Patriarchy, Homophobia, Jen Hatmaker and Trump: Let Me Mansplain It For You

Recently Rachel Held Evans posted this simple sentence on her Facebook page:

Evangelicalism: Where Jen Hatmaker gets ridiculed and condemned and Donald Drumpf embraced.

And it got me thinking.

I read Matthew Vines’ Book God And The Gay Christian a few years ago. It’s chock-full of thought provoking stuff, and I highly suggest you read it. In it, Matthew poses a theory that I found fascinating, and that has stuck with me ever since:

Homophobia is rooted in misogyny.

In a nutshell, he says that the ancients had no problem with homosexual acts, as long as you were on top. I am admittedly completely paraphrasing and watering down — thus my exhortation to go read the work yourself, where Vines explains it much better than me.

The take-away that matters, however, is that sex for big ballsy ancient men was all about conquest. If you were the conqueror, all things are cool — you’re on top, dude. But to be the conquered? Oh man — you’re taking the role of the woman in sex. The receiver of the goods. The conquered. And this, my big, brawny friend, is bad. Oh so very bad.

Because, you know, that’s like a woman. It’s girly.

Like how in sports, it’s an insult to say You run like a girl or my all-time favorite You fight like a girl (please — come spend some time on the mats with me. Let’s test that one out, shall we?). Interesting that these same people will interchange You run like a girl, with the oh-so-pleasant F*# word, and I don’t mean fuck. If I did, I’d just say it. I mean the other word people use to disparage gay males.

See my point? That interchang-y-ness of it all?

Fast-forward to today, where we have the intersection of all us “nasty women” — you know, degraded because we dare to confront, to question, to put a sexual predator in one’s place, or perhaps outshine one in a debate of intellect — and the reduction must go to the most base and ridiculous. She is “nasty”, and therefore ineffective, inappropriate, abrasive, shrieking, aggressive, unattractive, etc and so-fucking-on.

And here come some Jesus Freaks who have been so radically shaken by the inconvenient love of Jesus that we say, “Hold on just a hot holy second here — maybe this love includes everyone. Maybe we are shaken to the core at how big and wide and generous and, well, loving the love of Jesus actually is, that we go, “Shit! I’ve been screwing this up the whole time!”

Because for all that time we were busy thinking gay people were sinning, and that we should be keeping them out of leadership positions in church or withholding funds from World Vision or boycotting bakers who make wedding cakes for same-sex couples — maybe we were sinning by creating a barrier for those beautiful children of God that they felt they could not cross. That they swore they would not cross. We became that barrier to Jesus, the wall that kept these children from our Jesus, and maybe, when we realized it, we wept. And we repented. And we started to love. We started to love a crazy Jesus love that dripped with the remnants of our own ineptitude and the beautiful, gorgeous fullness of God’s perfection in Jesus.

Male and female, we started to love.

And yet, here we are. Choosing to love and vilified for it. They attempt to silence us by pulling our books from the virtual shelves.

Okay I confess — I don’t yet have a book on shelves, virtual or otherwise. My agent and I are working on it, okay? But I hold solidarity with the likes of Jen Hatmaker who has lost because she chose to love.

So back to Rachel’s comment: she’s right.

I have been weighed down over the past few days, especially in light of HuffPo’s very fair article on the possibility that Drumpf raped a 13 year old, over how this country, and especially the Evangelical community, disregards and completely undervalues women. The fact that so many (male) Evangelical leaders have embraced Donald Drumpf, even after he has been captured on video numerous times discussing how he sexually abuses women and openly sexually humiliates them is absolutely disgusting to me. And I officially request an explanation from Evangelicals who support Drumpf even in light of these types of accusations and behavior

And it all goes even deeper.

Lately I’ve been enmeshed in conversation with men about the term “mansplaining” — men who care about women, who are for the empowerment of women, and who would hate to be called sexist — are very offended by this term. When I insist it’s a thing, they get defensive, they say women made it up, or that it’s a divisive term.

