CNN reported it as "the slap ... heard around the world: Wendi Deng Murdoch putting herself between her husband Rupert Murdoch and a protester armed with a shaving cream pie."
In a nanosecond the Internet was abuzz over Murdoch's third wife—a championship volleyball player—whose latest spike was timed perfectly to protect her husband from a heckler. Previously criticized as a gold-digger for her marriage to the media mogul, Wendi's recent actions have cast her in a new light, as a woman who loves her husband, takes responsibility for what's happening, and moves instinctively (faster than the police) to defend him against an assailant.
And while all the world is talking, unless I missed something (and please correct me if I'm wrong), Christian blogs are strangely silent. We're not talking about a woman who protects her man—especially in such a public and physically combative way. But we need to talk about this because the issue is important and the stakes go much higher than a humiliating face full of shaving cream.
I wrote about this issue in Half the Church after telling the stories of twelve-year-old Reem Al Numery of Yemen and an Indian Muslim girl, Meena, whose story appears in Half the Sky.
Reem literally fought her way out of the marriage her father arranged with a thirty-year-old cousin who beat and raped her to consummate the "marriage." Not only did Reem secure a divorce, her actions resulted in an international outcry that is changing things for other child brides in Yemen.
At the age of eight or nine and five months before her first period, Meena was sold to traffickers. But Meena was a fighter too. "Her distinguishing characteristic is obstinacy. She can be dogged and mulish.... She breaches the pattern of femininity in rural India by talking back—and fighting back" (HTS, 7). Her mulishness resulted in her freedom and ultimately the freedom of the children she bore during her captivity who were also being trafficked.
Here's what I wrote in HTC:
"Are Reem and Meena allowable exceptions given their extreme circumstances, but for the rest of us, their kind of behavior is out of line? Are we definining a 'wartime ethic' for women where, in certain situations (life and death, for example, or in the event the men are absent) heavy lifting, strong leadership, and assertiveness are permissible, but are otherwise unnecessary, unnatural, and unacceptable? If Reem and Meena became Christians, would they be in for a major overhaul to eliminate their stubborn tendencies, or would we celebrate them as exemplary ezers, hold them up to our daughters for inspiration, and talk about them to our sons as the kind of courageous woman they should seek for a wife?"
—Half the Church, pp,122-123
So ... will we remain silent, treat the Deng episode as an "allowable exception," or can we find it in ourselves to praise a woman's bold actions to protect a man as a courageous ezer-warrior moment?