Sexism and Why I Can’t Stand it Anymore

First a disclaimer. I’m not even a feminist blogger, at least it isn’t what I focus on. And yes, I don’t normally post on feminist issues because apart from some mundane economic topics on this, I don’t have much to add.

However, there are moments when, as Martin Luther King said, silence is betrayal, and saying nothing is lethal. I had this exact sentiment after attending a good event put on by the Muslims Students Association at my university. They invited a young female evangelical student (who I shall not identify apart from her association with IVCF) and who wanted to speak about modesty and gender roles. This student talked about an interesting experience where she wore the Hijab during Lent. A large part of the presentation, however, was reading verbatim from select Biblical verses in Ephesians and 1 Corinthians, which I reproduce below:

A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her ownhead, because of the angels.  Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

I thought these passages were up to “interpretation” and careful reading that took into account its historical context. I thought they were like commandments to stone homosexuals and keep slaves for your own, that is, not taken seriously.

Not so on that day. It was clear that the young lady who was presenting took these passage quite literally; she emphasized that the role of women in the world was to glorify God by being good wives and submitting to their husbands (although one must find a loving Christian husband in the first place). She talked about how the role of women was to have a baby, and how she wanted to “give” her pure body away on her wedding night.

This kind of twisted sexist theology is something that we should never accept, and yes, I just can’t stand this stuff anymore. Women are not baby factories. They are not submissive wives. And they aren’t “created” for men any more than men are “created” for women. The great thing about our secular society is that women don’t have to be wives. They don’t have to get married. Their purpose, role, and destiny is their own to create, to imagine, to pursue. It’s rather unfortunate that women have made so much progress and yet still face so many challenges in the form of glass ceilings, sexual objectification, cultural misogyny, and in this case, sexist theology.

Another terrible part of this ideology is that it contributes to a culture that makes life so much worse for people who do not fit into the male/female dichotomy, or feel that they are a different gender than their biological sex. I asked why the gender binary was necessary/relevant and got the usual response: the same usual “love the sinner” and “show them Jesus” nonsense that avoids the issue. The fact of the matter is that the promotion of gender roles completely alienates people who don’t fit in your dogmatic categories. Is it really surprising that so many LGBTQ youth grow up in this kind of Christian culture and want to leave their households, hide inside social closets, or in some cases kill themselves, despite all our desperate attempts to convey “love”? The fact is that this kind of Christianity gives no adequate answers because some people just don’t fit in.

Part of the reason why this is so important is that even in Christianity, there a move towards egalitarianism, which many theologians find is more in the spirit of a loving, liberal Christianity. More and more people are rejecting the selective and literalist interpretation of passages, and I’ve met many sex-positive, LGBTQ-affirming Christians on campus that have really changed my perspective on what Christianity is. I can’t say that this is a bad thing.

And the kind of active condemnation and disapproval of sexism I’m talking about should be universal. I felt the same “I can’t stand it anymore” sentiment when the Amazing Atheist (an active Youtuber) explicitly called for the rape of another human being. Fortunately, Reddit was immediately filled with condemnations, and he reached a new high in terms of disapproval. So yes, sexism is everywhere.

It is as important as ever that we remain vigilant about these issues and to stand up when needed. Doing otherwise is something I cannot accept.

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Posted on February 11, 2012, in Humanism, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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