Father and Daughter

I’m Sorry

One of the most exceptional calls of my life came when a professor called to apologize for a comment he made the previous evening. It’s exceptional because I cannot think of a similar call.

Despite our prayer to forgive others as we are forgiven, it seems we do a poor job of practicing forgiveness: asking for and giving it.

Father and Daughter I need to apologize.

While praying for my almost-2-year old daughter, I imagined what Sandra Fluke’s father must be thinking/feeling. I became incensed at how hostile the world can be for young women.

This awareness was provoked by Rush Limbaugh’s poor behavior. He attacked Fluke for her stance on women’s health: he misrepresented her argument and made abusive ad hominem attacks.

1) I’m sorry that I am late coming to this awareness of the sexism that permeates our society and that it took my relationship with my daughter to widen my eyes. I have been far too comfortable with phrases like “feminazi”. Sexism and the use of derogatory words to minimize women are forms of violence. I’ve been complicit in perpetuating a violent culture against women.

2) I’m sorry that I commended Rush Limbaugh for his apology. An apology should seek the well-being of all, clearly state the offense, pledge to stop, and make amends.  His did none of those things: he merely expressed regret over his word choices. Further, he continued his distortion of Fluke’s argument and polarizing rhetoric.

My quick commendation was an attempt to minimize the partisan tribalism swirling about the issue. I did not look closely at Limbaugh’s apology; having done so, I find it lacking. My easy commendation served to excuse Limbaugh’s poor behavior.

3) I’m sorry that my opposition to sexism has been limited. I opposed Limbaugh’s comments, but have been silent when other women have been denigrated, often by males who are viewed to be more liberal. While I think the charge of a double-standard is a tactic to distract from Limbaugh’s poor behavior, those who level it are extending partisan tribalism, and are not particularly concerned with creating a community free of sexism; that doesn’t excuse my limited opposition. I didn’t speak up when sexist remarks were leveled at Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann. I can do better.

I want to be a better lover. I want to reduce the violence perpetrated against women.  I want to create an inclusive society where women are not excluded. I want to foster a society where people forego partisan tribalism and seek the well-being of all.

Genuine apologies are a good place to start because they break the cycle of violence, create the space for God’s powerful love and grace to reshape us, and provide a glimpse of the Beloved Community.

 

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