Monday, November 26, 2007

The Rantings of a Single Male:Part1

In the introduction to his book “The Rantings of a Single Male. Losing Patience with Feminism, Political Correctness, and Basically Everything" Thomas Ellis begins by discussing his motivations for writing the book. Ellis states, "As men we must make a serious effort to educate ourselves about the ideas feminist literature is cultivating in the minds of women…. We must also expel the residue of feminist misinformation from our own systems." (Ellis, 2005, p. 1)

I agree with Mr. Ellis that many people, both men and women, appear unaware of the effect that feminism has had on society. For myself, I believe I have been vaguely aware that the notion of “equality" between men and women was a fallacy. This was true in part because I have eyes in my head and could easily see that there are differences between men and women. Also as a Christian I believe the Bible is clear on the fact that men and women are different and are meant to occupy different roles in life. But even though I had essentially rejected many of the tenets of feminism there were (and perhaps still are) subtle attitudes of feminism that I have held. I think there are many women, who do not call themselves feminists, but still maintains some subtle attitudes of feminism. So it is for both myself and hopefully other women who read this that I want to explore these issues. I don't consider this to be a “men's problem" because I believe as a member of the body of Christ that it is important that we be open to the issues that affect each other and society in general.

Thomas Ellis says that he doubts that many women would be willing to listen and consider his point of view. “I also doubt whether women are willing to consider change even if it's laid out in terms of why and how, and even if they decide to try. They enthusiastically avoid responsibility for their actions with trendy denial therapies and philosophies. The only things women are willing to change are their hair, their clothes, and their breast size. And a lot of times not even their hair." (Ellis, p.3) Perhaps he is right. To be honest, I should say that since I began looking into this matter, more often than not, I have been disappointed by the reactions of other women. I will say though, that I find it very difficult to believe that there are not other women who want to understand this and be open to change.

Ellis concludes the introduction with the following thought: "I should not have to compromise my rights as a man to make anyone feel equal. I can make compromises, but not on things like maintaining my own identity, being able to express my own ideas without female approval, or refusing to tell rhetorical lies to maintain a relationship. After many years of being unable to conform to the female vision of man as docile servants, I just want to be myself and speak my mind.” Let's see what he has to say.

Rant A: The Learning of Ignorance

There are essentially two main ideas that Ellis puts forth in this rant that I would like to address.

Ellis begins this rant by talking about his first experiences with recognizing that girls were different from boys in a physical sense. He refers to a little girl he was friends with stating, “We had a play room together, where I had a pretend job building bridges and rail roads. Susie had a pretend house set up and she was my pretend girlfriend who would pull down her pants for me whenever I wanted. At age 6, we already knew what we were supposed to do, so why do adults step in and mess everything up.”(p.5) Ellis voices a belief typical in the secular world stating, "All I know is that anyone who tries to suppress their nature runs into some serious inner conflicts." (p.6) he goes on to talk about the innocence that young girls of his acquaintance had regarding exposing themselves to him or other boys before they “had the concept of guilt drilled into them." He blames this on religious training and Queen Victoria. I'm not sure why he blames Queen Victoria since the concept of modesty was around long before the Victorian era, but nonetheless he does.

Mr. Ellis is an agnostic so I don't expect that he would have positive views of any religion, and he doesn't let me down. He rejects the Biblical model of sexual morality by stating that “They (women) seem to embrace their own sexual suppression. Just like they were taught, they grew up to regard sex as deviant and abnormal unless within the confines of commitment." As a nonbeliever I'm not surprised that Mr. Ellis holds this view, in fact, I'm sure it is the common view of most people who don't follow a Biblical model of sexuality (and maybe even some who do). The purpose of this discussion is not to prove the rightness of Biblical teachings on sexuality but I am curious about this thought regarding women who believe in these standards. I don’t regard premarital sex as deviant or abnormal, I just believe it is against the commands of God. While I am not concerned about an unbelieving man’s opinions about Biblical sexuality a variation of Ellis’ views appear to be held by some believing men as well. I have the impression (and please feel free to correct me if I am wrong) that single believing men are sometimes concerned that their future wife will not desire sex (or will not desire sex as often or in the same ways as they do) because they think that she thinks male sexuality is deviant because she has been taught this in church or through some other means of religious training. What are single Christian women to do about this?

