Thursday, May 29, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

My Book Cove

Her Hands

The only aspect of the cover I have not explained are her hands.  I was once informed that red nail polish is a sign of the devil.  Only her pinkie finger shows but in the original image all her nails are painted red.  I wear red nail polish most of the time and my hands are not a sign of the devil.    

Her Image

Following is a response to my blog.  "Hi Paula, I just read your blog post and I really understand all of what you are saying and I think that your book cover does represent all women." Following that post I got a correspondence from Christians For Biblical Equality.  They are soliciting funds for a partner organization in Africa.  They write, "EFOGE is struggling to bring change to a deeply patriarchal society that uses the Bible to fan fires of domestic and gender based violence and many social vices."  Before I had confronted my personal feelings about the bloody halo, I would have said it represented the horror of the Bible being used to fan flames of violence and the damage done to women by patriarchal interpretations of the Bible. 
 Marg, in her questions wrote, "I really like the book, but the cover just doesn't seem to serve it.  I see your target as Christian women (and some men perhaps) curious to read a more balanced presentation of women in the Bible.  Or feminist women looking to gain a new appreciation for biblical portrayals of women.  The cover seems like it targets young adult males looking for something dangerous and sexual."  Women's bodies, if not for public consumption, are dangerous.  God forbid a woman breast feed in public or make her own reproductive choices.   Women's bodies are sexual.  Barnes and Nobel sees a naked woman on my cover, not fit for their religion department.  
She is not for consumption!  She is looking directly into the eyes of whom ever is holding the book, not submissive or apologetic but some what sorrowful.        

 I recently filmed a Youtube video for the book.  The interviewer asked me to explain the cover.  For the first time I had to talk about being molested.  I told my husband and sisters before I posted the first blog about the cover, but I had never talked openly about those experiences.  I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  It must have affected me more that I realized because the next day my annoying arrhythmia, which has not bothered me for years, flared up.  My heart started flopping around like a fish out of water.  It has been good to face the pain I see in her blue eyes.


When I look at her I see me living in a woman's body.  She is me praying and bleeding and longing for things to be different.  She is me and I love her praying, bleeding, sorrowful, straightforward self.    

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Book Cover

Her Body

Marg asks, "Why use a female image that has been so obviously photoshopped when this book is about how accurate portrayals of women in the Bible have been obscured by patriarchal and cultural expectations?"  In the original image, the body of the woman on the cover is visible from halo to hipbones.  I did not want her to be sexualized and requested the book designer tear the image to obscure most of her body.  From the feedback I have received, it seems there is no way to present a woman's body that is not seen as sexual.  Barnes and Noble will not carry the book in the religion department of their store because, the buyer for the religion section is reluctant to put a naked woman in her religion section.  I walked through Barnes and Noble and took pictures of book covers that displayed much more of a woman's body than my book cover.  Granted, not in the religion section.  

Living In A Woman's Body 

The photoshop question never accrued to me.  I see in her the image of my younger blond haired, blue eyed self.  She is the image of me living in a woman's body that is, "obscured by patriarchal and cultural expectations."  A body that is never thin enough, or never has big enough breasts and is always in danger of being exploited.  That is just my experience.  A Unitarian Universalist minister shared her experience of growing up with big breasts and the, "patriarchal and cultural expectations"  that resulted from having breasts that were too big.    

Women's Bodies

Patriarchy is not comfortable with woman's bodies, not on display for public consumption.  A good example is the ruccus over breast feeding mothers.  Patriarchy is not comfortable with women's bodies that do not conform to current standards of beauty.  A woman's body my be praised for the curve of her breast but not the curve of her belly.  Bellys should be flat.  Patriarchy is not comfortable with women's bodies that are not controlled by someone other than the woman herself.  I Googled, "Number of laws regulating women's bodies."  The first statistic I got is that in the first quarter of 2013 Republicans pushed 700 new laws to regulate women's bodies.
I see my younger self in this cover, praying and bleeding and longing for things to be different.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

My Book Cover

 Her Face and Hair

Marg asked, "Why use a white woman model, blond hair and blue eyes?  This is a book about middle eastern women."  

