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Must reads!

Lots of posts that I want to share this week. I hope you’ll check them out, as they are all important! They discuss a wide variety of topics, from God, to rape culture, to The Wizard of Oz, to racism/homophobia, to the dangers of fraternizing with bears.

“For most of my Christian experience, I’ve only ever heard God described in verbs. Very busy verbs.”

“If you want to know why we need to educate men not to be sexually aggressive, look no further than what happened when Zerlina Maxwell went on television to say that we need to educate men how not to be sexually aggressive.”

“But one can’t help feeling that ‘Great and Powerful’ is two steps back from the feminist bent Baum proudly and freely lent his work, and in a day and age when there wasn’t even a label for it.”

To be a victim does not mean that you lack agency as part of your essence; it means that someone attempted to deny your agency in inflicting harm, in rendering you less powerful or even essentially powerless.”

“And right then I knew that I was tired of good people, that I had had all the good people I could take.”

“Though I grieve I cannot ever go back. The steak is a lie.”

“The combination of patriarchal gender roles, purity culture, and authoritarian clergy that characterizes Sovereign Grace’s teachings on parenting, marriage, and sexuality creates an environment where women and children—especially girls—are uniquely vulnerable to abuse.

A gay, black mayoral candidate killed last week in Mississippi was beaten, dragged and set on fire before his body was dumped near a river.”

“I was unmarried, pregnant and they took away my livelihood. San Diego Christian College did not show any mercy or grace towards me.

“A church in which a woman’s voice is not welcomed is a church with incredibly limited mobility in the kingdom of God. It can limp, at best, but it will never run.”

“This attempt to anthropomorphize and humanize bears strikes at the heart of everything the gospel teaches about bears.

Damsel’d women are being acted upon, most often being reduced to a prize to be won, a treasure to be found, or a goal to be achieved.

Here's a cat that rocks. (picture taken by my sister, Sam Moon)

Here’s a cat that rocks. (picture taken by my sister, Sam Moon)


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Must Reads!

Here are some posts from the past week or so that you simply must read.

[Note: Several of these have a trigger warning]

Maybe I’m not outraged. I’m exhausted and open and exposed and a lot of other people are too because we are wounds that get picked at and picked at and picked at one day, there won’t be anything left to heal.

When we blame women for the reactions of men – whether it is to their art, to their clothing, to their “unladylike” behavior like riding public transit after dark – we reinforce rape culture. 
I was going to have a girl. I had named her. When I started bleeding I begged. I cried. I asked. I told the guards at the detention center I was pregnant. They said it was not important because I was going to be deported anyway. I was left to bleed and cry.
A Sunday school teacher once encouraged the gathered group of girls that if we ever got home one day, and our feet were dying to get out of our shoes, that…we should leave our shoes on and not sit down for another thirty minutes, at least– so we can make our bodies “submit” to us.
And, maybe our first action in response to injustice should be learning about the causes of the problem in the first place, and refusing to ignore, simplify, and whitewash them further. 
When I was gearing up for my ordination I contacted the press. In one of the articles someone left a comment that said, “Our Catholic community ordained a transgender [side note problematic language was the commenter’s] in 19XX but we didn’t go out looking for press over it.” And I thought, that’s the problem! 
 
I shouldn’t have needed that push. But I did…I, white lady feminist, have a responsibility here and I want to meet it.
The puppy purses. I just can't with the cute of the puppy purses. (image via eonline.com)

The puppy purses. I just can’t with the cute of the puppy purses. (image via eonline.com)


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A follow-up on complementarianism and rape culture

{trigger warning for rape}

This is a follow up to my recent blog post, “Complimentarianism’s ugly relationship with rape”

I recently wrote a blog post in which I proposed that complementarianism benefits from rape culture. This post got me called a slanderer, a totalitarian communist propagandist, and even got me compared to a rapist lurking in the dark corners of the internet waiting to attack innocent men like Douglas Wilson and call them rape advocates against their will. This follow-up post is not for those people. Anyone who would compare calling out rape apologism to rape itself is beyond my ability to reason with. I’ll leave those people in God’s hands for now.

However, I did have several commenters who respectfully disagreed with me and gave me reasons why rather than simply attacking me. This post is for them. In it, I hope to explain my train of thought as clearly as possible, because I still stand by my point and believe I have good reason for doing so.

