‘God trusted them — women on the margins’

‘God trusted them — women on the margins’ December 26, 2012

These are dark stories, but powerful ones.”

God trusted them – women on the margins of social and sexual acceptability. They made decisions and engineered their lives, all in less than ideal situations.”

“Maybe the church should trade its picket signs in front of the abortion clinic for a blanket and a ride home at the back door.”

“no prophet spoke God’s anger / and the maidens mourned alone”

“It is within the power of human love to build up dignity and self-respect in each other or to tear each other down. We are better at the later than the former.”

“They don’t desire to break from their faith, but rather to engage more actively through sources of power, such as the priesthood and youth leadership programs, currently barred to women.”

Thinking of women as likable in a misogynist culture is truly a radical act.”

“Next time you come in contact with anti-abortion literature or images, take a moment to ask yourself where the woman is in the picture. Ninety-five times out of a hundred, she isn’t.”

“‘His attitude toward me and other women was rude, belittling, and at times, angry,’ she wrote in the complaint.”

“We’re witnessing the chronic and systemic failure of law enforcement to properly investigate crimes of sexual violence.”

Shut up, you’re trying to kill me.”

No one asked about my theology outside of ideas about homosexuality — except for the church that hired me.”

“Silvio Berlusconi announced to Italian reporters that he and Pope Benedict XVI stood side by side in their defense of family values.”

“It’s just wrong to spook voters about gay rights by arguing that gay people are coming for their churches. It’s not gonna happen. Not just as a tactical matter, but also as a legal one.”

“There are many more LGBT and same-sex attracted Christians than there are out LGBT and SSA Christians, but the way many churches often fail to accommodate sexual minorities (and, really, social minorities) and idolize the traditional nuclear family narrative sometimes makes me feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t fit.”

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  • Lliira

    It is within the power of human love to build up dignity and
    self-respect in each other or to tear each other down. We are better at
    the latter than the former.

    I disagree. And this deep pessimism about humanity in even Christians I admire makes me very sad and even angry.

    The problem is, tearing someone down can be a one-time thing. Someone is murdered, immediately everyone starts acting like their death is the only thing that mattered and that therefore people are terrible. But it’s not true. They had love and lives and happiness, along with the sadness. On a more mundane scale, cognitive psychology has proven that dwelling on the bad things incessantly makes them loom larger than they really are, and makes invisible the good things, and can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    We dwell so much on horrible things because we want to change those horrible things. And maybe we don’t know how yet. But how many people after the school shootings said, “yay, school shootings!” How many people said, “okay, we have got to stop this.”

    I count the number of people who have gone out of their way to tear me down on one hand. When I add politicians and other people I don’t personally know, the count gets larger. I can’t count the number of people who have gone out of their way to build me up, either whom I have known personally or whom I haven’t. The count is too large.

    It’s easier to destroy than to create, that is true. And some destruction is necessary — it is not a bad thing in itself. For instance, people destroyed racial slavery in the U.S. With all the destruction we’ve caused, look where humanity is now versus where it was 150 years ago. If we were truly better at destruction than at creation, we’d have offed everything a very long time ago.

    I don’t understand why a group of people who believes what Jesus said can be so despairing about humanity. So many Christians are hell-bent on believing the world is getting worse and worse, when history proves that is not so. Is this belief some kind of theological necessity? If so, the theology needs to be re-examined.

  • vsm

    Isn’t it difficult to spend time in this world and still think women are categorically unlikable? I certainly didn’t grow up free of sexism, but I did have a mother, a sister, and lots of of female relatives and friends of the family. In kindergarten and school, I was surrounded by girl pupils and woman teachers. There was way too much contrary evidence to reach such a conclusion. Yet I know plenty of men who did. Patriarchal ideology, huh?

  • It’s easy enough to internalize. Consider all the ways boys and men are exposed to the stereotype of women as controlling, mercenary and venal. It’s not hard, throw a stone and some MRA dudebro will pop up and recite a dozen anecdotes he heard from a friend of a friend about women “trapping” men into pregnancies and child support.

  • MaryKaye

    It’s also the case that if you behave badly enough to women, you will find yourself surrounded mainly by irritable, hostile, badly behaved women.  This can become self-reinforcing.  You treat women like dirt; they respond in kind; you perceive that they are treating you like dirt, and hate them even more.  (Works with racism and other bigotries too.)

    An all too common societal response to this bind is to ask *women* to be nicer to nasty men.  No way.  It may be hard work for a person to dig himself out of this bind, but it’s his work to do.  And shielding a person from the consequences of their bad behavior just makes it easier for the bad behavior to persist.

