Here’s why ‘Year of Biblical Womanhood’ release scares the pants off of patriarchal Christians

Patriarchal Christians and the so-called “complementarian” male-supremacists of the Neo-Reformed movement are terrified of Rachel Held Evans.

Evans’ new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, releases today and, based on the reaction so far, those patriarchal Christians are right to be afraid. It seems the princes of patriarchy may no longer enjoy the enthusiastic support of their subjects.

Here’s just a sampling of the response to Evans’ book.

Suzannah Paul:Making Peace with Proverbs 31

The concept of “Biblical Womanhood” is something of a sacred cow in contemporary fundamentalism and evangelicalism. Daring to question its prescriptions is akin to heresy in certain circles, and this book has invited a firestorm from those who don’t appreciate questions — or women who won’t toe the line. Rachel has become something of a lightening rod for mean-spirited criticism from some Christians, which puzzles me as I find her writing to be both generous and orthodox.

But God is not honored by infighting, and this book is not intended as ammunition is anyone’s battle. Rachel writes not to fan flames but to loose chains. In exploring her own frustrations with Scripture and Christian culture, Held Evans grows to love the Bible more — and the One who inspired it and sets hearts free.

Rachel has a high view of scripture. Her work is not mockery but an honest and faithful investigation. She illuminates the truth that every person and tradition interprets which makes some folks uncomfortable who prefer to imagine Bible interpretation in easy blacks and whites.

RevGalPals:A Year of Biblical Womanhood

The scholarship in this book reveals many lessons about biblical women and church history that may be ho-hum to clergy of all genders in mainline denominations, but it is likely to be very revelatory to those in the pews around us. Let’s face it: most of us cannot be as loud as the evangelicals around us and Evans’s has done a commendable (and readable) job of making a book suitable for any Bible study- with brief sketches of biblical women, including Eve, Deborah, Tamar, Vashti, Mary of Nazareth, and Lydia, among others.

… Evans’ research is thorough. She consults different Bible translations and has several mentors, including a Jewish woman who gently steers her understanding and interpretation of Hebrew scripture and its intersections of worship and life. … Her projects reveal how quickly an attempt to create, achieve, and perpetuate a biblical standard can leave one frustrated and feeling distanced both from those one loves (and who love one in return) and, possibly, even distanced from God.

… The truth of this book, and of the time in which we are living, is that there are too many negative words and images that surround being female, being feminist, and being honest about one’s own self, one’s body, and one’s experiences. We need all the voices we can raise, lest the rocks do our own work, to say that we are valued, gifted, and powerful creations of God

Ben Emerson:‘A Year of Biblical Womanhood’ by Rachel Held Evans: My Whole Dang Review

Before this book is even about womanhood, it is more about what we mean when we say something is “biblical.” And that is perhaps the thing I appreciated the most. She has been having this conversation for a long time on her blog and I hope this book will invite even more people into that conversation.

I will tell you straight up, I liked the book a lot. It is funny, intelligent, disturbing, relatable, and asks some fantastic questions. I highly recommend it.

Jana Riess:A Year of Biblical Womanhood

If you enjoy memoir, want to know more about the Bible (which, as she points out, is not actually “the best place to look for traditional family values”), and have a robust sense of humor, you should check this out.

Sarah Bessey:In which I call Rachel Held Evans a woman of valor

The book is a game-changer, a turning point, and it’s a damn good read. Fascinating, funny, erudite, wise, complex, I couldn’t put it down.

One of my favorite sections of the book is the chapter about the Proverbs 31 Woman. Rachel writes about the need to “take back” Proverbs 31 to its original intent – a celebration of women of valor!

Eshet chayil is at its core a blessing – one that was never meant to be earned, but to be given, unconditionally….We abandoned the meaning of the poem by focusing on the specifics, and it became just another impossible standard by which to measure our failures. We turned an anthem into an assignment, a poem into a job description.

Natalie Burris:‘Me Too’: An Affirmation for Rachel Held Evans

Growing up as a young woman in the Southern Baptist church, I too experienced the Bible being used as a weapon against me and my calling. I too have been accused of being a “bitter, angry woman” intent on destroying the Church with my “radical feminist agenda.” And I know I’m not alone. That’s why your writing has been such a valuable ministry to women like me (and men, too) who have been wounded by the church and whose questions have been shot down with appeals to concepts such as “inerrancy” and “complementarianism.” I’m sure I’m not the only wanderer who’s been encouraged to return, and who joins the chorus of “Me too!”

Like so many evangelical women, I’ve faced hurtful accusations when I push back against the status quo. Sometimes I don’t have the words or the grace-under-pressure to articulate what I believe. And many other people in the church who are not white straight men fight a similar battle. Thankfully, you do have the ability to speak so clearly when others are still tending to their wounds and can only offer a quiet “Me too.”

Addie Zierman:Biblical Womanhood: Fault Lines & Rachel Held Evans

I could tell you about the humor and the insight and the grace in the book. The Baby Think It Over electronic doll and the intimate way Rachel lets readers in to her fears and hesitations about motherhood. I could quote some truly beautiful and poignant one-liners.

But what I really want to tell you about is Rachel. I want to tell you how kind she is. I want to tell you how this book is full to the brim and spilling over onto her blog, where she is doing beautiful things. She is giving voice to the voiceless, promoting peace by hosting interviews with those who understand the Bible differently than she does. She calls out injustice where she sees it. She calls for unity.

Shawn Smucker:Why Rachel Held Evans’ New Book Is Deceptive

Even now, there are plenty of people who are more than happy to use the Bible to support continued suppression, oppression, or war in various degrees and forms. There is no doubt that we all, in some form or another, are selective in our reading and application.

So disagree with Rachel’s conclusions if you want, but don’t hate on the book, because this idea, this subject, this discussion about how the Bible should be read and interpreted is one of the most important discussions Christians can facilitate.

