Postcards from the culture wars (9.3)

“I think prescribed order is so important to many Christians because they fear freedom. They don’t trust themselves or others to do the right thing without strict rules to follow. I believe some of those in religious and political power take advantage of this anxiety and use it as a control mechanism.”

“My body is inseparable from my human experience and identity, and my body is inseparable from my identity as a Christian, because it was through my understanding of the incarnation that I was able to overcome modesty culture shame about my body and re-embrace it as beautiful and good. Same goes for my sexuality, actually.”

I love my brothers enough to know that they are capable of making the choice not to objectify and demean their sisters — no matter what they look like or what they’re wearing.”

“With that answer, he showed an ignorance of women’s struggle and theological production for decades.”

“When a business based on ogling and being semi-inappropriate to women on the job bans you, you’ve really kind of hit a low.”

“Despite the fact that minors cannot, as a matter of law, consent to sex with an adult, it has been said that courts still embrace the idea of the ‘juvenile temptress’ and reinforce purity culture expectations on young victims that excuse predatory behavior by adults.”

“Until last week, Norfolk, Virginia police classified sexual assault claims to be ‘unfounded’ – by default.”

“What happened to my mother was a relic of an America that was not free nor equal nor very kind.”

“I’m not ready to answer that because you’re really going deep, and I have not thought about this, and I should have, before walking into any kind of interview.”

“Some men are so threatened by women having a voice — by women having a role in the public sphere — that they will stop at nothing to shut her up.”

“I would write more about this, but I need to hurry up and become a registered member of the Republican party! Haven’t you heard? They love Black folks over there, and they want us to join!

“These kinds of procedures that are being put in place to slow the process down and make it likely that fewer Hispanics and African-Americans might vote, I think, are going to backfire because these people are going to come out and do what they have to do in order to vote. And I encourage that.”

“When this happens, the closet and not-so-closet racists start coming out of the woodwork. They see these signals as indications of implicit approval for their worldviews, and so they become emboldened to speak out and eventually to act out.”

“The saddest part of this entire story of course is the reaction from the NFL and the behavior of its gutless and disgraceful commissioner.”

What white people fear, at bottom, is retribution. This is why discussion of actual injustice is supposed to be off-limits.”

“My problem is not that it makes white dudes feel defensive — that will happen literally no matter what, because white dude identity is founded on prickly defensiveness.”

“Violent crime has been falling in the past few decades. Those have been the decades in which American children no longer prayed or read the Bible in their public schools.”

“The [Southern Baptist Convention] told the Supreme Court that prohibiting Christian pastors from delivering a prayer to start official town meetings would effectively impose Unitarianism on the nation.”

“I said it because I believe that the Democrat Party has become an anti-God party, I think it’s an anti-life party, I think it’s an anti-family party.”

I mean for goodness sake, grow up.”

 

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

    “What white people fear, at bottom, is retribution. This is why discussion of actual injustice is supposed to be off-limits.”

    “My problem is not that it makes white dudes feel defensive — that will happen literally no matter what, because white dude identity is founded on prickly defensiveness.”

    You know, I do not get why the people who’ve been Number Ones in this world are so paranoid the Number Twos will do exactly to them what they totally deny they’ve been doing to the Number Twos in the first place.

    One would almost suspect that this oversensitivity to “discussions of injustice” comes from a recognition somewhere really deep inside the people wanting to shut down that discussion that they have in fact been active participants in it and don’t want to own up to the fact.

    As so eloquently noted in Asimov’s short story, Mother Earth:

    “Ask yourself, Keilin-what was the attitude of the typical Auroran to a typical Earthman? A feeling of superiority? That’s the first thought, I suppose. But, tell me, Keilin, if he really felt superior, really superior, would it be so necessary for him to call such continuous attention to it? What kind of superiority is it that must be continuously bolstered by the constant repetition of phrases such as ‘apemen,’ ‘submen,’ ‘half-animals of Earth,’ and so on? That is not the calm internal assurance of superiority. Do you waste epithets on earthworms? No, there is something else there.

