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April 07, 2006

Comments

elizabeth

Huzzah Hugo and nice parity with Paul. I am so tired of Christianity vomiting up some sort of upper middle class victorian values. Particularly where father is some sort of distant figure to be compensated by Nanny and rare appearances of "mummy". Or where all girls become "little women" by the age of 14 or 15.

We have created a flexible, affluent western society with the concept of equality, meritocracy and potential - why don't we start taking those values.

ANY person who doesn't not want thier partner to be challenged and grow to the fullest of their potential, regardless of the adjustments, change and growth that will affect both partners, does not truely love the other individual. How can love be based on intentionally keeping an equal person down so that a person can be comfortable, or not challenged or use the other person as a crutch?

ireann

You know, this makes sense in that kind of glaringly obvious way...like- WHY did I never think of this before?

I love your blog. It gives me a lot of great things to think about, and a lot of help in trying to fight the battle that is being a feminist Christian surrounded by Christians who abhor feminism. :)

The Gonzman

I'll approach your question (the first) at a 90 degree angle - I have money. I have success. What else does such a woman bring to the table?

Yeah, my house upgrades are done with - no thanks to the weather.

jeffliveshere

As Genesis makes clear, rigid gender roles with their strict complementarianism are a holdover from the Fall, but in Christ all things are made new. To me, that has always meant that as a believer, I can never, ever, ever, ever, say "I'm just a man, I can't help being the way I am." Christ destroys our old nature, including our fearful adherence to narrowly defined categories like "manliness" and "womanliness".

I like your post, Hugo, and have always liked your posts about the supposed 'weakness' of men and how that often gets 'em off the hook and such. Still, sentiments like the above just confuse me regarding Christianity. Why can you disgard the rigid gender roles of the old testament just because Jesus came along? Does Jesus say to disgard them? If he doesn't, then what other things might you disgard from the old testament? Did Jesus say we have to keep the ten commandments in mind? Why not jettison the whole darn thing?

Vacula

Gonz, what question are you answering?

Vacula

Jeff, the ten commandments does not includ "women must go in the kitchen and bake pies". OT Law really doesn't go into gender roles all that much.
The "Fall" is a reference to the beginning of human sin, not to Old Testament law. I'd assume Hugo is referring to "the curse" that follows "the fall" in Genesis 3 when he mentions gender roles.

According to Christian theology, Jesus came to bring redemption from sin and the possibility of a restored relationship with God and God's creations. The law in the OT gives guidelines for right living and avoiding sin, but it doesn't change the fact of sin and its repercussions in the world. Jesus does.

David Thompson

As a Christian and a pro-feminist, I don't get to say "I'm not good at washing dishes" or "I'm not good at talking about my feelings". I can say "Lord, help me to grow in You, and help me to do what I was told was not possible."

Jesus won't teach you how to wash the dishes. The only thing that will do that is practice, unless one takes pride in being an incompetent.

Hugo

Vacula, your very succinct second paragraph handles Jeff's question nicely. Thanks.

The Gonzman

Are men intimidated by strong women? And the answer is "no." There's just not a lot of use for someone who brings the same things to a relationship we already have, and in abundance.

The Gonzman

Heh. Also went and read Ilyka. Let's see. I sew. I can cook Three regional Mexican Cuisines, Four Chinese, Greek, two Italian, German, and Japanese Cuisines (In addition to Tex-Mex, and Memphis, Texas, and KC style BBQing), I make soap, I can take wool from "Sheep to blanket" - Heck, I'm kind of of the same mind as the late, great Bob Heinlein, when he wrote in "Time Enough for Love": “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Sheesh - every time I read one of these "Men don't like strong women" moans and rants, I can only shake my head anymore, and want to say "No, men just don't want you." It's the same brand of whining that the soi disant "Nice Guys" go through, trying to fob their problems off and blame in on someone else's percieved shortcoming. We guys are changing - fifty years ago, with the advent of Freidan, et al, women changed themselves with little regard for men, and what men wanted - not complaining; but, it is our turn now to longer give a tinker's dam, to please ourselves, and to make our own place with what concerns us, and what our needs and wants are. The old bicycles are finding out now that they don't much need the fih either, ad now that we don't have someone captaining our path, we can pedal ourselves pretty much where and as we please - and there's always a landbound fish around looking for a ride around the park every now and again.

