‘Gender apartheid in the body of Christ’

‘Gender apartheid in the body of Christ’ February 15, 2012

That’s the title of a post from Left Cheek: “Gender apartheid in the body of Christ,” in which he writes:

You want to see a masculine Christianity? That’s easy! It’s all around us. It’s the current state of the American Church — a gender apartheid in the body of Christ.

If that language sounds too harsh, consider that Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently said something just as blunt.

“We have been excluding women,” Tutu told the world’s elite gathered in Davos, Switzerland. “What we need is a revolution led by women. I think women ought to be saying to us men: ‘You have made a mess, just get out and let us in.'”

“Gender apartheid,” I think, is an altogether apt and accurate description of the continuing practice in much of the Christian church of excluding women from leadership and relegating half of the body of Christ to second-class status.

Apartheid is descriptively true. And it suggests an agenda. It both identifies the problem and suggests what ought to be done about it.

The South African system of racial apartheid made that nation a pariah state. It was almost universally denounced as immoral because it was immoral. And that’s just as true of the gender apartheid in the church. It is immoral. It is indefensible. It is a sin — a sin that has become entrenched in institutional structures.

Let’s be blunt and honest: There is no legitimate reason for any Christian congregation or denomination to exclude women from full and equal participation, including in leadership. None.

Those groups still following this sinful practice can only be doing so for one of a handful of reasons: 1) Because this is the way they’ve done things for a long time and simple inertia is permitted to perpetuate injustice; 2) The group is clinging to a long-discredited interpretation of a handful of clobber verses, because they prefer the injustice that interpretation creates; or 3) They have leaped to some rather dubious conclusions stemming from a disproportionate concern with the fact that Jesus of Nazareth had a penis.

No, I have not taken pains here to restate these in a more flattering way because they cannot and should not be stated in a flattering way. None of these arguments is compelling or convincing in the slightest. Such arguments, even stated as charitably as possible in their strongest possible forms, can only be attractive to those who are desperately seeking a rationale for privilege and power.

I know we’re supposed to take the greatest of pains to express respect for the beliefs of our fellow Christians, but these folks have made it impossible to show respect for their beliefs without thereby agreeing to participate in their disrespect for others — and in the consequences of that disrespect.

I wish it were possible to be nicer, more respectful, more gentle in discussing all this, but gender apartheid is not nice, respectful or gentle towards those it presses down on. Male superiority is not a respectable doctrine, which is to say it is not capable of being respected — no matter how much one tries. Respect is something it cannot be given, so there’s not much point in trying.

Or at least, in any case, I am done trying.

I appreciate Jenell Paris’ argument to “Withhold Consent from Christian Sexism“:

Arguing with Christian sexists is like feeding the wildlife. They keep coming back, and you lose your lunch. Give them nothing, not even the power to incite you, and maybe they’ll go away.

But they’re not going away. And the problem is much larger than just the infamously ludicrous celebrities Paris is talking about — the John Pipers and the Mark Driscolls of this world. The problem is woven into the structure of many of our Christian churches and denominations.

The problem of “Christian sexism” is not simply the personal attitudes or foolish remarks of tiny men like Piper and Driscoll. The problem is the impersonal official policies of the Evangelical Free Church, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, the Presbyterian Church in America and the Roman Catholic Church — among many, many others. The injustice and sin built into the structures of all those denominations won’t just go away.

And politely, respectfully requesting them to correct that injustice hasn’t worked either.

The first step, I think, is to use it’s real name: gender apartheid. Call it what it is, and by calling it that we can perhaps get a sense of what the next steps should be.