    One thing I think we as a society could do, though, is stop dressing children in clothes with hostile messages printed on them.  What an excellent way to get self-reinforcing negative loops started early in life!  I am always saddened to see a 4 or 5 year old child wearing a t-shirt that says some “clever” variant of either “I suck” or “You suck.”  My adopted 10-year-old came to me with a t-shirt that said, “I’m multi-talented; I can talk and annoy you at the same time.”  Yuuchh.  We saw one in the mall the other day that said, “Nice story, girl, now make me a sandwich.”  Just don’t do this.  (I quietly disappeared the t-shirt as soon as I was sure it wasn’t a link to some significant person in his life–you have to be careful about that.)

  • atalex

     I have actually toyed for years with the idea that, to some extent, misogyny is rooted in the fact that most people grew up with a female for a primary care giver. Thus, whenever your female boss or supervisor or even your girlfriend or wife gets on to you for something you’ve screwed up, it takes you right back to when you were a little kid and your mom was yelling at you for something stupid you did and you felt small and on the verge of tears. Don’t know if there’s anything to that, but I do know I became a lot more sympathetic to and supportive of Hillary Clinton right as she reached the “grandmother age” and she stopped reminding me so much of my mother circa 1978.

  • MaryKaye

    The theory that female primary caregiver -> misogyny has been around a while:  I recall my mother lending me a feminist track called “The Rocking of the Cradle and the Ruling of the World” that made a similar argument.

    It should be testable, because not everyone has a female primary caregiver:  the theory predicts that those who didn’t would be, on average, less misogynistic, or perhaps more misandristic.  Has anyone seen such a study?  (You could use kids from single-parent households of both genders, or from same-sex couples, or ones like me–raised by mother and grandmother.)

  • My mother’s good friend admitted she did just that. For the record, it was a joyless union, but he did stay with her until his death. 
    No doubt some women found this a ticket into a life of abuse and strife. No one wins at these games. 
    Says something that a woman would still consider something like this, but it’s not anything pretty.

  • WalterC

     How do you measure misogyny or misandry? Is it self-identification, or would it better to test it indirectly by asking their opinion on certain anti-woman or anti-man sentiments?

  • P J Evans

    We saw one in the mall the other day that said, “Nice story, girl, now make me a sandwich.”  Just don’t do this.

    Reminds me of the guy who lived in the same apartment complex as me – I heard him, one time, yell at his lady ‘Bring me a beer, b*tch’.
    Yes, he was a douchebeck.

  • Y’know, if I’m going to decrease the time until my next browser crash by watching something on Youtube, I’d like to know something about it first.

  • banancat

     Plenty of men exist who think it’s impossible for a man to be friends with a woman.  Any man who uses the term “friendzone” means that he doesn’t consider the idea of a female friend even a possibility.  Instead, it’s just some consolation prize for not having access to sex.  As for mothers, sisters, and sometimes daughters, they are put in a special class and aren’t considered to be like other women.  In fact, my own dad is highly misogynist but I was encouraged to do well in math and science and he paid (partially, until we had a falling-out) for me to go to a top-tier engineering university.  I was a special type of woman, and he could brag about me even more than my brother who went to the same college since the expectation for me was lower to begin with.  But all other women were beneath him.  I guess he thought that his sheer awesomeness genes were enough to overcome the femaleness.

  • banancat

     I wanted to expand on my first point.  Basically, every Nice Guy (TM) is an example of men who grow up around women and still find them unlikable.  To them, women aren’t really the same as people (who are, by default, men).  We are mysterious creatures that need to be handled correctly and while we might tolerable, we certainly aren’t capable of being friends like with real people.  So of course we’re unlikable and men can only want sex from us, but the Nice Guys are nice enough to pretend that we’re sorta human while they are attempting to bone us.  Being actually nice and treating us like people is simply impossible, so we should give them cookies (and sex) for at least lying about their intentions and being polite and chivalrous.  And I think it’s easy for plenty of men to never really bond with their sisters and never really “like” them the same way the would like a brother.

  • Much as I like Blutengel, I struggle to see how all these videos are on point. 

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Winston Blake is a troll. I’m surprised he wasn’t banned after his last set of outbursts, honestly.

  • Mrs Grimble

    Even though this particular specimen of the breed has a Disquis profile, it seems that only Fred has the power to mark his comments as spam.

  • Katie

     The third one down, about ‘trading in picket signs for blankets’, seriously makes me ill.  He isn’t talking, at all, about rethinking his basic position on same sex relationships, or marriage equality, or abortion.  He’s talking about meeting ‘sinners’ with a passive aggressive niceness, without being willing to consider that, just maybe, being QUILTBAG and non-celibate ISN”T A SIN.  That sometimes, getting an abortion is the least horrible choice, and that the last thing that a woman who has just gotten an abortion is pity, and to be told that its ok, God forgives her for her sin.