I think that's what's actually galling a lot of the Mo Dowds of the world: they expected us to fall apart, and find us doing just fine.

sophonisba

There's just not a lot of use for someone who brings the same things to a relationship we already have, and in abundance.

[...]

"...Specialization is for insects.”

I admire a man who has no use for consistency!

ilyka

every time I read one of these "Men don't like strong women" moans and rants

Oh! Have you found a good one? Drop me a link! I've been looking for fresh cannon fodder.

Kidding aside, I'm not sure whether you're referencing my post or not with that "one of these" business. If you are not, I'm not sure why you mention it at all, as it appears to have nothing to do with Hugo's post, either; if you are, uh . . . are you sure you read it? Because I don't recall saying anything of the kind therein.

jeffliveshere

Vacula (and Hugo)--

Thanks for responding.

As a sort of aside--
Hugo said:
"As Genesis makes clear, rigid gender roles with their strict complementarianism are a holdover from the Fall...", but Vacula says (and Hugo seems to agree inasmuch as he supports Vacula's answer to my question) that "OT Law really doesn't go into gender roles all that much." So, does it make it clear, or does it not go into it?

Back to the meat of my point--
I may not have been clear enough in my original comment, so I'll try again, because I don't agree that Vacula answers my question, but it's most likely that's the case because I wasn't clear enough.

If, in fact, Genesis (OT, right?) "makes clear, rigid gender roles with their strict complementarianism are a holdover from the Fall...", then said gender roles are moral roles, aren't they? If I understand the Fall correctly, there was no sin before the Fall, right? No commandments before the Fall except don't eat the damn apple. After the Fall, knowledge, morality and sin. Part of morality after the fall are the rigid gender roles, if I'm to take Hugo to heart regarding the above quote. Roles aren't just practical considerations, they are often--and it seems in this case--moral imperatives. According to the OT, after the Fall, men ought to be x and women ought to be y. So, gender roles are one sort of moral imperative in the OT.

Also in the old testament, some other moral imperatives: The Ten Commandments.

So, my question is: Why are the moral imperatives of gender roles given a pass because Jesus came along, and the moral imperatives of the Ten Commandments aren't? If the rigid gender roles are dictated by God because of the Fall, then isn't going against 'em a sin? And why is that sort of sin different from, say, coveting your neighbor's ox (or wife, which seems to have the same moral weight in the Ten Commandments)?

Another way to put it: What you seem to be saying, Hugo and Vacula, is that there is still sin in the world after Jesus, it's just that now we have a path to forgiveness. Murder is still a sin, but there is a way to heaven still, through Jesus, for the murderer who repents and accepts Jesus as his savoir. But Hugo seemed to imply that not following the gender roles in the OT isn't wrong, even though one would think that if he is pro-feminist he would have to think following those roles as given in the OT is wrong. In your eyes, Hugo, are all feminists and pro-feminist men sinning if they reject the gender roles of the OT? Is it a case that they are sinning, but that they can be forgiven because Jesus came along, or is it the case that those gender roles were morally wrong (which, given God dealt them out, that might lead to a conundrum for Christians), and Jesus coming pointed that out?

Hugo

Jeff, there's a colossal difference between the gender roles of the Old Testament (which are not commandments) and the Commandments themselves.  The Law makes it clear we are not to eat pork; the NT makes it clear we may.  The Law makes it clear men are to be circumcised; the NT makes it clear that that's not necessary.  The Law makes it clear - at least in some instances -- that men are to rule over women; the NT over and over again makes the case for egalitarianism.  I do not sin when I eat pork, or if I don't circumcise my son, or when I have a radically egalitarian relationship with my wife. 

Jill

"Sheesh - every time I read one of these "Men don't like strong women" moans and rants, I can only shake my head anymore, and want to say "No, men just don't want you.""

I also have to wonder if you actually read the posts that Hugo linked to. Mine, for example, points out that, in my experience, men DO like strong women, and that I think it's ridiculous for women to constantly be told that we have to act weak and passive in order to find a mate.

It's the peddlers of traditional gender roles who, as Hugo and Ilyka said, regularly insult men by arguing that they essentially need women to "civilize" them, and that as a class they are incapable of doing and feeling certain things.

The Gonzman

Oh! Have you found a good one? Drop me a link! I've been looking for fresh cannon fodder.

