Monthly Archives: July 2008

A teenager view of gender

After reading some of the recent posts one of my teenager sons said to me:

Dad, why are you debating these minor points with these people who believe in male headship? Surely it is obvious to all that nobody who believes women cannot be in authority over men should be allowed out in society.

Despite appearances it seems I am the mildest in our family on this issue :-)

Films as good gender examples

I have been taking part in a number of debates on gender. In these debates one of the problems is gaining shared understandings of what people see as good examples of their position (it is easy to point to bad examples).

So here are some suggestions with comments:

Note that I am not condoning all behaviour by these characters as a good example (for example I still hold to fidelity in marriage and chastity outside).

Anyone got better suggestions for films that support gender equality?

How about some good examples of male headship (complementarian views) in films?

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Wise words on a “Biblical” position

Wayne has wise words on the gender debate (that can be applied elsewhere as well):

I wish that neither side would call themselves the "biblical" position, or at least I wish that each side would say "We believe our position is biblical, but we fully recognize that the other side believes they are more so. Complegalitarian: What bugs each side.

Oh and I have no problem being called a Biblical feminist :-) (although I suspect that it may mean something different in the USA).

In British terms I have a feminist agenda. I want women to be to treated as God created them to be ie equal to men, with the same opportunities as men and no restrictions on role/career etc.

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A new blog to disagree with

"Blue with a hint of Amber" or "Bwahoa" (as lazy typists like me abbreviate it to) has been commenting a fair bit on my recent posts about gender. As he is a complementarian we disagree completely on that issue. Fortunately I can trump his The Road to "Elder" ado: 2 years… with our 42: Twenty years and counting :-)

On the other hand we have complete agreed on other issues such as the false teaching that is the "prosperity gospel".See his comment here 42: The Todd Bentley revival.

Anyway, Bwahoa now has a blog and so the true identity is revealed as David Matthias. Also the title ‘The Road to "Elder" ado
reveals a sense of humour that is promising in someone who believes in
male headship, so maybe he might come to a knowledge of the truth before long :-)

Meanwhile this cartoon can remind us of our present relationship on gender issues:

Duty_calls

At the same time another frustrating gender based discussion limps along at Role Calling: A Semi-Pragmatic, Less Theological Open Letter to Egalitarians, hampered by slow moderation (several days for my first comment) and threats of banning for disagreeing with male headship and challenging patronising language. You can see my earlier posts in response to this blog at 42: A bizarre gender debate and 42: What does Male Headship teach? where I do not moderate the comments and have a much thicker skin – although I do delete spam, advertising and malicious abuse. Plus I will respond robustly to idiotic theology eg see this comment: 42: The Todd Bentley revival.

Comic hat tip: xkcd – A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language – By Randall Munroe.

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What does Male Headship teach?

After writing  42: A bizarre gender debate. I was reflecting further on the questions and why they would be asked. That led me to wonder what Male Headship Churches (especially those that use the marketing term Complementarian to describe themselves) teach about those who disagree on gender to them.

If members of a complementarian Church are asked what an egalitarian (I still don’t like the term but anyway) like myself believes and how I live what will they answer? What will they have been taught?

Well the same blog that brought us those bizarre questions also brings us this:

The androgynous, asexual, gender-bending, role-reversing view of modern egalitarianism is so unattractive to me that I cannot help but think most of us publicly embrace it simply because it saves time and bother when we are in public. Link:  Role Calling: John Ensor on Gender Issues

Let me sum up my understanding of egalitarianism (or feminism) more simply and see what it means for life.

  • I believe women and men are equal, that gender should not predetermine roles (the only exception are roles that require specific biology eg childbirth).
  • I believe this understanding is clearly supported by Scripture, despite the Bible having been written within a patriarchal society.
  • I do not believe that all people are identical
  • I do believe that some people are created, called and given gifts that make them particularly suited to some roles – but that this is not determined by gender.

