Small-Town Elitist

February 1, 2009

Rape myths challenged, plus other good reads.

It’s time for a weekend edition of linkage. Not as much to work with today, hopefully everyone is enjoying their weekend! 🙂

abyss2hope challenges some rape myths, namely how some people deny the occurance of sexual assault in their minds by thinking of what happens in an assault in very melodramatic terms.

Womanist Musings writes about the alarming rise of hate groups and hate crimes since the election of President Obama.

Feministe reports on new restrictions on abortion in South Carolina, such as a day long waiting period, and that the requirement that ultrasounds be performed.

The Curvature reports on a Lutheran religious school, which a court has ruled may discriminate against and expel “suspected lesbians.”

Brownfemipower did a post on a tax workshop for strippers and other sex workers.

Season of the Bitch reports on abortion restrictions in Utah, which could put doctors on trial for murder.

Hear Me Roar wrote about the disturbing trend of news sites reporting incidents of violence against women as “weird news.”

RH Reality Check has an article on Obama and family planning aid.

MOMocrats wrote about NSA domestic spying.

Rachel of Rachel’s Tavern has written a great piece of the difficulties and complications of carrying pregnancies with multiple babies.

Crooks and Liars pointed out some super-icky comments by Michelle Malkin about old Republicans with erections! :S

Natalia Antonova has some snark for Dick Armey in light of his boorish comments directed at Joan Walsh.

From the crafty (and political!) department:

WhipUp has a series of posts on the Quilts for Obama exhibit, along with posts on Obama related crafts in general.

Etsy’s Dark Side has some info on mini books for gothic dollhouses made by one of our members.

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January 31, 2009

The Patriarchy Movement: Submission, subordination, danger, and attraction.

Well, I am glad to see that the complementarian and patriarchal movements are starting to get attention from liberal and progressive sources.

I think that it is important that these movements be examined, and that everyone reach their own conclusions about them. I feel they should not go ignored.

I would like to use my personal space to explore where I stand with this movement, which is not exactly knew to me.

Nearly seven years ago, I became a born-again Christian. I still consider myself a follower and daughter of Christ, but I am transitioning to a place where I can’t stand by evangelicism. That is another story for another time, but this post should begin to shed some light on my exit from conservative Christian settings.

Long before I became a born-again Christian, I was a feminist (and have never truly crossed over to anti-feminism, to be honest). When I entered the church, there was shaky and scary new ground for me to personally confront. My attraction to feminism was an outgrowth of how an overtly religious school counselor treated me when I confided physical, emotional, and sexual abuse as a child. Now as a new Christian, I was essentially admitting that I felt my position on gender relations as a feminist were wrong. What was going to take its place?

This was when I began my education into the various stripes of complementarianism and patriarchy in the 21st century church.

Because I knew of the teachings that one must submit to her husband, I intially had determined for myself that I would never marry and never have children because I’d grown up in a home where there was domestic violence. I was terrified by giving a chunk of my autonomy over to a future husband, I was setting myself up for further abuse.

Eventually, I came to the decision that I would read about “biblical femininity,” and, how to put this politely…martial obligations, specifially, I wanted to know what was required of husbands.

Good luck finding that. In the past, internet searches had trouble finding sermons and essays on these obligations, and even now, you will still find more sites yammering on about what women must do and must not do. When you do find a man’s obligations, it does sometimes seem like a good game. For someone who’s lived their life with abuse, protection does sound great. But a certain realism has to set in, and you realize that there’s a huge danger in giving your personal autonomy over to a mere mortal who is just as messed up as you are, if not more.

Everything seemed so daunting, so painful, and as a survivor, it was so triggering.

One thing that is indeed very triggering about complementarianism is that not all of its proponents like women all that much. Many of them are actually misogynists who are content to blame women for society’s problems. Some take vigorous offense to any thought that God might actually be Goddess, or that a woman could be a leader in a male God’s church.