Tamara Lunardo:Beyond Mere Words

And they balk,
“She’s not a person of faith
who loves God and His Good Word.”
They don’t realize they’re seeing you
enjoy
a life of lived-out Scripture.

Alise Wright:Why Biblical Womanhood Needs Rachel Held Evans

I went to churches where women had no authority anywhere. I went to churches where women were equal in the church, but not in their homes. No matter where I went, and no matter what their theology regarding women was, I was told that it was biblical.

… Rachel Held Evans grew up in the same culture. She accepted it for a season. And then she also found the questions too big to ignore. So she donned a skirt and a head-covering and set out to see just what it was to be a biblical woman.

And while I was already dipping my toes into the egalitarian waters, Rachel’s journey invited me to dive in.

In her book, she invites all of us, women and men, to dive in.

Ed Cyzewski:Rachel Held Evans Is Hiding in Your Church

Here’s the thing that makes someone like Rachel important for the church today: she’s putting into words the very questions and issues that many women (and men) have been asking and thinking about for years but haven’t been able to discuss openly.

… Rachel is one of the most capable voices who is speaking up for gender equality to the broader church. For many women, she has shown them that biblically committed Christians can take the Bible seriously and still live without gender hierarchies.

J.R. Goudeau:Open Letter to Rachel Held Evans

This is what you’ve done. You listened to us. You shared your space. You told our story. You are changing these lives.

And when the dark nights come and the doubts prevail, I hope you’ll remember the faces of the women of valor you have touched, whose lives are forever impacted because you yourself were a woman of valor to them.

Kelly Nikondeha:A Little Alliteration for Rachel Held Evans

Rachel – thanks for being brave, going first, and opening the door wide behind you for others to join you. You are a gift to us and we cherish you. We also celebrate your latest publication.

Zack Hunt:A Response to The Gospel Coalition ‘Review’ of A Year of Biblical Womanhood

I’m still waiting for someone from the complementarian/Neo-Reformed tradition to actually write a review of Rachel’s book and not a theological polemic. Honestly, I might even settle for a decent, rational polemic, but alas, all we get are ridiculous, thinly veiled theological attacks from Desiring God and now from The Gospel Coalition.

Ben Witherington:Women in the Hood — ‘A Year of Biblical Womanhood’

As it turns out, a good deal of the Bible is R rated, especially the parts that involve women, and their involvements in sex, and war, and ministry, and politics. Actually few of those aforementioned women were stay at home gals in the modern sense. But then, as I like to say, the problem with women like these in the Bible is not that they are strong women. The problem is that then as now, weak men have a problem handling strong women whether inside or outside the Bible, inside or outside the church, inside or outside the family. It’s sad, but it’s true, perhaps especially in conservative Christian churches.

Rachel Held Evans has come by her writing awards honestly. There is some fine writing, and some very funny writing in this book, and Rachel herself is often quite transparent and self-effacing about the ways she falls short of any sort of model of a ‘Biblical woman’ as she tells of her adventures in an entertaining and informative way.

kelly escobar:5 gifts we can give rachel held evens

we are grateful for you, rachel! congratulations! keep stirring the pot & speaking from your heart & calling the church to something better …

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  • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

    Wonderful compilation! Thank you for this. 

  • pastordt

    There are now nearly 30 of us signed on at “Love Is What You Do” – and more will come in through the day, I imagine. Thanks for highlighting this.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

    thanks for the list and the mention.

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    yay for good press for rachel and taking the conversation in a better direction. thanks so much, fred.

  • http://danieldarling.com Daniel Darling

    So, how helpful is it to stereotype all complementarians as “male supremacists ” I thought progressive evangelicals were in favor of peace, love and tolerance? 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Peace, love, and tolerance are all excellent things to have with regards to someone who is not hurting people.

    Trying to put people in labeled boxes and compel them to conform their behavior to the labels? Complementarians do that. It hurts people. Specifically the people who are penalized for behaving in manners contrary to the labels, and the people who get hurt by damaging behavior encouraged by the labels.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Tolerance doesn’t mean never saying things that might hurt. It also doesn’t mean blunting the edge of the truth so as to avoid hurt feelings. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    So, how helpful is it to stereotype all complementarians as “male supremacists ” I thought progressive evangelicals were in favor of peace, love and tolerance?

    Conservative evangelicals aren’t in favour of these things?

    I don’t think tolerance means what you think it means.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    HOW DARE YOU BE INTOLERANT OF MY INTOLERANCE?!?!

    Seriously, that kind of attempt at Debate Judo will not fly.

    Look, the problem with ‘complementarianism’ is it starts off with assumptions rooted in gender essentialism, the “men-rational/women-emotional” paradigm, for example, which does all the box-shoving you’re complaining about.

    People who do the box-shoving first and do so uniformly don’t get to complain when it’s obvious they’re also typecasting themselves.

  • alias Ernest Major

    If one defines complementarianism as supporting a mutally acceptable division of labour between a couple then not all complementarians are not male supremacists.  But, can you identify a self-identified complementarian who approves of the wife being the breadwinner and the husband doing the housework and childcare?

    I also note that Fred referred to “so-called “complementarian” male-supremacists of the Neo-Reformed movement”. That seems to fall short of labelling all complementarians as male-supremacists.

  • Carstonio

    can you identify a self-identified complementarian who approves of the
    wife being the breadwinner and the husband doing the housework and
    childcare?

    Heh. Not likely. Complementarianism is not “a mutually acceptable division of labour between a couple.” Instead, it’s a division of labor that’s purported to be best for all couples because of supposedly innate gender traits, even if individual couples prefer a different division of labor. Is it really that radical to suggest that societies or ideologies shouldn’t assign roles to individuals based on their genitalia, such as the bans on ordaining women in some Christian denominations?

  • Tricksterson

    So then you’re open to the idea of a woman having an equal say in how a relationship she’s in is run?  Of saying “No” to her husband?  Of running a business?  Being a lawyer, doctor, minister,  etc?

