If we engage in real community building, we need to honor each other and our stories and move beyond our hurts, fears, and doubts—especially when they relate to gender and race.
Kim Douglas, a friend who offers counseling to survivors, recently shared these thoughts on the subject:
Since the statistics have been and continue to be of an epidemic proportion—one out of three women will be violated in her lifetime (UN Stat), and much of the violence and harassment against women ranges from “mild” to “excruciating,” I believe that the healing process for perpetrators and victims will be complex and not easily remedied.
The lack of spiritual values in society leads to a debasement of the attitudes which should govern the relationship between the sexes, with women being treated as no more than objects for sexual gratification and being denied the respect and courtesy to which all human beings are entitled. Baha’u’llah has warned: “They that follow their lusts and corrupt inclinations, have erred and dissipated their efforts. They, indeed, are of the lost.” – from a Universal House of Justice statement on Violence Against Women.
… the rational soul has no gender, race, ethnicity or class, a fact that renders intolerable all forms of prejudice, not the least of which are those that prevent women from fulfilling their potential and engaging in various fields of endeavor shoulder to shoulder with men …. – The Universal House of Justice, letter to the Baha’is of Iran, March 2, 2013.
Another fellow writer, Kim Davids Mandar, offers this:
In this age of gender norming, I’m often of the mind that humanity is attempting to realize its soulfulness, which transcends gender. Without a conscious embrace of our true spiritual nature made by God, we flounder in the details. This aspect of the gradual equality between men and women and the ensuing flight of humanity tends to be overlooked sometimes, I think. That is, we confuse our biology with those feminine and masculine elements of social dynamics.
Change does not come easily. If men walk shoulder to shoulder with women in multi-faceted ways—perhaps especially as we grapple with peaceful solutions to problems that have afflicted the human race for a long time—we all need to engender respect, dialogue, safety, justice, and partnership.
As the bird of humanity strengthens both its wings so that it can approach and navigate a higher region, we need consequential healing from the hurts of the past. The Baha’i teachings say that someday this will allow us all to soar:
Baha’u’llah declares the absolute equality of the sexes. The male and female in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms share alike the material bestowals. Why should there be a difference in the human kingdom? Verily, they are equal before God, for so he created them. Why should woman be deprived of exercising the fullest opportunities offered by life? Whosoever serves humanity most is nearest God—for God is no respecter of gender. The male and female are like the two wings of a bird and when both wings are reinforced with the same impulse the bird of humanity will be enabled to soar heaven-ward to the summit of progress. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, pp. 82-83.