Links round-up: Church x gender

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

I read this post over at Her.meneutics yesterday, entitled "Hookup culture is good for women, and other feminist myths". I have mixed feelings about Her.meneutics in general; I've read some great stuff on the blog and a lot of stuff that has't been so great. It's inevitable that many of the posts are filtered through the lens of evangelical culture in the US, and therefore sometimes really miss the mark on their interpretations of issues. Yesterday's post is a prime example, but also highlights the common misunderstanding that the goal of the feminist movement is for women to "become just like men", with all the problematic behaviours that this might entail.

Dianna Anderson tackles this in her latest blog, "Feminism is Not the Enemy".

"The sexual revolution of the 20th century, then, was not about “making women act like men.” Rather, it was about removing the double standard that surrounds sexual activity – the double standard we find replicated again and again in rules about sexual activity on private Christian campuses and on Sunday mornings from the pulpit."

Sarah Moon has written interesting post about what rape means to complementarians. In recent months she's been hard at work calling out a few prominent names on their attitudes, and the way their view of sex and purity sets up a negative and disbelieving attitude towards any woman who has been raped or sexually assaulted yet does not fit the "perfect victim" stereotype. She also addresses the fact that it's an opinion accepted by many that sexual violence occurs because women step outside their "God-given roles" and behaviours, meaning men are drawn to rape as a way of asserting the masculine authority they deserve. It sounds ridiculous, but it's a view I've seen argued on conservative blogs in the past.

Some complementarian evangelicals go beyond this to actually blame feminism for the very existence of rape. Douglas Wilson, for instance, believes that when feminists deny men the opportunity to practice “godly” authority over women, men react by taking back the authority that they deserve using violence.

“When we quarrel with the way the world is,” Wilson says, “we find that the world has ways of getting back at us.”

Adrian Warnock has published a post detailing what he sees as the "Complementarian-Egalitarian Spectrum". I was pleased to see that he'd made some changes to his initial post after an email from Rachel Held Evans, as I was slightly exasperated to see the "Strong Egalitarian" section make reference to adherents ignoring or devaluing scripture. It's good that there is now acknowledgement that there can be distortions on both sides. On the negative side, I don't recognise Adrian's description of an "Extreme Feminist" viewpoint. The idea that there's this goal of being "better" than men and a wish to emasculate them is a straw feminist stereotype. Surely for him, the more "extreme" end of the spectrum would mainly be comprised of separatists?

Running through all discussions, as usual, is the question of whether by "equal" we mean "the same", and how problematic this is for people who can't look past biology as a determining factor in, well, just about everything. I think it may have become my least favourite track for these debates to take as it always ends up with someone having to spell out to someone else that having different genitalia is not a barrier to equality because equality doesn't mean "physically identical", "having the same hobbies and interests", or "being able to create babies and breastfeed". Honestly, you'd think it wasn't straightforward.

Baby brain

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

As I sort of expected, my commitment to blogging has fallen by the wayside somewhat since giving birth in May. The newborn stage of having a baby is just a blur now - you have this creature that alternates between eating and crying (some people's babies also do naps but I seem to have produced one that isn't keen) and you muddle your way through it. Eventually you emerge from this stage having gained little chunks of your day back because said creature is managing not to eat non-stop and is learning to play.

Despite this, you still don't get a whole lot done. And this is hard. You go into this motherhood lark knowing that it's going to bring huge changes to your life. You're used to a busy job and an enormous to-do list, going to the gym, writing in the evenings and on your lunch break, attending events and conferences and staying on the ball, getting stuck in at church, keeping up to date with the news and blogs and always thinking, planning, getting stuff done. And all of a sudden, you consider it a huge achievement that you did the washing up and made the bed and only had to walk round the park for an hour before the baby would fall asleep. You think you might write about something but before you know it the day's flown by and the moment has passed.

I'm not going to lie - it can be really disheartening. Despite your love for that child and the amazing experience of watching them change and grow every day and the support from your partner and your family - it's difficult. Despite the new friends you make and the old ones you still see, it can be really isolating. On bad days, you wonder if something's happened to your identity, whether it went somewhere and whether you'll get it back - or maybe, it's just changed.

You read ridiculous articles like this one by Katie Roiphe and think "Crap, this is what some people think of me". God forbid that I should talk about or post pictures of this little person I spent 40 weeks creating and several hours birthing and now devote my days to caring for because he depends on me entirely. Hide me from your Facebook feed and unfollow me on Twitter and assume that I feel I don't matter any more and that my identity is my child, if that's what you want to think.

Last month we made our annual trip to Momentum. My favourite of the messages preached there that week was from Danielle Strickland, who flew halfway across the world with her four month old son in tow to tell us, among other things, that your circumstances don't have to be a barrier. She recalled women telling her:

"How can I do that? I'm a mother."

As if it was a problem that was going to stop them doing what they were passionate about. Danielle didn't think much of that.

"This is tough," I told God afterwards. "This is really hard."

It was confirmed to me then what I really did know all along.

"Don't worry. What you are doing now is really important."

Which doesn't mean that I'm not looking forward to really getting stuck into stuff again.


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