  •  I can’t speak to the abortion side of this, but as a non-celibate queer man I would far prefer that someone who thinks I’m consequently a sinner approach me nicely than nastily.

    For lots of reasons, not least of which that I’m aware that having friendly relationships with actual queer people is one of the best predictors of people rethinking their anti-queer positions.

    I mean, sure, it’s even better if they don’t think that in the first place, and better still if there’s pie. But I can appreciate A being better than B even if C is better than A.

  • The_L1985

    “It’s also the case that if you behave badly enough to women, you will
    find yourself surrounded mainly by irritable, hostile, badly behaved
    women.”   That, and when a man is behaving badly, most sensible women will walk away, leaving the nastier types to him.

    “I am always saddened to see a 4 or 5 year old child wearing a t-shirt
    that says some “clever” variant of either “I suck” or “You suck.””

    Likewise.  I really would like to see funny T-shirts that are actually funny again.  “Silence Is Golden But Duct Tape Is Silver” was cute, but “I’m Allergic To Homework,” and “Beam Me Up, Scotty, There’s No Intelligent Life On This Planet” are just…not.

    I’ve also joked that the disgusting, sexist shirts from Spencer’s are providing a public service: They tell us who the nasty people are, so we can avoid them before they even open their mouths!

  • The_L1985

    I’m still trying to figure out how you reconcile your white supremacy with your love of Hinduism.  But I’m not sure I want to know.

    Also, please, PLEASE tell us what the titles of your Youtube links are?  Please?

    Or is the point merely to illustrate that you are capable of using YouTube, and not to make any particular point?  Childish, but I’ve given up on expecting anything intelligent from you.

  • The_L1985

     Because Disqus doesn’t let you ban people.

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, people have been banned since the move to Disqus. Beatrix. Frank. Couple others I forget.

  • Drake

    Disqus allows the administrator to ban people, but no one else has any recourse. (Except, of course, for not engaging with them and hoping that they’ll leave.)

  • There WERE ties between one of the more successful strains of White Supremacy and Hinduism. 

  •  The voices in my head told me to buy the shirt that read “The voices in my head told me to buy this shirt,” but I didn’t.

  • The “flag” button works on his comments. Like I said, not going to click the links, but from the image that shows on his reply to me it damn well does look “inappropriate”.

    (To the troll: Just so you know, I still don’t know or care what’s *in* the videos, so whatever point you think you’re making is lost)

  • EllieMurasaki

    His only point is that he has too much time on his hands and not enough brain to find something useful and/or entertaining to do with that time, I think. It’s an improvement over the kyriarchal screeds, anyway. Assuming the videos aren’t kyriarchal screeds themselves, but I’m not clicking any of his links, and the links themselves are not kyriarchal screeds.

  • Katie

     I can certainly see your point.  It just seems to me that in this case, we’re sort of being asked to regard A as being really awesome behavior on the part of Christians, when I’m inclined to think that ‘not being a total asshole to people and also take away there civil rights’ is kind of a bare minimum kind of thing.

  • AnonymousSam

    To be fair, I’ve seen the other side of that fence with conservatively raised women who were taught that the only way to ensure their husbands would stay with them was to remain virginal until the consummation of their marriage, where they should work to ensure a pregnancy was as likely as possible. Otherwise, nothing stops the man from tiring of her as soon as he’s had what he wants (sex) and leaving.

    Though I have no doubt that there are plenty of men who just assume this is the case for all women, too. I have to wonder if their paranoia and misogyny has its roots in the same place as where the teaching above originated, or if there are several unique strains of virulent disease in our culture. Sad thought either way.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Nothing stops the man from ditching his pregnant or new-mother wife and deadbeating the child support, either.

    Saving sex till marriage is a perfectly reasonable choice, provided it’s a free choice. Saving sex till marriage when one would prefer not to but is afraid to risk the loss of the financial support that would come with marriage, there’s only one tenable option presented and it still might fall through. ‘Free choice’ is not the applicable descriptive phrase here.

  • AnonymousSam

    I think the assumption is that since the Bible has bad things to say about people who divorce and remarry, and a man apparently can’t get sex unless he marries (unless it’s with shameless harlots who’ll give him a venereal disease, because no woman becomes a prostitute unless she’s sin incarnate, yadda yadda), it effectively forces the man to stay to do his fatherly duty and help raise the child. I’ve seen a few iterations of the argument, all of which were terrible — aside from the harm they cause the women who believe it, it also makes every relationship, at least on some level, adversarial. I can’t imagine that not poisoning a relationship, especially with the belief that divorce is evil and thus not an option to get out of a bad one.

