Archive for May, 2014

Paraphrasing Augustine: The Church Hates Women, And It Is My Mother

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

After the horror of the Santa Barbara shootings, there’s a plethora of articles now on misogyny, violence, and naming the problem. I can read those. There are also a lot of articles, secular and Christian, on the inevitability of male violence and further female subjugation that comes from patriarchal/masculinist — “complementarian,” in Christian terminology — theology, which I and other Christian feminists contend is an affront to the Gospel.

These, I can’t read. Not today. Not for awhile.

The damage wrought by my Church — by the masculinists within and the people within who don’t give a damn or who are too afraid of “getting it wrong” to speak the truth — is incalculable. It looks nothing like Jesus, makes a mockery of his message, and yet represents him to a watching, waiting world. The Gospel is more important to me than anything in this world. Contending for justice between females and males is at the heart of it; the message and person of Christ overturns all evil, and patriarchy is the worst. I live to speak and defend Christ’s work, and do it with all my strength. I am a radical feminist because I am a radical Christian; to me, the Gospel demands nothing less than an uncompromising hatred of patriarchy. Because it kills women. Because it sucks the spirit, courage, wisdom, and strength out of women. Because it gleefully rejoices in our destruction.

My heart, though, is overburdened — broken, clouded, in need of a Sabbath. The story I share with every single other girl-become-woman in the world, albeit to a lesser degree than others of my sisters, is a lifelong reminder that the rulers of this world wish me harm, feed on my harm. I saw the Church look away when it wasn’t applauding, and I feared and was suspicious of the God it proclaimed, the God I now know is neither male nor female, yet both Mother and Father.

Some other time I’ll write about the details of my conversion in the Spring of 1981; that’s not for now. For now, I trust the God I encountered in the New Testament, my Savior Jesus Christ, and while I fear many of those in his Church and distrust most of the rest, seeing that those who want me to call them “brother” are entirely satisfied with the oppression of their sister, I acknowledge that the Church is, faithful or not, my people.

And today, probably for tomorrow, probably for a long time, the sins of my people toward my sisters are too many, too much, for me to explore again. Maybe it saps my strength for the fight; maybe it’s just horrifyingly repetitive. Or maybe I’m just embarrassed, ashamed — the Body of Christ, actively supporting the oppression of and harm against its own sisters, ignoring or defending the nightmare women and girls everywhere make their way in, as omnipresent as the oxygen we breathe.

Today, I think, I need rest from confirmation that my people care so little. I need to draw, drum, sing, sleep, and pray — because there is much to proclaim.

That “abolish patriarchy” thing? The Christian can, and must, joyfully blame it on Jesus . . .

Memorial Day

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day don’t always bring out the best in the uber-patriotic, a community to which I don’t belong, and the anti-war, anti-American imperialism crowd, to which I do belong.  I got into a heated argument with another anti-war activist whose response to Memorial Day was unkind to the troops — and unprintable here.  What follows is my explanation of why I cannot hold men and women in the armed forces in contempt, even as I hold in profound contempt both the ideas behind their current mission and the cowards who blithely send them off to fulfill it.

Here is my side of the exchange:

American imperialism and the death toll it brings to others and to our own is an abomination. But the troops were drafted in Vietnam and before, and unable to wiggle out of it like Cheney/Rumsfeld/Limbaugh; no volition there, just orders from the empire. Not nearly enough went CO or ran to Canada. I wish they all had. With Iraq and Afghanistan and a crashing economy, too many young people wrongly felt the military would save them, and young men saturated in masculinity and misogyny had been primed since birth to fight something, even if it’s wrong. That’s not to excuse them, but to offer an explanation for my belief that it’s the men who love war but are too cowardly to actually place themselves in harm’s way who are the focus of my anger.

And that anger is profound.

War makes killers out of young men who were raised in this world to believe that being masculine is the single pursuit that ought to define them. War kills mother’s sons, if that mother is American; if that mother is anywhere else the U.S. Empire extends, she risks losing everyone she’s ever loved or known, all in service of the voracious appetite of war. But “fuck the troops” accomplishes nothing. Direct that anger toward the Empire and its bloodthirsty minions. Direct that anger toward patriarchy, without which there would be no war. Direct that anger toward those young men who signed up because war is a socially acceptable way to kill people in the service of masculinism. But I can’t bring myself to direct blind rage toward “the troops,” especially when so many are beginning to realize that they’ve been royally used and discarded.

On Being Generally Liberal, Not Specifically Feminist

Monday, May 26th, 2014

You’re not a feminist if you’re idea of righteous social activism is doing the “most leftist” thing you can think of, and if you view the tension between two “leftist” beliefs as an opportunity to embrace the one that appears nicer and more tolerant to everyone than the other, you don’t understand the female-centeredness of true feminist thought. Feminism will always defend women first in its fight against the patriarchy that threatens us daily.

Uninvited

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

After an unfortunate exchange on FB yesterday that left me angrier than I have been in months, I feel the need to set some things straight:

I have been criticized in private for writing openly about the fact that 33 years ago, a man raped me. I understand that’s hard for people who love me to read, and I understand that’s hard for everyone else to fathom — why would I not just keep such a horrific and personal experience to myself? But I’m a Christian; my life isn’t for “keeping to myself.” It’s solely and entirely for the glory of God, and if going public with my experience opens the door for some woman to ask me for help, or feel empowered when she feels utterly stripped of power, or come to understand that there’s a name for what she’s experienced, then I’m glad for it, and no self-inflicted loss of privacy matters in the face of any good that might come from Surviving Out Loud. I write to anyone who reads, but I write FOR women, and I obey the Holy One by doing so.

But here’s what happened yesterday, and what must never happen again: Some man, a FB “friend” only because that’s how even hostile correspondents are described, took that information, mangled it, and then used it to diagnose and explain what he insists is my “bitterness.” This pompous little twit dared to suggest that what he called my “having been molested when (I) was younger” is the reason behind my criticism of his minister, their shared patriarchal theology, and his hero’s grossly un-pastoral conduct. From a perch of privileged masculinism that he presumed gave him the OK to use my history to analyze and then correct me, he concluded that so bad was the trauma of rape that it left me unable to follow or embrace beliefs that he believes to be unswervingly correct. Not at all surprisingly, those beliefs privilege men over women.

I wanted to tear his little throat out.

Thinking that he had revealed something I had kept private, he immediately apologized. I explained that he was way out of line NOT because he revealed a secret, but because he referenced the incident at all — something that wasn’t his to use, and especially not his to use in an attempt to plumb the depths of my heart and mind. More than most men, even, he isn’t qualified. He sure as hell wasn’t invited.

He still doesn’t get it, but I’m pretty sure he gets that I was livid. I doubt he even has the capacity, morally and relationally, to grasp the degree to which he violated boundaries — boundaries that even the grossest of males, as well as most reasonably intelligent toddlers, would respect. Any defensiveness will be met with a face-to-face encounter he’s not likely to forget, and I hope he simply accepts the forgiveness that I offered and goes home aware, perhaps for the first time, that being in possession of a penis qualifies him for not a whole lot, and definitely not for the right to use my history to his advantage.

Because he’s a Biblical literalist, he will, I’m sure, understand that my life’s pearls are freely offered to those I choose. I don’t choose to cast them before privilege-bloated, pompous, swine, and I will react strongly if one of the swine presumes to help himself to them.