I recently read an essay over at Scripturally Single where the author states "Where were the Christian women with Debbie Maken's level of desire when I was in my twenties? I suppose that today's Christian woman is more in touch with her sexuality than women of the past, and yet I wonder if Mrs. Maken is an exception to the rule just the same.” I imagine that the author is not alone in his wondering. Certainly it is healthy to discuss such things when considering marriage with a specific individual, however, my question would be: Before the point that marriage is being seriously discussed how would you know what the level of an unmarried woman’s sexual desire is if she is being obedient to God? Can you tell by looking at her? Or, is she expected to go about announcing “Hello single Christian dudes, I just wanted to let you know that even though I am committed to waiting for marriage before having sex, I have a lot of sexual desires…yes, indeed….just in case you were wondering” ?

On a side note, after finishing reading the book “The Rantings of a Single Male. Losing Patience with Feminism, Political Correctness, and Basically Everything" I felt the need to read a more Christian perspective on sexuality. The essay I refer to in the previous paragraph from Scripturally Single fit the bill well. While I may disagree with or wonder at some of the thoughts that the author expresses (such as "Sex is never safe, even when sanctioned by the church.") it remains for the most part a positive and Biblically-based discussion of abstinence. Thanks Anakin, I needed that.

The second idea that Ellis discusses in this rant that I want to address is the idea that women don't like men. He states, "They want our attention and they want our money, but actually liking us is not something women deem necessary" (p.9) And, "If you want a girlfriend, you'd better show her minimal respect….Girls yearn for that challenge. They want to show they can tame even the most dominant, uncontrollable male and put him back beneath her where he belongs. Confuse him. Make the bastard grovel and show some respect. Sweet. But now he's useless and pathetic. Dump him." (p.8)

I know that women like this do exist, even in the church, because I have a brother and other male friends who have described similar experiences to me, and I have witnessed them myself on occasion. But, is this really the way most women are? This is so outside of my experience and some of my female friends’ experiences that it caused me to think about why that may be. My guess is that women who are not conventionally attractive and not often pursued by men are less likely to behave like this. Is my hypothesis correct?

I have heard Christian women complain that many Christian men are too "passive" on one hand and then on the other hand's complain when the man is more assertive that he is controlling. This is a symptom, I suppose, of the feminine culture within the church which can discount masculine qualities all the while actually being in great need of them.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Rantings of a Single Male

In my quest to learn more about issues related to men and women and feminism I recently purchased a book titled "The Rantings of a Single Male. Losing Patience with Feminism, Political Correctness, and Basically Everything" by Thomas Ellis. This book was recommended on a blog or website that I had visited (I can’t remember which one) as an excellent book on the subject. So I went to Amazon and ordered a copy. When it arrived I did what I always do with books and began to page through it a bit.

If I picked this book up in a bookstore and glanced through it I probably would not have purchased it. Mostly, that is because of the discussions about sexuality in the book. And since, according to what Mr. Ellis says in this book, I am “sexually repressed” I'm not really comfortable reading about some guy’s sexual experiences. However, since I had already purchased the book I decided I could skip over the parts I didn't want to read and see what I could learn from the parts I felt comfortable reading. The good news is there really was much more material that I was mostly comfortable reading than there was material that I was uncomfortable reading. That being said I did skip/skim chunks of the book so I should be clear that I may not have understood some of what he had to say. Of what I did read, some of it confused me, some of it enlightened me, and some of it made me laugh.

From what I can tell based on this book, in most ways, I am about as different from Thomas Ellis as a person can get. Perhaps the only characteristics we share are being single white Americans. Certainly, our worldviews are radically different. Still, there was much he had to say that made sense to me. So, over the next weeks I'm going to spend some time discussing some of the ideas from this book.

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to spend time with those you love.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Now for Something a Little Different

Have you heard of “the Flying Spaghetti Monster”?

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (or Pastafarianism) was founded in 2005 by a guy named Bobby Henderson in protest of the decision of the Kansas State Board of Education requiring the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) along with the theory of evolution. Henderson sent an open letter to the State Board of Education claiming a belief in a supernatural creator known as the Flying Spaghetti Monster and calling for teaching of the so called Pastafarian theory of creation to be taught along with ID and the theory of evolution. Henderson has said that he has nothing against religion except when it poses as science. The Flying Spaghetti Monster gained popularity on the internet as a source of parody of religion, and particularly in relation to ID. miscellaneous

How very clever, no?

Recently you may have seen the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the news again because Pastafarianism is actually to be discussed at the national meeting of the American Academy of Religion this month.

