Monday, November 2, 2009

No Longer Quivering: Carnival

I write about gender identity, feminism, and sex/gender issues quite a bit in Fannie's Room. Generally, I think evidence is all around us that supports the conclusion that we still live in a male-dominated society despite the fact that popular magazines often declare feminism to be dead and sexism to have been solved.

It is sometimes an in-joke amongst feminist-minded folks these days to talk about The Patriarchy, given the degree to which it non-feminists declare it to have been completely dismantled, that is when they aren't declaring it to have been a figment of the hysterical feminist imagination. Nonetheless, sometimes feminist bloggers still use the word in a tongue-in-cheek manner, sometimes we use it when speaking in generalities, and other times, we use it because it is, actually, the most apt descriptor of reality.

One such instance of appropriate labeling is when discussing what is commonly called the Quiverfull Movement. I have previously written about this movement here after coming across the blog, called No Longer Quivering, of a woman named Vyckie who used to be a part of this movement. As she explains it, it is a movement steeped in the ideologies of gender complementarity and heterosexism and sprinkled with loads of babymaking fun.

Whereas "God" created men to be dominant, it is said, "he" created women to be submissive. Marriage is for the purpose of uniting one man and his female "helpmeet," two beings with unique roles in life. In a sense, the movement treats women as communally-owned fetal vessels wherein the married couple abstains from using birth control and instead lets "God" do the family planning.

In other words, it is a literal Christian Patriarchy movement.

I bring the Christian Patriarchy movement to your attention once more as No Longer Quivering is currently hosting a Carnival of anti-patriarchy excitement.

Like other systems of dominance, patriarchy marks a difference- biological sex- and then exaggerates the meaning of that difference in order to structure what types of people hold power. In the case of patriarchy, we learn that men are inherently fit to hold power. Whether or not that is made explicit varies, of course. The Quiverfull Movement is remarkably blunt about it. But oftentimes, gender complementarists and religious folk will claim they aren't sexist, it's just that feminist types don't understand the great myssssstery of the equal hierarchical relationship that men and women have with each other. Of course, the only pertinent bit of information any logical person takes away from such an oxymoronic concept is that "equal hierarchical" really means that some people get to be "more equal" than others. Under a belief system that posits that "God" is a male being, that men were created in "his" image, and in which women are mere "helpmeets" to men, created from the rib of man, well, you can guess who gets the privilege of being "more equal."

Humans have shown a historical tendency to go to great lengths to create power structures based upon difference. In the case of the Christian Patriarchy movement, we see how ancient mythology is used to trap men and women in preordained roles that work to deny them their full humanity. I am rarely under the illusion that the moral progress of humankind is completely linear. That this movement somewhat thrives in the US, despite the feminist movements, signifies this. I wonder, will we reach the point where we allow each other just be fully human individuals, whose membership within a certain identity group does not dictate our every other characteristic?

No comments: