Jen Ford is a Trowbridge-based artist passionate about social justice, wife of a Baptist Minister, eco warrior, nature lover, feminist and a full time mum. Follow her on facebook.com/jenfordart/
Guest blogs are invited to stimulate thought and comment. They do not necessarily reflect the view of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence.
Hagar is often villainised but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. She had no voice, a sex slave, her body not her own. She had no choice. Raped – she was then forced to carry a child most probably going to be taken from her, horrifically abused by her mistress whilst pregnant and then sent into the wilderness to die like an animal. Abrahams words, ‘Do what you will with her!’
Hagar’s story is an example of what happens when we accept the lie that some people have more rights than others; when we believe that we have rights over another person’s body; when we create a hierarchy of importance among the human race.
Gen 16v13 – I have seen the one who sees me.
This painting was inspired by those words from Gen 16v13. She was seen by God… all of those unseen on earth are seen by God.
This is how I imagined Tamar as I painted her. The haunting image of her having ripped her robe in grief after being raped by her half-brother. Her father (King David) did nothing. Raped, silenced and left desolate, Tamar was another victim of the deep misogyny that fuelled all the violence against women in the Bible; objectification resulting from a patriarchal system which inherently frames women as morally inept. Another tragically discarded woman.
Tell Him I Said No
I really wanted to paint Vashti as righteously angry. I was brought up to believe that she was rebellious and arrogant, but really, she was an inspirational woman who was brave enough to stand up for her own worth even in the face of possible death. Married to a tyrannical king, who thought nothing at the kidnap and rape of hundreds of virgins, Vashti was brave enough to say no to his demeaning requests. Inexcusably she has been used by the church to shame women into mindlessly submitting to abusive husbands. May we all be as strong and as fearless as Vashti.
The Woman Caught in Adultery – identified only by the
charge brought against her, she is reduced to a passive object for debate, a
public spectacle. Upholding a destructive cultural ideal, whereby a woman’s sex
life is answerable to men, and a man is a law unto himself, she was humiliated
and bullied. Forcibly and violently dragged
to stand before Jesus by a mob of self-righteous men, (Pharisees, Teachers of
the law and more than likely the man she slept with), Jesus’ profound words to
‘Woman where are they? Who has condemned you? Then neither do I condemn you…
I wanted to portray her as free. The power of Jesus’ words liberates and vindicates her, bringing her once again into the community.
I called this painting ‘Redemption’, because I was heartbroken at the level of disregard and suffering this brave woman experienced. The Levites Concubine – not even given a name, this woman lives and dies a victim of domestic violence. She exists to satisfy the wishes of a man, her life worth less than the institution. Handed over to a mob of men as hospitality and to protect her husband; her life viewed as less important than that of her husband, of less importance than a man’s. A Woman with no choice, no voice, and no security. Violence against women is the logical conclusion of an ideology that systematically privileges men at the expense of women.