Male dominance is a continuum

I learned that a professor from my alma mater has been charged with possession of child pornography.

Two of my college friends and I were visiting. That same weekend, we were sitting down with homemade drinks to read aloud from some ultra-conservative Christian books on gender and marriage — for a laugh, you know, because we were all raised in conservative evangelical Christianity and came to feminism together.

One of us brought up the child porn scandal again. I forget who. And it reminded me very suddenly that the books we were passing around were not harmless.

By the way...to be more precise: it was aggravated child pornography. I had to look that up — it means the victimized children were under the age of thirteen. According to the news coverage, many of them "appeared" to be younger than five.

So: There are men who take pleasure, in the plainest sense, in materials that document the rape of small children. Many of them, apparently. And most of them aren't psychopaths living in their mothers' basements; some of them are model Christian men who teach child development classes at Christian colleges.

And here we have these books about how women need to suppress their opinions more and obey their husbands more and learn to be happy with what men want. Yeah. Male dominance is a continuum, and all of it is ghastly once you've seen it as such, seen the extremes and made the connections. (And the extremes are so common! So common!) It's a dead serious matter when millions of my fellow Christians wholeheartedly believe that men need more power. All these horrors, crimes of dehumanization and dominance, perpetrated almost exclusively by men, and yet here are all these ordinary people saying, men need more power, women and children aren't submitting enough...

No. No.

I do not believe the rape of children for male entertainment will end until men as a class lose a great deal of their power, because men as a class hold a number of powers that women are not permitted to have, as well as a number of powers that no one should be permitted to have.

Patriarchy is a continuum.

Courage: we must make the connections, now.

11 comments:

Erin 4/23/2012 8:49 PM  

Amen.

Cassandra 4/23/2012 11:30 PM  

Preaching submission to women from the pulpit is one of the reasons why I left the church a few years ago. It never sat right with me, and when I finally grew bold enough to voice my opinion, I got shut down (by other women, no less, one of whom was supposed to be a role model). There needs to be a massive change. I wholeheartedly agree with you here.

Kait 4/24/2012 6:36 AM  

Yes yes yes.

Heather Hoyt 4/24/2012 12:40 PM  

I disagree. Child pornography and rape is a bad thing.

But men as a whole can't be blamed for it. Many men fight against child pornography. Pornography is evil. Men are not necessarily evil.

I'm not sure what you mean by men having/losing power. Should men lose leadership roles? Should men lose jobs and careers? Should men no longer have a voice and opinion in the home?

A woman and children should only follow and obey the husband/father if the husband/father is doing what is good and right.

For me, leadership, in its best sense, is more about a leader serving people--caring for them, loving them, leading them in the right ways, providing strength and support. So a husband/father can be a leader in the home--it just means he loves and takes care of of his wife and children.

Penny Sociologist 4/24/2012 1:34 PM  

Very well said.

Holly 4/24/2012 10:11 PM  

Cassandra - Mmm. You know, I remember you writing some about that on your blog before you did...my friends and I had spent a lot of that year talking about those same issues, especially the biblical support.

Holly 4/24/2012 10:23 PM  

Heather - I expected we would disagree here. The pertinent tenants I've arrived at/am operating out of:

*I do not have an opinion about the abstract moral nature of men as a whole. I am interested in what actually happens. The vast majority of people perpetrating these kinds of crimes against other people are men, and women are disproportionately the victims. We CANNOT ignore this information.

* Men as a whole in our culture have more power than women as a whole, including some powers that no one should ever have, like the power to rape with an excellent chance of impunity, the power to command others based on their sex... So yes, they need to be divested of those.

* If an entire group of people is privileged over another based on anatomy, it's not leadership, it's subjugation. Systems like that create, and have created, incredible abuses and alienation.

sui 4/25/2012 4:57 PM  

"Patriarchy is a continuum.

Courage: we must make the connections, now."

That last sentence keeps on echoing in my brain because of just how damn well-WRITTEN it is! It blows me away. Just sayin'. I love you Holly.

And yes, a-fucking-men.

Or, how about, AWOMAN.

<3 hehehe.

(goes up to look up the etymology of amen now)

Holly 4/27/2012 6:12 PM  

sui - Haha, and of course then I had to go look it up... Thank you. Making connections may be uncomfortable, but it produces a far more satisfying analysis.

Nichole 4/28/2012 6:18 AM  

I think the last line is especially provocative in light of the new Christian film "Courageous." Did you do that on purpose?

Holly 4/28/2012 12:42 PM  

Nichole - Nope! I just read a bit about it now, though, and I'm pleased for the unintentional allusion.

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