Lessons in Cognitive Dissonance: This is what feminism looks like?


1187168955For good reason, the past few months we’ve been bombarded with feminists trying to tell men to shape up. Let’s face the facts too, we (men) really need to shape up. How women are treated in our society as nothing more than sexual objects or as unintelligent isn’t good, it’s very much wrong. Both come with incredibly negative ramifications, specifically leaving women in compromising, unsafe, and brutal conditions. While the solutions proposed are sometimes far out of left field, the fact remains that we do need to reevaluate how we, as a society, look at women.

That being said…

There’s also a ton of absurdity surrounding the recent raised voices. In the modern age it’s popular for social causes to become social fads, something people spend money on in order to seem like they’re progressive and aware, but who are only perpetuating the problem. For instance, while it might be popular to buy shirts saying, “This is what feminism looks like,” the reality is you’re paying good money for a shirt that is in turn perpetuating a company that oppresses impoverished women in India. Oops?

See, we want equality for women…so long as they’re civilized and living within the Western World. Outside of the Western World? Meh. Consider that Anita Sarkeesian was given time on the Colbert Report to cover the whole “Gamergate” controversy, and rightfully so (the threatening of lives and targeting is disgusting and wrong). Gamergate as a whole has received a lot of coverage. But Iran just hanged Reyhaneh Jabbari for killing a man who attempted to rape her and hardly a peep was made over her death. Women in Iran, Pakistan, and much of the Muslim world are grossly mistreated, beaten, and killed for being victims. They’re victimized for being victims. I have many Muslim friends who are disgusted by how women are treated (or in the case of Muslim women, how they are treated). And of course it’s not just Muslims, but many other nations: Italy, for example, has the famed Casanova, the rich man who has a wife at home and a mistress in the hotel. But if the woman does the same thing, she’s considered a whore.

It’s completely okay to call for equality here, especially concerning the catcalls and aggressive nature of men. But at least be consistent enough to realize that women elsewhere in the world have it worse and that our way of living only contributes to their situation. Buying these T-shirts from India, or Indonesia, or elsewhere in the world only subjugates women in those sweat shops. “This is what feminism looks like” should come with a warning label: “By buying this shirt, you’re actually perpetuating the oppression of women. But hey, you’ll feel really good about yourself and it’ll give social cred at elite parties.”

I think the commodification of women overseas is more a result of feminism being a “fad ideology” within the US, something that seems nice, but has no real backing. For one, modern feminism wants equality for equality’s sake, but never considers if what they’re trying to be equal in is wrong to begin with. Not so long ago – and even today – a man who had sex with multiple women was a hero, while a woman having sex with a bunch of men was a slut. Today that stereotype still exists. We’re told that we should celebrate such sexual independence of a woman as we would with a man. Yet, no one stopped to think, “Maybe neither sex should do this.” No one stopped to question if the activity itself was wrong.

At first men left the homes to go work in factories. They were gone for 50-60 hours a week, never coming home. This left the wife in the home, stuck with the kids, not having time to obtain an education or to better herself. It made de facto single-parent homes long before divorce was as rampant as it is today. The feminist movement, rather than decrying such work conditions and demanding that the men leave the factories and return home, instead argued that they too should be able to leave the home. Rather than correcting the wrong, they only furthered it. And so today we’re told that women should be able to do any job a man does and get paid equally for it without first questioning is either sex should actually perform that job.

A lot of times men have been granted the freedom to do something while woman have not and feminists, instead of arguing that men should do what they do, instead claim that women should make the same mistakes. It’s absurd. It’s not right for a mother to be away from her kids 40-60 hours a week, married to her job. Her children and husband are her obligation, whether she likes it or not, whether that ruins her career or not. BUT ON THE SAME TOKEN, it’s not right for a father to be away from his kids 40-60 hours a week, married to his job. His children and wife are his obligation, whether he likes it or not, whether that ruins his career or not. It’s not that we need better daycare so men and women can choose to leave their families, it’s that we need better families. The idea of the husband trotting off to work all day, leaving the woman to be “domesticated” is a modern invention, misogynistic, and wrong. Yet, the view of both husband and wife trotting off to work all day, leaving the children behind, is equally modern and wrong. Both approaches take the parents out of the home for long periods of time, thus both are ethically wrong.

