via Ecdysiasm I came across this op/ed in the Seattle Times that illustrates pretty damn well why feminism cannot be separated from other gender-justice issues, and why women’s rights will never be fully realized until we also get rid of narrow masculine roles and homophobia. The op/ed starts out discussing the new “men’s movements” in conservative churches, aimed at re-establishing masculine roles as a way to deal with what church leaders perceive as a masculinity crisis. The result?
Personally, I have no problem with the effort to make church work better for men or challenging men to step up and do something with their lives. I do have a problem with it when it means, as it sometimes does, putting down women or insisting women play only secondary roles in church or family. And I have a big problem with the guy emphasis when it relies on making gay men objects of derision and ridicule.
Such appears to be the case in remarks made by Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland. Hutcherson has gotten headlines for his efforts to pressure Microsoft on gay issues. He has a right to his views — views he supports with texts from Scripture. Reasonable people can disagree over whether gay marriage is a good idea.
But Hutcherson goes beyond reasonable, at least to judge by the report of Seattle psychologist Valerie Tarico. Tarico, a former staffer at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, was raised in a fundamentalist church. In recent months, she has made it her business to attend services at many of the large, conservative churches in the Seattle area, including Hutcherson’s, to see what’s going on.
On a Sunday when Tarico was present, Hutcherson was preaching on gender roles. During his sermon, Hutcherson stated, “God hates soft men” and “God hates effeminate men.” Hutcherson went on to say, “If I was in a drugstore and some guy opened the door for me, I’d rip his arm off and beat him with the wet end.”
Emphasis mine. Unsurprisingly, Hutcherson later defended himself by saying that it was a joke.
There is something very, very wrong with a masculinity premised on violence. There is something very, very wrong with a masculinity that sees femaleness as so insulting that men should react with full outrage if someone treats them like a “woman” by holding the door.
Hutcherson’s misogyny and his homophobia are not separate issues. He doesn’t just dislike homosexuality for the sake of it; he dislikes LGBT people because being queer challenges traditional gender roles. If penises and vaginas were just body parts without superiority attached to one or the other, and if sex was just an attribute like any other, two women pursuing a romantic relationship wouldn’t matter all that much. Two men getting married wouldn’t be any bigger a deal than a man marrying a woman. A person saying that their genitals don’t match their understanding of themselves, and taking steps to change that, wouldn’t be a threat to the social order.
These are not separate issues. And yet there are far, far more people in this country (and perhaps even reading this blog) who support women’s rights, but not gay rights or trans rights or the full destruction of traditional gender roles. Hopefully, comments like Hutcherson’s will at least help to convince more feminist-leaning moderates and progressives that all of us have a dog in this fight.
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