    “Or let us approach it from another tack. Why do Outer World tourists stay in special hotels, travel in inclosed ground-cars, and have rigid, if unwritten, rules against social intermingling? Are they afraid of pollution? Strange, then, that they are not afraid to eat our food and drink our wine and smoke our tobacco.

    “You see, Keilin, there are no psychiatrists on the Outer Worlds. The supermen are, so they say, too well adjusted. But here on Earth, as the proverb goes, there are more psychiatrists than plumbers, and they get lots of practice. So it is we, and not they, who know the truth about this Outer World superiority-complex, who know it to be simply a wild reaction against an overwhelming feeling of guilt.

    “Don’t you think that can be so? You shake your head as though you disagree. You don’t see that a handful of men who clutch a Galaxy while billions starve for lack of room must feel a subconscious guilt, no matter what? And, since they won’t share the loot, don’t you see that the only way they can justify themselves is to try to convince themselves that Earthmen, after all, are inferior, that they do not deserve the Galaxy, that a new race of men have been created out there and that we here are only the diseased remnants of an old race that should die out like the dinosaur, through the working of inexorable natural laws?

  • Carstonio

    a recognition somewhere really deep inside the people wanting to shut down that discussion that they have in fact been active participants in it and don’t want to own up to the fact.

    That’s probably part of it. The other part in the US, especially in the South, has been the classism melded with the racism. Poor whites have known that their status above blacks was dependent solely on skin color, so they have long been defensive about that status as a possession. This resentment carries over into succeeding generations, even among descendants who are far wealthier. They want whiteness to mean something. “White people had defined themselves, as a race, by having the things that other people could not have.” Ironic on one level, because white as an ethnic category is entirely artificial, originally a rationalization of slavery.

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

    I think what ties into it is that the generally accepted meaning of the word “privilege” clashes with the meaning of the word as applied by social-justice advocates.

    When discussions about systemic inequality and how they work on the personal level crash into barriers raised by insistent use of terminology that has different meanings to the different participants in the discussion, it’s not surprising to me that the goal of getting some white people to see that they cannot universalize their own experiences becomes a lot more Sisyphean than it has to be.

  • Carstonio

    Deprivation is taken as the baseline assumption, and anything above that is an unfair imposition. There’s no hope that my situation will get better, and my only source of satisfaction is to tear others down.

    Very true. That’s the flip side of the mentality reflected in the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, where life is simply assumed to be hard and the only hope lies in an afterlife. Fred has explained that the theology involved stems from colonial slaveowners’ rationalizations. At its core, this is defeatism and resignation.

    Imagine how US history would have turned out if Reconstruction had included an attempt at changing the social attitudes that slavery created. Or if poor whites during the war realized that they were being exploited by the wealthy slaveowning elite, and joined with slaves to start a Southern fried version of the French Revolution.

  • NBarnes

    Mark Ruffalo strongest there is!

  • Fusina

    I just had a thought.

    Maybe all religions are like blind men describing an elephant.

    Maybe Jesus was like a sighted man trying to describe color to blind men.

    ‘Kbyenow

  • Carstonio

    I’ve never understood the former metaphor. It might make more sense to me if we were talking about a piece of music and different listeners’ different emotional experiences of the music. (There’s a Journey hit that still produces embarrassment when I hear it on the radio, because of something dumb that I did in high school.) Or like a person who is remembered one way by hir children and another way by friends, and perhaps a third way by comrades in the military, because all three experiences were different.

  • Fusina

    I like that metaphor.

    So, to rephrase,

    Maybe all religions are like people trying to describe a piece of music they heard.

    Maybe Jesus was like a sighted man trying to describe color to blind people.

    ‘Kbyenow

  • Carstonio

    Maybe all religions are like people trying to describe a piece of music they heard.

    And that’s my confusion – those folks would report hearing music and I would respond that I didn’t hear anything.

  • Amaryllis

    I think prescribed order is so important to many Christians because they fear freedom. They don’t trust themselves or others to do the right thing without
    strict rules to follow. I believe some of those in religious and political power take advantage of this anxiety and use it as a control mechanism.

    I’ve just started reading Quiverfull :Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce. Haven’t got far enough to comment on it in detail, but in an early chapter she quotes “homeschooling guru” Mary Pride as saying that there’s no such thing as freedom. We’re either slaves to sin, or slaves to God.

