I don't really like being a woman. It is a topic I have explored more in another post in a rather graphic way. It is not really that being a woman is so bad, it is more like the societal pressures as one are. The stereotype of a typical woman has nothing to do with me. I have also posted before about how I identify more as a human being than a woman, call it androgyny if you want but that does not really fit. What it really is is being an individual but that is kinda vague and people don't like vague. As in the post about not being happy with being a woman and how awful it was things in society have gotten a lot better and I am really grateful about that. One place where it has not gotten better is the Bible. My favorite verse is Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine) I belonged to a Quaker fellowship when I was in the United States and they believed in that firmly. In the church and in God's work we were all equals. A woman was the same as a man in the service of Christ all was looked at was merit. I really enjoyed that and when I become really depressed thinking about being a woman and all the roles, tendencies, talents and weaknesses people try to impose on my that have nothing to do with me as a real complete person I think about this verse. It comforts me a great deal.
What about the rest of the Bible it was written by a bunch of men in a patriarchal culture that permeates the language, counting, examples etc. If you have read the Bible all the generic examples independent of gender use he. For example my favourite Psalm states (emphasis again mine):
Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
So, the good guy is a guy and unless I ignore that it has nothing to do with me, when read in the English language (in Finnish it is not so bad because we only have one word covering both he and she). I chose this passage because it is my favourite and it, like any generic excerpt is a good example of this. Women are only mentioned in verses specifically referring to women and the roles of women and I want nothing to do with these verses because I cannot relate with them. I would like to emphasize that over all this is not a big deal, neither is calling “manned spaceflight” manned spaceflight, that is because “peopled spaceflight” sounds retarded and is not a real thing.
As for counting, only men are counted, women like slaves, children and donkeys are not mentioned except in passing like, there were 1,000 men and some women and children in addition. That is because we women were property. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." (Ex. 20:17) So, I am property. This is fracking depressing. As a wife I am property of my husband, just like his slaves (servants), oxen ,donkeys and other belongings. It did not say husband in there so men are not property of their wives.
What does the Bible say about women? They are usually seen as bringers of food, bearers of children. Sisters, mothers, daughters. Pretty standard stuff. In Titus 2:4-5: “Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” In Timothy 3:6-7 “They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” In 1 Peter 3:5-6 “For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”
What are these verses saying, let me summarize. Or at least tell you what I personally hear. I am supposed to love my family and be self-controlled. That sounds great, that would work for men too, but I am also supposed to be submissive to my husband because I am liable to malign the word of God otherwise. WTF Titus? What do you think I am? Timothy assumes I am weak-willed. If he did not he would have said weak-willed men, or people. Remember, men first and by default women only when specifically speaking of them. Peter says to be holy as a woman I am supposed to be submissive to my husband.
These can all be justified, explained away and if these were the only parts of the Bible that did this is would be fine but this is just a handful of examples. Paul says that women are not supposed to speak in the church and frequently that is justified as something to do with the times. Women who were temple priestesses in pagan temples were also prostitutes and therefore a decent woman would not want to be mistaken for a prostitute. I have also heard that women gossip and gossip is bad and in order to keep it out of God's house we should make the women STFU.
Justifying these away is like getting called stupid and then having someone explain to me that, while what they said was all true, but only applicable under certain circumstances. Still I am being called stupid, childlike and less than human and over time it starts to get to me. I start to wonder. Reading too much of Paul makes me want to book a sex change ASAP or convert to some other religion. I don't want to be that which those verses describe.
What about the good things of the Bible that are said about women? What about Proverbs 31? The passage about the perfect woman often used in modern churches to make the Bible seem feminist. It is a fine passage, equally applicable to a man. Being a hard worker, respected and loved and valued by your family is a great thing. I have nothing really negative about it. My favourite part is: “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Little passages like this are all too rare and a drop in the bucket compared to all the other crap women get heaped on them.
Many people say that Jesus is a very feminist character in the Bible. I suppose that is true. He never says anything truly demeaning to any woman, in my opinion. His conversations with his female friends are not recorded. I would love to know what words he and Mary Magdalene and sisters Martha and Mary exchanged since he was around them a lot of the time. It was women who found out about his resurrection first before others. What good things he might have said to women were not recorded because the recorders were men and that did not matter to them. Women may have mattered to Jesus and been valuable friends and companions to him but they were not to the men who wrote the gospels (this may not have been more than a cultural trait, I am sure they were fine men otherwise).
How do I deal with this? The homosexuality topic is easier to think through and get past and conclude because I am not homosexual it is not personal. This is and every time I read the Bible it is there and especially in the letters of the New Testament. It is very blatant and when ever I read the letters I become angry all over again. I feel less than human. I feel like there is this exclusive club of true Christians that a penis is the passport to, just like circumcision was the passport to Judaism that also was something not possible to women. I feel like I am on the outside. I cannot use my true talents. I will always be less than. So I am still working on this. This reconciling myself with being told by the Bible that I am something I am not. I am not a Biblical woman and, barring a miracle, will never be. God just did not create me like that. It is harder still when Christians remind me of this. That is something I will explore in another post very soon.