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  • Anonymous

    I think that the best way to eliminate this gender apartheid is to attack it in each denomination, mainly by people within that group. We can’t just ignore the sexists, but Paris is right that you can’t reasonably argue with them. They don’t want to hear, just demonstrate their awe-inspiring (in their own minds anyway) apologetics and forensics.
    Direct examples can be helpful to the neutrals and open-minded.
    When Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori (head of the Episcopal Church) was at the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian church women were clearly excited by the presence of a woman at the highest levels of church politics. How long it will take to push the Tanzanian Anglicans to gender equality, I can’t say. My lesbian rector had similar experiences talking with African Anglican priests about human sexuality. Priests who had assumed that the U.S. church was decadent and unbelieving because of its position on gays and lesbians repented of that position. It doesn’t always work I’m sad to say, but I’m certain that trying to show the glaring logic holes of the sexists isn’t all that effective either.

  • Patrick

    Its a world view problem.  Its hard to communicate between them.

    Seriously, try coming up with a reason to permit female leadership that makes sense to a Christian sexist.  Its not easy.

  • Anonymous

    And to show how little things can mean a lot. I remember as a little kid being out to dinner with my parents and paternal grandparents. I eagerly asked if I could say the prayer before the meal because at the time I still believed in that little kid “yay God!” way. And my grandmother cut in that it wouldn’t be appropriate as my Grandfather was here as the oldest baptized male at the table and it was his duty and privilege to say the blessing. An argument about broke out but I quickly stamped it out by saying never mind and it was okay if he said it.

    But it stuck with me, and it was the first time I saw that religion wasn’t God really, but people. And that people rules said my limp little girl prayer wasn’t good enough. That because I had ovaries I wasn’t worthy to talk to God. But not in those clear of terms at that time. But it definitely started the long slow spoil of religion as transcendent or anything I wanted the slightest part of.

  • Aw, shucks! I’m tremendously grateful for the shout-out, Fred.

    As per Paris’ comment, I wish that were true – but it’s the same with all types of bullies. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away, and feeding them doesn’t work either. Point out the darkness and refuse to play its games (and get lots and lots of support).

  • The oldest penis always wins!

  • Thank you for sharing that. Men are so often blind to the privilege we enjoy because we’re told that privilege is natural, and because we don’t make experiences like yours.

  • Honest question: could someone point me to good articles/blogposts about the Bible verses complementarians tend to wield? Thanks!

  • Gelliebean

    @ Jessica_R – that image really resonates with me.  I never wanted to say grace at family dinners, because I was too shy of the attention, but my grandfather also always said grace at extended gatherings.  He had been a Methodist minister ever since finishing his service in WWII, so in some ways it was only natural, but I never thought to wonder why it was only him, or on rare occasions my uncle or dad, and never, say, Grandma to say the prayer.

    I was always given to understand that the rending of the temple curtain during the crucifixion symbolized the tearing-down of the boundaries that meant only chosen priests were allowed to approach God; that everyone now would be heard equally by Him without a mortal intercessor….  It’s funny how you’ll hear that teaching presented in the same churches that would never allow a woman to give a benediction or prayer when there is a man around.

  •  Thank you, that’s really helpful.

  • B

    My college roommate joined Campus Crusade for Christ when she was a freshman — I think she wanted to get involved with a campus Christian group and didn’t realize how conservative CCC is.  (I did, but at the time I didn’t know her well and wasn’t sure that wasn’t what she wanted.)

    That lasted until they decided to take turns with having members of the various classes lead the meetings — seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshman — but then realized they’d have to skip the freshman because all the freshman in the group (including my roommate, of course) were women.  And they couldn’t have a group of only women leading the meeting (although a mixed group of men and women was OK).

    Like I said, her association with CCC didn’t last long.  Once they told her she couldn’t lead a meeting because she was a woman, she was done.

