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October 31, 2006


The Chief

Umm...you know, I am neither a feminist (at least not once you get past first wave feminism) nor a Christian (though I was for years and still have some affection for my old school) and I enjoy pornography quite a bit (no apologies, I'm a firm believer in taking my pleasures where I can as long as I'm not directly hurting anyone else), so I have absolutely no dog in this fight. With that said, don't you think you're in danger of violating the old idea that "a person who agrees with you 75% of the time is 75% your ally, not 25% your enemy?"


I don't know.

I'm not directly familiar with the Godmen, so maybe they are different, but I can say what the objections to porn seem to be in my corner of conservative, strongly-gender-roled Christianity. (And I think that it's impossible to take the Apostle Paul seriously and not end up with distinct gender roles; I disagree with you, Hugo, on this question.)

First, there's the objection shared with anti-porn feminists; "porn sends a fundamentally destructive message about who women are." But second, there's a corollary that is fairly close to Hugo's statement about the Godmen: porn sends an inaccurate and destructive message about women, and as men adapt themselves to that message, they harm themselves, women, and ultimately their whole society; the damage from wrong models of male-female relationships isn't only to women. I don't see what is either anti-feminist OR anti-Christian about that second message. I don't see any antagonism between "porn degrades women" and "using porn weakens men/demonstrates and feeds male weakness (which works out in life as mistreating women)".


Sam, my concern is that I think that the real underpinning of the religious right anti-porn message is not a warning about mistreating women, but about becoming dependent upon them. And when I read Ephesians 5:21 (which controls all that follows), 1 Corinthians 7:4, and Galatians 3:28, I get a fairly strong egalitarian message. YMMV.


“We’ve been beaten down/ Feminized by the culture crowd/ No more nice guy, timid and ashamed/ We’ve had enough, cowboy up/ In the power of Jesus name/ Welcome to the battle/ A million men have got your back/ Jump up in the saddle/ Grab a sword, don’t be scared/ Be a man, grow a pair!”

Snorting derisively is the only imaginable response to lyrics this embarrassingly bad! My God, these men must have no self respect at all - can you imagine actually singing that song? In public? Where people can hear you? I'm all for tolerance, but this isn't even Christian theology - this is just the same tired old gender stereotypes wrapped in swaddling clothes.

These are absurdly bad lyrics. Maybe that's it - they're actually a brilliantly, absurdist parody of Promise Keepers! We can only hope.


Glen, I'm going to open a thread tomorrow, inviting folks to compose their own "Godmen lyrics". Winner gets, oh, to tell me what to blog about.


What I don't understand is why people who so strongly disagree with the tenets of a religion go on to embrace that religion. Wouldn't a real manly man reject Christianity entirely?

Jeremy Henty

I came here to kick ass and redeem fallen humanity ... and I'm all out of redemption.


Hugo - I'm not sure anything ironic or satirical can actually be funnier than the real thing but I'm going to start thinking!


First, let me say I love your site and you are the only man I've read who is a christian and a feminist. I'm a christian and a feminist and agree with you one hundred percent. I wish to take issue however with the notion some have that pornography is necessarily degrading to women because it's porn. Bad argument by association. I've seen women-produced porn (producer Candide Royale, etc.)and can tell you that this genre is a whole other ball game (pun intended). No women are exploited and none are under the consensual age of 18. I used to be a fundamentalist christian and know that fundamentalist men are so fearful of anything female or feminine that they overdo the purity issue, as you state. This also produces brutal homophobia as well. The "feminization" they all fear is precisely what the church needs to launch into the third millenium. Fear of change will be the church's downfall and will make room for the next Reformation, led by feminists of course. :-)



You may be right (the real underpinning of the religious right anti-porn message is about becoming dependent upon women), but I'm not convinced that that is a bad message. There are good ways of being dependent on women, and bad ways. (I think we'd agree this far; we might even agree that a healthy marriage includes a good way of depending on a woman, and obsessive pursuit of "hook-ups" is a bad way of depending on women.) The message I get is "porn leads to being dependent on women IN BAD WAYS"--ways that are destructive to men, to women, and to the ability of men and women to depend on one another in healthy ways.

I partly agree with you on equality; the passages you quote are powerfullly clear that men and women are equal in some ways (most notably, in their value to God). To me, though, I Cor 11 and Titus 2 make it clear that they are also different in some ways (most notably, in roles in the family and the church).


And "bang" goes the "there are many voices in the Christian men's movement" line, and also the "Where Christians and Feminists agree is in calling for the transformation of men" line. Gosh, we are getting un-nuancedly liberal in our old age :-)

The "Godmen" might not be your cup of tea. But as an unregenerate partisan of muscular Christianity (as much as a cripple can be), I certainly understand where they are coming from. Evangelical culture is feminised. Sorry, but it is. All those "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs, for a start. All that caring and sharing and compassion too, which aren't bad things, but absent challenge, grit, courage and justice, they drive ordinary blue-collar men mad, especially when women are the majority in the church. My experience has been that boys (and men) don't want to sit in the healing circle singing "They'll know we're Christians by our love". If there are multiplicities of gifts (and St. Paul is clear that is the case) why can't we have room for Rugby and kapa haka as well? If we have to sing cringe-making songs like "Jesus I'm a willing wife" (Believe me, I am not kidding), why can't we have "Cowboy for Jesus"? Equally cringe-making, but with an equally honourable history; "He who would valiant be" for a start, I mean the original, non-Victorian version. Jesus is the lamb AND the lion. Why can't we have both?

Further, on the porn issue, they're so concerned about it because its such a huge issue in the church. And they're bothered about it with respect to their own lives, because they feel degraded and filthy. That's what sin does. And they feel guilty for degrading others. That's what sin does. And they (and I) think it's a sin. And Christians are called to repentance and amendment of life for sin-come on, Hugo, you know that.


