I Am Woman, Hear Me Cower

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From Alternet, via Salon’s Broadsheet: This just in—women want to be oppressed.

This October, more than 6,000 women gathered in Chicago for the True Woman Conference ’08: a stadium-style event to promote what its proponents call “biblical womanhood,” “complementarianism,” or—most bluntly—”the patriarchy movement.”…

The Associated Baptist Press explains the relationship of biblical womanhood to feminism, highlighting an ambitious initiative that arose from the meeting: a signature drive seeking 100,000 women to endorse its “True Woman Manifesto,” which, the ABP writes, aims “at sparking a counterrevolution to the feminist movement of the 1960s.”

Three thousand of women have so far signed onto a manifesto which affirms:

their belief that women and men were designed to reflect God in “complementary and distinct ways”; that today’s culture has gone astray distinctly because of its egalitarian approach to gender (and that it’s “experiencing the consequences of abandoning God’s design for men and women”); and that while men and women are equally valuable in the eyes of God, here on earth they are relegated to separate spheres at home and in the church.

This reminds me of one of those intra-family famous quotes. I must have been only 10 or so when I heard one of my aunts yell at my “shut up and sit down, woman” uncle: “I understand all about the husband and the wife being as one, but how come we always got to be you!” Needless to say, they soon divorced seeing as how my Bible-thumping aunt just couldn’t see why God required her to submit to anyone, especially a husband with only half her brain power. That would have been 1969 or so. Weird, how feminism had already infected her and got her all confused.

It’s really hard to know how to even discuss a notion so foreign (even though this Southern Baptist was raised with it and it’s largely why I’m now a former SB) and so ludicrous on its face; all men have better judgment than all women. Or, supposing blasphemously that some women were smarter than some men, a god who loves us wants to watch a family be “led” off a cliff by the man’s stupidity while the wife holds her tongue? Even as a kid, before I had the nerve to risk a thunderbolt from the god I had yet to realize I didn’t believe in, I couldn’t help thinking: If men are supposed to be in charge, then why bother to make women as smart? Why make us so physically strong, even if we’re less so than men? Why does society allow so many men to abandon or abuse their women and children, since we’re by definition unfit to take care of ourselves? And why do so many women resist and/or resent male control, even if they didn’t call it feminism until the 1970s?

Not only is it foreign and ludicrous on its face, it’s also pathetically obvious. This is just about sorry little loser-men guilting women into treating them like gods and good little girls who crave societal approval. Insecure little girls threatened by other women making other choices and thereby making them question their own. Greedy little girls with princess fantasies of being taken care of, 1950’s style, even though we all know by now the 50s were never the 50s, except for a lucky few.

I held off blogging on this for a few days in hopes of calming down enough to avoid obvious scorn. Then two things happened. First, I reread the title of the conference. If they think it’s respectful of non-believers to say I’m not a ‘true’ woman and that feminists are basically the devil, then I think it’s respectful for me to write what I’ve written. Organized religion is always demanding respect but what it really wants is deference, and that I will not provide. Why should I hold my fire from an organization which not only sanctions domestic violence, but blames the women for it? This was the second thing that happened (also from Alternet, again via Broadsheet:

What is a good enough reason for divorce? Well, according to Rick Warren’s Saddleback church, divorce is only permitted in cases of adultery or abandonment—as these are the only cases permitted in the Bible—and never for abuse.

As teaching pastor Tom Holladay explains, spousal abuse should be dealt with by temporary separation and church marriage counseling designed to bring about reconciliation between the couple. But to qualify for that separation, your spouse must be in the “habit of beating you regularly,” and not be simply someone who “grabbed you once.”…

Andersen writes from personal experience, describing an episode of being held hostage by her husband—an associate pastor in their Kansas Baptist church—for close to twenty hours after he’d nearly fractured her skull. Andersen was raised in the Southern Baptist Convention, where she heard an unremitting message of “submission, submission, submission.” She saw this continual focus reflected in her ex-husband’s denunciations, while he detained her, of women who wanted to “rule over men.” Though Andersen was rescued by her church’s pastor, who had his assistant pastor arrested himself, she says other churchwomen aren’t so lucky, particularly when churches tell couples to attend joint marriage counseling under lay ministry leaders with no specific training for abuse survivors, who instead offer an unswerving prescription of submission and headship, often telling women to learn to submit “better.”

If you want to feel like you’re living under the Ayatollahs, please, please read the entire piece. It’s harrowing, both in its survivors’ attempts to escape and hold onto their religion, and in its open embrace of the worst male chauvinist pig attitudes this side of Andrew Dice Clay.

If this movement catches on, one day soon we’ll be following a sensational trial in which a man who maimed, or killed, his “true woman” wife is righteously defended by a patriarchy movement claiming religious freedom.

I know it’s a topsy turvy world out there, but really. Isn’t it obvious that this is about male privilege, male insecurity and good old female masochism?


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