  • Stewart Cooper

    From the perspective of a member of a denom famously considered forward-thinking in its treatment of female leadership, the Salvation Army (SA) is only just coming to grips with a variation of the same thing. In the past, single females were afforded equal opportunity with males within the officer heirarchy of SA, as evinced by the election of a female world leader in the late ’30s, then again in the ’80s. The SA’s particular breed of sexism happened to married female officers, who used to be styled as an appendage to their officer husbands (Major & Mrs…). Many did the same work as their husbands with regards to teaching, preaching & admin, but were always considered the lesser part of the partnership; hence the regional management roles tended to go vastly to men. Their rank advancement was also tied to their husband’s promotion. It’s only recently that married female officers have been treated as officers in their own right, with their own advancement in rank independent of their husbands, and have started to be given positions of their own without reference to their husband’s position, sometimes more senior. It’s only taken us 140 years to start getting this right…..

  • Kirala

    I didn’t realize what I was thinking until I finished writing a lengthy response. So I don’t bury the lede: this article made me uneasy, thinking in context of my own semi-segregated nominally PCA church, because I think our church fits “1) Because this is the way they’ve done things for a long time and simple inertia is permitted to perpetuate injustice” (but is generally progressing in a positive direction) while it would see itself more as  “2) The group is clinging to a long-discredited interpretation
    of a handful of clobber verses, because they prefer the injustice that
    interpretation creates” and this article would make them just get much worse because of the backfire effect.

    For more detail, the “first” two paragraphs of my response:

    [2] strikes me as a really bad way to describe my own personal PCA church. The denomination is rife with sexism – my pastors tell horror stories of their sessions trying to expand the “no women in leadership” to “no women teaching Sunday School classes” (a move which would certainly lead to my church leaving the PCA). As things are, women have a strong voice in my congregation that’s getting stronger. No, things aren’t where they should be – but they’re headed in that direction. (I can’t see Jessica’s horror story ever happening in my congregation, although given the range of members, some families might be like that. I’m fairly certain Head Pastor would gladly cede the floor to any of his little girls to lead the whole church in prayer.)

    In the meantime, I believe that my pastors have with all the honesty they are capable of come to the conclusion that those “clobber verses” apply. I think merely calling them bullheaded, foolish, or preferring injustice is a pretty lousy way to get them to change their minds – especially when they are surrounded by strong-minded women who are disinterested in ministry and thus reinforce the complementarian mindset. (I suspect that Presbyterians interested in ministry switch from PCA to PCUSA with little difficulty; PCA self-selects for people who fit the model.)

    TL;DR: I suspect it’s a little more complicated than that.

  • Ian needs a nickname

    Keep in mind that the sexism has been internalized.  Churches can be really patriarchical even when there is no sexism coming from the pulpit.

    At my tiny Baptist Church growing up we had a male pastor, and he was great, but other than him all of the leaders were women.  They were the forceful personalities who made things happen: the organizers, the planners, the teachers, the hard-workers.  However, the consensus among the women in the church was that they should maintain a polite fiction that they were not running the show.  My Mom was of that view, being ideologically unable to accept that her leadership should be formally recognized.  We had men sitting as paper elders and paper deacons because the real elders and deacons refused to acknowledge themselves for what they were.

  • Ian needs a nickname

    It’s only taken us 140 years to start getting this right…

    Give the Sally Ann partial credit for the fact that it was acknowledging single women as being in senior leadership roles 140 years ago when most denominations weren’t recognizing women as leaders at all. 

    the election of a female world leader in the late ’30s

    Somewhat less sexist than the Southern Baptists, I’d say.

  • Amaryllis

    In a hurry, so I’ll just say two word: Altar girls.

    Yes, Bishop Throwback, they matter.

    I think women ought to be saying to us men: ‘You have made a mess, just get out and let us in.

    Cue Ivor Cutler.

    “Men have had their shot, And look at where we’ve got…”

  • Anonymous

    And keep in mind it was my grandmother who shot down the idea of me saying the prayer, my grandfather would probably have gone along with it but she was adamant that that was not how it was done.

    It’s why I’m not religious, it would nice if all we had to do was have the women stand up and say “stop being sexist!” in their congregations but well, as it’s been said, It’s More Complicated Than That. And it makes me uneasy going into possible victim blaming territory telling women they should speak up or they’re part of the problem.