Because of this recent discussion I was treated to an editorial segment today during, of all things, a sports talk show on the radio...between segments about Barry Bonds and the NFL. The host said he “loved” the whole Flying Spaghetti Monster business because “religion has no business masquerading as science” and “schools should stick to teaching proven science like evolution!” He said that he believed that everything is understandable through science and the scientific method. The host theorized that if people from a thousand years ago saw cell phones at work they would think it was miraculous too but that would only be because they did not understand it. “Science and the scientific method can explain everything eventually!” he claimed. How very clever, no?

I find the host’s thoughts on the subject quite funny in a way I am sure he did not intend.

First of all, what if people from a thousand years ago saw something they did not understand, like a cell phone, at work? Perhaps some of them would believe that the cell phone magically came together and began working through chance and random variation. And perhaps others would believe that there was some intelligence behind the design of the cell phone. Hmm……

Secondly, the idea that evolution (not variation in genes within a species, but the formation of all life through chance) has been or even could be proven by the scientific method demonstrates a lack of critical thought and understanding of basic science. The scientific method begins by observing a phenomenon, theorizing an explanation of what you observe (a hypothesis), predicting what you think may happen based on your hypothesis, and then testing your hypothesis in an experiment. Observing a phenomenon such as the different species on earth or the fossil record and then theorizing an explanation of those phenomena (such as in the theory of evolution) would indeed be part of the scientific method. So would someone looking at all the different species and the fossil record and theorizing that there must have been some sort of intelligence behind all of it. However there is no way to test the hypothesis that all life came into being through genetic mutation and chance or that life sprang into existence through the design of a creator. The fact is that there is no more proven “real science” in evolution as the basis of life on earth than there is in intelligent design.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mea Culpa!

When I hear the preferences some women have for a man sometimes I cringe at how petty some of them sound. I recently read the blog of a 50 year old single woman who is looking for a husband. She admits that her child bearing years are most likely behind her but wants to find a man who wants to have children with her and rejects men who don’t want to have children. Huh?

However, it would be a huge mistake for me to feel superior. There is a significant preference that I held in the past that over the last year or so I have come to recognize was definitely wrong. What preference?

“I want him to be a committed Christian.”

Some may wonder, “What is wrong with that?”

Since it is my desire to be in submission to my husband if I marry it only makes sense that I would want to be assured of the spirituality of the man who I will trust with that, right? On the surface that sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

But really, it wasn’t reasonable.

It wasn’t reasonable because my ideas about what constituted being a “committed Christian” were from an entirely feminine perspective, as I believe is the case for many Christian women, both single and married. I judged the spirituality of men based on things such as church attendance and involvement in Bible study or a small group which are all things that women engage in and often grow through (though actually it is a poor metric to measure anyone’s spirituality by). These were things that my then church (and many churches and ministries) touted as measures of spirituality. However, these are not necessarily things that define spirituality for a man. Single Christian Man recently referred to this phenomenon as a “false metric” in a comment over on the Scripturally Single blog.

I think what helped me recognize this in myself was first learning about the feminization of the culture and the effects of feminism on the church. Once I was able to recognize the feminine bias it quickly became abundantly clear that my former way of gauging a man’s spirituality was deeply flawed.

I still have a preference for a committed Christian man, but the metric has changed. What is the new metric? What defines spirituality in a man? Good question... I have not entirely figured this out yet but I am keeping my eyes and ears and mind open.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I have a lot of respect for the man who first called my attention to the feminization of the church and society. I’ll call him T. We dated briefly last winter and have remained friends. He lives a few hours away from me now but I still call him with my theological and computer questions. I ask T questions like, “what is the difference between amillennialism, premillennialism, postmillennialism, and preterism?” Or “how do I make my laptop not read an accidental tap on the touchpad like a mouse click?” The man is a saint!

I grew up in a traditional home with a stay-at-home-mom and never considered myself a feminist but some of the ideas he presented were very surprising to me. Like most Christians I had noticed that there seemed to be more women than men in church but had no idea why that may be. Being a woman I am comfortable in feminine surroundings, so comfortable in fact that I didn’t even notice the surroundings were feminine, let alone that this feminine edge would be alienating to men. When I challenged T’s ideas he patiently tried to explain them to me. I am very thankful for his willingness to do this. In fact, there are lots of things we have talked about that still have me thinking.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Oh! Hyperbole.