  • Joshua

    So, how helpful is it to stereotype all complementarians as “male supremacists ” 

    It’s not a stereotype, it’s a tautology.

    I thought progressive evangelicals were in favor of peace, love and tolerance?

    It is not peace when the downtrodden lie still. It is not love to leave them there. We are not called to tolerate evil.

    Not that I’m a progressive evangelical, just some grumpy bastard on the internet.

  • http://twitter.com/tamaraoutloud Tamára Lunardo

    Great list– I see lots of my blogging buddies here. Thanks for including me in it.

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

    Fred, thanks for this round-up!  We’re just restarting our women’s group at church and this looks like it would be a great book for discussion.

  • Marta L.

    I really liked the compilation – thanks for this! Though you may want to fix the name on the last one (it’s Kathy, not Kelly, Escobar). I’m sure that blogger would appreciate the publicity even more!

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    I’m not scared although a bit surprised that the theory or patriarchy has permeated a branch of Christianism. As a Catholic who is very interested in psychology and social sciences I am very critical to the theory of patriarchy and I don’t think it helps to the empowerment of women on the way it pretends although it has been very effective on the disempowerment and shaming of men in an unfair way.

    My main criticism of this theory is not even that it ignores important historical and biological evidence but that it confronts men and women instead of helping to reconcile them and honour their deep instincts in a respectful way. Patriarchy was a costly arrangement: men died young and lived violent lives and women were held from overt power and freedom but it was needed to thrive in those survivalist times.

    Industrial revolution changed the world forever rising productivity and thus contributing to the institutionalization of society. This change allowed people to survive out of the traditional family roles, so now people are free to live in different ways: be it unmarried or single with children. This is a 150 year old novelty as human culture is at least 200,000 years old. The result is that our instincts are not fine tuned to these social realities and we need to find ways to both live the new freedoms economy grants and to honour these instincts.

    I have no problem with this freedom allowing households where women win bread and men do homely chores or with countries ran by women, but the reality is that they are not very common and they are not going to be mainstream as long as we are attached to our reptilian brains because gender identity is not culturally constructed, only reflected, as it has it’s origin in biology.

    The real problem is that men and women are struggling to build their personal identities as they are removed from the roles that once made them feel instinctively worthy and that shows in society suffering from rising rates of divorce, suicide, mental illness, violence, consumerism, alchoholism, drug abuse, family disintegration and all kind of neurotic and compulsive disorders that disconnect us from our psychological cores.

    We feel lost. We need new ways to satisfy the male and female without compromising personal freedom and a theory that portrays male identity as bad and dirty and female identity as helpless and unaccountable is not going to help.

  • EllieMurasaki

    gender identity is not culturally constructed, only reflected, as it has it’s origin in biology.

    [citation needed]

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    First I would like to make a common sense reflection on the topic of biological gender identity. I can recall that there are only three mammal species out of 5,700 on which females are overtly dominant: hienas, lemmurs and baboons. On all of the other mammal species and in almost all of tetrapod (animals with four limbs) species males are overtly dominant. Thus overt male dominance is a gender identity characteristic rooted in biology. If female humans had an overtly dominant identity it would have shown somewhere between the 200,000 years of human culture.

    My other reference would be the Scientific American Mind magazine, May-June 2010. An article named “The Truth about Boys and Girls” concludes that although culture magnifies the distinctions of gender identity they are actually based in biology.

    There is a logical reason for biologically differentiated gender identity. A decimated society is much easier and faster to repopulate with few males and many females, thus females are valuable and males are expendable. This explains why males evolved to be overt, agressive, physically stronger, less empathic, more individualistic, more skillful with geography and tools. It is because they are meant to take on all heavy duties and dangerous tasks, they are meant to sacrifice and to provide for women and children, who are valuable.

    Females on the other hand evolved to be more social, communicative, emotional, empathetic, group minded and more skillful with detailed tasks. These are femenine traits because that is what was needed to bear children, do homely tasks and care for eachother when men were away.

    These differentiations are the basis of biological gender identity: girls and boys innately like different things and behave differently because our instincts are tuned to play this social roles.

    Now, I don’t oppose people freely exploring and assuming personal traits that don’t match the traditional gender identity roles but that doesn’t mean they are not hardwired on our reptilian brains.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > males evolved to be overt, agressive, physically stronger, less
    empathic, more individualistic, more skillful with geography and tools. […] Females on the other hand evolved to be more social, communicative, emotional, empathetic, group minded and more skillful with detailed
    tasks.

    Two questions.

    First: in your opinion, does a society that freely encourages everyone to do what best suits them, and gives them equal opportunities to do so, end up better off or worse off than a society that attempts to guide people towards the tasks that, by the evolutionary theory you summarize above, their gender is better suited towards?

    Second: in your opinion, to what extent is governing a major population center in the 21st century a task that requires overt aggressiveness? Physical strength? Diminished empathy? Individualism? Skill with geography and tools? Social skill? Ability to communicate? Ability to empathize emotionally? Ability to make decisions as part of a group? Skill with detailed tasks?

  • Carstonio

    It’s wrong and unjust for societies to try to guide people into tasks based on gender. This doesn’t take individual differences into account. But the core principle is that societies shouldn’t decide what is best for individuals. 

    Invisible Neutrino is right about the influence of peer relationships. I doubt that it’s possible to have conclusive answers as to which gender behaviors are innate and which are learned, because we have no control group of people raised outside of any peer or societal influences. The most moral approach is, to modify your point, freely encouraging everyone to do what they as individuals believe best suits them and give them equal opportunities to do so. 