Just reference every 3rd or 4th column by Moo-Moo Dowdy. Or her little "Who needs men?" or whatever it's called.

The Gonzman

I admire a man who has no use for consistency!

Yeah, but you'd join the Jehovah's Witnesses if I called you a feminist, so I don't expect anything but snippiness and shallow argument mongering from you.

Okay - I hang out with strong, inependent, successful, propertied people all the time - they're called "other men." We have a great time doing things together. About the only thing we don't do is have sex.

Now, if you show me a woman who is all that, but we can have sex together...well, that's the only really unique thing about her - I mjean, besides those things I can get anywhere else, if the only thing she brings to the table is sex...

sophonisba

I hang out with strong, inependent, successful, propertied people all the time - they're called "other men."

That would be great, for most people, but for you it must be hell, not being able to tell them apart. Really, you don't think of them as individuals at all? Weird. But hey, if it works for you.

We have a great time doing things together. About the only thing we don't do is have sex.

Now, if you show me a woman who is all that, but we can have sex together...well, that's the only really unique thing about her - I mjean, besides those things I can get anywhere else, if the only thing she brings to the table is sex...

So, not actually an admirer of the "late, great Bob Heinlein" after all, then. Got it.


mythago

I hang out with strong, inependent, successful, propertied people all the time - they're called "other men."

I think I've found the problem, Doctor.

Maureen Down is a feminist like I am the Queen of the Moon.

ballgame

Hugo: Though I admire some of what you do, this post reminds me of why I find certain religious approaches and certain strains of 'gender team-ism' abhorrent. The following sentences of yours crystalize what I find offensive:

In relationship with Christ and my brothers and sisters in Him, I can become the full and complete human being He wants me to be -- ambitious, brave, honorable, kind; a boxer and an earner and an adept changer of diapers and dispenser of hugs. It is not a woman's task to tame me or transform me -- it is something that I do with God, and for which He and I alone are fully responsible. My acculturation as a man, my testosterone, my Y chromosome -- none of these are obstacles to full and complete personhood.

Forgive me while I puke. Does God want women to be "boxers" too? Does God want women to be "ambitious" "earners"?

The fact is, patriarchy has its origins in male superiority in hand to hand combat. Even in our modern age, by and large boys are required to internalize a 'capacity for violence' and, importantly, a 'responsibility for violence' even or especially when they're the victims of it. Girls -- though increasingly exposed to violence -- are still generally not expected to internalize this (though this is less true than it was in the past). This 'socialization for violence' and the heavily competition-based interactions which still characterize a lot of boys' play is the antithesis of the nurturing, vulnerable, spontaneous, and playful interactions which foster the kind of emotional connectedness needed for fully gratifying family relationships and genuine intimacy with friends. And, it's important to point out that all too often these competitive/violent relationships generally pit boy against boy. As a result, being emotionally vulnerable with another boy is rarely worth the risk. The only acceptable emotional bonds for boys tend to be the wolfpacks (cliques, gangs, etc.).

As Nancy Chodorow and other writers have observed, many men therefore experience a disjointed emotional development pattern, with an extremely early encouragement to disavow their normal, childhood emotional vulnerability and attachment (typically for their mothers). As true emotional connectedness and validation is rarely experienced with their peers, these latent unmet needs often then re-emerge at their next emotional attachment to someone (most typically when they fall in love), and can reinforce the prototypical male breadwinner/female emotional refuge family core dynamic.

For you to dismiss the impact of this male acculturation with a rhetorical wave of your hand betrays a lack of empathy which frankly is a symptom of the very problem you pretend to address. And for you to decry ‘male privilege’ and then turn around and invoke the standard patriarchal ideals for male behavior (“boxing” “ambitious earning”) as emblematic of what ‘God desires’ is pretty repugnant.

Creeping Jenny

Official declaration: I do not want a romantic relationship with Gonzman. Nor am I falling all over myself to become Gonzman's buddy.

Conjecture: The majority of female feminists do not want a romantic relationship with Gonzman. Nor are they falling all over themselves to become Gonzman's buddy.

Question to Gonzman: You say that you don't want a romantic relationship with a woman, and that you don't want any female buddies. So where's the disagreement here between you and female feminists? It sounds like we're all okay with your current romantic/friendship situation. (Maureen Dowd might not be, but as Mythago points out, she's a feminist like Mythago is Queen of the Moon.)

