New Sherwood

Women, feminism, and Sarah Palin

“Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed; then Eve. And Adam was not seduced; but the woman being seduced, was in the transgression. Yet she shall be saved through childbearing; if she continue in faith, and love, and sanctification, with sobriety.”   – 1 Tim 2:11-15

“As for my people, their oppressors have stripped them, and women have ruled over them.” - Isaiah 3:12

In a discussion on Steve Skojec’s blog I mentioned that, in general, I am not in favor of women exercising authority over men. And because the exercise of authority extends to the ballot box in our country, I think the 19th amendment was a bad idea. Some expressed shock at the very thought, and one lady even stormed angrily out of the “room”.

I think Scripture and Christian tradition are clear on this point. God is a patriarchalist. He wants men to rule and to lead. This is not mere cultural conditioning, but is rooted in human nature, as St. Paul emphasizes when he says “For Adam was first formed; then Eve. And Adam was not seduced; but the woman being seduced, was in the transgression.” Women are, by nature, more easily swayed by flattery and more readily led by their emotions. To be ruled by women is unnatural and humiliating to men. That is why God used it as a chastisement for the men of Israel. We may reasonably conclude that the men of our time are being similarly chastised. Feminism is a chastisement.

Having said that, there have always been exceptions, and there is no inviolable moral law against women exercising authority over men in any particular case. God raises up women from time-to-time to rule, and it isn’t always a chastisement. Deborah was a judge. Anna was a prophetess. All through Christian history we have the examples of Christian queens, empresses, and even a warrior like St. Joan of Arc (though she never drew blood) exercising authority in the secular realm. Hilda of Whitby was an abbess who ruled over monks.

So, while I don’t like the idea of a female VP, it is not intrinsically wrong and may, in fact, be an act of divine providence. Although feminists view something like this as an historic precedent that will usher in the Golden Age of Womyn-Power, Christians must take a different view.

I find much to admire about Sarah Palin, and her selection has me re-thinking my decision to sit out this election. At present I’m back on the fence. This campaign will certainly test her mettle. There will be tremendous pressure for her to appear “moderate”, especially on the social issues. Will she capitulate? Will she issue a “clarifying” statement on abortion that is more palatable to Hilary Clinton supporters? Time will tell. She’s shown great courage and conviction in the past, but now she will be tempted with national fame, the adulation of millions, and more power than any human being should be allowed to have. Come to think of it, Sarah Palin and her beautiful family probably need our prayers more than our votes.

August 31, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

20 Comments »

  1. Well, I have to say I disagree on your amendment comment. If I didn’t vote, no voting would happen here, since my husband is not yet a citizen. I’m not sure how many women pharmacists there would be, either, had women not asked for equal rights. Sorry to make a personal point, but don’t you think that’s a little bit strange? Equal rights, no womyn power. I hate those people.
    I do agree she’ll need a lot of prayer power. So will we all.

    Comment by Annaberri | August 31, 2008 | Reply

  2. Jeff, I’m glad you brought up the point about her possible corruption. My own take is that she _would probably_ be corrupted by actually being McCain’s Vice President for eight or even four years, but that she probably won’t be by a couple of months of campaigning followed by a loss. For example, it would negate her pull with social conservatives for her _now_ to make any moderating statement on life issues. The whole point of picking her was to appeal to the social conservatives without McCain’s being required to change his own positions. (Which is a rather unpleasant thought, when you think about it.) But later, sure, she might change silently over a period of years as his VP without our ever hearing about it, or we pro-lifers might hear about it but be too invested in her future in DC to drop our support for her. Speaking with that stark pessimism that I’m afraid is becoming more and more my trademark when talking about politics, I’d say the best thing that could happen to her at this point is a McCain loss.

    Comment by Lydia | August 31, 2008 | Reply

  3. Annaberri, I think it’s fine that women who have the vote, use the vote. Some women, anyway. My wife votes. That doesn’t mean that the 19th amendment was a good idea. A better system would be that in which the head of the family votes, and in most cases, that’s going to be a man.

    As for women pharmacists and equal rights, I don’t think there is a strong connection here. There are a lot of things I do, and a lot of things my wife does, that we wouldn’t be doing were it not for the feminist movement. That doesn’t mean we like the system, it just means that the system is hard to fight.

    It is, of course, a good thing that more women are free to do that which suits their aptitudes. My wife is an excellent pharmacist and is extraordinarily well-suited to the work. (There are lots of women in pharmacy due to the availability of part-time work and flexible hours). Anyway, Mrs. Culbreath would quit her job in a heartbeat if her husband could earn full-time what she earns part-time.

