Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Playing At Logic

I guess I'm on a women's ordination kick this week, so here we go. 

Following this article about Mormon and Catholic women seeking ordination, I encountered a number of mansplainy comments absolutely brimming with unquestioned male supremacy. (Not surprising, really, as I would posit that one's tendency to mansplain correlates highly with one's belief, whether implicit or explicit, that men possess superior reasoning faculties).

One in particular stood out as being both condescending and telling. It begins:
“My brothers and I used to 'play priest' when we were growing up. As there is no such thing as a women Catholic bishop, priest or deacon, these women are merely playing too. If a horse is standing in a field and I go up to it and hang a sign around its neck that reads 'cow,' it remains just a horse! Giving a woman a name 'bishop,' 'priest,' or 'deacon' and claiming that she is validly ordained in the Catholic Church is no different. Blessed Pope John Paul II closed the door on this entire issue in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis on 5/22/94, confirmed on 10/28/95 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Responsum to a Dubium...."
The first general theme of note here is that, apparently, if enough people believe that a very important man says that something is true than that something is, indeed, true, even if that something is in no way provable and is, in fact, a human construction. In this case, the commenter notes that only men can be priests because some other man said that only men can be priests.

I guess where "faith" comes in, is where the faithful collectively ignore the circular reasoning process involved and believe that it's not "just a man" proclaiming this truth, it's The Importantest Man Of All who is proclaiming this truth.

Two, notice how the commenter compares women priests to children playing at being priests. Compare this statement to the reasoning process for excluding women from the priesthood that posits that, unlike women, men possess the same kind of body that Jesus had and that, therefore, men are uniquely closer to god than women are.

Both notions infantalize women, suggesting that women are not full human beings in the way that men are. Unlike men, we are told we lack certain things (or a certain super special something?) that preclude us from positions of leadership and authority.

I think back to the way so many conversations with men, about abortion, have gone in my life. They often, but not always, carry a quite different tone than my conversations with women about the issue.

Many "pro-life" religious men, when speaking at women about the issue, speak as though they are uniquely qualified to render information, advice, and opinions about the bodies of people with uterii. They assume their words, and silly, uterus-negating moral analogies like "if someone owes me a debt, I can't just kill him," carry an extra special weight of authority in the conversation. I sense this assumption when they become genuinely befuddled to find they are engaging in a debate with a woman for whom A Man Said It, I Believe It isn't an operating philosophy of life.
My point here is that I reckon that a religion's tendencies to infantilize women, even if it pretends to pedestalize women, is likely related to its tendency to reject the notion that women are full human beings, with actual, full reasoning powers and the right to retain autonomy of our own bodies.

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