I’ll begin by explaining what I feel gives me the right to analyze complementarian culture and to draw conclusions from that analysis. I spent over 20 years of my life as a complementarian. I was told that if I went to a non-Bible college I might get raped. I was taught an abstinence-only education that led me to think I had to apologize when my 320 lbs. ex-boyfriend held my head down and forced me to perform fellatio on him. I experienced these things and countless others. I heard the Bible stories about rape victims taught in a way that implied the woman should not have let herself be alone with a man. I saw the harm complementarian teaching did to me and to others. I sat through countless sermons by countless complementarian preachers. I now am pursuing (and nearly finished with) a degree that gives me the basic skills needed to recognize systems of domination, to analyze patterns that occur within them, and to understand and deconstruct the ideologies that allow these systems of domination to function.

I understand fully that I cannot make an empirical statement about the personal opinions of all complementarians when it comes to rape and rape culture. Nor was that the purpose of my blog post. But I do have the education to analyze certain structures of society, and I do have a deal of  experience in this particular part of society that I feel gives me the right to analyze it. I cannot draw conclusions about whether or not every complementarian leader is a rape apologist. But I can make the claim, with some authority, that complementarianism as a system benefits from rape culture. By that conclusion, I can logically proceed to the idea that every complementarian leader also benefits indirectly from rape culture. 

Let’s talk about rape culture…

I’ll take a few moments here to explain rape culture. It really is beyond the scope of a single blog post to explain rape culture fully because of how deeply it permeates our society, but I’ll do my best. If you’d like to learn more about rape culture, I’d suggest starting here.

In the United States (and in much of the Western world), we live in a society that relies on domination in order to function. No, I’m not just talking about complementarians here. I’m talking about our society as a whole. Americans can call the land that they stand on “America” because of the domination the founders of this country exercised over Native Americans. Our very foundation is laid on domination, and it’s not an uphill climb from there.

The continued genocide of Native people that still occurs today…

Slavery, lynching, and racism…

The exploitation of the working class, here and abroad…

Our wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan…

The oppression of women, LGBT people, non-Christians, and children…

Our society has benefited immensely from the oppression of certain groups of people, and therefore, our society often works to perpetuate oppression.

One of the tools our society–all of it–uses to perpetuate this oppression is rape culture.

Rape culture is used, not just as a way for men to control women, but as a way for people in power to control many of the oppressed groups that our society benefits from taking advantage of. Slave masters would rape slave women to keep slave populations in line. U.S. soldiers in Vietnam raped Vietnamese women as a way of demoralizing their enemy. Even our prison system largely maintains its power using the fear of rape.

Though the majority of Americans are not the ones committing these rapes, and the majority of Americans do not actively approve of this rape, those in power benefit from each rape that occurs. The more people fear rape (or fear seeing the women in their lives raped), the more control those in power have over them.

Thus, rape culture is born.

Our comedians joke about rape. Our billboards use it to sell vodka. Our movies romanticize it. Our courts dismiss it. All the while, victims are terrified of reporting because they know we live in a world that doesn’t take rape seriously.

To put it another way, I’ll borrow Beverly Tatum’s “moving walkway” analogy. Her analogy is about racism, but I took the liberty of applying her analogy to rape culture, because I believe it fits with any system of domination.

Rape culture is like “a moving walkway at the airport.” (Tatum) Rape culture is pulling us along as a society of domination. Those in power can stand still on that walkway, ignore the floor moving under their feet, even turn the opposite direction and insist that they despise rape, but unless they are actively running in the opposite direction–away from victim blaming, from rape jokes, from the idea that some groups of people are meant by nature to rule over other groups of people–it continues to pull them along. 

Complementarianism as a system of domination

I’m going to argue now that complementarianism is one of many smaller systems of domination that operate within our larger system of domination. Though I’d guess most complementarians would shy away from the word “domination,” it shouldn’t be too difficult to convince you that, regardless of what nice-sounding words complementarians would use to describe themselves (and indeed, some skip the nice words and go straight for “conquering and colonizing”), the ideology of domination is inherent within complementarian beliefs. 

