So I was reading the discussion about the Rick Warren benediction pick and also an article about the Christian Reconstructionist ideals of gender and these bits jumped out at me:
Vision Forum's product line includes the Beautiful Girlhood Collection, which, "aspires, by the grace of God, to the rebuilding of a culture of virtuous womanhood. In a world that frowns on femininity, that minimizes motherhood, and that belittles the beauty of being a true woman of God, we dare to believe that the biblical vision for girlhood is a glorious vision."
- Frederick Clarkson writing about the Christian Reconstructionist vision of proper gender roles.
"I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage."
- Pastor Rick Warren, 2008
Both reminded me of a quote that largely defines feminism and gender issues for me:
... That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman? ...
- Sojourner Truth, 1851
It was not that long ago when the blogosphere and much of the political establishment was ablaze with talk of how wrong and divisive it was to claim that certain groups of the citizenry were "real" Americans. If the class of all people who are American citizens contains a smaller subset defined as real Americans, the people outside that subset are ... wrong? anti-? inauthentic? fallen? rejected? cast out? disowned? excommunicated? imaginary? fake? What? What, we all wanted to know, (though of course we already knew,) did they mean by that?
Right wing religionists have a very particular view of what constitutes a real person, but more precisely, a real man or woman. From those definitions, ones that all of us more or less understand, follow the views of what constitutes a real relationship.
A "real" man is in control, of something at least. He is not given to womanly displays of emotion, which implies being governed by logic, but actually means giving oneself over to jealousy, easily bruised pride, a will to dominate, and disgust towards those who would live otherwise. It begets a constant need to defend one's prerogatives in a role-based hierarchy that assigns people value based on their fulfillment of certain parts in a nonstop morality play existence.
A "real" woman is delicate, dammit! She understands herself to be the rightful property of a man, an adornment and accessory for his life, and her emotions don't matter at all so long as every conversation ends in, "Yes, dear." She is structurally, perpetually, a child. Albeit a child that it's all right to have sex with and employ as an unpaid domestic. Think about this every time one of the wingnuts compares a consensual, adult relationship between two men or two women to pedophilia and consider yourself encouraged to grimace disapprovingly at said wingnut.
These definitions of "real" manhood and womanhood take subsets of men and women as being exclusively worthy and leave everyone else out in the cold. The types of relationships that these real men and women are supposed to have are then taken as the definitive "real" relationship.