Archive for January, 2015

Part Two: Masculinism IS Patriarchy

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Part Two, in response to Julie Bell, on why I use “masculinism” as a synonym for “patriarchy,” not as a balance to “feminism”:

As I call myself a “radical” feminist, it’s important to understand how that makes me different from “liberal” feminists, and I think the best way to describe the differing perspectives is to say that libfems look at the law — for example, equal pay for equal work — and changes in individual behavior — a husband becoming aware of the truth of Biblical egalitarianism and acting on it — as methods of ridding the world of patriarchy, which all feminists agree is the enemy. (By the way, my definition of “patriarchy” is this: One man exercising power over women, children, and those men he deems inferior, and THE WORLDWIDE, HISTORICALLY UBIQUITOUS SYSTEM THAT INTRODUCED, ENSHRINED, AND ENFORCED IT as a proper form of social engagement; it is, to me, the root of all evil — even “love of money” has patriarchy at its root, because avarice, ruthlessness, competition, power, materialism both household and imperialistic, are all “masculine” behaviors).

The liberal feminist position, then, places its hope in reform of government, culture, and individuals subject to and living in those institutions; the Christian liberal feminist, of course, adds the church to it. Without question, the liberal feminist view is honorable — but it’s utterly ineffective, in my mind, at getting to the root — from which the word “radical” comes — of the horrors caused by patriarchy.

As I said in my previous post, a radical feminist view analyzes issues from a class perspective and not an individual one. So when a libfem applauds “equal pay” laws, a radfem, while acknowledging individual benefits to individual women, sees modification of the system all women are in, patriarchy, to be lacking in both scope and effectiveness — the difference between retooling and overthrowing. Radfems aren’t satisfied with anything less than overthrowing patriarchy at its root through its fruit, and Christian radfems believe that this, not “working within the system,” to be the earthly mission of the Gospel. We see patriarchy as the evil behind not just rape and genital mutilation, but also destruction of forests, political hegemony/imperialism, gross consumerism, and other things that, at first glance, don’t look at all “male-female.” Radfems are also critical of transgender politics, believing that the trans movement embraces gender — again, that sinful, hierarchical assignment of “masculine” (who GETS TO rape, consume, fight, etc.) and “feminine” (who is SUBJECT TO those who rape, consume, fight, etc.). Radical feminists, while decrying violence to transgendered people, do not believe that gender — how people “present,” feminine or masculine — is something that should be embraced, but rejected; further, the biological fact of being born male or female (sex) is immutable. Males may prefer and present in a feminine manner, and insofar as gender is the enemy that tells them they’re in conflict with their biology, they — male-born people — may not “become” females and thus may not enter female-only spaces — bathrooms, locker rooms, women-only music festivals, rape crisis centers, shelters, etc. Radfems want people, male and female, to prefer/present in whatever non-sinful ways they choose, and we believe that eliminating gender is more important than having healthy bodies mutilated to conform to its sinful, culture-bound expectations. But I don’t want to get off track …

Feminism, then, is the term used by those who see patriarchy as the enemy of women and, secondarily, to the men who practice it, and, not insignificantly, to the planet itself. Properly used, it describes not a set of behaviors — that’s femininity, which radfems reject and label a designation of eternal subjugation to males. (Masculinity, again, is rejected because it is the sinful designation of eternal rule over, and is fed and watered by the “manly” behaviors run amok in this world). Feminism describes a political/cultural analysis that privileges the concerns of females and children in all considerations. Liberal feminism seeks redress by law and personal reformation within patriarchy; radical feminism seeks to lay axe to the roots of the whole tree thereof.

The only Biblical guide — mandate — for proper Christian behavior (what analogously can be called “presenting”) is the Fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5, which is notably absent of sex-specific fruit or gendered behaviors. Radfems like me believe that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, mercy, and self-control are available to anyone by God’s Holy Spirit, are free of gendered role-presentation/function, and, most important, are behaviors that strike at the very heart — the root — of masculinity. I believe that’s intentional. That male who rejects for himself competition, greed, violence, hierarchy, power, striving, avarice, and physical displays of “masculinity” is free to invite the Spirit to fill him with the Spirit’s fruit, but in the world in which he moves, and, tragically, in Church, he will suffer at the hands not only of other guys, but will find himself the focus of distaste, quite often, from women who blindly expect and accept typical “guy” behaviors.

