The House of Deputies Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation: A question.

The President of the House of Deputies has appointed a Special Committee on Sexual Harassment and Exploitation. This was announced this past week (February 28th). The Committee will work in several sub-committees to draft legislation on sexual harassment and exploitation for consideration by the General Convention meeting this summer. 

The committee is quite large - 47 members. It is quite a remarkable list and will serve the church well. It will, I hope, provide important proposals to General Convention.

The committee will work in several sub-committees: on Theology and Language, Structural Equity, Title IV and Training, Truth and Reconciliation, and Social Justice for Women.  

There is no question in my mind that each of these areas of concern needs immediate and deep attention, and each will invite us all into a greater common effort  "so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-13)

As far as I can tell from an initial read, all 47 of the members of this special committee are women. There is a good mix of ordained and lay, and I presume a wide range of inclusion(s) - persons of color, indigenous peoples, sexual orientation, etc. But there seem to be no men.

Fair enough. The committee needs to be clear that its members are driven by "their determination to change our church for the better." That drive is without question a product of personal experience, and because the matter at hand has to do with sexual harassment and exploitation, women need to be at the center of this work. But is that sufficient reason to not include men in any of the committees? Perhaps it is, but if so it is a sad testament to the level of disunity, fracture and lack of maturity, that keeps us from the "full measure of the fullness of Christ."

The rules of order for the House of Deputies says very little about who may serve on Special Committees. There has been a laudable effort to include on all regular committees and commissions of the General Convention a broadly inclusive membership. This Special Committee has been appointed with the apparent, and if so, notable exclusion of men. 

Perhaps a rationale can be provided. 


  1. Well, the obvious rationale is that the universal experience as publicized is that the source of the problems being discussed is men. Men per se, in fact. So the inclusion of men on the committee amounts to making the committee yet another occasion for the church to formally endorse an opportunity for oppression etc. It is reasonable to assue that, when the committee makes its recommendation to the whole body, in which men play a leading role, the oppressors will have ample room to water down or kill outright the suggestions which arise from a nonoppressive investigation. This line of chat is overly optimisitic at least and collaborative at worst, but it is the best that can be done with what we have to work with. (A shadow committee, working totally independent of all the church’s gears and cranks, might do better, but would not be heard at all.)

  2. No men signed up to serve is what I was told

  3. It is important to remember that, while women are obviously the great majority of victims of sexual harassment and misconduct, men can be, and are, victims as well, to say nothing of minors of both sexes. It may also be worth observing that, by informal count, only four of the 47 are from dioceses south of the Mason-Dixon line, and, on one subcommittee, the majority are from either New York or Los Angeles. So ... broadly representative?

  4. While men are victis of harassment, etc., it is still overwhelmingly men who do it. The case of children is slightly different simply because of different opportunities. I suppose that unsupervised power can open the door for anyone.

  5. Many decades ago we at least began to realize that racism is fundamentally a white person's problem and that white people must therefore be part of any meaningful response. I suggest the same may be true here.

  6. Any man would be a fool to sit on this committee. Anything he says will be ridiculed. He will have his head handed to him on a platter.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.