When the President’s Press Secretary suggested earlier this week that reporters’ minds were in the gutter if they interpreted the President’s words about Senator Gillibrand “that way.” He had tweeted Tuesday morning that she was:
someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them)
It sounds to me like he was saying that she would offer sexual favors for money. I go there because he has shared similarly demeaning things about women in the past. I didn’t read his tweet in a vacuum.
We live in a culture in which our minds indeed “go there” if we have personally witnessed and maybe even experienced sexual harassment. We have heard ugly words with our own ears. We have seen ugly things with our own eyes.
When I hear the story of a Kentucky State Senator accused of assaulting his daughter’s friend during a sleepover when the girls were teenagers, I believe it because it also happened to a friend of mine when I was in high school. (Note: The state congressman from Kentucky died by suicide on Wednesday. My friend never told the police what happened to her.)
When I read about a church leader who makes creepy comments to his female pastor, I believe it because it’s happened to me.
When I see a tweet accusing someone of “doing anything” in order to succeed, I equate “doing anything” with sexual favors because I know women who have been accused of this too.
We need to be aware of what happens in the world to most women: the comments, the assumptions, the hands. Maybe our minds are in the gutter because we’ve been there.
But gutters can be cleaned and life can be redeemed. We were created to treat each other with love and respect worthy of the children of God. God is with us no matter where we are – even if we find our minds – or our very selves – in the gutter.
One of the jobs of the Church is to clean out those gutters and offer safety and protection to the vulnerable. How are we doing with that these days? (Better, I hope.)