I say this is male fragility, and they need to get over themselves. I say they need not be coddled, after all, as they are brawny, conquering men, and need no handholding. So I can call them out and say yes, Mansplaining is a thingit happens to women, and it happens often, and you telling me it doesn’t is like me telling a black man that “Driving While Black” is just something you made up….

And see here — this is my point. Even the good men — the greatest ones in my life, who I love very much and who do things on a regular basis to prove their support of me in the world as a full and equal person — they still don’t get it entirely.

Because they think I “made up” mansplaining to be “divisive”, rather than to create a word to describe what happens to me on a daily basis. They get defensive and blind to their privilege. They roll their eyes and purse their lips in disbelief, poo-pooing what I’m saying, and all the while I’m trying to tell these men who I love and who love me, “No really, this happens, this is real, it’s a thing.”

Which is kind of ironically funny in a not really funny kind of way, because it’s pretty much the definition of mansplaining.*

And these men are so far away from the Donald Drumpfs of the world, and still, they don’t get that every day, a woman must fight harder and longer and prove herself over and over just to be heard, much less understood and valued. So it matters when Evangelicals bash a woman and remove her words from their shelves. It matters when Christian men disregard a blatant misogynist (not to mention racist, xenophobe, etc)’s disgusting treatment of women and say it’s because they vote “policy not character” or “protecting the unborn is paramount”.

Because the unborn you protect will eventually be born, and if they’re girl babies, they better watch out for Donald Drumpf.


*I get that awakening to your own privilege, be it white, male, hetero, cis, or other can be a painful experience. I get why you might be feeling defensive right now. That rushing sound in your head? You may think it’s righteous indignation, but really it’s the sound of your privilege being cracked wide open, and once that sucker’s unveiled, baby, there’s no going back. You can’t unlearn what you’ve learned. The question is, what will you do about it?




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  • Etranger

    What an awesome article. It has been amazing to listen to the Christian defense of Trump (well, to be fair, ANY defense of Trump!).

    I tend to find the term mansplaining weird – that is, sometimes I don’t know if I am witnessing it or not, especially when women seem to be doing it (take a Kellyane Conaway or an Ann Coulter). BUT I definitely understand what it is. It is very funny how oftentimes the white, straight, Christian male who is even extremely progressive, still can fall into the trap of saying something doesn’t exist simply because they never will experience it. I am white and male. But I am gay and haven’t been christian for 23 years. Perhaps it is easy for me to understand that mansplaining exists because there are so many other instances of socially dominant groups belittling minority groups. As a gay man I read and hear such things all the time – even progressive straight folks don’t always really understand what a gay person might go through unless they are able to empathize. So many times in our culture, too many people are unable to empathize. It is often not until they have first hand experience that they get there. Look at Rob Portman. Big homophobic legislator and Christian until his son came out. Now he is just a small homophobic legislator and Christian 🙂

  • Frank

    Matthew Vines has been thoroughly discredited.

    • Frank, so good to have your thoughtful and always irrelevant cheerful comments on yet another thread. :0

      • Frank

        I posted a truthful statement.

        • kcwookie

          Researching this, I don’t think thoroughly discredited is the right description. Maybe up for debate might be closer.

  • Jeremy Edgar

    I can feel my brain turning into goo as I read this.

  • Wow, no punches held back here. Much of the Bible, starting with the earliest tale of creation, has to do with explaining why women are inferior, or to put it another way, why men are in charge. It is why the Pope declared women will never be priests, its why some Baptists won’t allow women to teach men. Men have dominated in culture for thousands of years. The Bible presents what was (and still is) dominant social culture. The NT picks up on the theme in Paul’s teaching as well.

