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16 Days of Activism – Day 16: Meredith Minister

Meredith Minister, Assistant Professor of Religion at Shenandoah University, talks to us on the final day of UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism campaign about her work on religion and sexual violence. Meredith works closely with fellow academic activists Rhiannon Graybill and Beatrice Lawrence. They have a forthcoming edited volume Rape Culture and Religious Studies: Critical and Pedagogical Engagements (Lexington Books), which will be profiled on this blog in January.

Tell us about yourself: who are you and what do you do?

I’m Meredith Minister, Assistant Professor of Religion at Shenandoah University. I also teach courses in the Gender and Women’s Studies program at Shenandoah.

What’s your involvement with gender activism? Does your work intersect with gender activism? How?

I am involved with gender activism in my scholarship, on campus, and in the community.

My recent scholarship has been focused on addressing sexual violence on college campuses by providing a better theoretical framework for prevention and response. This project has been ongoing for several years and has included presentations on trigger warnings and a critique of existing approaches to sexual violence including consent and bystander intervention. I also attended a NEH seminar this summer on diverse philosophical approaches to sexual violence led by Ann Cahill at Elon University. In my forthcoming book, I explore how rape culture is learned through cultural, religious, institutional, and legal processes and argue for deep and ongoing pedagogical interventions that offer possibilities for unlearning rape culture. This book is titled Rape Culture on Campus and is forthcoming from Lexington next year.

Beatrice and Rhiannon have been faithful conversation partners for this work and Rhiannon’s interview describes the ways we’ve collaborated so far and where you can find our work!

On campus, I have worked with students to promote better structures for preventing sexual violence and for responding to specific instances of sexual violence. I have also worked with faculty by developing and offering a workshop on teaching about sexual violence in partnership with our Title IX office here at Shenandoah.

Finally, off campus, I work with the Valley Equality Project, a community organization that serves the Winchester community by working to make our community safer for and more inclusive of LGBTQ+ persons.

How does or could The Shiloh Project relate to your work and activism?

 I think The Shiloh Project is doing really important work and I’ve enjoyed reading about the other scholars featured in this series. Scholarship is so often presented as an isolated endeavor but I think the kinds of academic work we’re doing, including challenging engrained cultural assumptions, really requires collective work and imagination. Not only can we learn from one another, but we also find validation and commiseration when things get messy (as they sometimes do when you come out against sexual violence).

How are you going to get active to resist gender-based violence and inequality?

 In my forthcoming book, I argue that the classroom can be a space where we can begin to unlearn engrained patterns of rape culture. This unlearning goes beyond simplistic interventions such as consent education and bystander intervention. These interventions depend on an understanding of human beings as autonomous individuals and fail to connect rape culture to other cultural assumptions such as white supremacy and institutions such as the prison industrial complex. Rather than creating responses to sexual violence that perpetuate these individualistic assumptions, I hope to draw on understandings of human beings as fragile and relational in order to rethink existing responses to sexual violence. I do this theoretical work in my scholarship in part because it energizes my resistance to gender-based violence on campus and in the community.

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16 Days of Activism – Day 16: Beatrice Lawrence

To mark the final day of UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism campaign, we profile Beatrice Lawrence, an Assistant Professor at Seattle University. Beatrice works closely with fellow academic activists Rhiannon Graybill and Meredith Minister on religion and gender-based violence. Look out for their forthcoming edited volume Rape Culture and Religious Studies: Critical and Pedagogical Engagements (Lexington Books).

Tell us about yourself: who are you and what do you do?

I’m an assistant professor at Seattle University, where I teach courses on the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies, often cross-listed with Women and Gender Studies. I love my job; I think the material at the heart of my career is fascinating and important, and it’s wonderful to see students realize that as well. My research is eclectic, ranging from rabbinics to rape culture. A consistent thread, however, is that of pushing boundaries.

What’s your involvement with gender activism? Does your work intersect with gender activism? How?

 I grew up in a staunchly feminist household. My mother was an activist, going on marches and serving as the president of Idaho’s National Organization for Women. (Yes. Idaho.) She would take us with her, she would talk about it with us, and my father was just as engaged. Feminism was and is an integrated and central element of our family dialect, and I’m incredibly grateful: I have always been motivated to see and name gender-based injustice and violence. It is only natural that it would be a part of my work, and the way I parent my daughters.

I’ve always been involved in community and pedagogical work around sexual assault, by creating workshops, engaging in mindful teaching practices, and supporting activist groups. But a few years ago, I was blessed to meet my colleagues and friends, Rhiannon Graybill and Meredith Minister, at a Wabash workshop. We came to realize we shared a concern about sexual assault on college campuses, as well as the conviction that the culture surrounding it needed to be identified and named. Its intersection with our work in Bible and theology fueled our desire to create sophisticated yet accessible means to discuss it. Thus was born our work together, writing and teaching about rape culture.

How does or could The Shiloh Project relate to your work and activism?

 I’m grateful for the chance to connect with the wonderful people at The Shiloh Project to mutually promote each other’s work. We share a commitment to relevant, rigorous scholarship on gender-based inequality and violence, and a desire to have an impact in the academy as well as outside it. We are publishing a volume on rape culture and religious studies (due out late 2018), and look forward to sharing it in this context as well. The feminist ethic of collaboration and care is present in the work of The Shiloh Project: let’s work together, support each other, and make a difference.

How are you going to get active to resist gender-based violence and inequality?

I’m loud, angry, and active—and I plan to continue being thus.

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16 Days of Activism – Day 16: Rhiannon Graybill

On the final day of UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism campaign, we profile Rhiannon Graybill, an Assistant Professor at Rhodes College, who works closely with fellow academic activists Beatrice Lawrence and Meredith Minister on gender-based violence. Look out for their forthcoming edited volume Rape Culture and Religious Studies: Critical and Pedagogical Engagements (Lexington Books).

Tell us about yourself: who are you and what do you do?

My name is Rhiannon Graybill and I’m an assistant professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. At Rhodes, I am also the director of the interdisciplinary Gender and Sexuality Studies program.

What’s your involvement with gender activism? Does your work intersect with gender activism? How?

I’m involved in gender activism in a number of ways. One of my major goals as director of Gender and Sexuality Studies is promoting scholarly work and campus awareness around gender. At Rhodes, I’ve organized events on feminism and surveillance, sexual violence on campus, and abortion activism, and I’m now working on a trans film festival event. The program also sponsors an undergraduate research symposium and a faculty scholarship group.

I’m also involved in gender activism in my research. My book, Are We Not Men? Unstable Masculinity in the Hebrew Prophets is about masculinity, but to me this is always a feminist concern. Are We Not Men? uses feminist and queer theory to think about the male bodies of prophets and to understand the ways in which prophecy transforms masculinity and embodiment. My next book is a study of queer feminist readings of biblical women.

I also work specifically on sexual violence, especially in collaboration with Meredith and Beatrice. The three of us met at the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, when we were part of Teaching and Learning a Workshop for Pre-Tenure Religion Faculty. We not only got along really well, but we realized we were all deeply concerned about sexual violence on campus, and working to address it in different ways. We started collaborating, beginning with a workshop for our peers at the Wabash Center and coordinating some on-campus activities (I organized a workshop for my colleagues about teaching about rape in the Bible and classical literature). Then we put together a couple of publications, one for Teaching Theology and Religion and one for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. We also organized a panel at the AAR/SBL Annual meeting in 2016. Now we’re co-editing a volume entitled Rape Culture and Religious Studies: Critical and Pedagogical Perspectives with Lexington Books.

How does or could The Shiloh Project relate to your work and activism?