Complementarians aren’t shy about the fact that their belief system states that one group of people (men) are naturally meant to rule over another group of people (women). The rhetoric may very from “servant leadership” to “conquering and colonizing,” but the basic idea is the same: something inherent in men makes them more fit to lead, to preach, to make decisions, to run a church or a family or even a country than women. Something inherent in women makes it their job to submit to men (depending on how strictly complementarian one is, women must submit to at least their husbands and fathers. Most complementarian churches require female congregants to submit the leadership of the church to men, and some complementarians believe that women should not be in any positions of leadership over men even in society).

So, if the fear of rape benefits systems of domination, and complementarianism IS a system of domination, logically, complementarianism benefits from rape culture. 

And, like in our larger society, though every individual may not advocate rape, because the fear of rape is so effective at controlling people, many complementarian leaders use it, perhaps not even consciously. Some complementarian leaders–Douglas Wilson, Mark Driscoll, and others–are jogging, even running down the moving walkway of rape culture, demanding that wives don’t deny their husbands in bed, attributing rape to a punishment from God upon feminism, etc. A (hopefully) small minority are actually raping women, as we learned recently when the story of Jack Schaap broke (trigger warning on that link).

The rest? It seems to me that they’re standing there, reaping the benefits of rape culture, occasionally making comments about women’s clothing or participating in subtle victim blaming. Some may even have turned the other way.

But if any complementarian leaders are actually running in the opposite direction–trusting victims, affirming a woman’s bodily autonomy, condemning the systems of power that perpetuate and feed off of rape culture–well, they’re being too damn quiet about it. 


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Crisis Alert! Men are doomed!

Note: Some people have spoken to me about being confused about my intent in this blog post. I would like to clarify that this is not an attack on the legitimate struggles that men face because of inequality. This is an expression of my frustration toward a culture that claims female advancement must be suppressed because it is contributing to the “downfall of men.” For more information, read my latest blog post. Thank you, and I’m sorry for any lack of clarity! 

CRISIS ALERT!

That’s right. We’ve got a crisis on our hands–one which threatens to shake the very foundations of our society. Which could mean an end to life as we know it!:

Women are becoming less and less dependent on men.

As this cover of The Atlantic, July/August 2010 suggests, ambitious, liberated women don't turn men on

Women are earning more college degrees than men. Their making up the majority of the work force. They’re making more money than ever–they already make 79 cents per every dollar that the hard-working, all-American men make! If we don’t stop this madness, those numbers could rise! They might even eventually start making the same amount of money as men!

The consequences of this “rise of the women” have been severe.

For instance, women now make up 3% of all the top CEO positions in the United States. Women are no longer on the ground, holding the corporate ladders steady as their valiant men climb them. Now, women are climbing the ladders themselves, and kicking deserving men down a few rungs on their way up.

It’s women like these who are at fault for the high divorce rates in this country. They complain about women’s rights, but where are men’s rights? Men in this country can’t even have a good old fashioned affair anymore without their wives filing for divorce! And men in this country used to be able to exercise their role as disciplinarian and smack their women around when their women stepped out of line. Now, if men do that, society will tell their women that they should break the holy, sanctified marriage covenant! Next thing you know, they’ll be telling fathers that they can’t hit their kids because children have rights too!

Some women are using birth control so that they can pretend to be men! They think they can have sex without having to worry as much about pregnancy. Some of them are even starting to enjoy sex! What happened to the days when women were ladies–chaste, and naive, childish? Now women are starting to act like men, and by that, of course, I mean they are starting to act like adults.

Some of these women even go so far as to get abortions. How selfish! I mean, you make 79 cents for every male dollar–don’t tell me you can’t afford to take care of the child that you’re carrying because you were raped. Wearing a mini skirt has consequences, and now you need to own up to them. That fetus is a human and has rights, until, of course, it grows up to become a woman. Then she shouldn’t even have the right to get an abortion when carrying her pregnancy to term would kill her.

Perhaps we should take away these abortion rights and go back to the days of our good founding fathers, where women died early due to complications with child birth, since, now-a-days men, on average, die much earlier than women. Where’s the equality in that? This just proves that feminists don’t want equality! They want superiority!