    That may be true, but I believe in freedom of choice and freedom of conscience, and if a woman chooses to take part in a religion that preaches she is secondary, and that she has no place in leadership? Well, I may not like it but I bite my tongue as it’s not my place to police her choices just like it’s not hers to police mine. 

  • friendly reader

    I’ve been living in Japan for about half a year now, and obviously gender politics in general are much more conservative here than in the United States (though the region I live in is rather looser). And I go to a very small Lutheran church that is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). Hence, they don’t ordain women.

    But the small size of the congregation means they actually share pastors with neighboring churches, and as a result, some weeks women in the congregation give the sermon, and they frequently lead prayers and read the scripture.

    They know my church in America is ELCA, and it came up in conversation recently what the difference was. When I mentioned that one thing was that we ordained women, one of the more active women in the church said, “You know I’ve always wondered about that, why can’t women be ordained?” The pastor then launched into a sort of half-hearted explanation of why, at the end of which she threw up her hands and said, “Well, I still don’t get it!”

    I just kept my mouth shut through the proceedings, but it was nice to see that even a middle-aged woman in a rather sexist culture is starting to push back against this kind of apartheid.

  • E.A.B.

    Here is a good place to find free articles that address the verses that are typically used to prevent women from full participation in the church: http://www.cbeinternational.org/?q=content/free-articles

    In particular check out these categories: Biblical Equality 101 and Short Answers to Challenging Texts

  • E.A.B.


    There are also a lot of good books on that site.

  • LL

    Calling it “apartheid” is being a little too kind, but OK. 

    The fact is (from my observation, so maybe not fact, but sure seems like it to me), women do a lot of work for various denominations (obviously, not just the Christian ones), work which wouldn’t get done without their effort, and for that, they get … to do more work. And a bouquet of flowers on Mother’s Day and Secretary’s Day or whatever. And the occasional, “Good job!” If the various churches had to pay people to do what many women do for free, I wonder how much they’d have to shell out? I realize many women are paid to do the various jobs within the various organizations, but I know they also do a lot of volunteering (and I know men do as well, not discounting their contributions). I wonder how much would get done if they got tired of being taken for granted and stopped volunteering?

    I’m guessing that the positions that men hold in the various churches and religious organizations are (relative to the other positions) high-paying. I’d like to see that list of salaries. It’ll never happen, but it would be interesting.

  • Lizzy L

    Yeah. RC woman here. I have no clue how long it’s going to take for HMC to ordain women priests and select women bishops. The disrespect and disdain for me and my sisters demonstrated by the leadership is very painful. I’m in my sixties, and I don’t expect the change to come in my lifetime. But I believe it will come.

  •  Thank you, looks like a great resource.

  • Anonymous

     LM Montgomery (who also was the wife of a minister) wrote a hilarious and still on point short story in the early 1900s, “The Strike in Putney” about just that. The men won’t let a famous visiting female missionary speak at the pulpit so the women of the congregation go on strike. And they are most surprised to find out what happens when the people who do all the cleaning, flower arranging, Sunday School teaching, fundraising etc. stop doing those things.

  • Having just recently – in the past few years – wandered away from the Catholic Church,  I can say with confidence that they will not be allowing women to participate at the same level as men. 

    Yes, yes it is because Jesus was male. They also claim all of his disciples were male too, and because of this tradition, the priesthood must have penises in order to be in line with Jesus’s wishes.  They also claim that because Jesus referred to the Church as a she, the priesthood must be male, since a priest is married to his work, the Church.  And Christ, who “is the groom where the Church is the Bride,” can only marry a woman, for marriage is only between a man and woman.  They will claim this “man and woman only” marriage goes back to the garden of Eden. 