Without diving into our economic problems and how Capitalism is one of the most anti-family economic systems to ever exist, modern feminism arose because we abandoned the family in pursuit of the dollar. Today modern feminism wants women to be equal parts of the Capitalist system, but doing so – especially in a globalized society – requires the objectification and commodification of women elsewhere. Any system that would destroy the nuclear family for a buck while exploiting families across the ocean ought not be supported by anyone crying out for equality. Yes, we must support equality on the home front, but not if it entrenches inequality elsewhere. We must speak out against the objectification of women, but only if we hold to a standard of ethics that leads us to being better people, not just being equal in our wrong actions. If we truly care about equality for women, then we should pursue equality in the right things and pursue it for everyone, not simply perpetuate their inequality to soothe our social conscience by purchasing a T-shirt.

From a Christian perspective, we know what a feminist looks like. A feminist in the true sense of the word – someone calling for and advocating justice for all people, for equality – is the Theotokos (God-bearer, Blessed Mary). The Theotokos didn’t consult her husband-to-be when she embraced the God-child within her, she didn’t back down, she didn’t become weak, but instead stood strong and as the perfect example of faith. She became the first follower of Christ, the first witness of hope to the world, and through her act of obedience salvation came into the world. When all the male disciples, except John, fled Christ, it was Mary who went to the foot of the cross. While all the male disciples hid in an upper room and moped around, not trusting the promises of Jesus, it was the women who went to the tomb. It was women who spoke the Gospel – that Jesus is risen from the dead – into the world first. It was women who lent their homes to the early Church for meetings (read Acts; almost every house mentioned belonged to a woman). Some of the greatest martyrs of the early Church, some of the most stalwart examples of the faith, were women. A truly Christian perspective, one that doesn’t demean women by mixing culture with the faith, understands has a proper feminist perspective; that women are capable of virtue, of doing incredible things, and ought not be stopped from accomplishing these things. A proper Christian view of women forbid catcalling or mistreating women. It doesn’t allow for the objectification of them, but rather to treat them with dignity and respect. While no man is perfect in this ideal, it still remains an ideal we ought to pursue.

True feminism doesn’t lead to further exploitation or the demand to commit the same sins as a man, but rather seeks the liberty of all people in the world while seeking to lead a virtuous life, and calling on others to do so as well.

 

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Who Wears the Pants? or, The Purpose of Marriage


bridegroom1It seems that American evangelicals – conservative, liberal, emerging, and otherwise – are obsessed over the roles between husband and wife within marriage. In one corner (the typically conservative corner) we have Complementarianism, the belief that the roles of husband and wife compliment each other, which is to say that the husband is the authority and the wife submits. In the other corner (the typically liberal corner) we have Egalitarianism, the belief that the roles of husband and wife are equal, which is to say that the husband and wife share authority within the home and neither has authority over the other. The problem with the debate, however, is that it’s framed incorrectly, thus both sides end up missing the point and hold erroneous conclusions.

When forming an argument if you begin with a false premise then your conclusion will also be false and the argument invalid. In the debate between complementarians and egalitarians, both sides tend to begin with a faulty premise, namely that there is to be authority within a marriage. From the idea, “there must be authority within a marriage” both then seek to find where that authority ought to be placed. Both sides begin with the question, “Where does the authority lay?” yet neither side begins with the proper question, “What is the purpose of marriage?”

Marriage is a sacrament, at least for those who still follow the sacraments. Even for denominations that have done away with the sacraments marriage is still a very important event and taken very seriously. Even in the most country Southern Baptist Church, where the congregants would sooner drink unsweet tea and sing the praises of Lincoln and the Union than give any credence to “them Catholics,” marriage is treated as a sacrament in all but the name. In such churches, if you are over the age of 20 and not married the old women will begin to worry for you and the men will question you. No matter what strand of Christianity you run into, marriage seems to be an important aspect for that strand.

Yet, in all its importance we often fail to answer the question, “What is the purpose of marriage?” Sure, there are very practical purposes of marriage, such as having sex, having children, having a companion, and so on. Yet, one can imagine a world where such things can still occur, but marriages not exist. The Bible is clear that all of these things are to happen solely within the realm of marriage. Thus, the practical elements that come to mind, while representative of marriage, do not address the purpose of marriage. Why does God deem that these things ought to happen within marriage? Perhaps one could point to Genesis where we see that husband and wife are to “become one.” Perhaps the purpose of marriage is to become one, but what does this look like?

