How do you spell that?

Misogyny

One of those difficult words to spell but a very important word at this time. We can learn a lot as to what is on the agenda by looking at what rises in the world – both the good and the bad… and of course the mixed. God is at work in the whole world, not simply in the church, and I also consider that answers to prayer often take place in the world and we miss them because we have been looking for the manifestation in the church. We are here for the world, so it should not surprise us what rises there – and we should not be expecting some level of perfection either.

I appreciated the comments on the previous post which somehow has seemed to hit a resonance for many. I was interested that I had highlighted as one of the three aspects being exposed the sin of misogyny which has made me think a little since writing. When we track sin as outlined in the Fall we can see that a root and a manifestation is greed and consumerism – ‘I saw, I desired and I consumed…’ The classic gender war Scripture flows from there – ‘your desire will be for your husband but he will rule over you’ – and the patriarchal nature of society certainly bears witness to the accuracy of that statement. And from there we can read what follows as resulting in an increased protectionism and separation, with Empire building being the aspect that draws people together – we will make a name for ourselves. (Gen 3-11.)

The issue of male and female is not a side issue to the Gospel. It is the most fundamental of the ‘other’ relationships. Male and female together made in the image of the Tri-une God (who is neither male nor female but both feminine and masculine). Two in the image of God and not a triad of humans? In the right relationship to the other something is created that is distinct from the two yet dependent on those two. I am not talking about a third gender but of something intangible yet very real. Love for the other is created. Only when that organic and spirit to spirit unity is expressed can we say the image of God is present – that image is not defined by physicality but relationally. If misogyny is present a whole raft of demonising the other will arise. Jesus, the one truly human in the image of God, spelt out what is at the core of God’s being when he called us to love the enemy. The enemy, the one who is opposed to us, who sets out to intimidate, control, manipulate and put us to death. The enemy is beyond the one I create from my fear, and imagine to be my enemy. We will have to move beyond the fear of the immigration wave! It was this seed that Jesus was planting in us through his death on the cross ‘while we were yet enemies’.

If we cannot get the fundamental, and first base relationship, of male and female expressed in egalitarian ways we will really struggle to move forward to any real substance of shalom.

The lid has come off (fa├žades?) in many situations. It does not mean that everything expressed is totally accurate (why do we expect perfection?) but there is something happening. The culture of sexual abuse and intimidation, unjust salary differences… The lid is not going back down. In the body of Christ we will need to example something clearly. If not then we can only expect to see an increase of language and action that demonises the other.

In the scheme of calling for big changes there is always something so simple, so small right at hand that we can respond with. We often miss it as it seems irrelevant. But the small and the at hand is the leverage point to shift something bigger. What can be shifted that seems so immovable if we go deeper and allow ourselves to be delivered (men) from the misogynist culture? What can shift when women faithfully inhabit their space even to the discomfort of those who resist?

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5 thoughts on “How do you spell that?

  1. If we cannot get the fundamental, and first base relationship, of male and female expressed in egalitarian ways we will really struggle to move forward to any real substance of shalom.

    Egalitarian, now there’s a word that can mean what ever you want it to.

    If I was feeling mischievous I’d ask you to define your version of its meaning Martin

    great thought provoking stuff as usual

    Actually I’m still pondering your recent thoughts on “redefining what we mean by work”. Have you ever thought of exploring that subject longer form?

    Nigel

    1. Nigel – you mischievous? Surely not. In a nutshell egaliterian along the lines of the theological discussions, so no limitations regarding the classic discussions of leadership (roles) nor of an order of submission… and also a push for a level playing field in society, so from issues of pay and honour to equal space for a different voice – the voice of the feminine that often (but not exclusively) comes through women.

      Thanks for the comment re. exploring the work question. Not sure I have a lot more to say on that, though if provoked to write a post of course ever happy to pontificate!! I see everything related to creation, or how it moves redemptively toward new creation. So work is part of the creation / new creation mandate with socieatal and ecological dimensions. We have over-defined it as connected to money. Hence if someone is not earning they are ‘unemployed’ (=not working?). If someone is earning they are working – even if their work does not line up with the mandate to be image bearers. Into that comes compromise – we do not live, nor are we supposed to, in a perfect world, so what we do will not be perfect but what redemptive elements does it carry. That is the sort of direction I would wish to push toward… and of course you both being a tad mischievous and with some insight might well get in your proverbial bus and drive through those above rough brush strokes!!

    2. Clearly these two subjects (gender equality and the meaning of work) are linked.

      Link to a recent article below detailing how more agreeable personality types get paid less for the same work than the more demanding.

      https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/nice-people-have-emptier-wallets/

      No mention of gender in the article but well attested elsewhere that females score higher on agreeableness than males.

      Now if only we could find a way to reward “work” in kingdom terms as you suggest Martin rather than seeing the purely financial rewards falling to the least agreeable, then not only would we improve overall well-being, but the gender argument would probably fall away as well.

      just a thought

  2. So how do you see this working exactly? Patriarchy and the accompanying misogyny is well established in multiple cultures and religions. Whole religions appear to be built on it as a foundation. Our economic structures assume it. Our educational system promotes it. Our health system is entrenched in it. Women are paid less at every level in every sector, are offered health care based on research into male bodies if they get the care, are educated from day one to survive in a world where they are surrounded by masculine predators and often inculcated with a religion that reinforces all of the above with some sort of theological/social justification of it all.

    I have to say, at age 61, after growing up in a wave of feminism, and now watching the #METOO movement while trying to move young women from all parts of the world through the Canadian post secondary education system, I am just tired of it. By it I mean the system that keeps us oppressed. Utterly weary. I feel for the young women I teach. I ache for what they face daily. I find masculine justifications for their power and control as well as their abject failures to create life affirming social/political systems tedious and boring. The language never changes, nor does the violence.

    So here’s an idea. . . let’s change lanes. Men have had eons to rule the world and frankly, they have made a hash of it. Here we are on the edges of planetary collapse facing the extinction of not just all other species but of ourselves. That doesn’t seem terribly pro-life at all to me. We know women in charge tend to take fewer stupid risks (proven in financial industries and in corporations). We know that educating girls and empowering women is actually the single most important thing to be done to combat climate change. Really. So let’s change lanes. We take charge. Men, you sit back and enjoy the ride. We, women, will even let you benefit from our leadership.

    I mean what can go wrong? Nothing really. We cannot do a worse job than men have done and might, hopefully, do much better. Considering the peril of our current situation it seems worth a try. Of course, individual men are great. Its the system that supports and entrenches their leadership, power, and entitlement (to all manner of things including women’s bodies) that is the problem. And yes, some women actually support the system (sigh). So let’s experiment for a bit. After all, we are now facing the end of our world rather literally. Hand the mess over to women and see what we can do. Can’t be any worse really.

    1. Really suggesting we have messed it up? Surely not!!!

      I am sure there is something very deep though in the exclusion of the voice, approach and actions of the feminine that can only mean that the result will be sadly lacking (=painfully messed up).

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