Photo via singlemindedwomen.com

Even the media has been taken over by women. That’s why our sitcoms are filled with stupid men. This is obviously not a byproduct of a patriarchy that insists that men are the heads of the households, even if they are lazy and incompetent. Nor it is a byproduct of a rape culture that tries to alleviate men from responsibility for their actions. It’s obviously a sign that feminists control the media. Why else would the majority of leads in television shows and movies be males? Why else would these shows be followed by commercials featuring air-brushed, photo-shopped women whose sexuality is being used to sell products to men?

We need to put a stop to this. The women have gotten a taste of freedom and now they’re out of control. Pretty soon, they’ll be equals.

Yes, men are doomed (and by men, we mean, of course, patriarchy).

And feminists say women don’t have equal rights. Psh.

I tried my hand at satire (which I’ve never actually written before so sorry if it just sounds like sarcasm!). I hope it wasn’t too angry-sounding, but, you know, sometimes you just gotta get it all out there. I’m tired of hearing about the “end of men.” The rise of women does not equal the downfall of men. The rise of women helps men. It is something to be celebrated, not feared! And we women still have a long way to go. Anyways, read this great article on Forbes if you’d like to know more about why we should stop “bemoaning the end of men.” 


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Continued thoughts on Nice Guy Syndrome

I recently wrote a post about Harold Lauder, a character from Stephen King’s The Stand. I mentioned that Harold has a thing called “Nice Guy Syndrome.”

One criticism of that post came from a man who complained, “Can’t be nice, can’t be a jerk! It’s tough being a male!”

I’m truly sorry if anyone else got the vibe from my last post that I don’t like nice guys. That wasn’t my intent. In fact, I love nice guys. I’m dating one. I appreciate any man who goes out of his way to be kind to others. I am not talking about those men when I talk about men with Nice Guy Syndrome.

Because men with Nice Guy Syndrome are NOT nice guys.

Here’s why:

Being “nice” just to get something isn’t really nice: A man with Nice Guy Syndrome will go out of his way for his “lady fair. He will rush to her side when she’s sad, listen to her problems, and let her cry on his shoulder.

But when she starts dating someone else, what happens? The man with Nice Guy Syndrome complains about being stuck in the “friend zone.” He may even become hostile, referring to her as a bitch, or a whore, or more likely he will insult her intelligence, calling her an idiot for not picking him.

We see that his niceness was not  his nature, but was simply a means to an end.

Men who are only nice until a woman turns them down aren’t nice guys. They’re just manipulative Harold Lauders, hiding their true colors in order to receive their reward (note: you can often diagnose Nice Guy Syndrome early on by paying attention to the way a man treats others besides his object of affection–does he respect other women? How about men? Or is he only “nice” to one woman?)

Objectifying women isn’t really nice: Men with Nice Guy Syndrome act as if the world is a vending machine that trades niceness for women. If they are nice and don’t end up with a woman, they feel that they have been cheated.

A man with Nice Guy Syndrome feels that his niceness should entitle him to a relationship in the same way that a man who goes to a prostitute feels that his money should entitle him to sex. A man with Nice Guy Syndrome doesn’t view women as complex human beings. He views them as objects with a price tag, so naturally he is frustrated when he learns that his niceness cannot be used as currency to buy a relationship.

Invalidating a woman’s choice isn’t really nice: A man with Nice Guy Syndrome is quick to judge any other man that his love interest starts dating. He will become skeptical and over-protective. He will speedily label the other man a jerk, and will tell his friends that the girl is stupid for dating him.

Rather than allowing the woman to make her own decisions, he treats her as a foolish child.

Blaming women for being stuck in abusive relationships isn’t really nice: Now, sometimes women really do end up in relationships with jerks. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. But does the reality of domestic abuse excuse the actions of the “nice guy?”

No.

A man with Nice Guy Syndrome ridicules, with an “I told you so” manner, the women who end up in these abusive relationships. All other factors are ignored in favor of a “You could have had me, but you picked him. You deserve what you got and I’m going to sit back an laugh” mindset.

Never mind the complex, crippling problems that keep women in abusive relationships. Never mind the fact that the jerk the woman is dating likely started out as a “nice guy” too…

Contributing to rape culture isn’t really nice: At the center of rape culture is the idea that a woman’s (or a man’s) “No” should not be taken seriously. If she consents to some things, or if she sends certain “signals,” a man can assume that he is free to sleep with her, regardless of her opinion on the matter.

