Sometimes, when looking at the news stories, patterns seem to jump out at me. For instance:
There was this story about a catholic archbishop,
not so far from this story about a powerful figure in politics.
I wondered as I read these allegations emerging whether there would be any difference in the way these two individuals were perceived, and in the way the allegations were to be handled. So far as I can see, with the archbishop, the emphasis seems to be on the effect on the church in the UK, on the conclave, or on the bishop himself. It seems that there has been no information about or focus on the priests/ex-priest making these allegations. This contrasts strongly with the focus on the women making allegations about events by someone within a political party. Although several of those making allegations have attempted to keep some degree of anonymity, the media focus seems to be to find out as much detail about the situations and circumstances as possible.
It was interesting to hear this interview with one person making such allegations especially as she expresses clearly her concerns about the atmosphere that made such events seem less abnormal. I also found this more personal response, describing widespread similar situations was most thoughtful, particularly in considering background factors that contribute to such situations arising.
And wondered if one of the antidotes, might not be something like this The Everyday Sexism Project , which seems to bring some light and air to the environment, highlighting that ‘this happened and it’s not ok.’ I also saw this article about Tender who have been doing fantastic work with teenagers in schools, helping them to talk about violence/abuse that can happen in relationships and healthy vs harmful relationships. Having seen their drama presentation looking at the little things that healthcare professionals can do that make it harder for women to disclose violence, I have no doubts about the quality and thought that will have gone into such presentations. Again the key seems to be to give a space in which to notice things which are happening, and time to think over what is really ok/not/how to respond. It seems Iceland have been attempting to follow this process nationally, drawing together evidence across departments in a consultation on sexual violence. It’s interesting to note that it’s the discussion about porn that seems to have attracted the most attention.
Seeing the links between so many stories, I found it helpful to notice the similarities/ differences and potential antidotes. Of course all this comes not so far behind this story about a ‘household name’ in media. In that investigation, it seems that there are other things in common with many other situations of child abuse which have occurred, and also with situations of ‘inappropriate behaviour.’ The perpetrator is someone with elements of power and control over the victim, in the forms of money, prestige, decision making, or simply physical strength. Conversely those to whom the abuse is perpetrated have less power/ control, and this is often due to a lower social status being accorded for all manner of reasons… age, gender, poverty, family connections, physical weakness. I thought this NSPCC campaign poster illustrated this very well, and encouraged an antidote to such abuse persisting, talking about it.
Finally, on the related theme of transparency in trade relations, I came across this Oxfam Report. In the light of the recent meat scandals it seems people are becoming more aware of the far reaching networks of organisations that they rely on to provide food. A good time to hold up some of these to the light.
Which brings me back to two quotes with which I started this train of thought. One is from commonprayer.net
Clement, an early bishop of Rome, wrote, “When the heathen hear the words of God from our lips, they marvel at them as something beautiful and great. However, when they find out that our deeds are unworthy of the words we speak, they turn from this to blasphemy. They say it is a myth and a delusion.”
The other is a little older (from the first letter of John, chapter3v18), and a good personal searchlight:
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.