Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Ezer Moment?

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?


Andrea K. Van Ye said...

Bravo! Let us stand strong in the Lord! I supposed Deborah could have stepped back and said, "Oh, no! Not me!" But God had other plans. Lord. Help me to be brave.

Gem said...

Good thoughts!

In my ladies Bible study group, we were discussing "contentiousness" yesterday. We decided that the church has hijacked and misinterpreted certain Proverbs to use as a "christian" put down: "contentious woman". The label is wrongly infused with contempt in the misguided effort to silence the voices of assertive wives.

Contentiousness is not negative if one is contending for good and/or against evil.

Kamilla said...

Oh come on! Are you that desperate to uncover Ezer-Warriorettes that you highlight a gold-digger who had to wait for her husband to divorce his wife of 30 years before they could marry?

Shame on you! And thank goodness Christian blogs are NOT praising such a brazen adulteress.

Kamilla said...

I'm not sure what she did. It looks to me as if several people jumped up.

Anonymous said...

I would like to share a poem I wrote on behalf of victims of human is indeed an issue that Chrsitians must address.

The Cries of a Victim of Human Trafficking

They considered not my name
But treated me as wild game
They disregarded my soul
And made me an item to be sold

I was taken against my will
By those seeking a cheap thrill
They made me their sex slave
Only allowing me to eat and bathe

Although I did beg and plead
They still did with me as they pleased
Since no one heard my voice
I am left with no other choice

Than to go to sleep in tears
And to wake up in fears
Praying that someone will rescue me
For I am a victim of human trafficking.

Kamilla said...


That's a beautiful poem!

I encourage you to look up the work of Nina Shea, Faith McDonnell and Baroness Caroline Cox as well as the book by Allen Hertzke, "Freeing God's Children". You will be greatly encouraged by the work Christians are doing to stop trafficking and free those already enslaved.

Anonymous said...

I took away that the post was highlighting the admirable actions of a woman who loves her husband and "instinctively", literally leaps into action to protect him. As a mature, courageous woman she clearly exhibits in a "physically combative way" that she had a responsibility to defend him against an assailant.

Whether one is female child sex-slave from India or is perceived to be a "gold-digger adulteress" or is a white American Christian, females/women that rightly and instinctively respond to the responsibility to be bold and courageous and to protect and defend whether themselves, children, or men are not an aberration but are ezers in the image of God--a very present help in time of need.

The question remains: Rather than diminish a woman's valiant actions or find flaws in her character unrelated to the present circumstance, can we Christians find it in ourselves to praise, whether she's a Christian or not, a woman's bold actions to protect a man as a courageous ezer-warrior moment?