I want to try and describe one of my fundamental convictions – one that is both spiritual and political. This is a bit of a rant…
I believe that all human beings are the expression of divine creativity. That is what I understand being made in the image of God to mean. We are each words of God – different words – called to express a particular incarnation of the divine Word. We are each unique, irreplaceable, miraculous.
It is due to the inheritance of Sin that we are prevented from expressing the particular image of God that we were created to be. We each have a calling, a vocation, to express a particular facet of God (think of diamonds with infinite facets). It is the task of the human community to progressively remove all the barriers to the expression of individual creativity, that is what Christians call ‘the Kingdom of God’. We are often neck deep in crap in this our present world, but, in that case, pace Oscar Wilde, sometimes the most important thing is to testify to the existence of the stars even whilst trapped in the gutter.
In other words, for me, the principal value and orienting affirmation is about what it means to be human (hence the title of the book which I have written). We are first of all human beings, only secondarily are we male or female, gay or straight or trans, black or white or yellow, rich or poor or bourgeois. In so far as it lies within me, this is what I wish to teach and to live out in all the decisions of my life.
I would want to draw a distinction between egalitarian feminism and gender feminism, and draw the distinction in this way: egalitarian feminism is the fruit of the political enlightenment, which is all about the fundamental political equality and worth of all human beings, no matter what their background or station. It is because I accept this that I accept, inter alia, the wrongness of both abortion and capital punishment. This has its origin in the 18th century – there or thereabouts. In contrast to this, I see ‘gender feminism’. This I see as the product of particular post-war circumstances, an excess of affluence combined with a failure of nerve. Rather than seeing men and women as primarily human beings, and only secondarily male or female, gender feminism, in my view, a) sees the gender orientation as primary, and b) (crucially) sees a higher value deservedly bestowed upon the female rather than the male. In other words, the male is by definition the oppressor, and the woman is by definition the victim – even though the woman is the only oppressed class in history to have a longer life expectancy than the oppressor.
The reason why I do not wish to class myself as a feminist is because of this latter development. I do not accept that men are inherently oppressive. I do not accept that boys are incipient rapists. I do not accept that being a man means that you have to accept a place as a second class citizen, responsible for all the bad things of history and none of the good.
More crucially, I reject the anthropology of ‘gender feminism’. Most of it seems to me to be (to speak in Marxist terms temporarily) an expression of ‘false consciousness’. It is an ideology born from economic imperatives, a way of ensuring that the Leviathan can have the cheapest pool of labour available to it, irrespective of human cost. In other words, if a particular individual woman believes that the expression of her individual vocation means that she is a ‘stay at home mum’ then all the ideology that declares she is ‘letting down the sisterhood’ and ‘being dependent on the patriarchy’ and all the other self-righteous nonsense can get stuffed. Who is this person as a human being? Not as a woman, or as an economic unit, but who is this particular person called to be in her own idiosyncratic specificity? DO NOT PUT HER IN A BOX!
I do see contemporary gender feminism as mostly evil. I have a profound commitment to and belief in the individual, in what might enable them to flourish as a specific and particular human being, not simply as a member of a type or expression of a class. What I hate, absolutely detest about much modern feminism is that it seems to have abandoned the root principles from which modern feminism sprang (ie the political enlightenment) and has instead become captured by the secular powers, and been put to use as a ‘useful idiot’, the practical implications of its teaching simply being that vast multinationals can make an extra percentage point on their profit figures.
The principal value that I am committed to is what will most enable someone to become the sort of person that God has called them to be. There is no ideology that can tell me the answer to that – the only answer will come from a slow and patient attention to the sort of human being that they are, and loving them no matter what.
Everyone deserves the same. EVERYONE. I want each individual person to be themselves, and not try to distort themselves to fit into anybody else’s box. Where they fit on the different spectra of male/female, intelligent/simple, black/white, gay/straight, all the rest of it – all of this is SECONDARY.
I believe in human beings. I don’t want to put anyone into a box, and I don’t want to be put into a box for myself. I think that each of us has a path, and it is the sacred duty of all of the rest of us to do what we can to ensure that every single last one of us is enabled to be all that he or she can be. We won’t always succeed, but it is in the effort that we find our own transcendence.
Coincidentally, I just finished blogging about gender feminism. It’s strange though because I didn’t hear much about about the feminism even two years ago but suddenly I’m seeing more and more blog topics on the subject.
I think a lot of the ‘new atheist’ crowd who I would have followed at a distance are breaking with Dawkins (who can’t stand feminism or sociology) by branching out into cultural Marxism and feminism. Rising youth unemployment and recession is not helping matters either.
Honestly, I have never met a gender feminist in the church (although I’m sure there are some). However, there are plenty of gender masculinists in the church preaching male headship.
It’s not a question of defining women as automatic victims or men as automatic abusers. It’s a question of unthinking sexism (and racism and classism) in the church. The church has absorbed the “It’s just how things are” from our general culture. We pay lip service to women being equal, but we talk about how hurt we are if women are allowed to teach men or be ordained or become bishops or whatever other role we think they shouldn’t transgress.
You simply can’t dress up “some people are more equal than others, but we are all equal.” That is not equality. It’s discrimination.
Actually I’ve met several ‘gender-feminists’ and the ideology behind it seems to crop up in all sorts of surprising places. I see it as thoroughly dehumanising, of both men and women.
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