    That’s exactly what they taught me, a person who was brought up as female in the Catholic Church.  I wondered so many times if there was any women disciples, for surely there would have been, but the priests blatantly ignore the women disciples Jesus had and that existed in the early Church.  Sure, they may teach about women leaders in the Bible – the book of Judges chronicles a few bad-ass ones – but the underlying lesson is that Christ made an example out of chosing only men, so that is what the Church must do. 

    It’s a load of bullshit.  Freaking stupid bullshit.  Apartheid is definitely too nice of a word for this.  Considering how long it takes the Catholic Church to change, even recognizing the horrifying attitudes will take a ridiculous amount of time, and then it will take an even longer time for it to change. I predict that I will be long dead and buried before the Catholic Church will finally give female people the same respect, status, and freedom in the Church that men already enjoy.

  •  You reminded me of how the priest in the Catholic diocese I grew up in thought that he was doing a good job by allowing altar girls to exist, allowing women to read parts of the liturgy, and for women to be in charge of or participate in the music aspects of the Church.  This was often pointed to as proof that women do participate and that all is equal in the eyes of God and in worship. 

    It’s kinda depressing.

    By the way, the video you attached is really amusing.  Bravo. 

  • MaryKaye

    I belong to a strand of Paganism that is pretty egalitarian.  Some years ago, I was involved with a group that did monthly participant-planned rituals open to all.  We had a male newcomer who behaved as though being male made his views more important than those of the (mostly female) ritual leaders. He disrupted a few events–I walked out of one because of him–and then was firmly told not to come back.

    He was puzzled, and asked a (male) friend of mine to meet with him to explain what had happened.  As we heard about it afterward, he had not realized that the group’s leaders were mostly women.  He had in fact wasted a lot of time trying to figure out which of our men were the leaders.  (My friend was as close to a male leader as we had, but definitely not “the alpha male”, as the newcomer put it.  So where was the alpha male? My friend suggested gently that *I* was the alpha male, but this clearly did not compute.)  He asked my friend to let him back in the group.  My friend pointed out that the Board of Directors (all women at that point) had voted unanimously to exclude him.  He was baffled that this was treated as final–surely my *male* friend could get around this?  As a favor, one guy to another?

    As near as I could tell, this person had become a reasonably proficient Pagan ritualist without ever grasping that women’s opinions mattered.  It’s strange to be able to get to adulthood like that in any case, but really strange in what we like to think is an egalitarian religion.

    On the other hand, it got him nowhere with this particular group.  I didn’t hear of him much after that–I wonder how he got on elsewhere.

    Too many people like our newcomer and you end up with a severe, generational problem.  I don’t know what to recommend.

  •  Holy, that’s way depressing.

    Privileged dude thinks men owns the world. No surprise, but still one of those frustrating problems that curses our society currently. 

    The only thing I can think of as a solution would be to try to nip this in the bud when they’re children.  But then, our society is so saturated with male privilege that I’m not sure it can be nipped in the bud, for if they don’t encounter it in school or from parents, they’ll get it from the media and other cultural avenues. 

    We need to start changing the message our society puts out, but how to do that, I’m at a loss.   Other than keep trying?

  • P J Evans

    I wonder if they’ve ever considered that the women who went to the tomb early on the third day and got the news directly from an angel were better disciples than the men who weren’t there at all (and who I suspect were still sleeping off the monumental drunk they got into because it didn’t happen the way they thought it should have done).

  • Amaryllis

     The thing is, when I was a young girl, those things were exciting, were new and hopeful. At least, altar girls, female lectors, and female Eucharistic ministers were new; the music part was taken for granted. You have no idea how thrilled I was the first time I received Communion from the hand of a woman.

    In fact, lay people of either gender as lectors and Eucharistic ministers was a new (or very old) and exciting idea. And we thought that the fact that those roles were open to women as well as men was very encouraging. Like LizzyL, I thought that I’d see women priests, or at least women deacons as a first step, within my lifetime.