Likewise, females like me who embrace the Fruit but care little about demonstrating “femininity” — prettiness in face, clothes that make them attractive to males, soft voices, limited and lightly-spoken opinions, servanthood not as a choice but as an expectation, primary attention to domestic duties, etc. — will find themselves with few sisters who understand them. Because the hierarchy of masculine-over-feminine is sinful in origin, even from the origin of human beings, as a theology and as a practice that has resulted in every form of sin found on this earth, it must be rejected. There is no “Biblical masculinity” or “Biblical femininity,” just as there’s no “Biblical greed” or “Biblical Hierarchy in Relationships.” The tree is rotten; radical feminists cannot eat of its fruit.

Feminism, then, requires two things: One, a conscious understanding that the world — the “playing field” — is NOT EQUAL but is, instead, utterly given over to sin, the root of which is masculine behaviors we call masculinism or patriarchy; and, two, that because the field is so unequal, and unequal along sex lines first and then race and class, for the same reasons, the female is, in this world, intrinsically marginalized. The female is Jesus’ “least of these” simply because she is female (it’s the same for children), and those males who, tragically, are also poor, naked, hungry, rejected, and marginalized are ALSO victims of patriarchy — a system of power has installed males over females AND over those males deemed “weaker” and “less than” the male(s) in power. Gender — the expression of masculine and feminine — is the evil system that privileges power/subjugation along sex lines over the Fruit of the Spirit. It must be abolished, done away with in favor of a world where females and males live in the Spirit.

Arriving at that will require Christ and Christ only; only the Holy One can overthrow sin. But we who worship Him must cooperate and root out first that evil that has choked the Church and done so in the name of the Christ who defeated that which the adulterous Church has rushed to embrace, and proclaim that gender kills, and that we will no longer, out in the world, enshrine sexual hierarchy. That takes a conscious rejection of masculinity, first, and, in proclaiming feminism, an understanding that such is NOT an embrace of femininity. Feminism is a deliberate recognition of the radical, class-based reality of patriarchy that requires a specific understanding that in a world poisoned by it, justice and righteousness requires a CONSCIOUS consideration of women and children and patriarchy-oppressed males first. Patriarchy creates a visible, identifiable, class of victims: females and children. In Jesus’ words, “the least of these” are those stricken by the mighty masculine hand of masculinity and masculinism, the system that feeds it.

Feminism — and by this I mean radical feminism — must have as its identifying goal the conscious recognition, embrace, and advocacy for FEMALES (and children/oppressed males) first, and it can only do so by wholeheartedly rejecting masculinism. That’s why I cannot use “masculinism” as a “fairness doctrine” counter to “feminism” — it’s NOT an equal, just playing field, and only recognition of what must be embraced (the Spirit’s Fruit) and what must be done away with (masculinity and femininity) will make Christian feminism able to effect lasting change in bringing about the Kingdom of God. As Christians, we are to love those who sin while they’re over us, praying for their redemption — but our focus is ever to be on our neighbor, and in this world of horror and pain, our neighbor is much more likely to be one of “the least of these” whose deprivation was created by sin, enabled by patriarchy, and wrought by patriarchs and their defenders. To put it bluntly: your neighbor, the one who is the least of these among you, is the woman battered by her husband. He needs reformation and renewal to be sure, but rebuke first. Who among us would help him before rendering protection and nurture to his victim? And why, for the love of God, do we encourage him to adopt “Christian” forms of power-over, stoicism, competition, pride in physical strength, self-regard, and capitalistic viciousness? That’s masculinity. It kills. It’s killing women in your community right now, and my theology will always privilege, in its praxis, the women and children the Church is astonishingly –and sinfully — eager to put in harm’s way.

A radical focus on the root of Christ-worship will result in Fruit that is available to both sexes, utterly ungendered in expectation and experience. It will acknowledge as unequal that which the complementarians desperately want us to see as equal, and it will have as its first concern, always, Christ in the form of the least of these hewn from the iron hand of patriarchy.

