Christian Patriarchy and Women’s Self-Censorship
Even as I answer some male comments on this and other blogs, I feel that niggling worm of doubt, the one in every woman’s brain, telling me, “don’t offend them” “be a good girl” “don’t make the men mad” and then I began to realize that I’ve been so brainwashed by patriarchy that I fear my own thoughts! My gender has been brainwashed so well, that I don’t realize I’m self-censoring until long after the fact. I then think, “whoa! wait a minute! What do I care what a bunch of hypocritical mega-pastors or male pastor wanna-be’s or fundie male mouthpieces for the big P are going to think about me or what I post here?”
I mean, the self-censoring impulse is scary because it is so ingrained and unconscious. For those who never have to censor their own writing (ALL YOU big P(atriarchy) and F(fundie) C(hristian) MEN OUT THERE), they just wouldn’t understand what that means. These men never consciously think that they are offending women. And if they did think it for one second, they would shrug it off because they just don’t care. The few feminist men who make a conscious effort to temper their speech or writings, goddess bless ’em, are just not shouting loud enough over the fundamentalist din. They must “do a Driscoll” and declare that women should demand sex from their husbands (after dinner, please) at least once a day!
Fundie men are God’s anointed, don’t you know, and we should treat them like God “himself.” They are prophets, priests, and kings, and we women but their subjects. More like objects. In Christendom women are to watch how they eat, dress, talk, sit, portray their sexuality, or worship, all towards the view of how these men see us; the male gaze defined thusly:
The defining characteristic of the male gaze is that the audience is forced to regard the action and characters of a text through the perspective of a heterosexual man; the camera lingers on the curves of the female body, and events which occur to women are presented largely in the context of a man’s reaction to these events. The male gaze denies women agency, relegating them to the status of objects. The female reader or viewer must experience the narrative secondarily, by identification with the male (Wikipedia snippet).
So, as Christian women, we are trained never to offend or lure those poor, weak men into sexual traps, yet we are to blame if they don’t find us sexually available enough (as in Ted Haggard’s wife’s case).
As Luce Irigaray, a prominent French feminist wrote, “Women are marked phallicly by their fathers, husbands, procurers. And this branding determines their value in sexual commerce. Woman is never anything but the locus of a more or less competitive exchange between two men…” (Feminisms, This Sex Which is Not One, page 368). This describes Mrs. Haggard to a tee. She is Ted Haggard’s wife and fodder for Mark Driscoll’s prurient speculation, never a woman in her own right, a woman with feelings and desires beyond their understanding or off limits to their perusal.
So, women whose consciences have not yet been raised are trained subliminally to write only good things, pretty things, things that won’t offend those delicate male sensibilities. How dare we challenge the church hierarchy! God will punish us if we dare speak against his chosen ones, his precious anointed. If we do dare to speak truth to power, we are witches, bitches, cunts, and whores. We aren’t submissive housewives and aren’t “under the proper authority.” Who do we think we are, speaking for ourselves? We are still under Eve’s curse after all (even though fundie men curiously aren’t under Adam’s curse any longer) and we should be confined to our proper sphere; the home. We cannot be trusted to interpret men’s writings. We should not dare to be creative, to write, to sing, to dance, or to be sexually available to whomever we wish. We are fickle creatures of hormones (as if men are hormone-free robots of truth). We are property after all!
This is why women’s writing is so powerful and web blogging so liberating. We can say what we want to say. Sure we will always get chastised by idiots that attempt to take us down a peg or two with their male bombast (some male-bombasticized-women included), but the good feminist writers will ignore such drivel. Delete them as they deserve. The point is not to give in to such attempts at censorship. Godde knows (and I mean that literally), PFC men never self-censor, why should we?