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I went for drinks with my old boss last night.  It was good to see her again.  One of the things she wanted to know is if I was still identifying as a woman, which I considered a fair question in light of some of our conversation.  I told her yes.  I don’t really see that changing, but I also hesitate at the term.  At the same time, this last year has already been so full of transitions and changes that I cannot even imagine adding investigating how I feel about gender.

I finally like what I see in the mirror, the whole package.  I like my clothes, I like my hair, I like how I look in/with them.  It’s so reassuring to look at myself and see a person I recognize.  That’s enough for now.  The questions may come later, and if they do, they will have to wait until things feel a bit more stable.

Now, for the continued hypothetical question of monogamy.  With as stressed as I get about merely setting up dates with multiple people during one week, I don’t think that I could realistically do non-monogamy (having already decided against polyamory).  I think I simply want a steady relationship.  And if it was going to be open in any way, I think it would have to be purely casual and obviously decided together.  But I’m not even convinced that I would want that, either.

I’m hoping this next chapter of life has good things for me.

My kitten is asleep on my bed (aww), my room is a mess, and I am working on my thesis.  Yes, you heard that right.  I am writing my thesis, and I’m currently up to 13 pages.

Although, I feel as if I am missing out on the point I want to make.  I feel as if I have to talk about so many foundational issues that I am not getting to the  meat of my purpose, and never will get there.  I’m not sure that’s true, but I desperately want to make my point.   I probably feel this way because I am in the midst of the foundation and have yet to get to the application.  I must remember this is okay.  It will happen.  I will not flounder forever in the bogs of boredom.

I joined okcupid again.  And I can’t believe how many guys have messaged me this go-round.  I’m not sure what I’ve done differently, but more than usual have seemed to want to talk to me.  There’s even one I’ve been emailing with that seems like a winner.  But we should remember that even winners turn out to be losers more often than not.

Well, back to the grindstone.  I really don’t have time to waste…

Let’s get a few things straight.

The curse, after the Fall, is description, not prescriptive.  In regard to women says, “I will greatly  multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 NASB)

It doesn’t say “your desire will be to rule over your husband” or any nonsense like that.  It says, despite the fact it’s going to hurt like hell to give childbirth, you’re still going to desire your husband (and what follows that… babies) and he will rule over you.  That sounds about right when you look at the general human condition for the past couple thousand years.  Women want the men in their lives and men treat the women like shit.  I mean children.  Or slaves or property.

That doesn’t mean that’s what God intended.  It means that’s what ended up happening, due to sin.  Now, you can choose to live under the curse, or you can choose to live beyond it.

And the male pronoun “he” is NOT genderless.  Say what you want: it implies gender and it always has.  The female pronoun “she” does not convey more gender than the male pronoun.  It conveys the same amount.  Since English does not have a neuter pronoun that indicates personhood, why are we so afraid of using “he” and “she” interchangeably?  God does not have gender, so why must we assign it?  And if saying “he” doesn’t indicate maleness, then why on earth would saying “she” indicate femaleness?  Do you want to be stuck in an oppressive religion and culture forever?

Moreover, Jesus’ gender on earth does not dictate his deity.  Rather, the other way around should be true.  Jesus is a perfect human, not a perfect man.  (But as one writer noted, tongue in cheek, “If [Jesus] had been female, no one would have noticed when he gave up his life for the sake of others.”  Not to mention the cultural climate would probably not have taken him seriously if he had come as a woman.)

Think about it.  And free yourself to serve a genderless God who is equally for both women and men.

Did you know I’m moving home in two weeks?  Two weeks isn’t very long to completely “finish” researching for my thesis…  I’m working my way down my outline systematically, tackling every point before moving onto the next.  I think this strategy might work.  In any case, when the time is up, it’s up.

Researching and writing about the imago Dei and the Trinity in light of gender should be rewarding.  And I think it is…  But at the same time, it makes me disenchanted with my faith.  And, of course, reading feminist writings reminds me that I believe in a religion that was communicated by men for men, historically.  Throughout most of the written record of the Bible, women were viewed as little more than property.  And this is the belief system I adhere to?  It’s discouraging, to say the least.

One way or another, I’ll pull through.  I’ll finish my thesis; I’ll graduate.

And then I’ll escape to Ecuador.

I presented at the gender conference today.  And it went great.  I was worried that folk wouldn’t get into the discussion or engage, but they completely did!  I had great questions, all throughout the presentation, and several of the attendees told me afterwards that they had never thought about the Trinity or the gender of God (as beyond gender) before, or in the ways I was talking about.  It felt so affirming.  My opening questions did exactly what I’d hoped.  I didn’t forget anything.  I presented coherently.  So glad.

The only bit of constructive criticism, which was really helpful to hear afterwards, was to not apologize for what I’m talking about, but to present confidently.  I had to laugh at that bit, because I know my insecurities got the better of me.  But it’s so true.  You should never apologize for your passion.  Everyone knows that I’m not the be all and end all of this topic, and that my views will continue to grow and change as I grow and change.

To reward myself, there is a free outdoor swing dance today, and I am going to go.  Woo hoo!

So I’ve realized that the gender conference I’m presenting my paper at is less than two weeks away.  What?!   My goal is to edit my paper this week, and then be able to finish getting a presentation outline and notes ready early next week, if not this week.