Of course, becoming one flesh is still just an aspect of marriage. While everyone agrees that the most successful marriages are the most self-sacrificial ones, not everyone agrees on how much self-sacrifice should be given. Seth Adam Smith (what a name) argues for total self-sacrifice, that marriage isn’t for the individual, but for the other. While popular (and mostly correct), there have been detractors. They argue (mostly correct) that marriage is about us, about a partnership. Yet, in both instances the purpose of marriage is focused on the “one flesh” and what that means. The purpose of marriage is focused on the participants in the marriage, not in the One who instituted the marriage.

 

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Feminism is the New Patriarchy or, Marriage Isn’t for the Weak


IMG_0235A few disclaimers before getting into what I want to say:

1) I am not actually accusing feminist ideology as being akin to patriarchy, at least not “feminism” in its proper sense. Wanting women to be equal to men is hardly patriarchal; what we make them equal in, however, is another matter.

2) The article I’m drawing from is, in all fairness, from the Daily Mail, who is one bad day away from declaring the Loch Ness Monster real (and subsequently declaring that they hate the Loch Ness Monster as it is an illegal immigrant). I would not be surprised if the article is a fake or just written to sound controversial in order to drive viewership, so perhaps I’m a sucker.

That being said…

It seems that we have lost both the picture and purpose of marriage in our so-called modern society. Apparently, Kate Thompson has decided that in her own life, she comes first while everyone else comes second. Now, certainly this article is pure hyperbole – possibly parody – as there are many contradictions within the article (after all, how does one have two children of different ages who are but a few years apart, yet claim to only have sex once a decade). Regardless, Thompson’s essay does point to a problem within our modern society, namely that the family has disappeared.

While it is in vogue within some Christian circles to blame homosexuality, rampant sexual perversion, and liberals as the reason the family has slowly disintegrated within our society, these things would serve more as symptoms of a broken family, not the cause. Were I to put the blame anywhere, if I were forced to point to just one cause of why the family unit is broken down today, I would point my finger to the Industrial Revolution. In this revolution, society revolted against its very foundation thinking it would gain prosperity, and it did, at least for a while. It required men to leave their homes and work long hours in factories and later in office buildings. Though patriarchy has always reigned supreme in almost all civilizations, in the West there was still a partnership between the husband and the wife. The husband and sons worked the field while the wife managed the household and sold the goods. Both were involved with the family.

Under modernism, men were removed from the home. The idea of a “housewife” is relatively new, though the term is not new. In the 11th and 12th centuries the ancestral English referred to married men as wer and married women as wif. Such terms worked under feudalistic societies. In England, from about the 8th to 14th century, feudalism reigned. However, around the mid-12th century to 13th century, the middle-class began to rise up. Men owned their homes and worked from them while their wives would manage the household. One way to think of it is that men were the owners of the business and their wives were the general managers. The English began to use the word husbonda for “husband” and husewif for “housewife.” The husbonda refers to someone who is a freeholder – property owner – of a house or real property. Thus, husewif refers to someone in charge of the house. 

Such terms adequately describe the middle-class living arrangements in England (and most of the west) up until the Industrial Revolution. Men were taken from the home and put into a factory, forced to work long hours. Capitalism, ironically enough, removed freedom and placed man back into a privatized feudalism. Men, removed from the home, were allowed to skirt around certain moral requirements. Men could take mistresses, could stay away from the family, could ignore their fatherly duties, and not worry about public ridicule. Women, however, were expected to maintain the close moral grounds. Feminism arose to correct this ethical inequality, but I would argue failed.

This brief history lesson brings us to the point: What we see in Thompson’s article is nothing more than patriarchy wrapped in the guise of feminism. Again, while much of it is hyperbole, it does point to a trend that is on the rise in the West. That trend is where rather than correcting men’s bad behavior, women feel obligated to cry out to act equally as bad. It would seem that feminism is not so much about correcting social norms so long as those social norms allow both sexes to be equal in their depravity. Why is it fair that men can go have sex without consequences? Rather than say that men should tame their desires, our supposedly progressive society says, “Let women have sex without consequences as well!” A man puts his career in front of his family and he’s considered a distant father. A mother does it and she’s considered a trailblazer for women’s rights.

The point isn’t to speak against feminism, but to speak against the modern system that has eradicated the family and turned us into individuals. Though each of us is an individual and unique, we are nothing apart from those closest to us. Contrary to the Randian spirit popular in today’s libertarians, no one is truly autonomous. We all exist within nations. Those nations exist because there were societies that preceded them. Those societies exist because there were cities, those cities because there were towns, and those towns because there were families. Thus, society and government exist for the family and because of the family. Lose the family and you lose the society. Yet, our modern system has begun to focus on individuals outside of the context of the family; in short, in the name of progress we are destroying ourselves.

