Prejudice is a scourge. My first husband had prejudices. He was white, slim and fit, and he despised anyone who was fat or unfit. He also despised Asian people and used scurrilous names for them as a group, but at the same time he virtually idolised Asian women for their demure and submissive femininity. My second husband had prejudices too: they were more ‘refined’ in that he was prejudiced against people who had prejudices. Now, you might say, that’s not such a bad thing. But his outrage against social injustice was so extreme that if you didn’t 100% agree with his take on a social justice issue, he classified you as one of the enemy, just as wicked as the bigots and oppressers he was opposed to.
Prejudice can be expressed in vile language, scornful looks, unjust treatment, or simply the raising of a supercilious eyebrow. It is often subtle but deadly poisonous, infecting a person’s whole way of thinking and amplifying the depravity of their Adamic nature.
Here are some thoughts about prejudice from a survivor of domestic abuse who wishes to remain anonymous.
One of the biggest misconceptions I had when I got married was that I thought Jack considered me his equal. I had no idea he carried a strong prejudice against women. Eventually, that prejudice turned into hatred. He saw women as a group attacking his masculinity, trying to take his God-given position, trying to exercise power and control over him, while all the time he was the one constantly trying to put those women in their place.
His hatred turned on me. During those days before I left, he kept going on and on about being ‘an emasculated male.’ Why? I had insisted he go to anger management. I said he had a problem and we couldn’t keep on this way. I refused to take any responsibility for his fury or his outbursts.
I wasn’t provoking him, he lacked self control. ‘Lack’ is probably the wrong word – he hated being restrained in any way. He could control himself fine, he simply believed he shouldn’t ever have to.
That woman he met and instantly disliked at the grocery store wasn’t assaulting the male gender when she left the check out line to go get paper towels. She was being rude and obnoxious. It had nothing to do with being female. It had everything to do with being selfish.
I’m sure it’s like a sliding scale, the same way some people carry a deep hatred for a certain race or ethnic group while others just think of them as less-than without even realizing. But it does come out, in comments, in attitude, in word choice and others are aware before we are.
I began to see this from other men, early in my marriage. Mechanics who were rude, refused to speak to me over the phone or call back if I left the message, yet would fall all over themselves when speaking to Jack. A tenant who hated speaking to me about his rent being late, constantly wanting to know when my husband would be home. I came to understand that certain men (not all of course) disliked women and absolutely wanted nothing to do with them if at all possible (unless they saw them as prey, sexual conquests). I understood that. … I accepted it.
But what hurt – what really, really hurt was encountering the same attitudes from those men who I thought were different. My father, my brother, a pastor, a friend’s husband – men I believed were kind men. These guys were fine – as long as you didn’t have a problem.
My father always kept silent about Jack’s treatment of me and the kids, but he made his preference known to my mother suggesting I needed to ‘settle down,’ and going on and on about what a fine, fine man Jack was. My brother instantly took Jack’s side when he found out I’d left, without even hearing the story. He ‘felt sorry’ for him. How could I just pick up and leave after thirty years? Poor Jack. . .
This all pervasive prejudice towards women has caused deep wounds, much deeper than I think we’re aware.
I was raised in the South, born in the early 60’s and lived near a hot spot during the Civil Rights Movement. I was told that colored folks are just like us. Don’t call them niggers, – that’s not nice. They are just children of the same God, saved by grace. And yet, I was also told stories about black men roaming the country side, raping white women. And a story about my grandfather going to prison for killing a black man who crossed him. I knew intellectually that race didn’t matter, but deep down I felt something uncomfortable. I use to thank God I wasn’t born black.
Then as sometimes happens, God intervened. I went to a ladies retreat and a black woman decided I was her special project for the weekend. We ate lunch together, attended meetings, sat side by side and prayed together. She was a treasure, but I felt a hesitancy, deep inside. Sort of an uncomfortable feeling.
On the last day, right before the end of the last meeting, the Lord spoke to me. He said, “confess to her about your great grandfather’s murder and ask her forgiveness – not just for you, but for your family.”
Excuse me? The Lord wanted me to tell this beautiful woman how my great-grandfather brutally murdered a black man over a few dollars? How he showed up at the door with a shotgun and blew the man in half, right in front of his family – and killed the wrong man – because ‘they all look alike’? That he only got a year in prison and even that was only because of the brutality of the crime: usually crimes against blacks went unpunished in those days. How this story was retold by my grandmother’s generation at every family gathering, like some kind of badge of honor? Oh no, not going to happen….
But I couldn’t get away. I had to confess this monstrous family secret to someone I had grown to respect and love. God is bigger and He gets His way 🙂
I told her everything. I blubbered like a baby. And then that beautiful saint wrapped both arms around me and prayed all over me, forgiving me, forgiving my family, blessing us all and then repenting of her own prejudice toward white people. We prayed and cried together for the longest time and we both got set free that day. That ‘uncomfortable’ feeling has never returned. Something changed inside me, dramatically from that day forward.
This monstrous prejudice against women needs to end as well. Someday, it will. In glory, women won’t be relegated to washing the golden dishes and serving the men at table. The first shall be last and the last first. Women are co-heirs in Christ. In fact, the Lord chose to identify his beloved church as female: the Bride of Christ. He could have chosen to call us the army of Christ or the Pals of Christ. But He reserved a very special term for the overcomers of the last days, the church who’s made herself ready, without spot, wrinkle or blemish – and called them woman 🙂