    Here’s what Evangelicals find hard to do: differentiate between what is simply cultural bias (culturally bound) and what are true Kingdom Principals. In Paul’s writing on marriage and women’s role in the church we have both circumstances intertwined. But conservatives cannot see that female submission and male headship were cultural norms at the time Paul wrote, and that his statement that in the Kingdom there is neither male nor female is the Kingdom Principal to take away from his writing.

    As long as Evangelical men cling to outdated culturally bound “household codes” they will never know the fullness of life found in sharing life with a woman equal in every way.

    • Etranger

      It makes a lot of sense. The Bible was created in a patriarchal society. It was written to codify the rules of that society (that is why anyone who believes it is somehow “god-inspired” lacks an understanding of myth development and cultural practices). Until people realize it is not something that is applicable to all humankind (e.g., different myths developed out of matriarchal societies, agrarian versus hunter societies, etc.) we will continue to wrestle with these notions and never reach a good conclusion regarding women’s rights and Christianity. It is impossible to reconcile the two. Better to move on and realize women are equal, gays are equal, etc.

      • Yes, there is so much that is culturally bound in Scripture that Evangelicals just don’t understand. Take the conquest of Canaan for example. The Bible scribes present us with a picture of wanton rape, genocide, the killing of innocent children and women taken in war as all ordained by God, but in reality it was just the way primitive tribes waged war back then. The Jews were no different than their surrounding cultures. But because of a presupposition about the nature of inspiration, Evangelicals except the scribes accounts at face value, uncritically. The fact that the ancients had no problem with God ordering the slaughter of babies seems to have no relevance to pro-lifers who think the Bible teaches the Sanctity of all life. And there again we have cherry picking. Pro-lifers must ignore Numbers 5 and all the slaughter the babies passages, yet somehow retain capital punishment because the Bible declares it in cases of murder. Why we dont retain the other death punishment offenses is beyond me. Why just murder?

        Evangelicals have become such an enigma to me :/

        • Etranger

          To be fair, it is not only evangelicals who use the Bible. Progressive Christians are just as guilty of that mistake!

          • The Bible is a “funny” book. Everyone reacts to it differently. The range of opinion as to the ontology of Scripture varies widely among Progressives. It’s human nature is so incredibly obvious to see, but most Evangelicals I’ve known completely ignore it in favor of God having “wrote” it. In order to make that claim a great deal of the Bible is simply lost. The ugly passages are ignored or spiritualized. Lessons are lost that could be learned from a critical reading of the texts. The whole trajectory of Jesus’ teaching against the Law when it hurts people is totally lost on Evangelicals, as is Paul’s teachings against legalism and the Religious Right of his day.

            I confess, even though many Progressives will refer to the Bible as the Word of God, I have dropped the terminology myself as misleading. God can speak to me from the Bible, as He can speak to me through the preaching of the Cross. In that way I guess I am NeoOrthodox, but the terminology “Word of God” carries so much baggage that I refer simply to “Scripture” or “The Bible.”

  • John Gills

    I like the t-shirt that reads, “Yes I run like a girl. Try and keep up.” Reminds me of the time the great Muhammad Ali tried to outrun the great Wilma Rudolph.

  • Donal

    Ms. Connelly,
    I want to thank you for this outstanding essay. I agree with all of it and that Christians should be providing leadership on the very issues you address. I have struggled through the misogyny, the justification and diffidence toward abusive acts against women who deserve equal treatment and respect as well as opportunities and the recognition that they are still working harder to achieve the status of men, especially while males who continue to dominate our society. Yes, I know all the statistics of some progress over the years women have seen, but like the improvements for African-Americans, it is far from equality. Both sexism and racism continue and have not been eliminated by a few laws. This election and reaction to the actions of a major party candidate are disgusting and demonstrate the failure of men to understand the obstacles, abuse, and demeaning attitudes and actions that victimize women.

  • Andrew Stallybrass

    I puzzle over the same question. How old so many Christians vote for such a flawed and deeply unchristian person. I suspect – we’ll see the stats later, no doubt – that abortion was the great divider.