I’m so excited about The Shiloh Project! These issues are so important, and we need as many people working on them and talking about them as possible. It’s also really exciting to me to be able to be involved in international conversations around these issues, as I’m mostly familiar with the U.S. context. We have some peculiarities to our system, like the way that Title IX (the federal law about equal access in education that’s used to justify a lot of sexual violence policies) works. Thinking globally helps us gain perspective, as well as think about possible alternatives. I’m also really interested in The Shiloh Project’s work on popular culture, as well as spiritualism and transphobia. I can’t wait to see what you all produce!

How are you going to get active to resist gender-based violence and inequality?

 This is the time to do it! Things have seemed pretty terrible on a gender front in the U.S. lately, but in a funny way I’m heartened by the outpouring of sexual harassment and assault allegations in the media and politics. I think it’s possible this might lead to some change. At the very least, people in authority are beginning to hear what we’ve been saying for decades – longer than that! I also think popular culture provides an interesting, if complicated, feminist space. I’m going to keep studying and teaching about it; I think teaching students is one great avenue for feminist activism.


Follow the links to read more of Rhiannon’s work on sexual violence:

Sexual Violence in and around the Classroom (a piece the three of us wrote for Teaching Theology and Religion).

 

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16 Days of Activism – Day 15: Jessica Keady

Tell us about yourself…who are you and what do you do?

I am Dr Jessica M. Keady and I am a Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David (Lampeter). I currently teach and supervise on topics related to the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism to both undergraduate and postgraduate students on a variety of degree programmes. I am also research active, and my main research interests are based on Second Temple Jewish texts and their ancient/social context. I am particularly interested in the portrayal of gender in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the constructions of Jewish purity and impurity laws. My first monograph, Vulnerability and Valour: A Gendered Analysis of Everyday Life in the Dead Sea Scrrolls has recently been published (Library of Second Temple Studies 91, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017) used theories from Gender Studies to investigate the purity texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
What’s your involvement with The Shiloh Project?

I take an active interest in the promotion of The Shiloh Project’s significant work on Social Media. I have recently contributed to The Shiloh Project Blog – Rape Culture Discourse and Female Impurity: Genesis 34 as a Case Study and I am following the work that the project is undertaking and thinking of future collaborative plans between Sheffield, Leeds and Lampeter to foster further interdisciplinary dialogue amongst wonderful colleagues and friends.

How does The Shiloh Project relate to your research and teaching?

The Shiloh Project is important to my research as it enables me to question and interpret difficult biblical texts in a safe environment. A larger version of the blog post is being published in the forthcoming volume, Rape Culture, Gender Violence and Religion (ed. Caroline Blyth, Emily Colgan and Katie Edwards).
As a new lecturer, I am also preparing material for forthcoming modules that I will be teaching next academic year on Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World and I can envisage The Shiloh Project as being an excellent online resource for students to reflect on and use in their wider reading and understanding.

How do you think The Shiloh Project’s work on religion and rape culture can add to discussion about gender activism today? 

The increase in reports of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation, press coverage, and social media campaigns need to be encased in a wider rape culture framework, that primarily considers the survivors’ perspectives, and also monitors the comments and possible backlash that he/she experiences from the general public. The Shiloh Project’s work is, arguably, needed now more than ever to demonstrate the importance of researching the phenomenon of rape culture, throughout history and within contemporary society.

What’s next for your work with The Shiloh Project?

Now that I have secured my first lectureship, I am keen on fostering future collaborations between the UWTSD and The Shiloh Project, especially in relation to the teaching of sexually violent biblical texts. I am also working with two of the Project Directors, Dr Katie Edwards and Dr Johanna Stiebert (and Dr Meredith Warren), on a future journal article series that is focused on Gender and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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16 Days of Activism – Day 14: Alison Joseph

For Day 14 of the 16 Days of Activism, we profile Alison Joseph, researcher in the Hebrew Bible.

Tell us about yourself…who are you and what do you do?

I am Alison Joseph. I received my PhD in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. I am currently the assistant managing editor of The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization. I write about the Hebrew Bible, specifically about the contextual factors that contributed to the ways in which biblical text was written.

What’s your involvement with The Shiloh Project?