    Funny, I was taught that we’re supposed to act like God’s children, not God’s slaves. But if you think that freedom is a truly impossible dream, I guess you’ll spend your efforts on keeping the slaves in order, and the order in place.

    And yeah, the people on the higher levels of the hierarchy probably find that convenient. The Great Chain of Being is a useful concept when you’re sitting at the top of at least the human section of it.

  • J_Enigma32

    I’m imagining Marx as played by a Southerner; the War of Secession raged from 1861 to 1865. Marx, and with it his entire notion of viewing history, didn’t appear until 1867 when he published Das Kapital. Imagining Das Kapital being published 2+ years earlier by a southern gent makes for a very promising alternative history setting.

  • MarkTemporis

    Keeping the 1867 date and having the author influenced by the death and horror of the war sounds promising too.

  • Antigone10

    Here’s the thing about the modesty movement that bothers me:

    A lot of it talks about men “stumbling” over my unimpeachable hotness* and I shouldn’t want to hurt the poor little dears. But, that means straight guys not having to think about baseball for a while is more important than me being comfortable and safe in my own skin. Straight women don’t stumble over my hotness. Gay men don’t stumble over my hotness. No one cares about the poor lesbian women stumbling over my hotness. And based on my experience, there are plenty of men who are capable of not noticing my fabulous hotness, almost like they weren’t attracted to me at all. AND there’s been guys who notice my hotness, but still manage to not be slavering beasts incapable of focusing or work.

    Instead of calling me immature for daring to have breasts that aren’t bound, why do we want to privilege men who can’t control themselves? Sounds to me like they’re the immature and unloving ones.

    *Unimpeachable hotness, except for the ones who moo-call me. Or when I was younger used to fake hurl at how disgusting I am. Or the ones who talk about female sexuality in metaphors suggesting it is consumable or filthy.

    Preaching to the already convinced, I’m sure, but no matter how I try to understand the conservative side my brain just starts to hurt.

  • JustoneK

    And now, the weather.

  • JustoneK

    What I remember getting out of that concept is that loving children _are_ slaves. They always do as requested, fully trusting, because of pure unadulterated love.
    And as God commands via men, they obey.

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

    One wonders if the men in question simply don’t want to own up to the fact that they know they can appreciate a person’s looks without needing to act so crude.

    It’s really not that hard to avoid staring (agh I screwed this up originally), and keeping one’s hands to oneself is a matter of such basic courtesy that it may seem hard to do, but it isn’t insuperable.

    (-_-)

    The best I can gather is that they simply want to be immune to the consequences of ther actions and words while demanding that in every step of the way, the blame gets shifted to women.

    It’s certainly awfully convenient how those who already hold social and economic power in society want to be excused from the responsibility of using it wisely.

  • Omnicrom

    I’m confused. What are you trying to say about Religion and Christianity?

  • myeck waters

    “ (There’s a Journey hit that still produces embarrassment when I hear it on the radio, because of something dumb that I did in high school.)”
    Did you stop believin’?

  • Fusina

    That doing stupid things in the name of religion is stupid. Mostly. Also, maybe other religions have things to teach us about God. I happen to believe there is a God, but that he may not be exactly the way he is described in the Christian Bible. Um.

  • J_Enigma32

    I’ve always been under the impression men who claim that should be forced to wear diapers.

    The sex drive is a basic biological function for a lot of people. If they’re not capable of controlling that basic function, what other basic functions can’t they control, and, more importantly, do we want to wait for them to have an accident in public before we find out?

  • Phoenix Dark

    hmm…Now I’m starting to feel bad. I recently broke up with my girlfriend, but we still work together (as well as her current boyfriend). We’re actually on pretty good terms, considering, and I was mostly kidding, but the other day I told her not to look so hot, because I’m having a hard enough time trying to think about other women without her looking so good. She just laughed, and told me something along the lines of “sorry, I can’t help it if I look good”…but now I’m wondering if I just contributed to the patriarchal modesty movement by subtly making her ashamed of her body. I… I think I’ll apologize to her about it when I see her next. Better safe than sorry.

