Anti-scapegoating work remains to be done

It is tempting to look back over the history of scapegoating women and breathe a sigh of relief: “Whew! It is a good thing we don’t live in those archaic times! We have moved beyond the misogynistic ideas and structures of the past. The last century has brought great advances for women in America – we can vote, own property, choose our spouses, and work outside the home. Women have gained a voice and some power in society – a huge step toward ending the scapegoating of women. When a group remains powerless, it is easier to further marginalize it and single it out for unjust blame. With influence and power behind it, the same group can bring awareness to scapegoating and undermine the secret mechanism at work behind the scenes.

Despite the progress we have made, more anti-scapegoating work remains to be done. The statistical reality and the lived experiences of women in American society unveil the truth that large portions of our culture persist in scapegoating women. Examples of women shouldering deflected bland and shame – or serving as focal points of misplaced violence – abound in American society today. The instances in this chapter address scapegoating perpetuated against women by the theological teachings and social influence of Christians. I do not mean to suggest that the entire church has always scapegoated and alienated women or has unilaterally opposed women’s equality. Certainly, there have been Christians who have championed change that benefited women. Some fought for a woman’s right to vote and own property (like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida B. Wells, and Quakers Sarah and Angelina Grimke), and some continue to work toward gender equality and condemn violence against women and girls (like Jimmy Carter and organizations like Christians for Biblical Equality). As inspiring as these efforts are, some movements within Christianity resist progress, limiting women’s power and creating an environment for women in which scapegoating flourishes. 

From “Scapegoats: The Gospel Through the Eyes of Victims” by Jennifer Garcia Bashaw – Fortress Press