A Call To Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power by Jimmy Carter (Simon & Schuster; 224 pages; ISBN 9781476773957; March 2014)When Jimmy Carter made an appearance several weeks ago on David Letterman, he mentioned this book though it wasn't specifically discussed. I was moderately interested. So when I got a Barnes & Nobel gift card for my birthday from Mr. Scribe, I knew what I'd be spending part of it on at least.
It's a very personal book, and by that I mean that it's written from Carter's personal experiences and observations. While it touches on issues with treatment of women in other cultures and religions (Islam, Hinduism, etc.), the primary focus of the book is from Christianity, pretty much US Christianity. It might have been a stronger book with more of a scholarly approach, getting contributions from Islamic and Hindu scholars and those from other religions.
In the chapter, "The Bible and Gender Equality", Carter details the circumstances that led he and his wife Rosalynn to disassociate themselves from the Southern Baptist Convention, though they still are active in their local Baptist parish. His exegesis of various Biblical passages showing that the Bible, and even Paul, is not as misogynistic as some of its adherents (and detractors) would claim was quite interesting to me as a Christian woman who belongs to a progressive denomination now but who has skirted the edges of the fundamentalist movement in the past.
Some of the book seemed to be a bit disjointed in organization; the chapters on the important issues were interrupted in the middle by chapters on the work of the Carter Center and some of the observations Carter and his wife made in their travels, both when he was President and after he left office. So you have chapters on the criminal justice system, violence and war, and rape separated from the chapters on prostitution, "honor killings", spousal abuse and other issues. It did make the book a bit hard to follow at times. And a deeper exploration of some of the issues, such as salary disparities (especially in light of efforts towards pay equity though admittedly the book was written before those efforts were underway), would have been greatly appreciated. Again, perhaps a more scholarly approach with fewer reminiscences and more facts (maybe even some graphs and charts) would have been helpful.
Overall, it's a decent read; not too much new for folks who keep up with the news (both domestic and international) on a regular basis, but some "inside baseball" regarding his dealings with other countries that could be interesting to politics junkies (which probably describes the average Kossack).
Below the fold, tips and tidbits for the week...
• From the NY Times, an opinion piece on what happens to women athletes who have too much natural testosterone, and what they're forced to go through in order to "conform" to international competition standards.
• The BBC reports that the debate continues on the issue of women bishops in England's Anglican Church. As a member of the Anglican Communion (Episcopal Church here in the US), and one who has worshiped alongside many gifted women priests and bishops, I'm watching this discussion with a bit of interest.
• On a related note, Australia's first female Anglican bishop is visiting the UK for the Easter season, and has some comments on the debate over women bishops, and also women in the priesthood in general.
• From the How Can We Miss You If You Won't Go Away? Department: Everyone's favorite member of Ladies Against Women, Phyllis Schlafly (or as JeffW's late mother would say, "It's Shitfly!") speaks out on the gender pay equity debate, with predictable warnings against hurting men's feelings.
• Got mixed feelings about this one:
While there are some great links at that #WomenofWorth hashtag, and it's something worth promoting, I feel a slight disconnect to see it promoted by a company whose marketing surrounds the idea that a woman's worth is determined by how she looks.
• Some good news on the criminal justice front: a man who raped a 16 year old girl, then took pictures of the victim and threatened to publish them on social media if she told anyone about the rape, was sentenced to 9 years in prison in the UK for rape...and for taking an indecent photograph of a child.
• Stories of bra-burning feminists in the early days of the women's movement may have been overblown, it turns out.
• Just sad: actress Kirsten Dunst engages in a bit of victim-blaming.
• More of a local interest item, but the Santa Clara County Office of Women's Policy and AAUW San Jose is sponsoring a "Strong Girls, Strong Women" Leadership Conference in San Jose in May. Folks might want to check with their local AAUW chapters and see if they're putting on anything similar, or if maybe they'd get the idea to do one on their own.
• Finally, on the lighter side, these Disney Princesses don't need a Prince:
What's going on in your part of the War?