And worst of all in my experience, I found lots of blame for victims and survivors of abuse in a complementarian structure. Once, at women’s Bible study, I was given a little booklet of quotations, some biblical, some not quite, on issues that women face. I was horrified and disgusted to read an admonishment not to wear skimpy clothes under the “rape” section. Years after that, Michelle McKinney Hammonds book The Power of Femininity horrified me with its suggestion that men abuse women when their authority is challenged.

I ask you, is that a view of men you want to have? That they are cowards and bullies?

The EWTN network had a series with Alice von Hildebrand and Father Benedict Groeshel which I actually liked, which stressed a reconciliation between man and woman.

In light of that idea, how does showing complementarian men to be bullies and cowards work towards this reconciliation??

I don’t have any idea of what to replace complementarianism, including egalitarianism, but I do know that as it stands, complementarianism has some flaws and vulnerabilites that make me wary of it.

September 10, 2008

I might not be canonized anytime soon, but I survived and I don’t regret it!

Time to open up a little bit up and talk about myself in a post, I guess. I’d rather it not be a heavy topic, but Feministe has a very good post on St. Maria Goretti, and in light of the discussion that is coming up from that post, I’ve decided I would write about how I feel about the canonization of Maria Goretti as well.

(Full disclosure: I come from a Protestant background, and will do everything I can to express myself respectfully in light of the centuries of conflict between Protestants and Catholics; besides, the first person to really show the love of Christ to me in my life was my late Catholic Grandma, if I made this post inherently anti-Catholic in nature, I would be disrespecting her memory and legacy too.)

For those who don’t know anything about Maria Goretti, you can read the Feministe link, or visit Wikipedia to read her story.

I first learned about the attempted rape and eventual murder of Maria Goretti in Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. I was reading the book because I was starting out to educate myself on feminism as teenager/young college student, and…I was trying to make sense of my experiences. I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, incest, and teenage sexual assault. At about the age of 18, I got involved in anti-rape and anti-abuse activism, locally and online. Brownmiller’s book is an education in itself due to it’s detailed history of sexual violence in human society.

When I read the part about Maria Goretti, I definitely was left with a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. Survivors often struggle to have a sense of self-worth after losing their sense of dignity to sexual violence. The impression I got of the Maria Goretti canonization as a young survivor was the same impression I’d been getting from many other sources in society, that women and girls who’ve lived through sexual violence are not as valuable, that we are damaged goods, that we are somehow a problem. Why else, I thought, would women who died rather than be raped appear to be more valued spiritually than women who survived rape or abuse, and lived to fight and advocate passionately for the healing and restoration of the women and girls who would follow after them?

I don’t blame Maria Goretti for show she handled the situation that had been forced upon her. She was a child, and she shares no blame in this. I do worry what messages some in the Body of Christ, whether they are Catholic or Protestant, are sending to any and all survivors, whether they profess Christ or not. No one deserves victim blame, and victim blame has no place in the Church. So that any Catholic readers may understand that though this post was inspired by Maria Goretti, I am not singling out Catholicism, I experienced a painful situation with my previous church. I had been given a little booklet at my women’s Bible study, which had verses relating to certain topics that concern women, and I was horrified to discover that under “rape,” this booklet was admonishing me to not dress provocatively if I don’t want to be victimized again. Ummm, hello! Being covered up does not protect women from abuse, tragically. That too, left a bad taste in my mouth.

The “better dead than raped” adage is painful to be reminded of, as someone who, over the years of abuse and its aftermath, has struggled with PTSD, depression, and suicidality. I am still here though. I could have died during the abuse years, but I didn’t, and I am happy about that. I doubt anyone will be rushing to have me canonized once I do pass on, but that is alright with me. After counseling, finding the right medication, and making peace with God, it was worth it surviving the actual abuse, it was worth it to survive the crushing, suicidal depression. It was all worth it because I am here now, and I can find beauty and promise in life, and purpose. My life is more than what happened to me, and I am not damaged goods because of what has happened!

I would not trade places with Maria Goretti. I mean that as no insult. It’s simply how I feel. Sin has still been triumphed against because those who brutalized me failed to destroy me, and because it has helped me to look at my own conduct. And because I am still here, I will be able to help others ensure the sin of sexual abuse and assault will not destroy them either.

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