Wednesday, April 26, 2006

potato, potahtoe: you say responsibility, i say misogyny

The other day, I was called irresponsible. I’m a little puzzled. I mean, I pay taxes, have a job, go to church (I even believe in Christianity), vote, brush my teeth and wash my face. I’ve never been arrested, I’ve never struggled with addictions, and I’ve never even been fined for anything. I’ve never been a single mother (or even been pregnant), I’ve never been on welfare (though I’ve been laid off a couple times) and I’ve never had the police visit my apartment to shut down a raging party.

By the standards of most people, parents included, I am the picture of Responsibility. Wherefore this ‘irresponsibility’?

I suspect that when the word Irresponsible is thrown around or directed at women like me, it is not ‘sloppy living’ or ‘wastrel-ness’ that they really mean. No, I think, for a certain group of people (men who believe that women need to learn their 'place' – a problematic, gendered and racially charged word that should NEVER be used here), what is called 'irresponsibility' is actually a cover for another word, ‘misogyny.'

Isn’t language wonderful? We can say a word but actually be thinking something else entirely!

(The weighty word Responsibility reminds me of something from Foucault:
the panopticon. a structure to keep the human subject completely under surveillance and, through surveillance, control the subject .)

Of course I don’t think my life is irresponsible at all. I just define my responsibilities differently, according to my values. I put a very low priority on resting in my 'place.' You may even call me uppity. In this particular case, my irresponsibility stems from the fact that I ignore the ‘natural’ hierarchy established in the bible (God/man/woman on the bottom). I don’t just ignore that hierarchy; I think it’s irrelevant and bogus.

Like, am I subject to *all* men, or just the one I’m married to?
If I’m not married, is it my father I’m supposed to be subject to?
What if I don’t live with my father?
What if my father is dead?
What man am I supposed to be subject to then? Is it the next closest man in my family or just the one who lives across my hall?
Does this apply to just Christian women or would this also apply to slightly spiritual agnostics?
If it’s just Christian woman, are we subject to only the men in our church or perhaps men from visiting churches?
And what about men from other denominations?
Like, I’m Presbyterian – would this mean that a Methodist had mastery over me? Or a Catholic? And what about those free-wheeling Pentecostals?

See? Ridiculous.

If that’s real life, then every woman would be at the mercy of some whack-job simply because he had testicles. (And what do we call that? Patriarchy.)

And isn’t that what we’re really talking about? Patriarchal control. It’s all to put a woman in a tiny box and see her rattle around in it like a discarded toy. If you feel that a woman has a ‘place’ and should inhabit only two roles (wife and mother) in the human ‘chain of command’ you’re a straight up misogynist. You don’t respect women or value women; to you, women are objects to be mastered and used. And if that’s the ideology behind Responsibility/Irresponsibility, I’m willing to be that slacker.

(And I think it’s interesting that when you search for pictures under ‘women’ and ‘responsibility’ in Getty Images, they give you babies and marriage. haven't we progressed at all??)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

happy equal pay day!

ah, what shall i do with that extra 28 cents my full dollar will bring me?
oh, the dreams!

yeah, hard to believe that, since the 60s and despite the federal law, women's wages have remained pretty darn flat - still earning only 71-77 cents on a man's dollar for comparable work.

but if you live in illinois and suspect that a wage violation has ocurred at your job, the Dept of Labor will sue for back wages!

all you have to do is call their hotline, file a complaint and they do all the work:

(this is how i spend my lunch hours: at brown bag lunches with other women in the city, in the governor's office, listening to presentations from the department of labor and the dept of employment services. it's not exciting, but they gave us cake. lesson? we have GOT to learn how to negotiate salary.)

