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Towards a Logic of Dignity: Educating Against Gender-Based Violence

  • Juliana ClaassensEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Statistics of violent crimes indicate that a culture of violence is permeating South African society today. One of the contributing factors to the widespread occurrence of gender-based violence may be what Peter Ochs calls “a logic of indignity” that is associated with violence against women. In order to counter gender-based violence, this flawed logic that considers women as less than fully human, as objects that can be used and abused at will, has to be replaced with a logic of dignity. Such a logic will unmask harmful stereotypes and reclaim values of a woman’s worth as a subject in her own right, worthy of honor and respect. In this chapter, I propose that in the context of faith-based schools, biblical texts may serve as a helpful teaching tool for educating against gender-based violence. The Hebrew Bible contains numerous examples of the logic of indignity referenced above as evident in for instance the gruesome narrative of the rape of the Levite’s wife as narrated in Judges 19. And yet one also sees how this logic of indignity is resisted in subtle ways when the canonical placement of this text contributes to the formation of a logic of dignity. I propose that by using one of the lesser known religious stories from the Judeo-Christian tradition, students receive the opportunity to hone their critical thinking skills which may include reading against the grain and reading for compassion in order to identify the underlying logic of indignity inherent to the representations of gender-based violence in the text and substituting this logic for a logic that upholds the inherent worth of every human being. Moreover, these skills attained in encountering the biblical text in a classroom setting may be utilized by students in “reading” the many violent images that surround them in the form of popular culture (MTV music videos; commercials, movies).

Keywords

Education Gender-based violence Rape Human dignity Judges 19 Masculinity Feminist theology 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of TheologyStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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