[From the archives.]
Topless women are roaming the streets of Paris. Here’s what NPR had to say:
Sometimes, less is more.
That’s certainly the thinking of the Ukrainian feminist movement Femen, best known for its bare-breasted protests in its home country. Now it has brought its self-described “sextremism” to Paris, opening its first international training camp and wasting no time attracting new recruits, causes and attention.
On a recent sunny morning, seven young women stride purposefully toward the stone facade of France’s Justice Ministry. Suddenly they throw their coats to the ground. Slogans are painted across their bare bosoms; garlands decorate their hair.
The report when on to say that the protests have at times been successful in bringing issues to light, forcing dialog and attention to injustices inherent in various forms of patriarchy, whether in the realms of religion, the sex industry or dictatorships. This form of protest is new to Paris, though, and the reporter appeared to have fun describing how the police were perplexed at one aspect of rounding up the protesters: just where does a male police officer grab a topless protester to take her into custody, especially if the protesters are jogging from one side of the public square to the other as police officers follow with outstretched arms?
I listened to the report and started wondering about the ethics, morality and value in these types of protests but I didn’t get too far in that line of thought. Instead, I started thinking about some women in the Bible who also acted in ways that offended society, yet God honored these women mightily. In fact, all five of the women I thought of made it into the most honorable roll-call imaginable, the ancestry of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1.)
Tamar masqueraded as a prostitute in a scheme to have sex with her father-in-law. Her scheme worked: she got pregnant.
Rahab ran a brothel (or perhaps merely an inn, if you look at some interpreters) and then committed treason against her own people of Jericho. God saved her and her family from foreign invasion and gave her a place in the nation of Israel, his chosen people.
Ruth was a widow and a foreigner, from a nation that was an ancient enemy of Israel. God opened her heart to a relationship with him through dedication to her mother-in-law, and brought her a new husband from the leading ranks of Israel’s society.
Bathsheba allowed herself to be seduced by King David, the most powerful man in Israel, betraying her own husband in the process and then when David had her husband killed she went and married the king. God blessed her with a son who succeeded his father as king and whose reign was the most prosperous and peaceful in Israel’s history.
Mary scandolously became pregnant by means other than sex with her betrothed husband. And then she gave birth to Jesus, God himself, the greatest blessing for us all.
After all those examples of women whose lives would never meet with society’s approval, I have a hard time critiquing the tactics of the Paris protesters. Who knows how God will bless the efforts of people who behave in ways we do not understand, people who live lifestyles we would never adopt.
I sure don’t.