Americans love to shop and the holiday season of frenzied buying is upon us. It really seems like you can buy anything these days. Even women.
Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery where some people profit from the control and exploitation of other people. The National Human Trafficking Hotline tracks comprehensive statistics regarding incidences of trafficking, which people have higher incidences of being bought and sold, and where they are reported. You think it only happens in certain places, and not your community? Look up your state here and find out.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Are you surprised?
The thing is, even when women aren’t being illegally trafficked, the image of women is used to buy and sell things. Holidays and football championships are great opportunities for advertising products to would-be consumers. Everything from vehicles to technological devices, food to alcohol, personal hygiene products to clothes to pharmaceuticals are sold by using the image of women.
Many women know deep in their bones that there is a strong correlation between these images using their bodies to sell things and the rampant amount of violence against women’s bodies, including trafficking them. Women’s bodies are so often used as images of objects and services to sell, that the leap to literally selling their bodies as objects or services can be less of a leap than a small step.
This is a war on women.
Most wars are fought between competing combatants. Countries battle one another for resources, civil wars break out over policies, but in the war on women, women are the subject and the site of the violence. Women cannot flee the battle or find safe haven, because they cannot flee from their own bodies.
Even the church hides its violence against women in plain sight, using scripture to control and shame women into submission, sometimes at the cost of their very lives.
But as a woman and a seminary student, I have hope.
I have hope because the Christian church was built on Jesus. As a Jewish reformer, Jesus included the equality of women as part of his work as a Rabbi and a teacher. In fact, a good case can be made that the inclusion of those who had been excluded in his society was a central theme of what he called “the Kingdom of God.” He blessed and forgave them, healed and liberated them, even appeared first to them after his resurrection. Women were the first to proclaim the gospel, the first to believe in the hope of Christ’s liberation. The early Christian movement happened through whispered stories and audacious hope, and it began with those who most desperately needed freeing. It began with women. In fact, if it weren’t for women, there would be no Christian church.
Women glimpsed a vision of liberation through Jesus the Christ, and by their agency the gospel message spread. Women today still hold that liberating vision and share the gospel good news. Consider this modern message of salvation:
Who will save America’s daughters?
All who demand peace in this war on women.