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Carstonio, even today that society grants legal protection for any individual to occupy any role in society almost all women reject all physical labour and dangerous jobs: construction, fishing crab in alaska, cattle breeding, lumber jacking, fire fighting, fighting wars, security guards, etc… Also women don’t vote very frequently for female leaders and consistently prefer jobs that require the use of empathy and allow them to socialize more:

    Programming? Not prefered by women because it’s an isolate abstract job. Education? Prefered by women because it lets them socialize with children all day long.So I’m not arguing to remove social freedom allowed by our post industrial economies, I’m arguing for us to understand how we are in order to reach more fulfilling lives. There is no point in neglecting our instincts

  • Carstonio

    You’re making very broad and unjustified generalizations about what women like or prefer. It’s up to the individual, not to society, to decide what is fulfilling for himself or herself. There are plenty of women who have both the physical capability and the desire for such jobs, and it’s wrong for society to try to convince such women that these won’t fulfill them, even while protecting their legal right to pursue such jobs. That type of fulfillment is ultimately an individual thing, and society has no way of knowing what might fulfill a particular individual. Even if some or all of those women don’t ultimately enjoy those jobs, that’s their issue to deal with as individuals. To treat that as a societal issue is paternalistic at best. 

    And my point works the same if we’re talking about men pursuing stereotypical “women’s work” like education. 

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Carstonio, no one is holding women from joining a crab fishing crew in Alaska, it’s just that the vas majority of women are not interested on it even if it’s highly lucrative.

  • Carstonio

    Whether most women are or aren’t interested in joining those crews is not the issue. You’re saying that A) women should refrain from seeking spots in those crews, and B) society should actively discourage women from joining the crews, not through laws but through norms.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Not at all, I have continually stated that I agree that the freedom to live the way we like is a great consequence of industrial revolution. I’m just offering a perspective on why women are not interested in fishing crabs in Alaska.

  • Carstonio

    That still implies that gender egalitarianism is a luxury. Gail Collins in America’s Women argues that as the colonies became established and more prosperous, women saw their social power decrease and the restrictions on their roles increase. There’s no basis for the idea that women being subservient to men is necessary for the survival of a preindustrial society.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    But women were not subservient of men, men served women as burden beasts, women served men by allowing them to reproduce and by caring the children that carried their genes. Men sacrificed resources in favour of women, women sacrificed independence in favour of men.

  • Carstonio

    Comparing the burdens that those societies placed on the sexes misses the point. The issue here is who held the authority, and with a few exceptions it was men, whether it was in the family or in the tribe or in the royal councils. Even if one assumes that the tradeoffs you’re talking about were beneficial or necessary, they wouldn’t have required a gender hierarchy.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

     The exercise of overt power implies the use of authority, otherwise how is power exercised?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ever seen The Great Debaters? There’s one scene, mid-to-upper-class black family inadvertently damages property belonging to lower-class white man. (I think they ran their car into the farmer’s pig, but I forget.) It is abundantly clear from the way that scene played out that the white man had all the power in the scene even though nobody had authority over anybody.

  • Carstonio

    You haven’t explained why it’s necessary for women to have no authority in a preindustrial society. All this talk about tradeoffs sounds like male blackmail: “I’ll protect you and feed you, but in return you have to obey me in all matters and give me sex whenever I want.” And naturally, much of that protection is from other predatory men, because patriarchal society inculcates men with senses of entitlement. It’s the same reason that fundamentalist Muslims treat women as the property of either families of husbands.  Gregory Maguire dealt with these themes somewhat in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, where unmarried or widowed women were powerless in such societies. A society where men hold all the authority is by definition a man-oriented society, and it’s infuriating that you’re condoning social structures that treat women as property with no rights.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Reverse the blackmail: give me your resources whenever I want and risk your life defending me or I’ll take your descendants from you. Yeah, women needed to be defended from men predating resources for other tribes, it’s competition, nature loves to make us compete against each other.

    I think it’s better we leave this topic at rest, we are not going anywhere. Have a good day.

  • Carstonio

    Yuck. I hope you don’t really believe that women in general use children as bargaining chips that way, in this era or any other. The children aren’t “his” but “theirs,” and that’s the whole problem, the patriarchal idea that a man’s property includes not just women but also children. I’ve actually encountered a couple of men who believe that controls on female sexuality are necessary to prevent men from raising other men’s children. 

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Yeah I would certainly not be motivated to share my resources with a woman who bears children from other man, it’s only evolutionary logic.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    And yet, step-fathers regularly share their resources with women who have borne children from other men, and adoptive parents regularly share their resources with children born from other parents, and people regularly share their resources with unrelated neighbors and friends.

    If, as you suggest, there exists an “evolutionary logic” that inhibits our motivations to do that sort of thing… and yet we do it anyway… that seems to imply that this evolutionary logic is not the primary determinant of our behavior.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Yeah but it still motivates many interesting behaviours.

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/201102/more-why-stepfathers-kill-their-children

    The fact being that most stepfathers are low status males who must compromise.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    (shrug) Sure; lots of things motivate interesting behaviors. Why this thing in particular is such a focus of your attention, I dunno, but you’re certainly welcome to whatever your personal kink happens to be.

    Insofar as high status is a relatively rare commodity and compromise is a part of life, I would expect most stepfathers to be low-status males who must compromise. Most birth fathers, as well.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Well Dave, I was bringing attention to the fact that spending resources for another man’s descendants is not one of the preferred things to do for men. Yeah, most average status males will settle for marriage and wedlock procreation as an acceptable compromise but it would frequently require not being able to attract an average status female to accept the compromise of being a step father.

    Anyhow I think the validation of any point has long being lost in this thread. Have a niceday.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > Have a nice day.

    You too, hon.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Dear Jesse: I want to eat my stepchildren. Is this normal?

    (I’ve been thinking about this for every piece of tripe you’ve posted. You just made it so darned apropos.  Sadly, it doesn’t seem to have survived the author’s move to a new site, hence the google cache.)