    I don’t approve of the whole “equality” and “rights” paradigm. It isn’t about rights or equality. Men have few choices as to what kind of work they do. My “rights” are not equal to those of other men. When women talk about “equal rights” they are not talking about equal rights to be farm workers, janitors, roofers, diesel mechanics, or chimney sweeps. No, they want rights far beyond the rights of most men, whose choices are few and who must take whatever life offers them.

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | August 31, 2008 | Reply

  4. Latest poll numbers:
    Palin ready for the VP spot?

    Yes 39% No 33% Unsure 29%

    Looks like that cigar blew up in the McCains face!

    http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003844485

    NEW YORK The first national polls on John McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin yesterday came out today from Rasmussen and Gallup — and contrary to what the GOP probably hoped, she scored less well with women than men.

    Here’s a finding from Gallup: Among Democratic women — including those who may be disappointed that Hillary Clinton did not win the Democratic nomination — 9% say Palin makes them more likely to support McCain, 15% less likely.

    From Rasmussen: Some 38% of men said they were more likely to vote for McCain now, but only 32% of women. By a narrow 41% to 35% margin, men said she was not ready to be president — but women soundly rejected her, 48% to 25%.

    Comment by christianliberal | August 31, 2008 | Reply

  5. >No, they want rights far beyond the rights of most men, whose choices are few and who must take whatever life offers them.<

    That’s a very insightful comment. One I have never thought about before. But you are right. And in fact, it affects us all. I often want what I can’t have. The demand for rights causes us all to whine at times “it’s not fair.” But I never thought about how that may have come from the feminist movement.

    However, in light of your comment I’d go further. I think sometimes the hard core feminists want the “right” to not be women.

    Tragedy.
    Maria

    Comment by Maria | August 31, 2008 | Reply

  6. Jeff, excellent last comment. When people talk about women’s being underrepresented in this field or that, or women’s deserving to have choices in their work, I often wryly wonder why we never hear outrage because so many more men than women are in high-security prisons. :-) It ain’t fair.

    Something that I think is healthy about that comment is the refusal to make a virtue of necessity. I’ve known two mothers now who have reluctantly put their babies in daycare and within a relatively short time have begun talking about how good it is for the babies to be in daycare. In other words, they just couldn’t, psychologically, live with the realization that was very clear to them at the outset–that this was a less-good alternative that they were being forced to go with because of their financial circumstances. People generally seem to feel that they need to see their own situation as desirable or perfectly okay, even if they didn’t see it that way to begin with. There’s nothing wrong with looking on the bright side and adjusting to what life hands you, but when it comes to psyching oneself into thinking that having women in charge, putting babies in daycare, having a family have to be supported chiefly by the mother’s salary, etc., is just _great_ and ought to be the norm, then trying to look on the bright side has gone too far. Sometimes it really isn’t good to make a virtue of necessity.

    Comment by Lydia | August 31, 2008 | Reply

  7. Great comments by Jeff and Lydia.

    There is something basic in fallen human nature that makes us want to justify our compromises, and draws us further into compromise. That is why, as you pointed out so eloquently on W4, it is critical for us to draw lines we won’t cross and stick to them. The closer we are drawn to the line out of genuine need the more tempted we become to cross it, because always we want to justify where we are as the best place we could be. The pressures on someone in Sarah Palen’s position to start crossing those lines must be immense; it is hard for me to even form an intuition of how immense.

    Very interesting notion that the best thing for Palen and for us may be a McCain loss, with Palen coming back as the GOP nominee for president in 2012.

    Comment by Zippy | August 31, 2008 | Reply

  8. John McCain would almost certainly be a one-term President, given his age. I think we may see a Palin-Jindal ticket, or a Jindal-Palin ticket, in 2012 — regardless of who wins this year.

    And I’d be the first person to volunteer going door-to-door campaigning for either of those tickets.

    Comment by Chris | August 31, 2008 | Reply

  9. “That is why, as you [Lydia] pointed out so eloquently on W4, it is critical for us to draw lines we won’t cross and stick to them.”

    Quite so. Daycare scares the devil out of me. That’s one line we’d suffer real grinding poverty not to cross.

    “Very interesting notion that the best thing for Palen and for us may be a McCain loss, with Palen coming back as the GOP nominee for president in 2012.”

    After four years of Obama? Let’s think about this. We may not know what McCain would do with court appointments, but we know exactly what Obama would do with court appointments. Is it worth the risk? I’m asking, not answering.

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | August 31, 2008 | Reply

  10. Jeff:
    Feminism is a chastisement.

    Feminism is a chastisement for men and women alike. When the men stopped being gentlemen and abandoned chivalry, courtesy and good-manners the feminism emerged as a result…just my two cents.

    Comment by Paula | August 31, 2008 | Reply

  11. Well, I said the best thing for Palin. I didn’t say about us. But I do know that the lesser-of-evils mindset involved in feeling driven to vote for McCain is bad for us, where “us” means social conservatives, pro-lifers, etc.