    I no longer think so. We seem to be stuck, if not going backwards. Depressing is the word.

    And Ivor Cutler can be totally bizarre; listen further at your own risk.

  • Ah haha, nicely worded there.  From what I remember of my youth, the priests labeled them as “messengers for the angels.”  Used them as examples of how to be full of faith and a servant to Truth at the same time.  Though they were never called a disciple. 

    Which always struck me as odd and a bit sexist.  If you read carefully the gospels, there’s hints of women following Jesus everywhere.  It makes me wonder if he said “come follow me” to them as well, but because the gospels were written by men, the stories only focused on the male disciples.  The sad part is the stubborn refusal of a lot of Christian churches from acknowledging that women disciples could have existed and that there is some proof of their existences. 

    Reminds me of a post Fred had earlier about Junia, the woman men tried to erase from the Bible.  I wonder if there’s others like that?

  •  This is true.  Opening up to the lay people the lectors and Eucharistic ministers was a great idea for the Church… but they stopped there.

    As a young gal, I remember feeling excitement when I was old enough to play my clarinet at Mass and to be a lector.  I also remember, when I was a teenager, a brief dispute in the diocese over a woman who wished to be a deacon.  The bishop ruled she couldn’t be a deacon, and to this day, I can’t make any sense out of it.  There just was no real reason why. It was just… nonsensical.

    Nowadays, I look back and see the excitement I had back then as depressing.  There I was so excited about what I saw as opportunities, thinking I could participate at the heart of it all someday, only to have that denied at every turn. 

  • Tricksterson

    If these churches were honest they’d admit that most of them couldn’t function without the people they keep in a secondary (at best) position.

  • Tricksterson

    I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that he was an Asatru or some kind of other Nordic pagan?  Not that all Asatru et. a.l are sexist but they do tend to be more conservative.

  • Eliyahu Konn

    netzarim.co.il  and you will clear up all this church stuff.

  • Anonymous

    I’d love to find numbers on this, but I get the impression in the Episcopal Church USA that the majority are seminarians are women and that any congregation (that is still in the ECUSA) that is not comfortable with a female priest will have trouble finding a male priest. Of course the stick-in-the-mud sexists jumped ship when the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori (a remarkable lady) was elected presiding bishop, following those that jumped ship on the election of Bishop Robinson. I guess  that solves the problem of agreeing to participate in their disrespect for others.

    I’d hate to see the priesthood turn into “women’s work”, just because men can’t claim it exclusively. But then, given that the substantial majority of post-grad students in general are female, in another couple generations thinking will be women’s work and idiocracy will be firmly entrenched. If it isn’t already.

  • Anonymous

    And how do they get around the fact that it was a woman who first testified to Christ’s resurrection? To a group of men who didn’t believe her (and who I suspect muttered among themselves about hysteria and emotional strain).

  • Dragoness Eclectic

     Yes, it is. The RCC selectively ignores all of Jesus’s women disciples, who are mentioned in the gospels, and all of the woman apostles that Paul mentions in his letters. I stopped paying attention to RCC theology a long time ago, because they twist the plain text of the scriptures to support their misinterpretation of them.

  • Tonio

    Even the idea that people should be excluded from roles because of gender strikes me as something Darth Vader or Lord Voldemont would advocate. It has the same type of meanness and cruelty as if someone murdered young child’s favorite pet and left the carcass in his or her bed. It’s amazing to me that more people don’t have that same moral revulsion at gender apartheid.

  • Tonio

     That’s embarrassing – I’m currently reading the series and misspelled Voldemort.

  • Headline: Man with backbone!

    You are grossly misguided and have no backbone. Christian sexuality is based on the word of God, not post-modern garbage about autonomy. Grow up already. The church is not a series of rankings with males at the top because Pastors stand up front. Woman are part of the body of Christ, and big surprise to all of us – men and woman are different! The biggest problem is our own lying to ourselves and trying to erase all gender divisions, by saying “Everyone is the same!” Lies! Thankfully, God created us very differently and for very different purposes. Thank you for the humorous quip and interesting theory on human sexuality, I needed a laugh. As for the truth, I will use God’s word.

