Thursday, March 29, 2012

No war on women? I beg to differ.

I have read quite a few articles and heard quite a bit from Republicans claiming that there is no war on women going on.  They love women but just favor small government (well except for all the invasive abortion laws they pass) Like most things relating to religion I have an opinion on this topic that I'm sure everyone really wants to know.

However, before I get into my argument let me be clear on a few things.  I am not saying that all republicans are in on some systematic conspiracy to force women back into the kitchen. (Though Rick Santorum may want this).  I am not even arguing that all Christian Republicans are part of some systematic conspiracy.  There is, however, a fairly large minority within the republican party made up of religious zealots who I think are ultimately waging a war on women's rights.  Now, they will all claim (including Santorum) that they are not doing this, and while some of them may be outright lying I suspect that most of them are being quite honest in their estimation of their own actions.  It is clear to me that their estimation is wrong.

Now, I generally think most Christians, just like anyone else, are genuinely trying to be good people and trying to make the correct choices.  I know this because I was a fundamentalist for years, and I did not become smarter nor did I suddenly decide that not being a jerk was a good thing after all.  Many of the Christians I used to know were trying to be decent people as well.  However, I do think they and other fundamentalists are very mistaken about certain things, and in this particular issue there is a pernicious view of how women relate to men which causes them to make some rather bone headed choices in this area.

Like most failures in Christian "logic" this one starts with the bible.
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.   1 Peter 3:7
Now back when I was involved with Student Mobilization I remember hearing plenty of sermons about relationships and this was brought up quite a bit.  The typical apologetic that was used was to say that weaker was used in the sense of a expensive vase.  The idea was that men are tough and rugged, while women are dainty and need our protection.  Now Christians argue that this is not misogyny, they value women a great deal.  I beg to differ.

Let me offer some thoughts here.  Several years ago I applied for and got a job teaching English in Japan.  I read a lot of information that said that Japan was a bit racist especially towards non Asians, but didn't pay much attention to it.  However, after living there for 8 months I understood what people meant.  Now, I was hardly ever treated poorly by people.  In fact  I was usually treated quite well, but it was like living in a fish bowl.  Every one knew I was not a native, and most people thought that foreigners were incredibly interesting.  The reality is that I am nothing particularly special, and I could hardly live up to the expectations they had.

You see, bigotry doesn't always come in the form of saying someone bad.  For instance, there is a rather racist myth that black people are inherently better at basket ball.  Some people seem oblivious to the problem here, as if it was a compliment, but it devalues the effort that some one legitimately put into something to say they are only good at it because of some inborn trait like race or gender.

This relates because the attitude of fundamentalist men is to put women on a pedestal, a position which is unreasonable and not very fun for the person you put there.  My time in Japan taught me that.  Psychologists usually tell you that you should avoid relationships with people who want to put you on a pedestal just as much as the people who treat you like shit.  It isn't healthy and in the end the people who put you on a pedestal have just found a way to make their abuse seem more socially acceptable.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at a quote I found here while doing research for this article.
That women are usually physically weaker is undeniable, but the implication of the fall is that by virtue of her being deceived by Satan, women may also sometimes be weaker in other ways. That definitely does not mean she is less valuable (Ephesians 1:6) or that she does not have equal access to grace (Galatians 3:28). Rather, it is a basis for a husband to treat his wife with understanding, tenderness, and patience.
If you aren't used to the sort of double speak employed by apologists let me sum up for you.  He is telling men to be patient and understanding towards their wives because they are stupid and easily deceived.  After all Eve was deceived by the snake and it makes total sense to extrapolate from that one instance to the behavior and thoughts of all women every where right?  No mater what they say, no matter what they even believe about themselves, the religious right is not a friend to women's rights.


  1. Interesting post, from a religious perspective, but (regardless of Santorum, he's a nincompoop of epic proportions) you still haven't shown how there is a "war on women" in the GOP.

    As a female Republican, and someone that you know is rational, I have yet to see this "war on women" carried out. Yes, there might be a small and vocal minority that have insane ideas about women, but that hardly constitutes an entire war on my gender.

  2. Have you read some of the laws being passed around the country regarding abortion or contraception? This isn't just Santorum.

    On the abortion issue I think it is clear that there are a lot of republicans who are making more and more extreme laws hoping that some one will file suit with the hopes of getting the supreme court to reverse roe v. wade.