    Comment by Lydia | August 31, 2008 | Reply

  12. Feminism is a chastisement for men and women alike. When the men stopped being gentlemen and abandoned chivalry, courtesy and good-manners the feminism emerged as a result…just my two cents.

    Paula–I think certain thought-patterns of feminism have certainly gained traction as the disaster of modern relationships have taken their toll. But I think if there was a failure among men it was a failure to be fathers and husbands; but this sort of emasculation was the result of the same political economy that took men away from the home and reduced the role of women in the home as well…

    Comment by T. Chan | September 1, 2008 | Reply

  13. T.Chan, I agree. Certainly the emergence of feminism has complex causes.

    Comment by Paula | September 1, 2008 | Reply

  14. Jeff:
    Women are, by nature, more easily swayed by flattery and more readily led by their emotions. To be ruled by women is unnatural and humiliating to men.

    Jeff, with all due respect, it sounds almost offensive to me, as a woman….not that I have any ambition to rule over anyone. :-) I do not think also that women should rule in society. It is a fact that men have better leadership qualities…

    Comment by Paula | September 1, 2008 | Reply

  15. “Jeff, with all due respect, it sounds almost offensive to me, as a woman …”

    I certainly don’t mean to offend, Paula, but I think the statement is very obviously true. Are you offended by St. Paul’s teaching as well? Just as every individual has a besetting sin, men and women each have weaknesses that are common to their sex. Common, but not beyond the reach of grace. There is no reason to be offended by this in my opinion.

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | September 1, 2008 | Reply

  16. “When the men stopped being gentlemen and abandoned chivalry, courtesy and good-manners the feminism emerged as a result…just my two cents.”

    I’m sure that’s part of it. But I have another theory. Feminism never really got off the ground until after WWII – that is, after the bombings of Dresden, Nagasaki, and Hiroshima, when tens of thousands of innocent women and children were deliberately killed by Allied bombs. Men cannot do such things with impunity.

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | September 2, 2008 | Reply

  17. But I have another theory. Feminism never really got off the ground until after WWII – that is, after the bombings of Dresden, Nagasaki, and Hiroshima, when tens of thousands of innocent women and children were deliberately killed by Allied bombs. Men cannot do such things with impunity.

    Feminism took off during WWII, when women entered the job force in never-before-seen numbers. Many never stopped working. I do wonder why you mention the bombings of Dresden, Nagasake and Hiroshima only. Why only American men? Consider the Rape of Nanking, the London Blitz, the Bataan Death March, the Holocaust, The Killing Fields, The Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the Gulag Archipelago, the Armenian Genocide? I’m sure I’m forgetting many more, but that’s just off the top of my head.

    Comment by annabenedetti | September 4, 2008 | Reply

  18. annabenedetti,

    You forgot Guernica.

    But perhaps Jeff focused on Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Dresden, since these were the three committed by America, and therefore apply to his theory.

    peace,

    Comment by Zach Frey | September 4, 2008 | Reply

  19. “When the men stopped being gentlemen and abandoned chivalry, courtesy and good-manners the feminism emerged as a result…just my two cents.”

    I think that men stopped being gentlemen and abandoned chivalry, courtesy and good-manners because of Feminism. What feminists didn’t realize when they insisted on equality was that they were asking to be degraded. Why would a queen of her domain want to be just a 50/50 partner? Equality doesn’t exist.

    Comment by LeXuan | September 5, 2008 | Reply

  20. “Feminism took off during WWII, when women entered the job force in never-before-seen numbers. Many never stopped working.”

    I disagree, Annabenedetti. That wasn’t feminism: that was women doing what they always do in a time of war, stepping up and supporting their families and their country in any way they can. Rosie the Riveter didn’t think of herself as claiming her rights, but as doing her duty. Did the working women of WW-II inadvertently assist the aims of feminism? Yes, but they weren’t motivated by feminism.

    “I do wonder why you mention the bombings of Dresden, Nagasake and Hiroshima only. Why only American men?”

    Zach has it right: I’m talking about American feminism.

    “Consider the Rape of Nanking, the London Blitz, the Bataan Death March, the Holocaust, The Killing Fields, The Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the Gulag Archipelago, the Armenian Genocide?”

    The Chinese and the Russians were “chastised” by communism; the Germans and the Japanese by humiliating defeats; the Khmer Rouge by oppression and grinding poverty; the Turks by Islam and then socialism. Americans and Europeans, chastised by feminism, would seem to have got off easy, except that feminism may ultimately result in the end of our civilization. To whom much is given, much will be required.

    Anyway, it’s only a theory. Worth all that you paid for it. :-)

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | September 6, 2008 | Reply


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