Monday, April 24, 2006

while i put the finishing touches on a post about the heavy word Responsibility here are two different articles about pregnancy and motherhood i thought were good contrasts to one another:

pregnancy as commodifier
working mothers in germany

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

i have thoughts on easter and holy week (and why every easter dinner should have beef in it) but right now i'm so brain dead from a hellacious work day (i was here at 7.30 am!!) that all i can think of is the dream i had this morning:

i'm on vacation with my entire family (mom, dad, married sister and her kids); we're in french polynesia (how do i know? it was tropical yet had good dishes and we all wore scarves really well). dressed to the nines (i was stunned at how chic i looked) i'm having brunch with my family when our hot franco-chinese pilot joins us. after brunch we flirt right in front of my mother (!!), he takes me back to his swank apartment full of pilot memorabilia (!!!), we open a bottle of wine and put on a record (!!!!) - and then my sister shows up because her kids want me to take them on a tour of polynesia.

this is why i don't live in los angeles anymore.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

my dad and i talk about poverty and jesus

From Dad, re: my first post on Social Creeds, below -

I read your blog, you know. (LOL) What is biblical? Not daddy’s interpretation, rather the bible’s:
only that which is inspired by God written by those Apostles that wrote by means of the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit which is commanded for only Christians to follow.

(Just one way to put it)

Nowhere in the bible does Jesus command His followers to care for the poor of the world. As a matter of fact he says, "The poor you will always have with you." This does not imply that we ought not assist in feeding others and making their lives easier. Remember Helps Ministry day? That was my way of doing that. And, hey, it worked. The poor showed up every month and never got the spiritual lesson to help thyself!

Keep on thinking but never forget the value of remembering that which worked.

My reply to Dad, re: poverty –

i know you read my blog, dad!

and i know what you mean by biblical - that's not what i meant.

this is what i meant: you can argue that jesus does call for caring for the poor in his instructions to the young man to sell his goods and follow him, in his beatitudes that teach that the least shall be first and, at least in the parable of the banquet. now, is that the most important lesson? no - clearly, in his rebuke of the disciples (when they wanted the woman to sell her oil and give the money to the poor instead of washing christ's feet) he's rebuking them for not paying attention to the heavenly goals of his ministry - they're focusing on the wrong thing!

but the bible also calls us to be our brother's keeper, doesn't it? it exhorts us to exercise humility in the face of greater need and to be as christ was - a servant. if christ is humble enough to wash the feet of his disciples isn't there a moral lesson in this as well for us to wash our brother's feet? throughout his ministry he urges charity and compassion - as well as the spiritual lesson. there are more instances of jesus chastising an overwhelming dependence on material gain than the opposite.

and is 'help thyself' a spiritual lesson or a cultural lesson? really? i must have missed that in bible school, dad! if the argument can be made that christ didn't advocate for the poor the same argument can be made that he wasn't all about rampant individualism and self-sufficiency, either! everything about the bible says the exact opposite of self-reliance: we are to call on Him, we are to rest our thoughts and beliefs outside of our selves, relying totally on christ outside of our selves. we are, basically, to forsake mother, father, family, country and all for HIM. that's not self-reliance - that's ultimate dependence.

but peter also calls for us to display, among other things, brotherly kindness: "For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins."

so, you're right: the exact words "Take care of the poor" don't appear in the bible. But that doesn't mean that we ought not to.

(the words "go to college, move out of your parent's house, get an education and become a productive member of society" aren't in the bible, either.
but that doesn't mean that it's not a good idea.)

Love and all that,

Other words and ideas that aren't mentioned in the bible but pose no huge biblical conflict because, heck, it's just a good idea:
health care, insurance, literacy, 401k, democracy, trial by jury, freedom of speech, public education, housing for the homeless, pasteurization for milk, airplanes, vaccinations, vacation time, anti-child labor laws

Dad’s reply to me –

Hey Girl of mine!

I got your point. I agree wholeheartedly. My thing is that, overall, the most important aspect of one's faith is being obedient to Christ first and foremost. I would never advocate forgetting the poor - those that have a greater need than me. You are correct; but to use the bible and the words of Jesus as a justification for social advocacy to me is pressing the button a little too firm. True; it is not about taking care of your business as it is advocating His which is clearly detailed in the scriptures. The text of 1st John 3:17 the Apostle writes: "But whosoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" You are so correct. I know that the text is there; this was one of the primary ideas of the Christ. That is why I, too, can take communion.