When the blog took off last the summer, I knew I wanted to be involved somehow. I wrote an early post about Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and its interpretation of Genesis. Besides the access to a wide audience (more than 3000 views in 48 hours), it was retweeted by author @MargaretAtwood herself. AMAZING!

How does The Shiloh Project relate to your work?

I didn’t set out for activism to be a part of my scholarly life; I actually tried to avoid it. I was trained in a somewhat conventional, historical-critical model, and I intentionally tried to stay away from contemporary meanings of the biblical text because I often found them to be parochial. I spent many years living in the world of the Deuteronomistic History and writing about the composition of the book of Kings. After spending two years teaching courses in Religion and Ethics, I think some of the course prep reading starting sinking in, making me consider the ways in which we regard and teach the biblical text, and in particular the stories about women and those involving sexual assault. The ethical issues I was dealing with in class made it impossible to continue to exclusively read these stories in the context of ancient Israelite society. The biblical narrative, for the most part, is not sufficiently reactive to episodes of sexual violence. It is somewhat commonplace and not a focus of the goals of the text. I found, it’s not enough to say, “That’s the way it was back then!” The Shiloh Project highlights the absence of recognition in the text, taking our preconceived notions and blowing them apart.

How do you think The Shiloh Project’s work on religion and rape culture can add to discussion about gender activism today? 

The Bible is filled with misogyny, sexual exploitation, and violence against women (I’m not saying that’s all there is—there’s a lot of good stuff too). Its prevalence and authoritative role in many religions and Western civilization give credence to these beliefs. The Shiloh Project is trying to defamiliarize these unfortunately commonplace behaviors by highlighting the pervasiveness of prejudices and violence against women in the text that has contributed to normalizing them in our society and throughout history. Recognizing some of the bases for our beliefs, even the subconscious ones, allows us to start moving forward and dismantle those elements of society

What’s next for your work with The Shiloh Project?

My research currently is focused on a large project about Dinah in Genesis 34. It is the story of a young woman who is clearly a victim, but the text and most of the history of interpretation are not concerned with what happens to her. I want to explore the ways theories of contemporary rape and purity cultures can help to understand this text. Stay tuned!

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16 Days of Activism – Day 12: Rosinah Gabaitse

On Day 12 of UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism campaign, we profile Rosinah Gabaitse, Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at the University of Botswana.

Tell us about yourself: who are you and what do you do?
My  name is Dr Rosinah Gabaitse and I research and teach on the topic of Biblical Studies at the University of Botswana. I wear many hats: I am an activist, a mother of three sons, an academic and a member of the global community, speaking out and fighting against violence perpetrated on anyone vulnerable, including women and girls. Currently I am a postdoctoral fellow, funded by the Humboldt Foundation, based at the University of Bamberg in Germany.

What’s your involvement with gender activism? Does your work intersect with gender activism? How?
We live in a gendered world and human beings are categorised according to their  socially constructed and assigned gender.  Unfortunately, gender is widely used to determine who has power, who is rendered voiceless, who speaks when and how. We cannot escape the many ways that gender has been used by societies to silence, oppress, and deny access to resources. In my own context violence against women perpetrated most often by men is sadly common. Consequently, my involvement in gender dynamics is personal because I am a woman, and therefore socially assigned the female gender, which has left me, like many women in Botswana, disadvantaged in terms of access to resources, sexual harassment, and being undermined in the work place. Because this is unjust, gender activism is part and parcel of who I am as a woman inhabiting patriarchal structures. I am overt about  teaching egalitarian values and I speak out against the inequality between men and women and between heterosexual and homosexual persons. In Botswana, male homosexual activity is classified a crime against nature – and I resist the injustice of this. I teach that God rejoices in equality and respectful, tolerant and peaceful coexistence, hence my involvement with gender activism.

