Trialogue: Help or Hindrance? The Role of Religion in Hearing the Voices of Women

This Trialogue is the culmination of the upper-division seminar course Religion 120 by the UCLA Center for the Study of Religion. The panel discussion is being co-sponsored by the Academy for Judaic, Christian, and Islamic Studies.

Convener and Moderator

Reinhard Krauss, Ph.D.
Lecturer, UCLA Center for the Study of Religion

Panelists

Gail Labovitz, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Rabbinics, American Jewish University
Jane Dempsey Douglass, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita of Historical Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
Edina Lekovic
Producer and Host, Meeting the Moment Podcast | Educational Trainer and Consultant

Date/Time

Thursday, June 7, 2018
4:00 – 6:00 PM

Reception to Follow

Free Admission • All are welcome!

Location

UCLA

Royce Hall 306

On April 16, the 2018 Pulitzer Prizes were announced. What was striking was the sharp focus on the particular subject the winners in the most prestigious categories had chosen for their in-depth reporting. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of the New York Times shared the 2018 Public Service Pulitzer with Ronan Farrow from the New Yorker for “explosive, impactful journalism that exposed powerful and wealthy sexual predators, including allegations against one of Hollywood’s most influential producers, bringing them to account for long-suppressed allegations of coercion, brutality and victim silencing, thus spurring a worldwide reckoning about sexual abuse of women.”

In the Investigative Reporting category, the 2018 Pulitzer went to the staff of the Washington Post for “purposeful and relentless reporting that changed the course of a Senate race in Alabama by revealing a candidate’s alleged past sexual harassment of teenage girls and subsequent efforts to undermine the journalism that exposed it.”

The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes were only the most prominent public recognition of a powerful new movement that is sweeping our country, and indeed the whole world – and which shows no sign of abating: women are no longer willing to be silenced; to suffer harassment, assault, and abuse in quiet despair; to be shushed into accepting a misogynistic status quo. Women who, after all, make up more than half of humanity, insist on having their voices heard. They are telling their stories and demand their rightful part in the human conversation.

This growing chorus of courageous women’s voices, which had been long silenced, is beginning to yield practical results. At the beginning of June 2018, Harvey Weinstein was indicted on charges of rape and sexual assault. Earlier in April, Bill Cosby was convicted of sexual assault and is awaiting sentencing later this Fall. The #metoo movement has given countless women a platform for raising their voices and having their stories heard. And in January of 2017, the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. drew three times the number of participants than the crowd attending the inauguration of the new president the day before – despite the President Trump’s delusional denials.

The highest office in the land is currently occupied by a man who regularly makes demeaning comments about women, who has been publicly accused by at least 19 women of highly inappropriate behavior, including sexual harassment and sexual assault. In addition, Donald Trump has been accused of numerous extramarital affairs.

As part of the so-called resistance against the consistent pattern of blatantly misogynistic behavior by the President, more women are running for public office than ever before in the history of the United States. At the same time, 81% of white Protestant evangelicals voted for President Trump in 2016 and that support has not waned. Quite the contrary, In mid-2018 it is higher than during the presidential election campaign and has reached all-time highs. Of particular note is the fact that Trump’s favorability among white evangelical women stands at 71 percent.

This strong support for an openly misogynistic president by a significant segment of religious voters in this country, including religious women, brings the question of this forum into sharp focus: Is Religion helpful or an obstacle in hearing the voices of women? Is religion a source of empowerment for women or is religion one of the devices designed to silence women’s voices?

Among the questions the panelists will be discussing are:

  • What role does Scripture play in being able to hear the voices of women?
  • What are some historical and contemporary settings or examples of how Judaism, Christianity, and Islam has honored or silenced the voices of women?
  • Is patriarchy separable from the core of these three religious traditions? If so, what is the relationship?
  • Are there distinct contributions that women bring to religious and spiritual discourse, reflection, and action?

The event is free and open to those interested in exploring this key issue of concern in contemporary religious and cultural studies.

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