Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is better, my daughter, that you go out to glean with Boaz’s young women, otherwise you might be bothered in another field.” - Ruth 2:22
Naomi sends Ruth out to glean in the fields, and in a move that women everywhere will recognize, strategizes about how to protect her from being “bothered.” I don’t know what the average dude reading this story thinks Naomi means by “bothered,” but every woman who reads it understands perfectly.
So would activist educator Jackson Katz. If you were anywhere near Facebook the last couple of months, I bet you saw this chart. It shows the kinds of responses that Katz gets whenever he asks mixed-gender audiences what they do daily to protect themselves from sexual assault. The men stare at him blankly. The women, on the other hand, list strategy after strategy. Ruth and Naomi’s strategy shows up with the rest: stick together.
The book of Ruth is the story of how God gifted Ruth and Naomi with each other for protection and stability in a hard world, how by sticking together they saved each other from what threatened them. I like to think that some future worshiper of our God might have a sequel to Ruth in their sacred Scripture. I like to think it will be called #metoo. It will tell the story of how God gifted the women of the world with each other’s stories and strength, how when they banded together, they repaired the world, overcame the danger, made their own salvation. I like to imagine that before the end of the story, the men will have joined them, too.
Let me stick with those you have given me, O God, until no one need strategize to keep themselves safe again. Amen.
Stillspeaking Small Group Discussion
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.