My taste in music is pretty eclectic (ok, some have said odd or weird) so my ipod is loaded with everything from Mozart, Puccini, and Yo-Yo Ma, to Queen, ELO, and Rush (What can I say? My teen years were during the 80s) to the O.C. Supertones and P.O.D. One of my all-time favorite songs is “Beautiful Letdown” by Switchfoot, a great band. Check ‘em out. The title of this post is a nod at the title of their latest CD, Oh! Gravity, though it has nothing to do with music.

Hyperbole (hi-per-buh-lee) is over statement or intentional exaggeration. When people feel strongly about a subject they tend to use hyperbole. To make a point they end up exaggerating. I have done it myself. Often though, I think hyperbole can limit the effectiveness of a good argument.

Sometimes what happens when people use hyperbole to make a point is that those who read or listen to their point may get caught up in that exaggeration. The listener may then respond by refuting the exaggeration instead of listening to the main point and considering it’s validity. This does disservice to both sides in a discussion.

As I have mentioned before I have been reading some blogs and message boards, both Christian and non-Christian, regarding the issues of the feminization of the culture and the church, and men’s rights issues. As is the case with most things people are passionate about, there is some hyperbole in these. When I first began reading these sites it was very difficult for me to not get caught up in the hyperbole, but, at the same time I could see a lot of truth, which was very enlightening, and some of this truth was quite convicting as well. So, I have tried to keep on listening and learning though there are some things that I still struggle with. Mostly it is things like the use of pejorative terms that refer to women in sweeping statements, the mockery of less attractive women, and some off hand comments about rape. I can understand how these kinds of things could flip a switch in the mind of a woman reading them such that she doesn’t consider the truth in what is said.

For example, some women do behave in a deplorable manner so I can understand how a man may want to refer to these women in a pejorative way. That said, I still cringe when women are referred to using a four letter word that starts with “c” and I don’t suppose that will ever change for me. Also if a woman insists that a man must find her attractive even though he does not, I can understand why a man may feel this is worthy of scorn since he does not owe her his admiration. At the same time this sort of thing can be alienating to women. I can also understand the anger of men at the false accusation of rape. It can truly ruin a man’s life. To add insult to injury, there is often little consequence for the false accuser. It is wrong and unjust to be certain. But statements like the one I read recently, which to paraphrase said something like “innocent women are unlikely to be raped” is sure to send even somewhat sympathetic women off into an angry response. The very idea that a women who is attacked sleeping in her own home by a stranger, or the child who is abducted and raped is in any way responsible for what happened to them reeks of exaggeration that many women will struggle to look beyond.

But ladies, if we want to understand the perspective of men we have to get beyond it. It doesn’t matter that the hyperbole in some of the statements render them untrue because the heart of the statement is often true. We need to stop and consider that even though the delivery may not be gentle and sensitive that does not negate the truth in a statement. That truth is what we need ears to hear.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Just For Fun

If you enjoy cooking check out The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

Beauty: Nature versus Nurture- Part C (because I don’t know how to spell 3 in French)

I have been thinking about this issue more.

When someone says men are made by God to be attracted to women who are beautiful there ends up being more to that line of thinking if we follow the thought logically. It is my understanding that God designs a big part of how any individual woman looks. By this I mean that a large part of her appearance is due to her genes…facial features, body type, hair color and texture, eye color, the shade of her skin etc. (Understanding that some women work with what they were born with better than others).

So if God designs men to be attracted to women who look a certain way (remembering that I am not saying that God has not made men to be visually stimulated, I believe He has done that. But rather that God designed men to be specifically stimulated by and attracted to women who embody the current idea of what beauty is) would that not then mean by extension:

-That God designs some women to be unattractive to men?

-That God designs women to be rejected by men?

-That God puts the desire for marriage and children in a woman’s heart and then puts her together in such a way that the desire is unlikely to be met?

There is more to this idea than a person’s right to be attracted to someone else for their own reasons. When we say it is God’s design or plan then I think we are also saying something about the nature of God. In my limited understanding all of this does not seem to go with what I know of His nature.

That being said, I think it an extraordinarily bad idea to argue or insist that a man (or woman, though the men seem to be getting the worst of this kind of admonishment) should or should not be attracted to anything (outside of what God tells us in scripture). Other than that, I believe an individual can prefer what they wish though I do think it is wise to individually examine our preferences in the light of scripture and to submit to God if He directs us on the subject.