I have read quite a few articles and heard quite a bit from Republicans claiming that there is no war on women going on. They love women but just favor small government (well except for all the invasive abortion laws they pass) Like most things relating to religion I have an opinion on this topic that I’m sure everyone really wants to know.
However, before I get into my argument let me be clear on a few things. I am not saying that all republicans are in on some systematic conspiracy to force women back into the kitchen. (Though Rick Santorum may want this). I am not even arguing that all Christian Republicans are part of some systematic conspiracy. There is, however, a fairly large minority within the republican party made up of religious zealots who I think are ultimately waging a war on women’s rights. Now, they will all claim (including Santorum) that they are not doing this, and while some of them may be outright lying I suspect that most of them are being quite honest in their estimation of their own actions. It is clear to me that their estimation is wrong.
Now, I generally think most Christians, just like anyone else, are genuinely trying to be good people and trying to make the correct choices. I know this because I was a fundamentalist for years, and I did not become smarter nor did I suddenly decide that not being a jerk was a good thing after all. Many of the Christians I used to know were trying to be decent people as well. However, I do think they and other fundamentalists are very mistaken about certain things, and in this particular issue there is a pernicious view of how women relate to men which causes them to make some rather bone headed choices in this area.
Like most failures in Christian “logic” this one starts with the bible.
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. 1 Peter 3:7
Now back when I was involved with Student Mobilization I remember hearing plenty of sermons about relationships and this was brought up quite a bit. The typical apologetic that was used was to say that weaker was used in the sense of a expensive vase. The idea was that men are tough and rugged, while women are dainty and need our protection. Now Christians argue that this is not misogyny, they value women a great deal. I beg to differ.
Let me offer some thoughts here. Several years ago I applied for and got a job teaching English in Japan. I read a lot of information that said that Japan was a bit racist especially towards non Asians, but didn’t pay much attention to it. However, after living there for 8 months I understood what people meant. Now, I was hardly ever treated poorly by people. In fact I was usually treated quite well, but it was like living in a fish bowl. Every one knew I was not a native, and most people thought that foreigners were incredibly interesting. The reality is that I am nothing particularly special, and I could hardly live up to the expectations they had.
You see, bigotry doesn’t always come in the form of saying someone bad. For instance, there is a rather racist myth that black people are inherently better at basket ball. Some people seem oblivious to the problem here, as if it was a compliment, but it devalues the effort that some one legitimately put into something to say they are only good at it because of some inborn trait like race or gender.
This relates because the attitude of fundamentalist men is to put women on a pedestal, a position which is unreasonable and not very fun for the person you put there. My time in Japan taught me that. Psychologists usually tell you that you should avoid relationships with people who want to put you on a pedestal just as much as the people who treat you like shit. It isn’t healthy and in the end the people who put you on a pedestal have just found a way to make their abuse seem more socially acceptable. Don’t believe me? Take a look at a quote I found here while doing research for this article.
That women are usually physically weaker is undeniable, but the implication of the fall is that by virtue of her being deceived by Satan, women may also sometimes be weaker in other ways. That definitely does not mean she is less valuable (Ephesians 1:6) or that she does not have equal access to grace (Galatians 3:28). Rather, it is a basis for a husband to treat his wife with understanding, tenderness, and patience.
If you aren’t used to the sort of double speak employed by apologists let me sum up for you. He is telling men to be patient and understanding towards their wives because they are stupid and easily deceived. After all Eve was deceived by the snake and it makes total sense to extrapolate from that one instance to the behavior and thoughts of all women every where right? No mater what they say, no matter what they even believe about themselves, the religious right is not a friend to women’s rights.