Eyeballs And Planks – Looking For The Bigot In Me

Recently I called out folks who crap on Feminism by explaining exactly what it means to me and why it still matters. I went into the reality of what it brought to my life and how, as a philosophy, it helped me move from a place of oppression to a place of (at least more) self-determination.

I felt like it was important to share what it meant to me, because, as I noted in my previous blog, it was the stories of other women that opened the heavily locked door for me. I wanted my story to be a part of that, while expressing some growing frustrations.

Still, calling other people out is messy business. It forces you to, in a way, call yourself out as well.

In trying to understand the people I was challenging I asked myself, is there a comparable group, movement or identity that I found as problematic as some people find Feminism?

Oh, very yes.

This is an totally un-sourced and probably made up thing that Gandhi tweeted from beyond the grave. See? Ghost Gandhi agrees.

This is an totally un-sourced and probably made up thing that Gandhi tweeted from beyond the grave. See? Ghost Gandhi agrees.

Christianity.

Admittedly, I grew up in an evangelical home that, while being biblical literalists, also did the whole cherry-picking thing. I was raised in the second worst version of Christianity (only the Phelps really have us beat.)

Still I asked myself, how do I approach people to whom these beliefs are important? Do I treat I feel superior and smug? (Sometimes.) Am I angry? (Often.) Am I dismissive? (Pretty much.)

There are clearly differences between Christianity and Feminism. Christianity, though there are a million interpretations and hundreds of versions, has only one, final source material. It’s the bible or nothing. And it’s a deeply, deeply problematic source material full of equal parts love and condemnation, packed with impossible rules and open to wildly divergent doctrines.

Feminism is a growing idea. It’s not done yet. It’s open to debate that calls on any and all sources, including voices just now developing. There is no big book of Feminism. This is part of what makes it an easy target, actually. We don’t have rules for what being a Feminist means. We are individuals who are part of a movement, not adherents following the same teacher.

Still, despite the considerable differences, it’s the closest comparative I could find.

At Christmas, I posted this graphic:

Because it's true...

Because it’s true…

In a way, it was my knee-jerk response to the overwhelming amount of religiosity that takes over from pretty much October onward (though Hallmark started in August and I almost wept.) Still, it was a knee-jerk response. It wasn’t a well thought out conversation as to why the original images were getting tiresome or what focusing on one mis-timed ritual really says about us. It was dismissive. And it was equally as dismissive to homo-hating, woman-oppressing, evolution-denying, over-the-toppers as it was to the folks who have rainbow stickers right on their church announcement boards.

I think of a friend whose wife is a minister, something my church would never have allowed. A man who loves both theology and science fiction. A man raised by missionaries who question colonialism. An American who married a Canadian! I mean, this dude is complex. Can I be dismissive of the hooting, howling bigots and not be dismissive of him?

And this is where the comparison to Feminism serves it’s best purpose. Christianity, like, Feminism, is a big name. It’s a box. A cereal box, if you follow. And in that box are many different flavours of marshmallows and some of those carboard-y things that you eat first so the milk will turn purple and you can just eat marshmallows at the end…

No wait…

Now I’m just hungry.

*shakes head*

Okay. It’s like a box. And not everything in the box is the same. By judging everything in the box by the same standard, you’re ignoring the fact that, frankly, the only thing that really ties these things together is the box. It can be hard to judge people/feminists/christians/cereal pieces on a case by case basis, because there are so freaking many of them and that would take way too much time. And a box full of something can do more damage if dropped on your foot than each individual piece can.

Still, we need the box. Feminists need to work as a group to create change. We would not have our voting rights if women had not worked together to demand it. We would not have women’s shelters if groups of women had not come together to build them (I recently got to meet a woman who helped found one of Toronto’s first – amazing human being!) There are times when groups need to pull together to force change. I don’t think we’re out of that time yet. So what does this all mean?

Well, I wish I had a simple wrap up. I feel like there should be a great one-liner that will make all the preceding work, but it’s never that simple, is it?

Here goes: I’m still asking people to back up off Feminism and really listen to women and study the statistics and acknowledge us. Don’t dismiss us based on what one woman said or did. To use specific examples to promote disenfranchising a whole group of humans is not helpful.

As for me, I’ve not stopped growing. I will never (again) be religious, I suspect. I will never view my experiences in Christianity fondly. However, I will try to separate out the compassionate from the hateful and the sincere and good from the, well, also hateful. Seriously dudes. Less hate.