  • Anonymous

    I’d love to find numbers on this, but I get the impression in the
    Episcopal Church USA that the majority are seminarians are women

    I think that’s correct.  It certainly seemed to be the case when I attended seminary.  Although, looking at my class picture and doing a count of those who were on an ordination track, there’s a pretty even 10-9 split between men and women.  If you remove the one American Baptist who attended with us, then it’s 9-9.

    and that any congregation (that is still in the ECUSA) that is not
    comfortable with a female priest will have trouble finding a male

    I’m not so sure about this one.  The Episcopal Church is going through a lot of changes right at the moment.  With regards to the gender issue, I don’t think a parish that won’t consider a female priest will have trouble finding a male priest.  I think the bigger issue is that a parish that won’t consider a female priest tends to raise red flags in the search process that makes someone looking ask questions like, “Are they still using the 1928 BCP?  Have they changed their sign from “Episcopal” to “Anglican”?  Have they ever thought about aligning with Uganda, Nigeria or the Southern Cone?”  There’s a difference between, “We want a male priest,” and, “TEC is going to hell and we don’t want no woman leading us there.”

    Regarding ++KJS:  Yes, she is a remarkable woman (originally from my current diocese) and just what TEC needed at this point in time.  After her election, I heard rumors that the conservative bloc had actually voted FOR her in order to come out publicly with a statement saying they couldn’t be part of a church that allowed women bishops, let alone Presiding Bishops.  I asked my (then) bishop if this was true.  He’s not what you would call liberal by any stretch of the imagination and he confirmed that, yes, it was true.

  • P J Evans

    Let me know how that works out when the doctor tells you that your wife can’t have more kids. Or when your kid tells you that hse isn’t interested in a heterosexual relationship.

    Gender is not destiny. The Bible is not infallible. (It isn’t even history.) You need to get your head unwedged so you can actually use it, because right now, you’re just repeating the lies you’ve heard from others.

  • Anonymous

     The biggest problem is our own lying to ourselves and trying to erase
    all gender divisions, by saying “Everyone is the same!” Lies!

    It has been proven that reminding a group of girls about to take a math test that girls are bad at math makes the girls do worse on the test than a similar group that got no such reminder. That in itself proves that gender divisions are, at least in part, taught, not inborn: girls would be much better at math if not taught that girls are bad at math.

    The same, I strongly suspect, applies to everything that boys and girls score differently on. Every single thing. It is all sociological and cultural constructs, and the only thing different–literally the only point of distinction–between female- and male-assigned-at-birth people is that XX people are as a rule capable of carrying a pregnancy and XY people are not.

    Boys and girls are different because boys and girls are told they are different, starting from the pink or blue font on the birth announcement, if not starting with the pink or blue icing on the baby shower cake.

    How, I must ask, does your concept of gender essentialism hold up given the fact that some people are both genders, some are no gender, some are a third gender, and some play musical gender? What about intersex people? How does your schema play out given that?

  • Dan Audy

     My father-in-law was an Anglican Minister (all the ceremony of Catholicism with half the guilt) and the bishops had a distinct preference for married priests over single ones because they almost always get a significant amount of ‘volunteer’ work from the spouse for free.  One year, a woman in the church commented in a rather nasty way to my mother-in-law who was taking the kids on a long summer vacation (as she did every year) that “it sure must be nice to abandon your responsibilities and go away for two months” which got a response of “Why are they my responsibilities for the other ten months instead of every member of this church?”.

  • Obvious trolling attempt is obvious. 

    I award you no points. 

  • Patrick Phelan

    Obvious trolling attempt is obvious.