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta
  • Carstonio

    There’s also a practical argument that preindustrial societies that had rigid gender roles were not using their resources wisely. Imagine such a society having a large woman who was a fierce fighter, more than capable of holding her own in combat with men. It wouldn’t make sense to demand that such a woman hang up her sword and pick up her nursing blanket to avoid violating gender norms. Similarly, the society could have a woman of stellar leadership qualities, but again it would rather preserve the all-boys club in the councils of power and let her skills go to waste.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > The most moral approach is, to modify your point, freely encouraging everyone to do what they as individuals believe best suits them and give them equal opportunities to do so.

    Oh, I dunno. If there’s an activity that reliably leaves people better off in demonstrable ways, but which people reliably don’t believe suits them well, I’m not sure it’s always the most moral approach to leave them to their own devices.  Sometimes it’s better to encourage people to engage in that activity despite their natural inclinations.

    Encouraging kids to brush their teeth doesn’t strike me as immoral, to pick a relatively uncontroversial example, regardless of their natural inclinations on the matter.

    That said, though, there’s no doubt some suitably hedged version of that sentence that I would agree with. Certainly there are a great many activities whose benefits aren’t reliable enough to make differential encouragement a good idea.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    A society that freely encourages to do what best suits the individual has only been possible for 150 years or so, since industrial revolution, before that productivity was so low people had to conform to biological social roles to survive. 

    Of course it’s better to have social freedom as today but that doesn’t change the fact that we evolved to play a role on a survivalist environment and that shapes our behaviour by means of our reptilian brain. People are not forced to conform to social roles, they are indeed encouraged to be more unique than ever and yet people do behave on average by biological sex roles.I’m not arguing about taking this freedom away, I’m proposing a perspective to explain why we are the way we are.Governing a 21st century society requires hability to take emotional distance from problems because any decision you take will screw someone no matter what, requires hability with satistics and data because this is an information age, requires the hability to focus because the world is as busy as it has ever been, requires discretion, reservation and self control because everyone is exposed to media all the time, requires willingness to sacrifice which is a trait testosteron give to men (that is why they are willing to die in wars and women arent).

    We can justify who deserves to govern either way.

  • Lunch Meat

    Governing a 21st century society … requires
    willingness to sacrifice which is a trait testosteron give to men (that
    is why they are willing to die in wars and women arent).

    Did you really, seriously, just say that? That’s completely ridiculous.

    Programming? Not prefered by women because it’s an isolate abstract job.
    Education? Prefered by women because it lets them socialize with
    children all day long.

    Thanks for explaining to me how I feel. I understand everything so much better now. I will immediately quit my job working primarily by myself with computers and go seek out a job with babies.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The thing that amuses me? If computer programming had retained the idea that it’s primarily boring busywork not unlike data entry, it would still be the female-coded and poorly-paid job it started out as. And I suspect that if parenting were a high-status occupation, it’d be coded male.

    (By ‘amuse’ I mean ‘laughing about it’s better than crying’.)

  • Lunch Meat

    Sorry, I’m still boggling at the idea that “willingness to sacrifice” is a male trait. Because women choose to give up their bodies for nine months and accept the responsibility of raising a child out of selfishness?

  • EllieMurasaki

    He said that? I missed that. Because in a two-income het family that decides somebody needs to become a stay-at-home parent, it’s nearly always the mom.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

     Well I think it’s a better compromise than giving your life to protect the woman and the child.

  • EllieMurasaki

    When you’ve been pregnant, come back and tell us whether your opinion on that subject has changed. Until you’ve been pregnant, or at least acquired the capacity to become pregnant, shut the fuck up about whether pregnancy is better or worse than anything else you can think of; it is not something you can experience and therefore you will never be in a position to decide whether a pregnancy is something you want or don’t want to begin or to continue. (Unless invited to give your opinion by someone who is or can be pregnant, but the final decision on all such matters is still not yours.)

  • Lunch Meat

    Until you’ve been pregnant, or at least acquired the capacity to become
    pregnant, shut the fuck up about whether pregnancy is better or worse
    than anything else you can think of; it is not something you can
    experience and therefore you will never be in a position to decide
    whether a pregnancy is something you want or don’t want to begin or to
    continue.

    This is probably why he thinks abortion is obviously evil–because pregnancy is just like carrying around a 10-pound weight in your pocket for a few months, or something.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    You know what, I’m really tired of your ranting.

    Fuck you too. Whatever or whomever you are supposed to be.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I wouldn’t fuck you if you were the last person on the planet. You sound like you could do with a good fuck, though, and I’d hate to inflict you on anyone who doesn’t want to be around you, so why don’t you go fuck yourself?

  • P J Evans

    We didn’t make you show up here and spout unbacked-up claims.
    Please let the door hit you when you leave.

  • Lunch Meat

    Well I think it’s a better compromise than giving your life to protect the woman and the child.

    Because women never die during childbirth?

    So what kind of Woman am I if I decide to be identified as one but still
    like to dress in manly clothes, look at naked girls, play contact
    sports, groom poorly, behave aggresively dominant, hang out with boys
    and curse all the fuckng day long while spitting tobbaco?

    I’m pretty sure you’re implying my husband (along with probably 90% of the other men I hang out with regularly) is a woman, since:

    -He wears pretty much what I wear (t-shirt and jeans)
    -He doesn’t look at any naked girls (just one naked woman
    -He doesn’t play sports
    -He grooms quite well
    -He is neither aggressive nor dominant
    -He hangs out equally with both men and women, and possibly even more women
    -He curses hardly more than I do
    -He doesn’t chew tobacco

    So, yeah, thanks for proving that not only do you believe irrationally in innate gender norms, but the ones you believe in are kind of stupid.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

     Yeah, you are married to a pussy.

  • Lunch Meat

    Yeah, you are married to a pussy.