I welcome your questions and arguments, although I would prefer to have you get ahold of me on my regular FB page, as I don’t check this one as often as some of you. I’m under Keely Emerine-Mix, and if you send me a friend request, even if you hate what I say, I’ll accept it!

God’s peace to all of you, sisters and brothers.

“Masculinism” Isn’t A Proper Balance To “Feminism”: Part One

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

 

A Christian feminist who also participates in the Christians For Biblical Equality blog asked me why I use “masculinism” more or less as a synonym for “patriarchy,” because she uses it as a balance to “feminism,” in the sense of describing the Holy One’s love for females and males by saying “God is a feminist; God is a masculinist.”  I understand her point, but I disagree with her usage of the word “masculinist.” Here’s my response to her:

I am, as I said earlier, a radical feminist. This doesn’t mean that while YOU’LL, say, write a letter to the editor, I, as a “radical,” will throw a brick through a window — not at all. It means that while liberal feminism strives for equality with men and views things through an individualist perspective, radical feminists work for the end of patriarchy and the end of gender, which is its expression in males and females — sex, as opposed to “gender,” which is how males and females play out immutable hierarchical and thus sinful roles as “feminine” and “masculine.” These roles dictate who rules/gets unfettered access to women and their bodies (males/the masculine) and who is bound and submits/gives up access to men (females/femininity) — sex (male/female). Radfems believe gender — those hierarchical roles assigned by sex, with males at the top and in power and females at the bottom and in subjection — must be abolished, and that masculinity, the “firstfruits” of patriarchy, is something no man should seek or embrace; it’s toxic and provides the root for all evils — even the love of money is aggressive avarice, a typically masculine characteristic. Gender is a result of sin; I pray for its abolition. Most radfems aren’t Christians, so where I say “sin,” they say “toxic social construct,” but we mean the same, I think. So a libfem might say, “Joe raped Susan; Joe has a narcissistic personality and learned from his abusive father that violence was OK. Joe is a bad guy.” The analysis is on this situation, however correct it is, and is not on the class reality — that “males rape females.” Joe may be those things, but, in a radical, class analysis, a radfem would say — I would say — that Joe is acting out masculinity, and Joe should renounce his masculinity and the privilege it brings so that Joe can be free of his familial patterns, narcissism, violence, etc. — all of which are expressions of masculinity. Keep in mind that the Fruit of the Spirit is the only Biblical imperative for the Christ-follower; they refer not at all to sex or gender by being freely available to, and expected from, both females and males. This is Part One …

The Responsibility Of The Traditionalist: Homosexuality

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Christians who hold to the traditional Church teaching on homosexuality — the “just the words on the page, no context needed” reading that’s governed conservative Christianity’s views on the issue for two centuries — are not, ipso facto, homophobes who hate their children.

I disagree with their interpretation and believe that a truer understanding of Scripture and context would lead them to accept same-sex relationships with the same respect, joy, and standards (monogamy, commitment, mutuality, etc.) as we do heterosexual marriages, but I understand that desperately wanting to understand the issue from a Biblically correct perspective is likely to be the bedrock upon which their beliefs are founded. However, the culturally-bound Church’s intense disgust for homosexuals and homosexual sex IS sinful, one of the worst toxins of patriarchy and one of the best reasons for Christians to reject it. The “Biblical traditionalist” who simply wants to align her beliefs with Scripture will find me disagreeing with her, hoping to teach her a better way, but she won’t find me automatically believing her to be a homophobic bigot. I won’t separate from a traditionalist; I won’t stop from shining a brighter light on the Scriptures for her, either.

On the other hand, she and other traditionalists must not flinch from, may never neglect, their responsibility to condemn PUBLICLY, SPECIFICALLY, and WHENEVER NEEDED any injustice, violence, degradation, denial of basic civil rights, value, and mockery of Lesbians and gay males — knowing that a great many evildoers who wish violence upon my Lesbian and gay male neighbors and yours hide behind “the Biblical testimony” against homosexuality, counting on and receiving the support of conservatives as they inflict unspeakable acts of specific harm toward homosexuals in and out of the Church.