  • Matri

    They shouldn’t even be allowed to be in any positions of power. Seriously, they’ve all but admitted that they have the self-control of a detonated bomb. The only thing left to wonder is how much damage they will be doing, but it is a foregone conclusion that there will be damage.

  • Rakka

    Sounds like they have really fucked up view of slavery.

  • christopher_y

    Except that a rough draft of his view of history is in the Communist Manifesto of 1847. Marx was an enthusiastic supporter of the Union during the Civil War, and many of his younger friends volunteered for the Union Army.

  • Wednesday

    The “blind men describing an elephant” thing needs the story to make sense. It’s a folktale from the Indian subcontinent (or so says Wikipedia) and there are different versions.

    The version I heard went something like this: Three blind men encounter an elephant. They immediately set about to trying to figure out what it is.

    the first blind man feels the trunk, and says “it’s a snake!”

    The second blind man feels the legs, and and says “no, it’s a tree.”

    The third blind man feels body, and says “no, you’re both wrong, it’s a boulder.”

    it’s very often used as a metaphor for religions (and is how my mom explained the philosophy of UUs to me). Basically, the blind men/religions are all correct in that they’re all describing different parts of the elephant/god, but they’re all incorrect in that they think they have identified the whole elephant.god and only have a part.

  • The_L1985

    Here’s the version I heard as a kid. I always liked it because it rhymed, and because it’s a great way to show how limited human perception is of all sorts of Big Concepts (not just religious ones).

  • Nathaniel

    There is a world of difference between teasing someone who knows you and trusts you, and attempting to police the choices and clothes and of someone else.

  • Panda Rosa

    There was a fourth blind man too, he felt something on the ground behind the elephant, and said, “You’re all wrong! The elephant is soft and mushy, and a bit pungent.”

  • Carstonio

    Thanks. I understood the metaphor at that basic level, and it sounds very Life of Pi-ish. The story only works if one assumes that the religions or their adherents are perceiving different aspects of a god. I don’t perceive any such thing, and that doesn’t mean that they’re right and I’m wrong or vice versa.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It may also require that there be a solitary God for each person to perceive differently. Maybe there are multiple gods and we each perceive different ones, or no god and perception is delusion, or it could still be something else altogether. I tend to suspect that none of us are right — and none of us are wrong.

  • lampwick

    Read Terry Bisson’s _Fire on the Mountain_. It’s almost exactly about that.

  • Carstonio

    While those are obviously possible, they don’t include my own experience, which is the absence of perception.

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

    And a really fucked up view of children.

  • Jenny Islander

    In many fundamentalist Christian groups, children aren’t allowed to have a grumpy afternoon. They aren’t allowed to melt down and have a snuggle until they feel better. They can’t be too scared to try something new when directed to do so by a grown-up. They can’t argue or ask why. They must obey–”first time, every time, with a happy heart.” “First time, every time” means “You can’t be absorbed in what you are doing to the point where you can’t hear me the first time, or I will hit you.” “Happy heart” means “Smile or be beaten.”

    Some groups extend this to any adult, all adults, without exception. Consider the implications, and shudder.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    As someone pointed out earlier, that’s why the readership of the LB books see the Tribbles as brave freedom fighters. Not because they’re fighting for freedom bravely but because they are obeying sullenly.

    Also, even if the parents don’t enforce “first time, every time” with regard to other grownups, the conditioning means that these kids sometimes have trouble disobeying any adult. This is true even when the adult is a stranger and is obviously asking for something that is wrong. The flipside of this is kids who are “first time, every time” conditioned and won’t obey any adult who is not his or her parent. I’ve known a few of both types in my life.

  • FearlessSon

    “When this happens, the closet and not-so-closet racists start coming out of the woodwork. They see these signals as indications of implicit approval for their worldviews, and so they become emboldened to speak out and eventually to act out.”

    Get your mallets, baseball bats, comment replies, whatever is handy. Because racists coming out of the woodwork are like a kind of social whack-a-mole game. Every time they pop up, we get the sweet catharsis of smacking them back down into the hole they came from.

    If we manage the bludgeon enough of them into shame then we win a prize, or so I am told.


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