Contrary to Thompson and what others might say, marriage is not about being happy. In fact, I would go so far as to say that marriage is not a partnership of equals (certainly men and women are equal ontologically, but in our day where metaphysics is taboo the word “equal” hardly refers to ontological situations). Marriage is when two individuals look at each other and say, “I want to remain in constant servanthood to you.” To say that marriage is about being happy means that marriage is based on an emotional status, but emotions change. To say it is about a partnership of equals is to say that marriage is no more than a merger of two companies. In both cases, self-centeredness is very much present. Self-centeredness is to a marriage what a cavity is to a tooth; something that will only invite pain, misery, and decay until addressed. Marriage is the ultimate challenge, a “duel to the death that no man of honor should decline” (as G.K. Chesterton put it), it is the putting aside of the self to acknowledge the needs of another. It is not the total abandonment of the self, but it is putting another in front of yourself, which is why marriage is sometimes not fun or “happy.”

Taken from Jacksons’ Orthodox Mission to Guatemala

I think of a picture I came across on the “Jacksons’ Orthodox Mission to Guatemala.” On their Facebook page. Their son and his wife’s wedding picture was up there. In Orthodox marriage services, it is customary for the bride and groom to walk around the table three times as a “celebratory dance” from Isaiah. Likewise, the three revolutions also represent the Trinity and how the married couple is to be unified just as the Trinity is unified. Sadly, their daughter-in-law fractured her ankle prior to the wedding. The priest instructed the son to walk around the table as a representative for him and his new bride. The son, instead, picked up his new wife and carried her around the table.

Such an act is beautiful in and of itself, but it also serves as an icon of what a marriage should be. Rather than a “partnership of equals” or a constant struggle to find happiness, marriage is a slow and difficult climb up a mountain. At times, one person must carry the other. Sometimes the clouds will clear and the view will be beautiful, while at other times the storms will threaten to toss them off the mountain. The most faithful, however, will weather the storms and, God-willing, live to reach the top. This young man, by picking up his wife, represented the reality of marriage; at times he will have to pick her up emotionally, other times she will have to pick him up.

If only we could be more honest in what marriage really is. Marriage, in its most basic and ideal form, is servanthood. Marriage is the act of willingly becoming a servant to someone else. It is not about finding happiness, it is not about “balancing” career goals with family goals. In such a contest, there is no balance because the family must come first. Perhaps I am speaking idealistically, but in a world of cynical pragmatist someone needs to be an idealist, if for no other reason that we might attempt the ideal.

The problem in our society, aside from the fact that our society exists now to bolster an anti-family economic system, is that some people don’t realize that marriage requires strength and bravery. Though many are obsessed with the idea of being married, few possess the virtue to be married. Were I to ever write a story about a couple in love, the climax would not be the moment they finally kiss, nor would it be their wedding; if I truly wished to show a love story then I would show them in the twilight of their years, having endured the struggle.

Marriage is about self-sacrifice, not self-fulfillment. Marriage is about giving and not taking. Marriage is about “you” and not “me.” It is the abandonment of the self in the pursuit of the whole. In short, marriage is about love, and love is a dangerous thing, but worthy of pursuit.

When Feminism Kills


Al Mohler has posted an excellent article explaining an op-ed from the Times [London].

The Op-ed says that even though a fetus is a human person, for the sake of feminism we must be allowed to kill the fetus. While openly honest, one must wonder if the writer took her beliefs to their logical end. For instance, should men who don’t fully embrace feminism be killed for the sake of feminism? Should male CEO’s who make more than their female counterparts be hung from public squares and made an example of?

While equality for women is a vitally important issue, it does not trump the issue of life. The right to live trumps all other rights. If we lose the right to live, if our right to live is trumped by another right, then we have no rights. If we have no life, we have no rights. If we have no right to live, then we have no rights to claim.

Christianity, Hell, and Islam


For those who don’t follow, I recently had someone leave a comment on my post “Brian McLaren, really?“. I attempted one response that was a bit long and he responded back with a long response as well. Rather than engage in a “comment debate,” I’d rather just post my full reply as a post, since it will be a bit lengthy. I’d encourage you to read the comments before reading this post.

Well after reading that and reading your link, it looks like you are not interested in thinking any differently then you do now.

