Gender Hierarchy and the Struggle to Own Priviledge.

Symbol for women and men.
I’m going to try and have a post about two potentially different topics- proceed if you’re feeling courageous:

On any given day I’ll see dozens and dozens of different conversations on social media.  I tend to stay out of most threads because I don’t find them particularly productive.  Usually folks just dig their heels into their own opinion without empathetically trying to understand what others are arguing for.

Yesterday I jumped into a discussion that I’d like to share.  It started when I saw a post from an old acquaintance and read through some of the subsequent comments.

This thoughtful person had just had a conversation with a man who believed that the men are better than women, and that this was ordained by God in some way.   Curious what others thought, my friend asked their Facebook friends to chime in, especially those who  believe in God.  They also posted a video in which a religious leader was preaching about the responsibility of men to control women.

Reading through the comments it was clear that my opinion as a white male could easily be grouped with “colonialists” and European patriarchal systems, so I did my best to preface my thoughts with a disclaimer.

I’m sharing this for a few reasons.  First, because I think that the idea of gender a hierarchy is straight up wrong and I’d like that to be known beyond just an obscure FB thread.  Second, because I’ve been wrestling for some time now with what it means for me to share my convictions given who I am.  For many of my white friends, we struggle with our white privilege and often feel like our voice isn’t valid.  While I do think that privilege should be struggled with in substantial ways, I wonder if instead of becoming silent altogether, we can learn new ways of voicing our ideas?  I’d love to get any feedback from friends to see how this came across.   Is it too much or not enough?  Am I off base? Should I not have chimed in at all?

So here is my post regarding whether or not I think men are superior to women and should have control over them.  It was mostly well received I think:

“As a white male I know and understand my voice should be placed in the context of privilege and I fully acknowledge that people who have had my skin color over the centuries have been the primary (though not only), force of oppression against brothers and sisters who look/believe/live differently. So, I know that right off the bat my perspective is problematic, and I repent and ask forgiveness before I share anything.

With that said, and since you asked, as a Christian Pastor who’s studied culture and theology, I do not believe that hierarchy between genders is part of the “kingdom” that Christ is moving us towards. I can’t speak in depth about other faiths, but I can share about mine.

The idea that men are above women is based on generations of patriarchy, which is found in every culture around the world, and is an abuse of biological differences between the roles males and females have played in society. Because men have evolved with testosterone, men develop different kinds of bodies that make them stronger in the physical sense than women. Given that human nature has a strong tendency to act out of selfishness and insecurity (fear of not being in control), men have taken the physical strength advantage and used it to oppress and control women. Subsequently we have looked to faith traditions, which are often birthed in patriarchal cultures and found passages that teach that men are above women to back up our sexist and patriarchal views (this seems to be what your friend has was arguing for and also what Farakhan and many others do as well). In my view this grieves the heart of God.

Galatians 3:28 says that in Christ there is “neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, slave nor free.” This means that the hierarchies and divisions we’ve created are illusions. Furthermore, science is telling us that gender is not a binary, but more of a spectrum meaning that male and female are not really always black and white categories. So what would some one who argues for hierarchy say to a hermaphrodite? Are they below or above women and men? Or how about a masculine woman or a feminine man?

So I believe that my faith tradition teaches mutual submission where we are all loving and serving one another as equals. This is egalitarianism- which is what my wife and I also practice in marriage.

Also, I think the impulse to control anybody and anything is scary. In Christian tradition the call is to give up control, to surrender, to find life by giving it up- so anytime I hear men say that they should “control” others I’m pretty sure they are being more informed by a desire for power than Jesus.

Just my thoughts.”

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