So how does this match the description by John Ensor:

androgynous:

1: having the characteristics or nature of both male and female
2 a
: neither specifically feminine nor masculine <the androgynous pronoun them> b: suitable to or for either sex <androgynous clothing>
3: having traditional male and female roles obscured or reversed <an androgynous marriage> From
androgynous – Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

Which of these are egalitarians being accused of? Clearly from what I have said I don’t believe in 1, but I do believe in 2 and 3.
What we wear is governed by (among other things) cultural norms, technology, comfort, fashion and rebellion. I don’t see why it should have anything to do with gender (except there are some general shape and size differences by gender). Some traditions are clearly there to enforce gender roles (clothes that stop you performing tasks not permitted for your gender) and should be challenged.

asexual:

1: lacking sex or functional sex organs <asexual plants>
2 a
: involving
or reproducing by reproductive processes (as cell division, spore
formation, fission, or budding) that do not involve the union of
individuals or gametes <asexual reproduction>  <an asexual generation>
b: produced by asexual reproduction <asexual spores>
3: devoid of sexuality <an asexual relationship>
From
asexual – Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

I assume we are not being accused of definitions 1 or 2.
I just do not understand the accusation that understanding women and men to be equal and that roles are not assigned by gender makes anyone devoid of sexuality (the quality or state of being sexual: a: the condition of having sex b:
sexual activity c: expression of sexual receptivity or interest
especially when excessive: sexuality – Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). I have never heard anyone complaining that their sex life is bad because their partner treats them as an equal (and I have heard plenty whose sex life is damaged by not being considered equal).
If there is something here about certain sexual positions (male on top) being defined by gender, then I recommend trying a bit of variety :-)
I have been trying to think this through (and coming up with many dirty comments) but I just cannot understand what this accusation is about. Jane is my equal and I definitely find her sexy and I am pleased to say that vica versa applies here (and after 20 years of marriage things in this area just keep getting better – something I did not believe was possible say 19 years ago). Having kids around stops things getting excessive :-)

gender-bending:

Iniitially it sounds really painful – like non permament, repeated circumcision. Apparently it means "a person who dresses and behaves like a member of the opposite sex" gender-bending – Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

To me it sounds like a way of enforcing a particular understanding of gender role by making it a requirment for men to get throttled by ties and women squashed by corsets. Now I have nothing against ties or corsets (wonder if the latter might make it look like I have sucessfully lost some weight), other than they are uncomfortable. But to imply that not waering such garments is heinous offense is ridiculous. Sadly there are many examples where a fixed understanding of gender and appropriate clothing has lead to some very unsafe items (such as stilleto heels – make a woman unable to do practical actions, slower than men and needing to be protected while damaging their ankles and backs).

role-reversing:

Not in the dictionary :-) Essentially a tool of repression. Those in power (men) find ways to keep that power (male headship) and try to enforce gender roles to protect themselves, part of that is to be derogatory about those for whom these fixed roles are wrong.

Yes I believe in role-reversal where that role is fixed by stereotype, prejudice, gender, race, sexuality, age, hair colour,income,  …  Break out of this oppression. Find yourself, the persojn you were created to be.

I repeat what have people been taught if they believe that this definition bears any simularlity to reality?

Does anyone really know egalitarians who are androgynous and asexual as a result of supporting equality and non gender based roles? Note that both gender-bending and role-reversing are simply insults based on a male headship view of the world, outside that culture they are utterly meaningless.

Whatever these guys are smoking it sure ain’t good for them :-)

[Update]

Just reading the original post again and I was struck by this:

Since most American cares now do not have a keyhole on the passenger
side door, men are being told in now uncertain terms that chivalrous
door-opening is out of style. In our sterile environment, a man merely
pushes the key fob and the woman opens her own door.