Well, to be honest, unless given a good reason to change my beliefs on something so central to the worldview I follow, I don’t see why I should be open to changing my views. Though we should always be open to examine our views, this is generally done by looking at rational arguments and evidence against our position. If our position holds strong against such critiques, there shouldn’t be a willingness to abandon it.

Our Christian Bible, many would say, is just as sexist as the Qur’an or Hadith, (maybe not in as blunt of ways). There are scripture in the Bible that talks about Woman not even being able to talk in Church. We can’t say that the Church treats woman fairly even now, I mean there is a reason why 90% of Church leaders are MEN.

If you define “fairness” by responsibilities, then yes, men and women are not treated equally. However, I think your attempt to equivocate the two is quite unfair. For one, both the Qur’an and Hadith teach that women are ontologically lower, that is, they have less rights, less value, etc by nature of being a woman. This is why rape, beatings, and the like are allowed by many Muslims. One simply look to Surra 2:282 to see that men are a “degree above women.” Prior to this, 2:223 says that men are to treat their wife (or wives) as property and do whatever they will with them. The justification is that women are lesser than men by nature. The Hadith is actually worse considering that the writings of Bukhari, chapter two, verse twenty-eight, states that the majority of Hell is composed of ungrateful women. If you look to Ishaq 593, we’re told that women are plentiful and it’s okay to leave the one you have to find another one. All of this shows that women are, by nature, lower than men and to be treated as property, a bit above animals (though Muhammad’s youngest wife A’isha complained that Muhammad was created women to be on the level of dogs and donkeys [Muslim 4:1039]).

The Bible, alternatively, teaches that men and women are ontologically equal. One merely look to the narrative in Genesis to see that men and women are both made in the image of God (“…male and female He created them…”). One can turn to the works of Paul, specifically in Corinthians, and see that he says the wife’s body belongs to the man and the husband’s body belongs to the wife, thus showing it’s equal. If we turn to Galatians, we find Paul telling the husband and wife to submit to one another. Elsewhere he tells husbands to lead with authority as Christ leads the Church, which is completely self-sacrificial. Paul also says that a man who doesn’t provide for his family, but can (and “provide” in the Greek implies both material and immaterial [i.e. emotions, psychological well-being, etc]), is worse than a heathen. Though women were devalued in Jewish culture, in the New Testament we see that Christ has no problem interacting with a sick woman who needs healing, a woman who is on her 7th marriage and considered a whore by the community, a prostitute who washes His feet with perfume, and the first witnesses of the Resurrection in all the Gospels are females.

All of the above indicates that the Bible sees women as ontological equals. Now, for whatever reason, God has declared that on some issues, men and women have different responsibilities, but this does not make them unequal or elevate men above women. Only those who are power-thirsty would see authority as a standard for equality. Authority has nothing to do with equality – some people, male or female, aren’t called to be in a position of authority. Does this mean they are unequal with those who are called to such a position?

So as you can see, I don’t see your argument as compelling.

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A short note on abortion


Two recent arguments I’ve come up against in the abortion debate are as follows:

…you [male pro-life supporters] make me kind of want to puke… but that’s neither here nor there… we can discuss this when you get a uterus – oh, wait…

And

You cannot take emotion out of this because it is impossible to do – that is why I told you to talk to me when you are actually able to have children and carry one in you for 9 months… It is a valid point because you cannot 100% understand the emotional context of this issue because it does not directly affect you and your body AND no matter how much you want it to happen the emotions that surround this issue and all issues cannot be ignored they are too important, perhaps more than science.

Now of course we always hear these arguments at protests or as sound bites on the news, but I’ve never heard them as actual arguments.

What is so disturbing about both of them is that they’re inherently fallacious; my ability or inability to have a child is completely irrelevant to the science behind what constitutes a human life. I may not have the emotional investment that a mother has in bearing a child, but this emotional investment is not needed in determining whether or not a child is human.

Under this line of thinking, if I have an emotional reaction to a minority group, then under such reasoning I can treat people in that group how I please. After all, emotions are more important than reasoning. If I were beat up by a person in that minority group, then unless someone has undergone that same experience, that person cannot criticize my stance.

We hold the above mentality to be absurd in issues dealing with other humans, so why not with the unborn?

Abortion doesn’t aid in female liberation


 

One of the biggest reasons for allowing abortion is that it somehow helps in the general women’s liberation, specifically in female sexual liberation. By allowing abortion, so the argument goes, it gives a woman complete rights over her reproductive system, which gives her full liberation. It doesn’t matter what the woman chooses, so long as she has a choice. There are, of course, multiple problems with this view: Continue reading