The contention of the ‘Why men hate going to church’ movement is that church has become feminised. From David Murrow’s website:
With the dawning of the industrial revolution, large numbers of men sought work in mines, mills and factories, far from home and familiar parish. Women stayed behind, and began remaking the church in their image. The Victorian era saw the rise of church nurseries, Sunday schools, lay choirs, quilting circles, ladies’ teas, soup kitchens, girls’ societies, potluck dinners, etc.
Modern day church activities are ‘an emotional hothouse’ and focus on being ‘verbal, studious or sensitive’, none of which are ‘natural for men‘. You’d hardly call this science – even social science is a stretch – but much of it seems to resonate with men and so Murrow gives some suggestions for manly church. Laying on hands during prayer is a no-go: men need their space. And you need songs which are about ‘doing’ rather than about intimacy.
Here’s the thing though: neither physical contact nor intimacy are ‘feminine’ in all cultures. For example, Tanzanian men LOVE physical contact, including with other men. (Actually, so did western men not too long ago!) Also, they spontaneously sing, including love songs to Jesus, not just in church but even walking along the street!
Are Tanzanian men just less riddled with testosterone? Or are these propositions about men in church more cultural than innate? Read more
Jezebel ran an article the other day called There is no such thing as a ‘pro-life feminist’. Tracie’s article is written into an American context where the discussion around abortion is much more heated and political than here in Australia. Even so, abortion is a big issue for women who claim to be both feminist and Christian (like, say, me!) and it’s worth addressing.
I imagine this will be an important issue for us in Tanzania as well. It was last time we were there. Some people felt it was good and normal to have many children (>8). Others felt that it was irresponsible and it was better to just have 1 or 2 and give them a better life and access to education.
Here are 7 points that outline my thinking on the issue: Read more
I’ve written before about the three waves of feminism. But is there a fourth?
To recap (and simplify):
- First wave – women advocating for the vote (turn of the 20th century)
- Second wave – ‘women’s liberation’ movement, including equal pay in the workplace and sexual independence (60s and 70s)
- Third wave – a backlash against the rigidity of the second wave; expressing ‘my sort of femininity’, whether it be hyper-sexualised behaviour, blurring gender distinctions and/or the return of the Stay At Home Mum. (90s and noughties)
The first and second waves were organised and had specific goals. The third is more individualised, personal and portable. The fourth wave is the third wave in public space – often online. It takes the personal choices of the third wave and advocates for them. Think of it as Third Wave, with an agenda. Read more
I noted in the comments of this post recently that Christians can unfairly interact with a caricature of feminism. I get annoyed when people speak about the Christian faith in unsympathetic or un-nuanced terms so I think it’s important to interact generously with others, to hear how they define themselves. In that spirit, let me point you to this article (language warning) by the very funny Lindy West. It’s a pretty neat summary of feminism and its different forms over the years.
I think there are considerable resources within Christianity for the feminist. The overwhelming dignity and value that the Genesis creation story assigns to women is unique in ancient creation accounts; likewise, there’s very little room in a passage like Eph 5 for men to assert their dominance over women; 1 Cor 7 is an outstanding example of mutuality in marriage. Here, I’d like to consider Lindy’s definition of Third Wave feminism (if it exists!) here. Read more
I was waiting for this day. The day when my favourite feminist blog Jezebel discovered CBMW.
Hugo Schwyzer’s a thoughtful writer but I confess I did feel a little sorry for CBMW — they just have such a PR problem! Take Schwyzer’s quote about their fight against ‘feminist egalitarianism’. That’s an in-house Christian term, referring to a particular Christian position. It’s not, as I suspect many modern feminists would hear it, an attack on equality or basic human rights! But while ever CBMW continues to interact with a mere caricature of feminism, Schwyzer’s criticism holds. And it’s particularly poignant in this article where it seems marriage is elevated over singleness.
But it’s worth taking a step back and being a little self-critical at this point, because I count myself both a feminist and a complementarian. How does that work? As Schwyzer points out, the former seems to encourage women’s independence from men and the latter seems to discourage it. Read more
Perhaps you saw the Herald Sun article about the wife beater awarded for bravery? It came to my attention through Melinda Tankard Reist’s blog.
For those unfamiliar with the case, here’s a quick rundown. Paul McCuskey is currently serving a 5.5 year sentence for intentionally causing serious injury: his violence against his wife in 2007 severed her optic nerve and caused her to miscarry their baby at 13 weeks. In 2009, McCuskey saved an elderly woman in the Black Saturday bushfires and it was for that act he was awarded for bravery by the Royal Humane Society. Read more