    This doesn’t excuse the misogyny featured in anyone who claims women do this, of course. Not for a minute. If a man hit the Double Whammy and actually ran across a woman like this, failing to cognate that nothing true of one woman is true of all women (including, sometimes, the word “women” being an applicable designation) is worthy of being smacked with the Wiffle Bat of Gentle Correction (followed up by the +4 Nail-Studded Bat of Enlightenment if the message fails to get through).

  • EllieMurasaki

    no woman becomes a prostitute unless she’s sin incarnate

    To which I can only say, Tamar. (The one associated with Judah, not the one associated with David.) Also Rahab. Possibly also Ruth. Certainly Mary of Magdala.

    Wiffle Bat of Gentle Correction (followed up by the +4 Nail-Studded Bat of Enlightenment


    (I find myself increasingly certain that if I ever marry, I’ll marry another woman. All the sexist bullshit that’s built up around the institution is thus cut off at the knees from the get-go.)

  •  (nods) Yeah, I agree. 

    A lot depends on the stance we choose to take with respect to these folks, though.

    For example, I’m certainly under no obligation to help someone move towards a more inclusive and loving perspective, but if I choose to do so anyway it can be helpful to recognize and reinforce the positive aspects of their current position.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    The “flag” button works on his comments. 

    I’ve been flagging his posts, but apparently Disqus truly is an unmoderated wasteland. I know Fred likes to be hands-off with the comment section, but I had hoped Winston’s determined irritancy had marked him as a candidate.

  • We Must Dissent


    Certainly Mary of Magdala.

    This is a quibble that does not change your point. While Mary Magdalene has been thought of as a prostitute for a long time–at least since the sixth century–that’s not actually in the gospels. There is another woman, identified as Mary of Bethany in Matthew John and described as woman “who lived a sinful life” but unnamed in Luke, who anoints Jesus’s feet with perfume. In Mark, the woman is neither named nor described as sinful, though the location is given as Nethany.

    There’s really no evidence in the texts that this is the same woman as Mary of Magdala.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Fair point. Rahab was unmistakably a prostitute, though, and Tamar pretended to be one, and there’s a case to be made that so did Ruth. And they’re all ancestors of David’s and thus Jesus’s, so we’re supposed to like them, not condemn them for doing what (in Ruth’s case, probably Rahab’s, and possibly Tamar’s) they had to to survive.

  • stardreamer42

    I’ve known too many men who, if tasked with not liking women, will say, “Of course I like women!” — but what they really mean is that they like to fuck women, not that they actually like women. The difference is obvious if you spend any time with them. However, it is possible to find men who genuinely like women and treat them as real people. 

    On the marriage-as-prostitution meme… my mother used to say, “Why should he buy the cow when he can get the milk for free?” Without even starting on the sheer number of Truly Awful Assumptions in that statement, I will only say that if sex is all he wants out of a relationship, I’d rather know that before I make the mistake of marrying him!

  • vsm

    Ah yes, the friendzone. Following that discourse on forum populated by young men was most disappointing. Here they had a chance to talk about their feelings about something as scary as rejection without being judged by anyone, and it never took very long for everything to turn into a rant about evil women and their cooties fooling men into friendships to use them as emotional slave labor.

    I concluded I must be an exceptional person, since none of my female friends over the years have ever cried against my shoulder or complained to me about boyfriends who treat them badly, despite this apparently being a daily situation for other men with female friends. I mean, how else could you explain it? A bunch of guys holing up in their Internet Tree House to regurgitate weird talking points to justify their hatred of women? That’s just too sad to consider.

  • Plenty of men exist who think it’s impossible for a man to be friends with a woman.

    And some women. I broke off a friendship with one who justified her cheating on her husband with the “logic” that a woman can’t be friends with a man without it leading to sex – and then accused *me* of cheating *with* her husband using the same logic. The kicker was that we were on a software development team of about 20 men and 3 women, and I considered most of them my friends. The implication’s obvious.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I always wonder what such people make of gender/sexual minorities. If a heterocis man and a cis lesbian are friends, will it lead to sex? What about a heterocis man and a straight trans woman? Can a bisexual person be friends with anyone without it leading to sex? What about an agender person, or a female/male bigender person?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I forgot about asexual people! Bad Ellie.

  • I suspect that “logic” like that is behind the idea some cis men have (*) that if there are any homosexual men around they *will* make unwanted advances at them, because apparently the only thing required for sexual attraction is the availability of the preferred appendage/orifice interface.

    (*)There may be cis woman who have the corresponding beliefs, but I haven’t seen it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I thought that was prompted by the common heterocismale conviction that he’s entitled to the sexual attention of anyone he finds attractive. Project that onto a gay man and the conclusion is that a gay man who finds him attractive is entitled to sexual attention from him, which, since he is not attracted to the gay man, would be an unpleasant experience.

    Somehow the obvious connection concerning the women that this heterocis man feels entitled to attention from never seems to be made.