Did Jimmy Carter Explain the War on Women Back in 2009?

Jimmy Carter, Nobel laureate and former president extraordinaire, has been all over the twittersphere in the past week, because he pointed out that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.  All of this reminds me of the statements he made in 2009, when he broke all ties with the Southern Baptists because of their discriminatory attitude about women.  After working for many years to encourage change from within the church, he finally, figuratively threw up his hands and walked away, saying:

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities . . . [emphasis mine]

Photo by The Elders.Well, Amen, Jimmy.  Tell it like it is.  And, even better, he went on to explain that:

At the same time, I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted holy scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy . . . The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.

Sadly, even while taking such a strong stand for women’s rights, he pointed out how hard it can be to do that, especially as a politician.  His statement mentioned that he and his fellow Elders (an independent group of global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity) were in a good position to say unpopular things, since they no longer have political ambitions. 

Reading his statements again today, I started thinking, does this explain how we got to where we are now, with bipartisan debate on the never-before-controversial Violence Against Women Act, and a host of new obstacles to the legal access to birth control and abortion?  Is it because some politicians know that most Americans want leaders who have Christian values, so they grab for any handhold they can get on something that can be twisted into looking like a Christian value?  Even when there is no consensus that it really is a Christian value? Is it mainly so they have an opportunity look principled, moral, and committed (which many see as leaderly qualities) in an election year?  

What do you think about Jimmy Carter’s 2009 statements on religion and women’s rights, and how that relates to the current “war on women”? If you have some insight about why the "war on women" has arisen recently, please leave a comment!


Peg Shippert is a psychotherapist in private practice in Boulder, Colorado.  She has a deep passion for helping survivors of sexual violence.  

Emily’s List Ranking of Presidential Candidates

It’s kind of a strange thing to do, ranking GOP presidential candidates on a list of issues that are traditionally not supported by the GOP.  As one would expect, in the recent Emily’s List ranking, all candidates had many strikes against them, from this perspective.  Nevertheless I found some interesting nuggets when drilling down into some of the strikes they marked against specific candidates. 

Here is my favorite.  Did you know:

  • In 2011, Newsweek interviewed Robert Bork, a top advisor for Mitt Romney. “How about the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment? Does he still think it shouldn’t apply to women? ‘Yeah,’ he answers. ‘I think I feel justified by the fact ever since then, the Equal Protection Clause kept expanding in ways that cannot be justified historically, grammatically, or any other way. Women are a majority of the population now—a majority in university classrooms and a majority in all kinds of contexts. It seems to me silly to say, ‘Gee, they’re discriminated against and we need to do something about it.’ They aren’t discriminated against anymore.’” [Newsweek, 10/17/11]

Get that?  Women. Are. Not. Discriminated. Against. Anymore. Oh, yeah, they used to be, but that’s all over now!  You can tell because so many women have jobs, and go to school.  Plus there are more women than men.  If they’re not a minority, that means discrimination is impossible! 

I’m sure that’s why women's earnings were 77.4 percent of men's in 2010.  

Am I naïve to hope that those at the very top of the list of individuals who may soon lead our country would have a better understanding of the concept of discrimination?


Peg Shippert is a psychotherapist in private practice in Boulder, Colorado.  She has a deep passion for working with survivors of sexual violence.  

How Far We Are From Justice for Women in Afghanistan

Maybe you’ve heard about the 19-year-old Afgan woman who was raped by her cousin’s husband, and then when she became pregnant from that rape, was sentenced to prison, with her daughter, for 12 years for adultery.  The sentence was later reduced to three years.  Finally, Afghan President Hamid Karzai eventually ordered her pardon.

But, wait, how can you pardon someone who didn’t do anything wrong?  Oh, yeah, she was raped.  Her bad. 

Before being pardoned, a judge offered to free her if she would marry her rapist.  Apparently there are no such strings attached to the subsequent pardon.  But the pressure to marry her attacker is still intense.  Such a marriage would legitimize her daughter, “restore honor” to her brothers, and smooth the potentially violent rift between the two families.  It seems likely that, without marrying her rapist, her family won’t accept her and her daughter, and it is feasible that she could even become the victim of a so-called honor killing.  So, she still has some very difficult decisions to make.

According to CNN, her attorney, Kimberly Motley, in Kabul, says that she does not want to marry her attacker. She would like to marry an educated man.

Even if she should decide to marry her attacker, it may not be possible for some time.  He is still in jail for five more years.  Motley explains that, “as far as I know there has never been an Afghan wedding in jail.” 

I guess I’m blogging about this because it seems like many people think of the fight for women’s rights as something from the past.  Hey, this is happening in our world, right now, today.  Nevermind having the vote, these women don’t even have the “right” to be raped without being thrown in jail!  Or to then peacefully pursue a subsequent life that will promote their own healing.  Clearly, there is much work still to be done.


Peg Shippert is a psychotherapist in private practice in Boulder, Colorado.  She has a deep passion for working with survivors of sexual violence. 

I know that it can feel risky to make public comments about sexual violence.  You are welcome to comment anonymously here.  Just enter a non-identifying handle when asked to identify yourself.