Saturday, June 24, 2006

Christian Lady Blogging -- Part One Of Travels in Wingnuttia

No, I have not turned into a Christian lady. I'm still a pagan goddess but now freshly returned from my first sojourn into the feminine side of Wingnuttia. "Wingnut", by the way, is a term of endearment employed by some of us liberal/progressive/feminazi types to denote those who perch on the extreme right wing of this country. Just like "moonbat" or "dhimmi" is a similar endearment from the other side concerning us.

In any case, I am planning more trips to Wingnuttia, in search of information. This first trip was an information gathering expedition on the question of anti-feminism among the fundamentalist Christian women, and I selected the blogs I visited because their proprietors expressed anti-feminist sentiments. The idea is to forget everything I think I know about the question and to let the Christian lady blogs teach me new answers.

It didn't work, of course. I'm much too set in may ways. But I tried.

The first thing I noticed about these anti-feminist blogs was the fact that they have very little to say about feminism. There are instructions on how to please a husband, true, that few feminists would want to be seen unless there were similar instructions on how to please a wife, but mostly these blogs are full of posts about homemaking, crafts, recipes, childrearing, homeschooling and Bible study. Many posts are uplifting, trying to make the readers better women, though what these posts mean by better women may not always agree with my idea of goodness.

The focus on homemaking and homeschooling on these blogs doesn't really explain their anti-feminism, because there are feminists (the "difference" school comes to mind) who end up with fairly similar ideas about what women might want to do with their lives and who also stress the value of mothers at home and the value of homeschooling. Also, even really mean feminists like me can do crafts. Here are pictures of two sweaters I designed and knitted (the first picture is a closeup of the third one), and I also made a business suit once (picture available if requested):

No, something deeper is going on with these Christian lady bloggers' anti-feminism, and that is their literal reading of the Bible. They believe that God wants wives to submit themselves to their husbands.

One blogger gives the following personal statement:

I am a child of God, the blessed wife of Jesse, and joyful mother of Kathrynne. My husband and I are both from large, homeschooling families. Both sets of parents sacrificed much to raise us in the ways of the Lord. As Scripture says, "To whom much is given, much is required." We have been given so much and, as God enables us, we are seeking to give out to others. This blog is one little way, with my husband's oversight and blessing, I am striving to do just that. I do not profess to know all the answers, nor am I setting myself up as a teacher. Rather, I desire to be an encouragement, challenge, and inspiration to women and young women. You may or may not agree with what is written here. As with anything you read, please search the Scriptures for yourself and ask your husband or father for his counsel and direction.

Note that she blogs with her husband's oversight and blessing and encourages her (female?) readers to seek counsel from men in their families.

Another blogger expresses similar sentiments:

On my post, Hablo Ingles, Anna B. commented:

"You write that you teach your children Spanish. You shouldn't. Your husband should teach his children Spanish. My 3 children are perfectly trilingual thanks to the fact that I always (and I mean always) speak my mother tongue with them, my husband speaks his (English), and their school language (French) is that of the country we live in."

While I appreciate what I imagine the intent of Anna's advice to be, I must say I bristle a bit at being told I shouldn't teach my children Spanish. I am the teacher in our homeschool and my husband is the principal. It is my duty to educate our children while my wonderful husband works two jobs to provide for his family. I feel completely qualified to teach our children Spanish. I took three years of Spanish in high school (only two of those were for required foreign language credit), I was a member of the Spanish Honor Society, I have numerous resources at my disposal, and my husband helpfully answers any questions I have.

This is a hierarchical view of the sexes. Men are higher on the spiritual and power ladders, and this view is based on a literal reading of the Bible as God's word.

My view of the Bible is quite different. I see it as written by human beings who lived a long time ago, in a society where women were much less educated and informed than men were and where male supremacy probably went unquestioned. There seems to be an unbridgeable chasm between me and the Christian lady bloggers. If we start from different basic assumptions, well, it would probably be impossible to build any kind of mutually beneficial conversations. This is very sad.

Not all the opposition to feminism in these blogs is based on Christian sectarian interpretations. One blogger posted this quip about feminism:

Feminism in a Nutshell:

1. Men are jerks.
2. Women should be more like men.

This is really quite funny. Mistaken, but funny. I don't believe that men are any more likely to be jerks than women, but I do believe that the way society is structured gives men more scope to develop any jerkdom they have. I also don't believe that women should be more like men. It's enough if women can become more like themselves, always within the rules of good citizenship and such, naturally.

Still, I get the joke. I wonder if the blogger gets the hidden joke in this; the one about women not being protected by submitting themselves to a jerk, however angelic the women themselves might be.

The comments to this post about feminism referred to the Titanic disaster. This is a common metaphor that wingnuts use to explain why a male-dominated society was actually good for women, and the reason is chivalry. The men on the Titanic chose to drown so that the women and the children could get first dibs on the lifeboats.

I've heard this metaphor being used to explain why women should now submit themselves to men forevermore. Never mind that chivalry might never have been that common or applicable towards lower-class women. And never mind that reversing the argument probably gives you goosebumps: If I promise to drown for you should the occasion arise, will you promise to obey me all your lives?

But what's really nasty about the Titanic metaphor is what it reveals about the wingnuts' views on men. There is a hidden threat in this story, and that threat is this: If women no longer submit to earn chivalry, who do you think is going to be on those lifeboats, the strong men or the weak women? Women can choose: either live in a jungle where men trample all over you or agree to submit and then maybe earn chivalry from them. That is a very sexist and mean-spirited view of men.

I didn't do very well on my attempt to be open-minded and nonsarcastic, even though I have never edited a post more towards the gentler and kinder direction. Sigh. It's my vipertongueness. Well, nobody is perfect. Not even Christian lady bloggers.