The world we live in is a world that Lesbians and gays die in, and die in not because the majority of Christians take the Bible literally in what it appears to say about homosexuality, but because the majority of Christians have not, in adopting their view, embraced with equal vigor, or embraced at all, the absolute necessity of honoring Scripture by opposing strenuously any violence and harm against Lesbians and gay men. Their sin in doing nothing to speak and act on behalf of homosexuals may be a sin of omission, but it’s no less a sin — and it enables horrific acts of commission to be inflicted on a community of people deeply loved by God, in God’s name, for God’s honor, by evildoers, bigots, and assassins who love God not a bit and, in truth, esteem God’s Word even less.

So the traditionalist conservative Christian is not, to me, a homophobe because he believes as he does — that homosexual acts are sinful. I disagree; I’ll do what I can to teach them, reasoning and convincing from these same Scriptures that what we see today as homosexuality is not what the Apostle Paul intended and that Christians can, and should, embrace those whose love is homosexual. I’ll do so, humbly and gladly, as their sister in Christ.

But the “Christian” who chooses not to see the harm done, through acts committed or defenses not offered, by others who claim to be traditionalists committed only to Biblical veracity, IS a homophobe, and that person will be, to me, a focus of rebuke or evangelism, and I won’t shrink from reminding them that embrace of the traditional belief is not the same thing as embrace of the bitter bigotry and hate that stems from it. There is nothing more repugnant to me than people who use Christianity and Christian beliefs, even, perhaps especially, those conclusions on which I disagree with them, to do evil. It is evil to hate Lesbians and gay males, evil to deny them civil rights, evil to advocate harm toward them, evil to enact violence against them, and evil — the most common evil, the one conservatives are most susceptible to — fail to cry out when others do.

It’s not your Biblical conservativism that makes you a homophobe, Christian. It’s your sinful application of your traditionalism that does, and this sister of yours in Christ won’t offer you solace or shelter when you’re rightly condemned as a bigot.

Well, You Asked …

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

I do so love a challenge, and I can’t resist one that comes to me in the form of, “OK, so … name three things you’re conservative about.” I’m going to toss out that I am conservative enough to believe that the Gospels portray Jesus saying and doing things that we ought to take as literal patterns for Christian living, but I think my interrogator would call that “liberal.” So, let’s try these three:

1. I dislike, in church, “praise choruses” and contemporary — and insipid — “Jesus as my boyfriend” songs. I like hymns.
2. I believe someone — father, mother, aunt — from a child’s family should stay home to be with her/him until mid-elementary school, whenever economically possible.
3. I am convinced that the Second Amendment does NOT give individuals the right to own guns, but, nevertheless, I believe that the interests of women and children are best served if women have guns. Disarming women is an open door to continued abuse and murder, and I think that appropriate registration and training, and a complete ban on gun ownership by violent men, is appropriate.

A bonus:

I’m conservative enough that I hate misogynistic gangster rap, misogynistic country music (and pretty much all country music after 1970), and misogynistic pop music — first for political reasons, and only then because the music itself is wretched.

I Am My Foremothers’ and Forefather’s Daughter

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

From the “How Did She Get That Way?” files:

I’ll likely not read anything nearly as inspiring and nearly as exciting in 2015 as I did this morning while looking through copies of my paternal great-great-grandfather’s letters to his daughter, in which the abolitionist Rev. William Henry Boles recounts the time he was speaking against the Ku Klux Klan just after the Civil War and was shot by a Southern sympathizer.

His wife, Dr. Louisa Spiller, was also a preacher, and Louisa and their daughter, my grandmother’s mother, Dr. Harriet Boles-Stephenson, were osteopathic physicians, temperance activists, and suffragettes. And while I inherited none of their scientific or medical abilities, I know I’m a preacher at heart.

I pray that Henry and Louisa are proud of me.

“Fifty Shades Of Grey” — Or “Fifty Shades Of Black and Blue”

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Capricious, arrogant, manipulative men who want to cause you physical pain are not sexy, and being with them is not romantic, and I will still protest this movie when it comes to Moscow because it will be ragingly popular and a university town needs at least one voice to speak against it.