    But that is only a small part of the larger problem, next time you listen to a republican speak about womens's issues notice how many of them try to deny they they have a problem with women by trying to put them on a pedestal, by talking at length about how special an amazing women are.

    The quote a I gave in the article is not some insane santorum supporter he is uttering typical christian theology, go into any conservative Christian church and I guarantee most of them will vote republican and will agree with the quote I posted in the article. If you don't think the quote I posted is equivalent to a war on women then there isn't much I can do to convince you of that other than what I have already said, but as a rational person I think you could at least admit that I know a great deal more about conservative religion than you do, since I was part of that mentality for years.

  3. I grew up in the same family and spent years in church as well. While I will admit that you may have a greater knowledge of religious topics than I, given your degree, I also think you may have more a predisposition to be biased against religious people. Many of the very religious people I know, actually vote Democrat.

    There is a difference between evangelical religious groups that have a misogynistic view of women and a political war on women.

    While I admit that there could be a faction that wants to attempt to reverse Roe v. Wade, however that doesn't constitute a war on my gender. A war on abortion, perhaps. However I don't particularly have warm fuzzy feelings about abortion either.

    The only people who seem to see a "war on women" are people more to the left of the political spectrum. Strangely, none of the woman I know who are conservatives or libertarians see a war on women...and they are all very rational and very concerned with facts.

    I have, in fact, read many of the laws you mentioned. While I disagree with some of them, I don't see a problem with some of them. Which ones are you referring to specifically?

  4. Ok, first you are assuming some rather strange things about me, do you think I am unaware that some Christians vote democrat? Or that I believe that all republicans are a part of this? I believe I actually said the opposite of that in this very post. You did read it didn't you? I am wondering because I spelled out how I was emphatically not saying what you just accused me of saying.

    All of the Christians I know who are democrats are not fundamentalist, which means they free to think Peter 3:7 is crap. If they aren't biblical literalists, they aren't even part of the group I am criticizing here.

    No one has warm fuzzy feelings about abortion, you don't have to, but an attempt to reverse Roe V. Wade does amount to an attack on women in my book, how would you characterize an act that would force women to give birth against their will? To take away one of the most fundamental human rights we have, the right to ones own body? An act which would necessarily cause women to die in botched illegal abortions or by forcing them to carry to term pregnancies that may endanger their lives? I know they may not see their own actions in that light, but it doesn't make consequences any less real.

    But to argue that fundamentalist Christians do not represent a significant lobby within the Republican party is absurd. I also think it is absurd to suggest that people who think a passage like Peter 3:7 is the inspired and perfect word of god do not have negative attitudes about women. To argue that this has not had a significant effect on the policies the Republican party often advocates for doesn't make much sense to me since these people represent such a large portion of the republican party. Sure there are rational Republicans, I never said there weren't, but that doesn't mean there isn't a big problem with quite a few Republicans.

    And yes, some of those very people are women themselves, some of the most hateful anti-women sentiments I have heard have come from conservative women so the fact that some conservative women don't see this is a problem is simply irrelevant to me. There are plenty of Republicans and libertarians who do see this as a problem and are quite fed up with the theocrats who have taken over the party, I know a few of them. It seemed to me like Gary Johnson was one of them but he was drummed out of the race early on because he didn't kowtow to the religious right.

    As for the laws I'm talking about, Wisconsin just passed an abstinence only education bill, perhaps that would be better characterized as a war against sex, and not women, but there isn't much difference between the two in this instance.

  5. Dylan, I refuse to have this conversation with you as you are being an asshole at this point.

    I'm sorry you feel the need to get this defensive when having a conversation with your goddamn sister, but the fact that you do is sad.

    When you feel like having a rational conversation, you can contact me.

    I'm not entirely certain why I even bother to read or comment on your blog at this point, since you deliberately misunderstand me and refuse to listen to anything I say.

  6. I am sorry you feel that way, and do invite you not to read my blog. I know we don't see eye to eye on this and I avoid your blog exactly for this reason.

    I was not attempting to be an asshole but I don't see how you would think I wouldn't not debate the point when you publicly called me out on my blog. I avoid these topics with you in order to try to maintain a good relationship with you, but you chose to come here and debate it.

    You accused me of some pretty hatefull things (as well as inaccruate) so exaclty how to did you expect me to react. I have debated the topic in a completely rational and unemotional way. You are the one who blew up and started calling people names.