As long as you treat female feminists with the appropriate respect when we're forced to interact with you in everyday public settings, and as long as you don't expect us to display any interest in fucking you, it sounds like everyting will be just dandy.

La Lubu

Maureen Dowd is a feminist like I am the Queen of the Moon.

That's the truth. Frankly though, I have no idea if Maureen expected men to "fall apart" without women in their lives to handle the details.....I just know that neither I nor other feminists of my personal acquaintance (as opposed to the "official" feminists that are trotted out to us via mass media) ever expected that. We knew men would do just fine, just like we knew we would do just fine. Wanting broader (sorry) horizons for ourselves wasn't about "nyah, nyah, we don't need you cootie-covered boys", it was about following our own dreams, our own interests, our own talents---without being prevented by law or by custom for doing so. It was always about the freedom to become a whole person, rather than the truncated version we were once expected to be.

I also can't think of anything being more of a non-issue than "are men intimidated by strong women?" Anyone who leaves the house can see that isn't the case. I'm a blue-collar woman in the conservative midwest, and most of my friends are men in the building trades whose politics are more conservative than my own. Every single one of them under the age of fifty prefers women who are educated, have careers, and actively pursue a wide variety of interests. In fact, they consider it a huge bonus if a woman is interested in "masculine" pursuits---it means they can share those interests rather than say, share nagging about how long the camping trip is going to last, LOL! Just like we have the "strawfeminist", we have the "straw man-stuck-in-rigid-ideas-of-gender-roles"---not that those fellas don't exist, just that they are clearly in the minority. The most common complaint I've heard over the years about wives or girlfriends? That they don't have enough confidence in themselves. This is what the real live men are saying, as opposed to the strawmen in the magazine articles.

besides those things I can get anywhere else, if the only thing she brings to the table is sex...

Geez, I dunno Gonz, I'm not so willing to toss off the sex like that! ;-) There's all the difference in the world between a buddy and a lover---but hey, it takes all kinds to make this big bad world go around. Some folks have a distinct preference for a partner who is quite different from themselves, and maybe you're just one of them. That's cool. The only question I would have is "what does a weak, clingy, destitute person have to bring to a relationship?" (in contrast to the "strong, independent, successful" person). Not judging, just curious to hear a different perspective.

Uzzah

The only question I would have is "what does a weak, clingy, destitute person have to bring to a relationship?" (in contrast to the "strong, independent, successful" person). Not judging, just curious to hear a different perspective.

The thing is, there are many shades of personality in between. And it all depends on what you and your SO's goals are.

For instance, if you both want to be Fortune 500 CEO's, it can get a little dicey to cooperate and raise a family. That is where differences in men and women can be of benefit and where that sameness can be a hinderance.

The benefit to complementaryism is that in theory, the sum of the two together is greater than the sum of each individually. Those differences are what allows that to happen. Being different doesn't mean the woman has to be weak, clingy or destitute. It also doesn't mean that rigid gender roles have to be followed.

Hugo

Does God want women to be "boxers" too?

Well, my wife can out punch me any day of the week.  The fact that she is mastering the sweet science at a faster rate than I does not mean that she is any less compassionate, tender, and generous.  You misunderstand me, ballgame -- I'm not just reveling in traditionally masculine pursuits, and neither is my wife; I'm saying that in an egalitarian marriage, we are both free to pursue traditionally masculine and feminine behaviors.

ballgame

I'm saying that in an egalitarian marriage, we are both free to pursue traditionally masculine and feminine behaviors.

And with that we are in emphatic agreement, and I admire and envy your egalitarian relationship. (And feel free to enjoy your perfect 'wife boxing' rejoinder! I fear I may have been a tad set up!)

I do, however, feel you've sidestepped my main point. Perhaps I can clarify by rephrasing your words to target women who may be struggling with body image issues:

"In relationship with Christ and my brothers and sisters in Him, I can become the full and complete human being He wants me to be -- slender, fertile, healthy, honorable, kind; a mother and an earner and someone who can defend themselves. It is not a man's task to validate me or defend me -- it is something that I do with God, and for which He and I alone are fully responsible. My acculturation as a woman, my estrogen, my lack of Y chromosome -- none of these are obstacles to full and complete personhood."

Would you not find this problematic on some level?

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