    And almost certainly copy-pasted! What happened to the fine old trolling traditions where one could expect individual contrarian garbage – spewed not so much from conviction as from the desire to annoy one’s enemies – to be hand-crafted for one’s specific situation and circumstance? I remember artisanal trolling. I mean, trolling is bad to start with, but if you troll without thought or care, it’s double-stupid.

    Anyway, this leads to the issue in the post of “ignore them and they’ll go away”. The trouble is that this only works if everyone ignores them. I remember the late and highly lamented Crimitism titling a post “Anonymous blogger “stunned” after something he was told would go away if he ignored it did not, in fact, go away when he ignored it”. The thing is that you can’t ignore away someone with an audience, because they’ve… got their audience to support them. People kept telling video gamers to just ignore Jack Thompson, but I don’t think CNN would have stopped calling him for interviews even if no one posted a single word about him on Kotaku.

    So I don’t think it works on public figures. And while I do think it works on trolls, like this one up here, I also think that there’s the problem of lurkers; I read lots of threads that I don’t participate in, and often someone comes in and says something stupid and easily proven wrong, and I start looking for people to respond with “That’s stupid and easily proven wrong. You have no place in this conversation, and you don’t want to have a place in this conversation. Go away and pick up sticks.” If they don’t, I can’t help but think that the argument’s being welcomed.

    I think – and this is coming from all the power of my no-study-on-the-issue, half year of university, and twenty eight years of not doing anything much – that the best way to create a comfortable environment in troll terms (that is, without trolls, not for trolls) is that when the troll says something, one post says “No, you’re wrong, and offensive to whichever group you’ve decided you want to stir up today” in 250 words at most, and then you ignore them. But when it comes to people who already have a pulpit*, and who – if ignored – are just going to go to the people who don’t ignore them and shout to anyone who hasn’t made up their minds yet that it’s good and Biblical that redheads can’t be priests and must instead be punched in the stomach, because lo their hair is like unto the fires of Gehenna that they have taken the devil’s seed into themselves… I don’t think you can ignore them, unless you ignore them really ostentatiously, and I think you have to constantly tell people that they should be ignored. Which kind of looks less like ignoring people.

    So, while I do think you can’t engage them, I still believe you have to shout a little. Because otherwise people are seeing a thread that says “Mitt Romney will save the world from homosexual video-game-playing necromancers”, and with no remarks otherwise, think “Huh; maybe gay gamers are necromancers. I’d better vote Mitt; I don’t want to end up fighting skeletons trained on Halo.”

    (One other minor quibble: I appreciate the passion and agree with the point of the people saying “apartheid is too kind a word”, but I do have to quibble (minorly!) with the verbiage… to me, “apartheid” refers to “a major and nigh-unforgiveable crime against humanity carried out by a brutal regime to injure those who need help”, and so I’m not sure I buy that it’s too kind a word. Sounds just about right to me. But I’m entirely clear that it may say something else to other people, so I’m just raising my quibble quietly at this point.)

    * Uh, not a religion-specific pulpit. That other style of pulpit. A stage, so to speak.

  • LE

    I used to babysit for the children of the pastor of the church at the end of the block where I grew up (I think it was Presbyterian).  They had one of those deals couples work out between themselves – she supported him while he went to school, and he did the same for her.  She became a minister at another local church about the time their youngest kid started school.  The congregation of his church promptly lost their Sh*$.  

    I heard most of this second hand via some other neighbors who were members of the church.  Apparently the complaints fell into two camps – the “women have no business being pastors” camp, and the “we’re not getting the free parish work two-for-one deal we were expecting” camp. Either way, they ended up firing the pastor, my neighbors ended up leaving to find another church in disgust at the behavior of the congregation, and I lost a great babysitting gig when they moved away.

  • Rikalous


    Mitt Romney will save the world from homosexual video-game-playing necromancers

    Like I needed another reason to vote against him.

  • Tricksterson

    Imple, they ignore it.