My shabby life of material things is in no way a justification for me to be full and see any human being in need. I send money on a regular basis to the "Voice of the Martyrs," an agency that sends food and clothing to those Christians in Islamic countries that are being killed on a regular basis. My heart goes out to my brothers and sisters in foreign lands. I would also give the same to other needy people. I really do not have the resources to do that. Your church ministry is helping on a big scale and for that reason I praise God for your ministry.

It is not an issue of liberal vs. conservative. The greater issue is, as you would put it, Do we feel the pain of those who have nothing compared to the haves who are taking all that they can without regard of the feelings of others? This, I'm in agreement with you, is indeed a sin. You are my daughter. I do read you well. Know that I think that we are saying the same thing; but just a little differently. Good; so you do know what I mean as biblical. You see; I place that as the highest priority in that each of us will be allowed to enter in into the life to come on that basis alone.

Oh (LOL), one more thing. That one cannot perceive that the miracles of the scriptures could have taken place in no way verifies that they did not. It takes great faith to take, at first glance, all that you see in the text. I heard one guy say recently on TV that the miracles of the fishes and loaves was merely Christ taking a lunch bag of one young man and passing it around to over 5,000 people and they received the lesson about living for others so they took their own hidden lunches from their own waistbands and, since they learned the lessons of Christ, returned the lunch and then added their own. Justifying the myth of the miracle? Totally unlikely in that environment. Why, simply put, without the Holy Spirit dwelling in the sinful hearts of fallen man, ain't nobody gonna be that loving towards others - even in the presence of Christ. All of the miracles took place. I think that men make up excuses for things that they just find hard to believe.

Just my two cents; wow, look how much I've written. I must love my baby!

my father is vastly more conservative than i am in his theology and, yet, he fails to make me insane. i like talking with my preacher dad about christianity. (i mean, ok, he thinks the UN is a vast conspiracy ushering in the antichrist, but whatever.)
the point is that somewhere between Anonymous calling a desire for fairness Marxist/Socialist and me saying that an important aspect of christianity is about looking out for the less able, there has to be somewhere in between, where we can come together.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

the carnival's here!

what's a carnival?
it's sort of a 'Best of' list of posts submitted by readers. there's the carnival of feminists (i love reading them) and now there's a carnival for the writing of women of color. excuse me, radical women of color.

read a point of view you mayn't have read before - that said, check your privilege at the door, cuz these women don't care about it.

radical women of color carnival!

damn you, black tie! damn you!


i just had to turn down an invite to the hillary clinton event tonight.

because i have nothing to wear!!

(to tell the truth, the very thorough security check scared the bejeebus out of me, too...who knows what kinds of petitions i've signed in my lifetime??)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Pro-Life Nation

Pro-Life Nation - New York Times

hm. interesting.

[update: discussion over at Bitch, PhD, here.]

Saturday, April 08, 2006

pass the wine and crackers

i love Communion.

i've always felt that it was special and good and there is something about the ritual that's so comforting to me. we don't celebrate the sacrament every week at my church, but to have that sacrament every week, to me, is an affirming and edifying pleasure.

two stories:

when i was a girl, the women in my church jostled for the privilege to prepare the communion table. it was a simple mission-style table but when it was covered with the special, embroidered white linens, it took on mystery. the old pastor's wife (we called her Ama, because she was such a close friend to my family) would take me and my little sister after sunday school and show us how to fill the little glasses, where the bread was and which silver plate to put it on; she'd show us how to fold the linens, how to lay the white gloves.

and doing all this while the yellow light streamed in from our colored windows was special.

i grew up watching the women in the church, including my mother, dressed in white, serving the pastor (first old Jake and then my father), and wearing their dainty white gloves while my godmother obliterated some hymn from the choir. i watched the ritual and wanted to be one of those women to participate in that ceremony but i grew up and moved away before that could happen. (and now i'm a presbyterian and the process is so complicated you need a degree to navigate it.)