Whhhhaaaaaatttt!!!!!

a) Are supporters of Male Headship so stupid that they cannot realise that unlocking the car and opening the door are 2 separate actions and that by replacing the keyhole with a keyfob has no impact on the use of the door handle. Duuhhhh!

b) I would assume a 50% chance that if opening a door for a woman it would be the drivers door.

c) I would assume a 50% chance of it being the woman holding the keyfob.

d) Let her open her own door :-) I mean all this talk of opening doors for people I assumed meant when both going for the same door. Or for example when my Mother-in-law now needs help getting in and out the car. If I got out the car, ran round and opened the door for Jane I would be worried about the conseqences for her health, I mean heart attacks are a serious business.

e) Did someone really write this in a book and then someone else is recommending it. Wow.

Please tell me this was a joke and there are not really people thinking this.

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A bizarre gender debate

I find this totally bizarre: Role Calling: A Semi-Pragmatic, Less Theological Open Letter to Egalitarians. There are 10 questions that egalitarians are supposed to answer. Like many of those who have commented I find many of the questions totally weird, they have little to do with egalitarianism as we understand it here.

I pretty much agree with the following in the comments: Resa, Tami (apart from my not supporting using a gun), Don, A good world, Believer333, Molly (with excellent reverse questions), Christian Women with Brain, Dawn and Lin. That is so far, other excellent comments may come later (Lin’s is the last comment at the moment).

The questions are below, for each assume the basic answer includes the following:

Duh, what has this got to do with male headship and authority. Plus, you can’t be serious.

1. If the Titanic accident were to happen again, would you desire 50% of the seats on the life boats to be left for men?

I would desire that a) saner heads would prevail so that the disaster would be avoided by slowing down b) that there be enough lifeboats for all. I point you to great answers on this by Don, A Good World and Molly.

2.
If there is a robber who just broke into your house and you are married
with children, would you want the man to go downstairs or the woman or
would this be done depending on who had done it last time?

If male headship advocates keep suggesting dangerous and daft solutions to problems then we will all be safer if they go downstairs in this situation. The rest of us will call the police and barricade in the kids (or if possible escape with them).

3. Would an egalitarian woman be offended at a man holding the door for her?

I hold the door open for men and women, so does my wife. Men and women hold the door open for me – it is normal politeness. I expect all people to hold the door for someone who is struggling with infirmity, heavy bags, young children etc.

4. Do egalitarian parents allow their boys to play rough with the girls just like the boys play rough with other boys?

Yes, but with same rules for safety and respect for all.

5.
Do egalitarian parents train their boys that it is okay for them to be
"stay at home dads?" If so, does a lot of domestic training happen for
these boys?

Of course, our boys need to be able to fend for themselves and then take care of us in our old age ;-) I am a more experimental cook than Jane, due to our lifestyle choices she does cook more often than me at the moment. That was not the case when we both worked full-time. We were planning for me to be a stay at home Dad until a big recession in the building industry stopped Jane’s career at a critical time.

6. Do you feel that women boxers should be allowed to fight in the ring with men?

I don’t think boxing is a good idea for anyone. If participants can be kept from being blinded or brain damaged etc then the choice is not about gender.

7.
Do egalitarian women desire to be protected by their guy (boyfriend,
husband, father, etc.) or would they prefer to protect themselves?

Why would anyone not want everyone to be able to protect themself?
Why would anyone who has read the 2 greatest commandments not want to protect someone else?

8. Does an egalitarian female "pastor" get a maternity leave from her preaching responsibilities?

Yes of course (real big Duh here), anyone who has a baby gets maternity leave, it is the law. Indeed all men should also get paternity leave (came in a few months too late for me) – it is good business sense.

9. Does and egalitarian female "pastor" counsel men about pornography?

Why the " around pastor?
Yes, of course. But anyone counselling anyone on such matters ought not do it alone.

10.
Do egalitarian pastoral staffs go on pastoral retreats together? If so,
how does that work with having guys and girls together? Do the spouses
feel strange about this?

Are you crazy? When you go and stay in a hotel do you choose a hotel which only permits people of the same gender as yourself? I assume it is obvious that bedrooms are normally shared only with your partner. Where people share rooms to save money I assume they have single beds and are of the same gender.

Do complementarians all live in such a weird world that they even need to ask questions like this?

Hat Tip: Complegalitarian: Open Letter to Egalitarians.

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