Thursday, June 14, 2012

What's love got to do with it?: Power and Mutuality

Evans and her "year of biblical womanhood"
Blogger Rachel Held Evans recently hosted a "Week of Mutuality" on her blog. In this series, she and others advocate for an egalitarian relationship between the genders in the church and the home, including abolishing separate roles in marriage. She makes a few fine points, especially that, too frequently, complementarians invoke the June Cleavers of the 1950s feminine mystique as the ideal instead of the Ruths or Tamars whose femininity is expressed through complete trust in God; however, I have noticed that the picture of authority given in Evans' posts belies a fundamental philosophical difference between egalitarians and complementarians that goes beyond disagreement about gender roles and feminism's contributions to society.

Throughout the Week of Mutuality, the most common accusation thrown at those who believe men are given special responsibility to lead their families and women are given special responsibility to follow is that they create a power-based hierarchy that cannot help but be oppressive. Evans criticized Russell Moore for embracing the word "patriarchy" because "For patriarchalists, the power struggle between men and women only ends when men win." Patriarchy, she argues, is a result of the Fall. God curses Eve for her disobedience with this: "Your desire will be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." Evans uses this as evidence that all male leadership is a result of the Fall. "It is within the context of judgment, not creation, that hierarchy and subjugation enter the story of man and woman," she writes, dismissing the narrative that, before the Fall, Eve was created as a helper fit for Adam. A power struggle began after the tree and now, in light of the coming restoration of the Kingdom, hierarchy should be abolished because of its perpetuation of sinful power dynamics.

The question I want to explore here is whether the Christian view of authority can allow for equating hierarchy with power-based oppression.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Gifts, Lolo, and Covenant Love

Lolo Jones interviews with Bryant Gumbel
On Thursday, Emily Shire wrote an article on Slate commenting on Olympian "Lolo" Jones' announcement that, at age 29, she is still keeping her virginity for her future husband. It was insufferably condescending ("If it’s what she wants, I hope Jones will give her future husband her virginity. But she should keep the 'medals' for herself." Really??and I don't understand many pop-feminists' double standard of worshipping choice when it comes to women's decisions unless said choice approaches something resembling pre-sexual revolutionary norms.

This part of the article especially perturbed me:
If virginity is commodified into the “perfect gift,” it becomes about a woman pleasing a man rather than herself, and it is difficult to picture the determined and forceful Jones being that submissive in any other aspect of her life.
Shire's comments betray a broader idea that sex is primarily about personal, private pleasure: nothing more.