    You know what? The commenters here know that I don’t use words like this often, but you are a total fucking asshole. I mean, you’ve been repeating the same fallacious, misogynist arguments over and over again, ignoring counter-arguments and facts that don’t support what you say–I can handle that. I like to argue on the internet, because it helps me understand what I believe and what other people believe better. But you’re just like those jerks in high school calling boys gay because they don’t like football. Whatever, dude. Believe whatever the hell you want about me. My existence and that of my marriage is proof that your idiotic ideas about gender norms are pointless, fruitless, and doomed to failure. I’m done with this.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    So it’s ok if your husband is called a Woman but not a Pussy.

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, actually, neither’s okay. It is not okay to say Mr. Lunch Meat is a woman because he is not a woman; she was saying that by your standards he is in order to point out the absurdity of your standards. It is less okay to say Mr. Lunch Meat is a pussy because that is using the name of a typically-female portion of the anatomy, a name that carries certain negative connotations, to call him a woman, with the implication that women are somehow lesser than men. Three problems with calling Mr. Lunch Meat a pussy, only one problem with calling him a woman, which is also one of the three problems with calling him a pussy. The latter’s worse. That doesn’t mean the former’s okay.

  • Lunch Meat

    Not that everyone with a uterus is a woman, but someone who talks this much about inherent male and female traits probably is incapable of understanding that.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

     Well then please define what is a woman.

  • Lunch Meat

    Well then please define what is a woman.

    Someone who identifies as one. Why is this so hard?

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    So by that logic if I identify myself as Napoleon I must be Napoleon and society ought to treat me like Napoleon.

  • Lunch Meat

    Right, because common nouns are proper nouns.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

     Also what are the traits to which a person must identify in order to become a woman?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Also what are the traits to which a person must identify in order to become a woman?

    …being a woman.

    Seriously, that’s it. If she considers herself a woman, she’s a woman. The single most common trait that women share is a uterus, and not all women have or had one. There’s a constellation of secondary sexual characteristics (but not all women have female secondary sexual characteristics, and some of those that do have them needed hormone treatments and/or sex reassignment surgery to get there), there’s a constellation of personality traits and expectations (but as we’ve been discussing, that’s all culturally imposed bullshit and lots of women don’t want to go along with it), but neither is important. If she says she’s a woman, she’s a woman.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    So what kind of Woman am I if I decide to be identified as one but still like to dress in manly clothes, look at naked girls, play contact sports, groom poorly, behave aggresively dominant, hang out with boys and curse all the fuckng day long while spitting tobbaco?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Tomboy lesbian. Though, since you use ‘decide’, which carries certain connotations of choice, volition, not innate, capacity of changing one’s mind, it might also be ‘heterocis male jackass’. Or maybe I’m confusing your hypothetical with you.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

     Here is evidence:

    http://www.newsucanuse.org/are-wider-faced-men-more-self-sacrificing/

    I’m not telling you how to feel, please don’t be ego centric, I’m pointing out an average preference of women.

  • Lunch Meat

    You found a study implying that men who appear more masculine are in some cases more sacrificial than men who appear less masculine, and are using it as a citation for men are more sacrificial than women because testosterone? I’m not a scientist, and even I know that’s dumb.

    You’re pointing out average preferences (which no one at all disputes) and implying they are due to innate characteristics, that women naturally like children and socializing more and men naturally like isolation and abstraction. The innate part is what I’m objecting to. It has been explained to you, repeatedly, that there’s no way to tell whether common preferences/characteristics of men and women are due to innate biological traits or cultural socialization. You are ignoring that explanation. That says to me you are not arguing in good faith.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Testosterone is the hormone responsible for masculine physical appearance. Men that have more testosterone appear more masculine and are mor sacrificial because that is their natural role, to sacrifice for women and children.

    I think that if gender preferences were culturally constructed there would be evidence of many ancient isolated cultures developing divergent gender roles which I challenge you to show. Show evidence of isolated cultures developing male childcaring roles and female risk taking roles. Even if you could find some few examples I’m sure they would not be very successful in economy, reproduction and technology.

  • Lunch Meat

    Testosterone is the hormone responsible for masculine physical
    appearance. Men that have more testosterone appear more masculine and
    are mor sacrificial because that is their natural role, to sacrifice for
    women and children.

    Women were not even included in the study, which, again, was correlating appearance, NOT hormones, with sacrificialness. There could be many explanations for their appearance and for their actions.

    Again: If women are less sacrificial, why do we “naturally” (as you would probably say) risk our lives in pregnancy and caring for children? Is it because we’re selfish?

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    I never said women were selfish, but that men are more inclined to sacrifice themselves (risking their lives) for others than women. The fact that women have always outlived men is an evidence that there is a gender that makes greater sacrifices than the other because one is inherently more valuable.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The fact that women have always outlived men

    [citation needed]

    (Number one killer of women of childbearing age until very recently, historically speaking? Childbirth.)

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    If you want to prove me wrong go make your own homework.

  • EllieMurasaki
  • Lunch Meat

    I never said women were selfish, but that men are more inclined to
    sacrifice themselves (risking their lives) for others than women.

    I know you never said women were selfish. I was being sarcastic, because the fact that you can believe men are more sacrificial when child-bearing people (usually women) literally give up their bodies–risking their lives–to carry a living being inside them for the better part of a year, and then spend the next one or two years feeding it out of their bodies, is mind-boggling to me. What is your explanation for that?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think the unstated assumption here is that women who neither are nor are planning to be mothers nor are mourning their infertility have something wrong with them, but there’s nothing wrong with men who neither are nor were nor plan to be soldiers nor are mourning the disability that keeps them from soldiering. Women aren’t sacrificing anything to become mothers, they’re just doing what’s normal. Men who go soldiering are breaking from their normal (or their society’s normal, at least, depends how one thinks about someone who joins up during wartime and goes back to farming or whatever when the war’s over versus someone who’s a career soldier), which often means sacrificing something.

  • Mark Z.