It was with surprise that I realized, when I look at her I see my younger self.  I see her messy blond hair and remember all the people who told me, "Your hair is so flyaway, it's like corn silk can't you do anything with it?"  Or the teacher in junior high who met me at the door every day with a rubber band.  I was not allowed in class until my hair was pulled tight in a ponytail.  

I look into her blue eyes and I see the sorrow I have so often seen in my own blue eyes.  When I was about four-years-old my mother sent me to a Bible study class.  The teacher asked if there was anyone who was not a sinner.  I raised my hand because my momma always told me I was a good little girl.  The teacher's reaction was swift and brutal.  Probably the reason I remember it 56 years later. 

On the face of the model, I see the pain from decades of sitting in church hearing again and again that I am a sinner and responsible for all the evil in the world, because of Eve.  I see in her face the pain of hearing that Bathsheba was a temptress, Mary Magdalene was a prostitute and Jezebel, Delilah and so many other women were all sinner and destroyers of holy men.  

Depictions of "Holy" Women

When I began looking at images for my cover, I found very traditional images.  Women with their hair covered and their eyes down cast.  Women with their hair covered and their arms out stretched, looking up.  Old women, nursing women, half naked women talking to fully clothed men, crying women, blissful women, submissive women, women with golden halos, nuns, icons and saints.

Yes, biblical women are middle eastern women and do not look like the woman on the cover.  The book is about biblical women and it is for me. It is for all women and men who are questioning what they have been taught about biblical women.  


I dyed my hair red.  It is just as out-of-control as it was when I was a child and I like it that way.  It is fluffy.
I still see sorrow in my blue eyes sometimes but now, like the woman on the book, my gaze is direct,  no apology, no submission.  To quote Pete Townshend, "I don't need to be forgiven."  I no longer feel the pain of male interpretations of biblical women but anger at how those interpretations are used to control and limit women.  The biblical character Eve is not the reason for all the evil in the world and neither am I.  Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute.  Bathsheba was not a temptress.  David was a voyeur and a rapist.  Jezebel was a woman following her own religious tradition.  Delilah was involved with a mean, egotistical man.  I can and do interpret biblical women for myself and the sorrowful, blond haired, blue eyed woman on the cover represents the decades it has taken to get me here.  
In my next blog post I will address Marg's questions about the woman's body.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Book Cover

The Bloody Halo

Marg Herder, Director of Public Information for the EEWC Christian Feminism Today asked me some important questions about the image on the cover of my book. I am happy to answer her questions and explain what this image represents to me.  She asks, "What is the meaning of the blood dripping halo?" The first time I was molested by a "man of God" was at church camp.  Many of the campers and counselors were in the pool playing volley ball and someone  grabbed me between my legs. I didn't know who had done it.  I jumped out of the pool and told the female counselors what had happened.  I thought they would tell the director and he would find out who it was.  One of counselors was the wife of the director.  Later that evening the director apologized for grabbing me and told me he was surprised at my reaction.  I guess he thought I would like it.   


Webster's Dictionary gives this definition for molest, "To bother, annoy or persecute: to accost sexually.  This happened five different times.  Two camp directors, one church pastor, one youth minister and one regional pastor.  Each time left my teenage self feeling guilty, dirty and ashamed as if my very presence had made these "men of God sin." I had never shared this with anyone until I shared it with Marg, April 21 of this year.


Thanks in large part to the feminists in my life I have learned that this was not my fault.  Those men, who my parents and I trusted are the shame.  The bloody halo represents the pain I carried for years as a result of the actions of those molesters who pass themselves off as "men of God." 

In my next post I will address Marg's question, "Why use a white woman model, blond hair and blue eyes? This book is about middle eastern women."