"why can't we have room for Rugby and kapa haka as well? "

Ummmm John the NZ women's rugby team has been world champions for the last 8 years (which is more than the allblacks can manage) and kapa haka spans most Maori performances including poi and waiata, I think you might have meant just the haka which is certainly part of kapa haka but not the only part.

Neither of the things you mention are only "manly" activities


And what, pray tell, is wrong with "feminized" culture? Holy hell, I'm sitting here having to "masculinize" myself to fit into my cultural, what's wrong with a little give and take?

This is really silly, anyways, because I don't particularily see what compassion has to do with a XX chromosome any more than I see what courage has to an XY.


Neither of the things you mention are only "manly" activities

Surely, you're right; but my church has programmes for both that attract mainly (but not exclusively) men.


what's wrong with a little give and take?

Nothing, if it's give and take. Everything, if 50% of the population don't feel welcome and that there is a place for them. (That cuts both ways).


John, you do realize the Webb Ellis Cup is staying in London, right? ;-)


This is just too funny. Wonder what GodMen would have thought of the early ascetics. No barbeque dinners for those guys.

Mr. Bad

Hugo said: "Since at least the 1970s, both MRAs and white conservative Christians -- traditionally the greatest agents of injustice -- have tried to steal the mantle of "victimhood" from the genuinely oppressed."

MRAs since the 1970s have been "traditionally the greatest agents of injustice"? Are you high? You mean, moreso than, e.g., the Khmer Rouge? Pol Pot? Or Idi Amin? Or the North Korean government? Or the Taliban? Hezbollah? Saddam Hussein?

Really Hugo, you get flakier all the time.


Sorry, Hugo, 4 million Kiwis and the 15 that count say otherwise. Home crowd next time, and the cup is coming home.

And while I wouldn't call Hugo flaky Mr. Bad, (yet), he's definitely fraying around the edges lately.


Sorry, that was me again. Damn this auto-correct cut-and-paste thing, I'm getting rid of it.

And I meant to add "I blame All Saints". It's all that inclusion by osmosis-you were much more solid when you were a Mennonite, Hugo.


First, this cracked me up. I'm all for truth in advertising, and if this is where these men are at, I'd much rather that they say it straight out then try to spin it.

I agree with you that most contemporary worship music is very very very bad. However, the issue in evangelical culture, especially white evangelical culture, is not "feminization", unless you equate "feminine" with "docile, unthinking, and sentimental." You seem to be implying that courage, grit and a concern for justice are solely "masculine" traits. I agree that the evangelical church suffers from a lack of those qualities, but I don't think that the problem is that there are too many chicks around.

The problem is that the evangelical powers-that-be built a house no one can live in. The rigid focus on rules and correct behavior, a particular brand of theological correctness, who's in and who's out, and fear means that there isn't room in the pews for strong men OR strong women. (or GLBT people or anyone who deviates from the party line.) Except for the few at the top, EVERYONE gets neutered, not just the men. As far as I'm concerned, you can play all the rugby you like - just don't ask me to do nothing more than sit quietly on the sidelines, waiting with a plate of sandwiches while you do.

Hugo, I won't argue theology here, but much as I love the Sermon on the Mount, I also love the temple in the moneychangers scene and I have practically memorized Matthew 23. I think there is room for compassion, anger, love, and a little ass-kicking in Christianity. The beatitudes, taken out of context, can be a tool of oppression in the hands of religious leaders who want to keep their flock from getting too uppity.


But as an unregenerate partisan of muscular Christianity

I am still wondering where all this macho stuff comes from in the Scriptures. Jesus' lessons on forgiveness and turning the other cheek and all that don't strike me as anything you'd find in the Manly Man Handbook.

If we have to sing cringe-making songs like "Jesus I'm a willing wife"

You think women never cringe at this kind of song?


That's a very good point, Christy. The reason I opposed the six characteristics is not because some are feminine and some masculine (although I see how that came across, mea culpa), it's because the idea of "being nice" is so rigidly applied that particularly blue-collar men get frustrated as hell. (See the book "Why men hate going to Church") This is true of strong women too, (you should have seen the reaction when we started having women preach every week, instead of once in a blue moon), but in general, my experience has been that women (and certain types of men, to be fair) are more comfortable with that sort of sloppy sentimentality, relationship and compassion focus which is not confined to Evangelical circles. The language of challenge and warfare and all that speaks to some people the other stuff doesn't, and those people are (again in my experience) the kind of people who resent being told to be "nice". "Meekness" is not automatically identical with "passivity" or being a doormat, and "dying to self" doesn't mean you can't say "Hell no".

I don't expect anyone to make me sandwiches (in fact, the last batch we had at something or rather I made), and I only watch rugby, I don't (and can't) play, but the point I am making is that what used to be called "muscular Christianity" is not a fringe tradition; it's a constituency we've lost, and we need to get back to balance out all the Kum-bay-Yah and soft guitar music. Lots of people (and yes, the majority of them are men) don't like that kind of thing. They count. And the Godmen (That title is, I admit, cheesy beyond belief, and so are the lyrics) are addressing a neglected (not necessarily an oppressed, but a neglected) constituency.


it's because the idea of "being nice" is so rigidly applied that particularly blue-collar men get frustrated as hell

Good grief. Who ever said that following in Jesus' path was supposed to be easy? I'm also pretty sure Jesus didn't despise women--and loathing 'feminization' and exhorting men to 'grow a pair' is the Godmen version of criticizing men who are all soft and wimpy like, ew, girls.


That assumes that the contemporary idea of "being nice" is what it means to follow in Jesus' path. There are some money changers who might challenge that assertion.

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