Oh wait! There’s totally a great one liner to end this all. One of the many translations of the bible includes this gem, and I fully support at least these two lines of the book (though I’ve taken the liberty of replacing ‘brother’ with ‘friend’.)

“How can you say to your friend, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the plank is in your own eye? First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your friend’s eye.”

See? Christianity. Not all bad.

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6 thoughts on “Eyeballs And Planks – Looking For The Bigot In Me

  1. But feminism does have it’s own “magical book”, except it’s not a book its a concept. “The Patriarchy” is the thread that ties feminism together and makes it a group just like the bible is what ties all Christians together. The dogma of feminism is the oppressor/oppressed dynamic of gender relations. With out this there is no feminism, just like without the bible there would be no Christians.

    • Interesting read. I’ve always viewed it as more complex than that (any oppressed/oppressor dichotomy also includes onlookers, those without information, those who fall into neither category, those who are oppressed and assist in the oppressing, those who fit the oppressor demographic, but choose to fight oppression, etc.)

      I’ve always approached Feminism by focusing on what we (all women) require to exist equitably. Where is the imbalance? Where is there a need for change? Why do women find themselves as the “oppressed” group? What sociological reasons are there? Is it really just about a few inches, a few pounds and a few hormones? About gestating tiny humans? About controlling procreation? Can men change? Will men change? Can women change? Will women change?

      In the end, I’m still a student of life, but beyond that, I really hope we are moving to a place where my opportunities match those of my brothers.

      I realized I’m just spit-balling here, but I like this as an idea to think on. Which I will. 😀

      • Everything is always more complex than “That”.
        http://poisonedwell.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/single-agent-theory/

        Due to limitations of language it is only possible to talk about one group or one individual at a time. “The pitcher threw a fast ball” can’t also mean “The runner on 2nd tried to steal” and “The batter decided to bunt” even though all three events happened at the same time. We can talk about the pitcher the runner or the batter, but not all three at the same time.

        Everything is always more complex than what words can explain.

        I approached feminism with a very similar question as you. What do we (all HUMANS) require to exist equitably. The answer I came up with was properly balanced rights, obligations and responsibilities for both men and women. More benefits for women, women’s rights advocacy, feminism, is counter productive to the ends of actual equality.

        We are all just students in life. We are all just spit-balling. The “wisest” man I’ve known was retarded. He was able to clearly articulate the base concepts because his mind was incapable of thinking up all the bullshit we pile on things to cover up the cracks and inconsistencies. Don’t sell yourself short because you don’t believe you are enough.

      • Listen, you posted a link to your blog and I’ll let it stand. I visited it and it’s clear that you and I are coming from very different places on this, heading to very different destinations.

        As an MRA fellow, you are likely actively seeking out feminist blogs to comment on, which is an instinct I sort of understand because when I first left religion, I used to go onto religious blogs and spew like that too. That was a while ago and I really don’t play it like that any more.

        This is a space I created for my thoughts and it’s a blog I do to flesh out ideas and while some debate is fine, I’m not jumping down the rabbit hole of debate with someone who seems awfully settled in his way of thinking, especially when that way of thinking is at cross-purposes to mine.

        I’m cool with who I am. I do think I’m enough, but then you don’t know me so how could you know that? You know I’m a feminist and if you’ve read the rest of my blog you know I don’t like Rob Ford or fat shaming. Since I’ve only done 10 entries, that’s pretty much all you know.

        I’m not a kid. I’m not a person who has time to have these minutia mini-fights with guys looking to quash what I put out there.

        I get it. You are not a fan of feminism. It’s gonna pop up a lot on this blog, so if you don’t like it, you may not want to hang around.

        Thanks for taking the time to comment, but please remember this is my little corner of the world that I created and continue to create for free. It’s mine. It’s not part of a publishing group or a platform I’m providing. It’s just me. And that’s ALL I promise from it.

      • Your last comment contained a great deal of hedging. “I’m just spit-balling here” and such to deflect away from insecurities. I was trying to be supportive. Everyone has insecurities, but every one can add to the conversation. My mentally deficient friend adds to the conversation, and you are clearly MUCH smarter than him.

        The surest way to torpedo your own arguments isn’t to present bad arguments. It is to hem and haw and hide behind vague language and pretenses of ignorance. Look at Ken Ham and Nathanial Forest and Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler and Chris Christy. These people make/made claims that are pure bullshit and utter nonsense. But people bought the claims because they where made with conviction and passion.

        Also clear and assertive language prevents the minutia mini-fights because there is actual substance not just minutia.

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