Part Two: Masculinism IS Patriarchy

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.

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