Posts Tagged ‘gender

20
Jul
09

Keeping a Good Woman Down

jimmy-carterFormer President Jimmy Carter just called it quits with the Southern Baptist Church after church leaders decided to continue to prohibit women from being ordained and insisted that women be “subservient to their husbands.”

Here are a couple things Carter had to say on the matter in an essay published in The Age:

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

and

The truth is that male religious leaders have had — and still have — an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.

So, how do I feel about this?

Good for him.

I think that too many Christian denominations and churches hold to a very antiquated and inappropriate interpretation of male and female roles based on both a misunderstanding of the Bible and an inability to discern that certain things talked about in the Bible were meant to flow with changing times.

A lot of folks give Paul shit for a number of things, among them the way he “hijacked” the early church and made his own personal doctrine. But he also gets a bad rap for the way he viewed women. This is, after all a guy who said that women should be silent in church and that men were at the top of the decision-making heirarchy in the family.

Two things.

First, even if you think Paul is a sexist ass-hat, let’s remember how Jesus treated women, and let’s agree that Jesus wouldn’t much like the idea of treating women like idiots, treating them badly, or lording oneself over them.

Second, I don’t think Paul was a sexist douche-nozzle.

Bear with me ladies (and some of you men, too)…

Yes, Paul did talk about women remaining silent in the churches and women being beneath men in the heirarchy of God -> Jesus -> Husband -> Wife -> Children.

But this is also the guy who had some notable women doing evangelism in what seems to be a pretty equal role with their husbands. Paul is also the guy who said not just that a woman’s body belongs to her husband, but that a husband’s body belongs to his wife. This isn’t saying you can abuse your spouse, because he specifically speaks out against that. What it is, people, is the first biblical recognition in the New Testament epistles that men and women become partners when they marry, and belong to each other. That they need to work with each other and make decisions together about a variety of things.

It is my feeling that Paul talked about silence in the church with women primarily because education of women wasn’t exactly a priority back then. They would have been among the least prepared people to address doctrine. This is likely also why he spoke against women pastoring churches. He clearly realized that women could add value and be strong in their own right, or he would have spoken out against Priscilla and other women doing evangelistic work. But in his time, as a whole, women were not in a good position to be speaking on doctrine, and often what Paul wrote was more specific to issues facing the church at that time, and not meant to be doctrine for the long run.

Likewise, in a world where women couldn’t inherit much of anything and didn’t have much in the way of rights, what is he going to say other than “the man is head of household.” To claim otherwise and to encourage women to do otherwise would have been madness, and wouldn’t have paid off for those women in the end. Which is probably why he stressed the need for husbands to honor and respect their wives, and for Christians to honor widows and support them.

Paul probably did have certain male chauvinist tendencies. How could he not, given the culture in which he was raised? But many things in his writings show that the early Christian church was supposed to uplift women, not keep them down, and that is a message that too few male church leaders today are paying attention to.

Jimmy Carter has, and I hope that others will follow his example.

09
Aug
08

Color Me Girly by Miz Pink

I like pink. As if that isn’t obvious as heck with me around here. I’ve always liked pink, even before I embraced my girly side. As a kid I’d pick up the pink squirt gun if there was one (purple was an acceptable subsittute) but I’d be shooting up the place with the guy whether I was the cop or the robber. I’d be sporting some pink lip gloss, but I’d be kicking butt and taking names. I’m toned down the tomboy stuff as I’ve gotten older, and found the joys of periodic dress-wearing, occasional high-heeled shoe toting and similar things.

With Mini Pink #1, I did the blue blankets and rockets and trucks and other male-friendly stuff. I did try to steer clear of the guns but then he started turning the hose attachment into a ray gun and finding sticks he could shoot the bad guys with and I just gave up trying to reign in the testosterone.

With Mini Pink #2, I avoided the pink stuff and frilly stuff because I thought if I couldn’t tone down the inherent violent play in most boys maybe it was because I had still stereotyped him with all the other “male” stuff and gender-typed him. So my little girl got trucks like he did, along with dolls. She got construction hats and tools along with princess caps and fairy wands. And she got a lot of green and yellow clothes. She’s not even in grade school yet and she’s trying to put on my makeup and wear my girly shoes and be all things feminine.

With Mini Pink #3, still just a bun in the oven, I’m just going to stop caring about it. I’m proof that a girl can be a tomboy and feminine, and I have friends who are women and are about as unfeminine as you can get and I have other friends…and a lot of relatives…who slather on every kind of makeup there is and wouldn’t be caught dead in flats. But I don’t know that we can stop our boys from being boys most of the time and our girls from being girls.

And I’m not sure we should.  I still don’t know if Mini Pink #3 will be a boy or a girl. When I find out, the kid will get probably mostly the color that “fits” the gender. At least that will cut down on people putting their feet in their mouth when the kid is still bald. I hate it when my girl got called “he.” I will do a mix of toys like I did with Mini Pink #2 but it will probably trend toward the “traditional” toys for the particular gender.

Basically, I’m putting it in God’s hands. He made us different and he gaves us whole different anatomies and hormones and crap so that we would…most of the time…turn out with certain basic gender based traits. Doesn’t men a man can’t be sensitive and a woman can’t be in charge. Doesnt mean every women will be maternalistic or every guy will by handy with the tools. But basically, we women act like women and those men act like men.

God obviously had a reason for it all. I think that people who try too hard to make their kids gender neutral or who encourage a boy to dress up in dresses (yes, I know such people) for example are just going too far the otehr direction. Just as we shouldn’t try to gender-type our kids but rather let them be who they will be…we shouldn’t be trying to de-gender or opposite-gender them either.

Let’s just raise our kids right, teach them to be good people, and instill values, and let them and God figure out how manly or girly they’ll be.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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