present leadership: the ones culpable and the ones unjustly dismissed. God have mercy on us all.
May we all choose to Free Her.
Brett Mills | Co CEO
Jesus Said Love