My work intersects with gender activism in many ways. First, as I teach at the university, my standing in front of the students as a female teaching Biblical Studies is in and of itself engaging in some form of gender activism. Theology is primarily the reserve of men in most cultures, Botswana included. So, when I teach already ordained ministers or trainee preachers about the Bible and the life-giving ways of reading it, I am already making a point about gender. Teaching theology  as a woman is transgressing boundaries on its own in a discipline dominated by men, like my own. Further, I am intentional about being a gender activist. I am intentional about speaking out against, for example, the violence of rape and murder poured out against the concubine in Judges 19, or Hosea’s wife Gomer, or the many other stories of violence narrated in the Bible. After engaging these texts of terror (a phrase from Phyllis Trible), I require that  my audiences (be it in the church or classroom) contextualize the biblical texts in terms of the social realities of our own communities where intimate femicide, shaming women in public, and sexualized physical violence are rife and tearing our communities apart. I am intentional about engaging the many hurts and abuses that women endure, just because they are women. I also write about violence against women as I reflect on how we have bestowed males with enormous power often by using a few select biblical texts, sometimes with violent consequences for women.  However, I also know it is true that the same Bible that has been used to legitimate and support violence is life-giving and can also be used to raise up a man who abhors violence against women. Therefore, my work engages the Bible to deconstruct violence and reconstruct the life-giving power of the Gospel.

How does or could The Shiloh Project relate to your work and activism?

The Shiloh Project engages scholars and  communities on the topic of rape culture. Obviously the people who are most vulnerable to rape are women and children, because they have been rendered vulnerable and less empowered by dominant social structures. Resisting this is exactly what I do in my little corner in Botswana and The Shiloh Project gives me a forum and a resource for my activities, now and going forward.

How are you going to get active to resist gender-based violence and inequality?
I am already active in this area and I will continue to be so. Like I mentioned above, my teaching  at the University of Botswana mainstreams topics on violence against women – from what the Bible teaches or does not teach about  gender-based violence, to how the churches are silent about the issue, to how their preaching  contributes to violence against women and how  violent men are constructed through particular and toxic kinds of biblical interpretation.

In 2016, I and another young lady from Botswana, Wendy Maano, intentionally selected  one school and worked together to teach children about violence. We had  a series of conversations with children about non-violent ways of communicating and being, teaching them to stand up against violence against the vulnerable girl child in particular. We also had a series of conversations on violence with parents. As part of my community service and in my capacity as motivational speaker, I engage young people in schools on issues of violence against women,  in order defuse rape culture manifestations early on. The boy child, who may have a propensity towards committing violence later on in life, needs to be taught very early on what violence against women is. I want to share a saying going around in a group I belong to made up of men and women and called ‘Women and Men Against All  Sexual Abuse of Children’, which goes like this: ‘Not all men are actual rapists. Some are rape apologists. Some tell rape jokes. Some are victim blamers. Some are silent.’ The saying captures where very many men are and my work with boys really aims at teaching them the ways of responding to gender-based violence. Of course it is important not to commit acts of gender-based violence but things won’t actually get better until men not only forsake violence but also denounce and resist and challenge other forms of gender-based inequality. This is particularly important within a community like mine where there still isn’t much open talk about the topic of rape and gender-based injustice.

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16 Days of Activism – Day 11: Samantha Joo

We mark the eleventh day of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence by speaking to gender activist and researcher, Samantha Joo.

Tell us about yourself: who are you and what do you do?

 I had taught Hebrew Bible at a number of academic institutions.  My last appointment was at Seoul Women’s University.  However, during my father’s illness and eventual death, I felt lost and decided to leave academia.  I was tired of living in cities I hated, writing on subject matters that only appealed to a few people, and teaching courses to students most of whom did not care about their education.  All at extremely low pay.  So after some soul-searching, I started my own nonprofit organization, Platform (https://www.platform4women.org), and opened a new business to financially support my work. Now, I write about topics relevant to my community, work with people who I believe will be effective visionary leaders, and live in a city that I choose.

What’s your involvement with gender activism? Does your work intersect with gender activism? How?