A man with Nice Guy Syndrome, even if he does not rape a woman, is participating in rape culture when he repeatedly pursues a woman who has turned him down. He does not take “No” for answer, and will not back off once he is rejected because he feels that her friendship with him should eventually entitle him to a relationship. He accuses the woman of leading him on, even if she has made her feelings toward him clear. He may even stalk her or publicly humiliate her.

Men with Nice Guy Syndrome are products of and participants in rape culture. Like Harold Lauder of The Stand, they can even be dangerous–becoming hostile and abusive toward women who do not return their affections or toward men who “steal” their women. They are manipulative men who objectify and feel entitled to women–who think that women can be bought with a price.

Men with Nice Guy Syndrome are NOT nice guys.


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Is it wrong to steal a car?

Is it wrong to steal a car?

What if the owner of that car was basically asking for it to be stolen?

What if the owner washed it every day so it was as shiny as possible? What if he left it in his drive-way for all the world to see?

He didn’t make any attempts to cover it up. He didn’t hide how great of a car it was.

What if he even let people from the neighborhood touch his car, or sit in the passenger seat if they asked? What if he gave people free rides all the time?

So how could someone know that it isn’t okay to just take that car?

Don’t advertising what you’re not selling, right?

He has it coming.

So, is it wrong to steal a car?

Duh. Yes. Of course.

I don’t think any judge would pardon a car thief, even if said car thief used all of these excuses.

But sometimes, a man can rape a woman, use these same excuses, and get away with it.

Some people believe that if a woman makes herself look too nice…

If she shows off the body that she owns…

If she gives out too many “free rides” to other men (if she’s a “slut”)…

She’s asking for it.

Is a woman not worth more than a car?

Rape culture is disgusting and dehumanizing. Good thing it doesn’t exist in Christian circles, right?

Well…

Let me tell you a story.

I was a senior in high-school. A Christian high-school. And I was in government class. We were having a discussion about abortion laws. Obviously, in my tiny, Independent Fundamental Baptist-based Christian school, everyone had the same opinion about abortion.

So my teacher played the devil’s advocate and asked us, “What if a woman was raped? Should she have the right to abort any pregnancy that results from that rape?”

One student raised her hand and said, “Well, no. It’s still wrong. Besides, most rape victims were raped because they were dressing like sluts and drinking. It’s their own fault. They were asking for it.”

The rest of the class (teacher included) laughed and agreed.

A victim of sexual abuse myself, I excused myself to go to the bathroom and cry and wonder what I had done wrong…how I had asked for it.

A couple of years later, I read a Christian dating book that contained a chapter about modesty. I’ll paraphrase one of the quotes (I’d type the exact quote but I can’t remember it and I can’t look it up because I’ve since ripped the book in half and thrown it away in a freeing act of therapeutic anger):

“Don’t advertise your body if it’s not on the menu. If you dress like a slab of meat, you’re going to get thrown on the barbecue.”

Then, a few weeks ago, I read an article by an extremely influential Christian author. He tried to tell women how to date. In addition to throwing the word “slut” around, he told women to “stop playing the victim” and own up to their mistakes when it came to sex. He even gave out this lovely piece of advice:

“…stop using alcohol as an excuse. Nobody gets drunk and accidentally sleeps with a hamster. You know what you’re doing, drunk or not, so cut it out.”

I wish these three examples were the only contact that I’ve had with rape culture in the church.

They’re not.

Rape culture is here in our churches. It’s subtle and it’s sneaky, but it’s here.

Every time an influential Christian author calls a woman a “slut,” it’s here.

Every time a man points a finger at a group of women and says, “Your immodesty is the reason we men struggle with pornography,” it’s here.

Every time a sexual abuse victim is forced to apologize in front of her church for her “behavior,” it’s here.

Tamara Lunardo, of Tamara Out Loud, published a fantastic article today in which she asks, “What’s a girl worth?” 

What’s our answer to that question, Church?

Is she worth more than that car that we’d never steal? Is she worth more than the pound of steak that’s on sale at the butchers’ shop? Is she worth more than products that can be advertised?

Does the length of her skirt determine the value of her soul?

Do our churches’ answers to these questions look any different than rape culture’s answers?