the most moving communion service i've experienced did not happen on a particularly special day on the church calendar. i was sitting toward the rear on the sanctuary, ready to leave quickly so that i could prepare for my duties at the following service. perhaps it was the song from the choir, an arrangement from holst's The Planets.

but it was after the whole congregation had been served, when we were reciting the 23rd psalm, that the meaning of the service sunk into me - and it felt just like that, a deep penetration. maybe it was that i knew the psalm by heart and could say it with my eyes closed or maybe it was the slow, meditative way all of us were participating but the feeling i experienced was a combination of repentance, of awe toward christ and deep community with those around me.

Feminary: Disaster!
geez magazine sent out a pitch call for articles.
due monday.
and i have nothing.

i'm spent. i'm empty. i'm utterly devoid of imagination.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

social creeds: would jesus be into collective bargaining?

so i'm doing some research for work and it takes me to the CME website where i start reading about their social creed. i'm also thinking about this because of something a commenter said about contextualizing my views about poverty in what jesus' ministry was (or something like that).

this is what the economic portion of the social creed of the CME is:

With full acknowledgment of stewardship under God and accountability to God, we stand for the acquisition of property by moral processes and the right to private ownership. We are thus obligated to evaluate each aspect of every economic order by the commands of Christ and judge its practices by the Christian gospel.

We believe that it is not only our duty to bring Christ to the individual, but also to bring the increasingly technological society in which we live more nearly into conformity with the teachings of Christ.

(a) Inflation. The Christian community is concerned with maintaining economic stability. We affirm that there exists a fundamental ethical challenge in inflation itself. We believe that inflation is detrimental to equality and casts an uneven burden upon our citizens, the greatest burden often falling upon those who are weakest politically and economically.

(b) Health Services. We stand for the provision of adequate medical care for all people, with special attention to the aging, the young and low-income individuals and groups. We support our government, individuals and foundations in required public health research, and we support legislation to meet these needs. We believe that adequate facilities with a professionally trained staff must be made available for the emotionally ill and the mentally retarded of every community. We also believe that churches may become spiritual centers of healing through worship, pastoral concern, and volunteer services for the emotionally ill.

(c) Wages and Working Conditions. Free collective bargaining has proved its values in our free society whenever the parties engaged in collective bargaining have acted in good faith to reach equitable and moral solutions of problems dealing with wages and working conditions. We do not support the opinion voiced in some quarters that strikes should be made illegal. To declare strikes illegal would be to deprive workers of their right to collective action and, even more seriously, would place in the hands of government the power to force workers to remain on the job.

(d) Automation. Through automation, a greater number of people face job displacement, economic loss, and obsolescence of their skills. We affirm that it is a Christian duty to provide for all people opportunity to earn an adequate livelihood, to avoid unemployment and waste of personal and economic resources. We believe that workers who are displaced by automation should be given opportunity for retraining.

(e) Poverty and Unemployment. We believe that the economic development which makes possible material plenty for all imposes upon us great moral responsibility, since physical, emotional and spiritual development of millions of people throughout the world is hindered by poverty. We therefore stand for the eradication of poverty everywhere.

(f) Christian Vocation. We believe that every employable person so far as possible should be engaged in some vocation to enhance the common good. This vocation should be viewed as a Christian calling for those who pursue it as well as by those who receive its benefits, and our daily work should be regarded as a sphere of service to God.

i guess i'm just wondering about the intersection of morality/biblicality (my word). in other words, this seems like a moral set of guidelines but could we call it biblical*? and if we con't call it 'biblical' per se, why isn't it still a good way to look at the economic world around us?

[what's 'biblical'? i don't even know anymore. clearly, the presbyterian biblical is vastly different from good old olivet baptist church biblical from childhood, which could be totally different from some other denomination...]

Monday, April 03, 2006


ohhh, my mighty bruins...
lost. to florida.

after all the busted brackets everywhere...this is what it comes to.