For some reason, I had always associated activism with protests, marching out in the streets or blockading some politician’s office.  Since I was a more private person, I did not consider myself an activist, and definitely not a gender activist.  But now, I think differently.  I had the makings of an activist in my early career but it did not become manifest until I started teaching at Seoul Women’s University.  It was here that I met some of the brightest, passionate women who had limited themselves by unconsciously accepting traditional societal expectations.  To model my own teachings on gender equality and social justice, I felt I had to “out” myself through activism.  I started Queer Koreans Alliance (QKA) which jumpstarted the first LGBTQ teen safe space, Dding Dong, in Seoul, South Korea.  I felt that I could not ask my students to make a difference without daring to make change myself.

In developing Dding Dong and teaching at SWU, I visualized a center to train emerging women leaders for social justice.  It took a long time to turn the vision into reality, but I well under way to developing a nonprofit organization, Platform.  Platform intends to mentor/train women with a passion and a vision for the marginalized in API communities.  It empowers women to work more effectively for the oppressed in their communities.

How does or could The Shiloh Project relate to your work and activism?

Interestingly, I had written an article on the politics of “comfort women” in Korea.  Johanna Stiebert happened to be one of the reviewers and wanted to include a shorter version of the essay on The Shiloh Project.  Of course, I was honored to share my article on the website but it was more than an opportunity to capture a wider audience.  The Shiloh Project is a mission-driven platform to explore gender-based violence and religion.  It has everything to do with my work and scholarship because rape culture affects all women and men.

But more specifically, I am writing an article on rape and silence in the Bible.  I analyze the story of Tamar and Amnon in which many commentators have written about the terror of Absalom silencing his beloved sister, Tamar.  On the contrary, Tamar is not silenced but actually speaks through her body.  The biblical author alludes to her desolation which is a subtle reference to the silent language of the oppressed.  This language is commonplace in many cultures where women cannot vocalize but embody their stories.

I am able to share such essays on The Shiloh Project to a wider audience.  I personally do not know of any other platform where this is possible.

How are you going to get active to resist gender-based violence and inequality?

Many of the nonprofit organizations in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities have been established to combat gender-based violence, specifically domestic violence.  Platform will not only train women to serve victims of domestic violence but to create a space in which women can discuss and find systemic solutions to end it.  Since Platform is invested in women leaders as well as the marginalized in API communities, we are empowering grassroots movements to “resist” and “fight” oppression.

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16 Days of Activism – Day 7: Mmapula D. Kebaneilwe

Today is World Aids Day and our gender activist on Day 7 of 16 Days of Activism is Dr Mmapula Kebaneilwe, Senior Lecturer in Hebrew and Hebrew Bible at the University of Botswana. Botswana has one of the highest rates of HIV and Aids in the world. Botswana is also a country with a strong national commitment in responding to this health crisis: notably, being the first country in the region to provide universal free antiretroviral treatment to people living with HIV.

Mmapula is a womanist activist and has published on how the Bible can offer paradigms for women’s resistance in the face of vulnerability to HIV infection and to Aids. Here is her article on the character of Vashti from the book of Esther.

Tell us about yourself: who are you and what do you do?

 I am Dr Mmapula Diana Kebaneilwe, Senior Lecturer in Hebrew and Old Testament Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Botswana. I am a womanist scholar and my research and activist interests centre on women’s rights and experiences.

What’s your involvement with gender activism? Does your work intersect with gender activism? How?

 I am involved in gender activism through my research and publications. I have keen interest in all issues that involve the welfare of women and girls in my society. My PhD thesis was on the Woman of Courage in Proverbs 31 and I read this poem for and within the patriarchal culture of Botswana, which has seen women suffocate in many ways. My conclusion is that men and women are created equal but that there remains an urgent need to reflect this equality – especially in our Botswana culture(s) that have long mistreated and that continue to relegate women and girls to the margins, to everyone’s detriment.  My research has shown that in my context women and girls continue to experience multiple ills that are perpetuated by gender inequality. As part of this, our women and girls experience horrendous acts of gender-based violence – such as rape and murder – which are so rampant in Botswana.