I plan on starting with discussion questions in small groups.  Such as: “Does it matter if God has gender?”  “Does the gender of God affect your faith?”  And other questions I will brainstorm.  I’m mostly going to use actual questions I’ve encountered from others.  That said, if you have any suggestions (or questions of your own in this regard), please let me know!  My topic, if you’ve forgotten, is gender identity in light of a genderless, relational Trinity.  The questions will hopefully serve two purposes: they will let me know where my audience is coming from, and they will help my audience start to see their gaps or awareness in this subject.  Hopefully we’ll be able to start on the same page, in other words.

I also came across a fantastic blog that briefly touched my topic today, have a look: Be Careful How You Speak.  It’s just a really good, practical example of why this stuff matters.

I recently read an article that I thought might have merit, only to find that it’s worse than outright commodification of women, because it hides behind a veneer of old time values.  The article, “The Death of Pretty,” is supposed to lament the turning of women into commodities.  Although, the author, Pat Archbold, only ties this phenomenon to the US and to the last 40 years, which is very short sighted.

I think what bothered me is that women are made into an ideal.  They are assigned characteristics, qualities and expectations that absolutely cannot, and in some cases should not, be met across the board.  Terms used to describe women, or the ideal of woman, were “pretty,” “innocent,” and “pure.”  Really?  This is how we still want to see women?  We still want to classify women by their appearance, by their level of modesty, by their willingness to play the game of so-called femininity?

The thing is, being a woman inherently qualifies me as feminine.  And simply because I am a woman, I should not be expected to be anymore pretty, innocent or pure than the man next to me.  (Granted, “pretty” is a feminine term, whereas “handsome” tends to be more socially accepted in the description of men. But I digress.)  Men and women are equally capable of modesty, of innocence and of purity.  And as a side note, I think it is equally wrong to hold men to an ideal and use them in that way.

I as a woman should not be the reason a man then strives to be whatever it is he thinks a man should be.  We are all made in the image of God, we are all humans.  If we are living as we ought, living the path that God has given us, faithfully for Him, we will be what He created us to be.

All of this jumble to say that turning women into an ideal is still commodifying them.  It is just happening in a much less obvious, but no less evil, way.

Apparently, unless you know me, and know me well, you might think I do not like men.  As in, I really do not like men.  But this is a lie!  It is one I have helped perpetuate, but I am working on it…  And getting better, but not good enough yet.  This is probably more of a problem in real life than on my blog, where I am at least somewhat open about this topic.  But I’ve heard it a few times this week, so… yeah.

It’s just that… it feels vulnerable to me.  It’s tied to the whole gender issue thing, and it’s tied to my hopes for my future.  And it feels personal.  And the older I get, and the longer I stay single, the less I am willing to say that I wish it were otherwise.  The harder it gets to admit that what I wish for my life isn’t happening so far.  (And sometimes I simply react with a default to something someone says, never in the way I should.)

And it’s easier to say I’m glad to be single, that I’d rather stay this way, to focus on the few men who do truly frustrate me than to recognize that the world is full of good, godly men.  (And I know so many of those men, truly.)  Because thus far, those good, godly men haven’t pursued me.  Which is okay, in all honesty.  I don’t want any less than God’s best for my life, single or otherwise.  And I know God has full control of the situation, in ways I cannot see or understand.  But at the same time, it still makes it harder to admit.

Tonight I tweeted an apology to men at large… It read: “Dear men of the world: I am sorry for always generalizing about you. I think you’re swell, honestly. Love, Me”  (Yes, I do tweet. I’m not proud of it. But I’m not a constant tweeter, so don’t judge.  Besides, I might quit one of these days.)

Give me some time and grace and eventually my outside self will match my inside self (in more ways than just this topic).  God’s been doing a lot in my life, but nothing happens overnight. :)

Things I love about men (in no particular order and probably forgetting some very important things): plaid flannel shirts, beards (depending), cologne, feeling safe, their usually rational perspectives, that they like things like sports, that they can take care of cars/repairs/etc, that they’re usually straightforward, and I’m sure I could go on, but honestly, it’s about 30 minutes past my bedtime.

How dumb would it be to completely change my topic from Chrysostom to something to do with women/gender??  I think I’m freaking out about having the time to work on a topic I know nothing about and Professor Lockhart (as I have named one of my prof’s) likes to ignore the topic of women, even when its pertinent, so I’m all ready to get excited again about gender issues.

Wait.  Really?

Yes.

So… I already have a few ideas kicking around.  I might write them out, try to outline them, do a bit of preliminary research.  Because, unlike with Chrysostom, I already have a foundational knowledge in this arena.  I just don’t know if this is wise or incredibly unwise.

Can we call the Holy Spirit a ‘she?’  NT Wright does, as do many others.  My historical theology professor says ‘no.’  He says that by using the pronoun ‘she,’ we have introduced gender into the Trinity; whereas by only using ‘he,’ we aren’t using gender.  That seems problematic to me.  (Or, it could be that perhaps I am tired of not feeling included in my religion.  I am tired of always being the gender who gets the short end of the stick.)  He suggests, for one reason against this, that by allowing the Holy Spirit to be a ‘she’ we open the door to the possibility of the Holy Spirit being seen as a Mother, who with the Father begat the Son.  (A slippery slope argument.)  He also looks at the history of worship (in that how we worship shows what we believe) and throughout the history of the Church, we have worshiped God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit as masculine.  So by changing it, he is afraid we will do damage to our faith.

Can we come up with a gender neutral pronoun, then?  I want to be included as much as I am excluded.

One of my friends blogged about this recently.  I don’t think he answered all the questions, but I do think he postulated some interesting ideas.  Check it out.

I’m not really sure where I sit on this.  But I do know that the longer I stay in academic theological learning, the more I want to be recognized by my gender in my own faith.  And I’m not sure how that’s supposed to look.