    Right. See, women who risk their lives to bring children into the world aren’t being sacrificial because they have nothing else to live for anyway. Dying in childbirth is what women are for. Whereas men could do lots of worthy things, but instead generously go and die in wars, which constitutes “sacrifice” on behalf of women and children. Even though the ones sending them to war are never women and children, but always older men, i.e. patriarchs.

    I don’t know, maybe it sounds less stupid in Spanish.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Well as I said before, women have always outlived men, in other times by more than two decades. The reason? Men got killed more frequently because they took all the risky tasks. Men were told “Be back with your shield or over it” and off they went to be slaughtered instead of women.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You’re confusing Roman legionnaires with all men everywhere, and you’re forgetting that, before modern medicine, childbirth had a terrifyingly high mortality rate. As a general rule, the people whose lives are being risked by childbearing are not men.

  • P J Evans

     [citation needed]

    I have a database with 16000 males and 16000 females. For all the individuals with a death age, the average age at death for males is 62.8 years and the average age of death for females is 61.0.

  • P J Evans

     And fuck you and the white elephant you rode in on.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Please insult me again instead of giving me any logical argument.

  • P J Evans

     You don’t recognize the facts that I gave you, so why should I give you anything else?

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Well then it seems you have a very complete database of Bolivians that contradict every life expectancy statistic ever studied in the world.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy#Sex_differences

  • P J Evans

     Fool.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What amuses me is that his own link says he’s wrong and we’re right, and at that point it links to the maternal-death article I threw at him earlier.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    The fact that women have always outlived men even when they are physically stronger is proof that they live riskier lives .

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Okay. Seriously, you are a fossil and a monster and you need to just shuffle off somewhere and calcify. Fuck you, fuck your half-truths, misrepresentations and outright lies. You’re a moron and an asshole and you’re pretty obviously deeply insecure about your masculinity.

    Oh, and for most of history, about 1 in 100 pregnancies ended in death of the mother. This adds up to about 1 in 16 women dying as a result of pregnancy.  That whole “Men sacrifice themselves to protect women” thing? Fucking bullshit.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Well Ross I really appreciate your hability to create a well rounded logic argument to prove my mistaken points wrong instead of emotionally taking a dump on me.

    Yeah, pregnancy death rate must be the reason why men lived lives 20% shorter than women in prehistoric times and the reason why still men live on average 5 years less than women.

  • EllieMurasaki

    men lived lives 20% shorter than women in prehistoric times

    [citation needed]

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Why shoudl I bother with a logical argument when you haven’t given one, just poorly researched claims and bad science?  I’m just trying to speak to you in a language you’ll understand, since you don’t actually get how logic works.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Great to see someone standing in the high moral ground amidst this festival of insult.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Look, one of your OWN CITATIONS explicitly and directly 100% contradicted the thing you said. It’s no USE arguing with you; you just ignore counterarguments, present invalid evidence and assert that you have demonstrated your point. I am not going to use logic on you for the same reason I do not use logic on my son.

    He’s turning 1 in a couple of weeks, though, so I expect he’ll soon be able to understand at least a *little*.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Women who die of natural causes have always outlived men who die of natural causes, you fucking idiot. But for most of history, men were more likely to die of natural causes than women were.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Are having a much higher death rate for violent crimes, a much higher death rate for stress related causes, a much higher death rate for work accidents and a much higher death rate for security and military tasks to be deemed natural causes?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Fair enough; thanks for answering my questions (more or less).

    If we can agree that it’s a social good to encourage individuals to choose their own paths in life regardless of their gender, and to distribute governing authority independent of gender, and to govern on the basis of what we actually observe about the world rather than our pre-existing theories where they conflict, then we can probably find common ground for discussion.

    That said, I think you are getting ahead of the available data here.

    I certainly agree that men and women tend to make different choices as populations (though the within-group variance for behavior swamps the between-group variance), and that’s a useful thing to know when making decisions.

    But whether the reason for those differences is biological, cultural, or some combination is difficult to know with any confidence unless we can separate biological and cultural elements to perform experiments, which we frown on. Whether the biological factors are genetic or environmental is equally difficult to know with confidence in most cases, though we’re making some progress on that front, which is cool.

    I agree that we can learn some useful things by comparing human behavior to primate behavior, and animal behavior more generally… if baboons and humans both exhibit some behavior X, it’s a good bet that X is not a human cultural artifact.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

     Well I think it’s ok to arrive the conclusion we won’t fully agree on the topic, I don’t see why further this discussion. I’m glad I discussed with you.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > it’s ok to arrive the conclusion we won’t fully agree on the topic, I don’t see why further this discussion.

    OK.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The fact that so many species show sexual dimorphism at all suggests that for the large majority of humans sex and gender identity are in accord, rather than dis-accord; animals don’t seem to display gender identity conflicts, for the most part.

    But sexual dimorphism does not translate into the idea that men and women are somehow mysteriously impelled by some ancient force of nature to be boys-blue, girls-pink, etc.

    Such things are socially constructed, and rather pernicious. Even parents who have purposely tried exposing boys and girls to all manner of toys find that their boys seem to (largely) gravitate to He-Man etc and their girls (largely) to dolls. What’s missing from this is that peer relationships of children expose these children to what society as a whole considers gender-appropriate and they start making their decisions based on what else they’ve seen.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Neutrino, boy’s and gir’s brains are different in small but significative ways since birth which make boys more hyperactive, overt and visual and girls more passive, empathic and verbal .How masculinity or femminity are played in a society is culturally constructed but still boys have different brains than girls in key areas and both mature as a reaction to different hormones which do affect behaviour: testosterone and estrogen.

    All these are biological facts that affect gender identity, arent they?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Neutrino, boy’s and gir’s brains are different in small but significative ways since birth which make boys more hyperactive, overt and visual and girls more passive, empathic and verbal .

    [citation needed]

    In particular I’m looking for something that shows that it is in fact biological and not an artifact of how the same baby is treated differently when wearing blue than when wearing pink. Cultural expectations set in early, Hector, usually the moment somebody eyeballs the baby or the ultrasound and says ‘that’s a boy’ or ‘that’s a girl’ (rather than the far more accurate and less cissexist ‘that’s a penis’ or ‘that’s a vulva’). I know of no study that has ever managed to dig past the cultural expectations to any biological differences that may or may not exist. I’m not sure such a study is possible without raising ten thousand kids in a society completely isolated from gendered expectations, and that’s probably unethical.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Please check the Scientific American Mind magazine, May-June 2010, The article named “The Truth about Boys and Girls”. This magazine also has an article on how depression affects male and female behaviour differently due to brain structure and hormones.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Magazines != scientific journals. Show me the studies the article cites. Ideally these will be studies that take into consideration the fact that trans and genderqueer people exist. And ideally these will be studies that account for how adults who think they’re observing boy babies describe the babies as physically active, irritated, and nonsocial while adults who think they’re observing girl babies describe the babies as happy, social, and less physically active, even though the babies in question were the same babies (some with penises, some with vulvas) and behaving identically.
    Or, y’know, just read Lise Eliot’s Pink Brain Blue Brain, which has forty-six pages listing the many many studies Eliot’s citing to back up her assertion that the neurological differences between penis babies and vulva babies are so small as to be insignificant, or would be insignificant if we didn’t start gendering baby behavior the moment we learn the shape of baby genitals.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Ellie, I’m poiting you the source of my argument. You can check it online by yourself. Don’t be lazy. Transgendered people is not very relevant variable as they are a minuscule percentage of poulation, it would be more relevant to include hermaprhodites which are more common.

    Many of the observations you are interested to see are covered in the magazine.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    boy’s and gir’s brains are different in small but significative ways since birth…

    May I recommend a recent book on this subject? It’s called Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference:

    “Fine argues that social and environmental factors strongly influence the mind, making many conclusions about innate gender differences dubious. She also discusses the history and impact of gender stereotypes and the ways that science has been used to justify sexism. The second part of the book, “Neurosexism,” Fine criticizes the current available arguments and studies supporting sex differences in the mind in order to debunk them, focusing on methodological errors and logical gaps. In the third part of the book, “Recycling Gender,” she argues that the use of faulty science to justify gender stereotypes can negatively impact future generations.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delusions_of_Gender

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    How then are 99.95 % of mammals developing biology based gender roles and humans are not. I’m referring to the fact that only 3 mammal species out of 5,700 show overt female dominance.

    Social sciences are full of speculation validated as science with obscure language, consider the Sokal Scam an example. Hard facts such as the one presented are more reliable sources of reality sampling.

  • Carstonio

    I’m referring to the fact that only 3 mammal species out of 5,700 show overt female dominance.

    That doesn’t matter. Humans have moral choice, and in a human society, it’s immoral and unjust for one sex to dominate the other, even if it’s “natural” in other mammal species. 

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Carstonio, that would imply that it is possible to judge nature as moral or immoral. Can you say that we can deem nature immoral?

    Now, of course the behaviour of sentient beings is subject to morality but yet you have to define a system of morality and there are systems of morality that regard nature as a supreme value such as stoicism which had a strong influence on the shaping of western mentality.

    Now domination might not be the most accurate word because although men prefer to use overt power strategies women use very effectively subvert power strategies such as shaming: “Be back with your shield or on it” (fight to death for me or don’t ever come back).

  • Carstonio

    Not sure what you mean by judging “nature” as moral or immoral. Nature is not an entity but a concept. 

    And “system of morality”? Ellie Murasaki said it best in another thread:

    The essence of morality–the essence of charity and compassion as well–is to minimize the harm done to people and to maximize happiness where that does not conflict with minimizing harm. If following a moral principle involves doing harm that could be avoided, especially if the harm could be avoided easily and without causing greater harm, then ‘moral’ is not an adjective that applies

    And again you’re making broad and unjust assertions about gender tendencies. By “domination” I mean a gender hierarchy where men hold authority over women. In many societies women have used subversive power strategies, but it’s wrong and cruel to assume that this is some kind of inherent hormonal feminine tendency. It’s far more likely that such strategies existed because women were locked out of all other forms of power or authority. The alternative would have been simple submission. 

    It should be possible in societies at almost any level of technological development for the sexes to be legal and social equals.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    Well yeah it’s a trade off: man gave off resources and risked their physical integrity,  women gave up autonomy.

  • Beroli

     

    I’m referring to the fact that only 3 mammal species out of 5,700 show overt female dominance.

    Like all your “facts,” this one is not. I don’t actually think you’re Ginny–your writing style differs–but, like her, you don’t seem to grasp that assertion is not evidence.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

     Please point out mammal species other than hienas, lemmurs and bonobos on which females are dominant.

  • Kiba

    But sexual dimorphism does not translate into the idea that men and women are somehow mysteriously impelled by some ancient force of nature to be boys-blue, girls-pink, etc.Such things are socially constructed, and rather pernicious.

    That whole pink/blue thing pisses me off. Anyway, from the Ladies Home Journal (June 1918): “…the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is pertier for the girl.” 

    And from what I can find idly using the Google is that it varied by country as well.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    FAQ: But men and women are born different! Isn’t that obvious?

    I ran across that from an unrelated subject, but thought it would be useful to contribute this link to the discussion on gender essentialism.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The fact being that most stepfathers are low status males who must compromise.

    Oh geez, save me from this Nice Guy Alpha Beta Epsilon Male categorization shit.

  • Carstonio

    Part of the Nice Guy Syndrome is the manipulator’s belief that women prefer jerks or alpha males. The claims made here about status amount to the same thing, a belief that women are sexual mercenaries. Both involve the horrid idea that sex is a prize or reward that women give men. And both strongly suggest a rationalization. Far easier for such a man to believe that the problem is what women want or how nature is constructed than with his own attitude or behavior.


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