How does or could The Shiloh Project relate to your work and activism?

 I believe that The Shiloh Project will create a platform, which will allow me to carry forward my research on the issues mentioned above. As a scholar of the Bible the project will allow me to explore further, through research on gender issues, the ways in which rape culture and religion intersect in my own context. I hope to be able to get involved in my communities here in Botswana and to find out about the ways rape culture manifests and how religion both contributes to rape culture and how indeed religion might also be used to curb it.

The issue of rape culture in Botswana is one that causes me considerable concern as women and girls get beaten, raped and killed (predominantly by male perpetrators) every single day. I hope with The Shiloh Project I will have the chance to do more and to contribute to effective changes in gender policy in Botswana.

How are you going to get active to resist gender-based violence and inequality?

 I am going to get active to resist gender-based violence by doing further research on the issue and disseminating the findings of my research, so as to reach the wider community. I intend to work closely with communities in order to learn more from real people’s lived experiences of gender-based violence and also to explore critically laws and policies on the same. My aim is to be able to influence policy makers to better the lives of primarily Botswana women and girls through creating legal channels aimed at the protection of our female population. At present such polies seem lax.

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16 Days of Activism – Day 5: Zanne Domoney-Lyttle

We speak to Zanne Domoney-Lyttle to mark Day 5 of the 16 Days of Activism.
Tell us about yourself…who are you and what do you do?
I’m Zanne Domoney-Lyttle, and I am a Biblical Studies tutor (Hebrew Bible and Biblical Hebrew language) at the University of Glasgow.
What’s your involvement with The Shiloh Project?
Other than admiring the work of The Shiloh Project from afar, I am a member of the Project, contributing to the blog posts. I hope to become more involved as the Project develops.
How does The Shiloh Project relate to your work?
My PhD research focuses on remediations of Genesis in comic books. One of the things that kept coming to the fore throughout my research was the representation of women in the text, especially in relation to motherhood and the use and abuse of women’s bodies as ways of fulfilling the expectations/needs of the patriarchs. Since submitting my thesis, my work has moved away from looking into the text, and towards looking at how reading these problematic texts of the use and abuse of women’s bodies shapes and informs our attitudes towards women and – on a larger scale – gender, today.
 My next research project is concerned with appropriation and reappropriation of the Hebrew Bible in marginalised communities – ways that we can read the text which either give a voice to, or which further silence women in subcultural “underground” communities like punks, underground comix and graffiti art, for example.
 The Shiloh Project is already highlighting work done in these fields – but more than that, it is a community which encourages and explores the problem of rape culture and religion from new perspectives too. It is an important resource to me, not just in terms of finding out information, but in connecting me to other people who can help shape and define what I’m interested in. In the world of academia, and especially in something like Biblical Studies which is traditionally white, male and class-driven, it’s exciting to see such relevant work being done by people of colour, women, feminists and so on.
How do you think The Shiloh Project’s work on religion and rape culture can add to discussion about gender activism today? 
There are many ways The Shiloh Project adds to discussions about gender activism, many of which I’ve highlighted above – the building of communities which challenge traditional discourse in this area, the encouragement that there are other people who feel like I do. Most importantly for me though, is that the existence of the Project is a space to challenge assumptions and ignorance. For example, the Bible is often used to authorise or legitimise certain behaviours, mostly because people are happy to pick and choose bits of biblical text to support an idea without looking at the wider context or implications both within the text itself, and as a result of reading the text. Challenging these assumptions or even encouraging different interpretations of the Bible is so important – now more than ever – and for me, I have the space to do this within the scope of The Shiloh Project.
What’s next for your work with The Shiloh Project?
I have a few more ideas in mind in terms of contributing blog posts to the Project over the next year, and I’m really looking forward to meeting other members in April 2018, where I can learn more about what the project wants to achieve and how I can fit into those aims. Most of all though, I’m going to continue admiring it from afar and sharing the work that the Project has been doing with as many people as I can.
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