Wake Up.

Trump is the president elect.  White evangelical Christians supported him and voted for him.  They justified his actions, defended him and endorsed him as the Christian candidate.  Mainly because he said he’ll overturn abortion laws.  Also because he is a white man who is an expert manipulator and a narcissist.

 

Over the last few days I’ve seen a number of Christians reject evangelical as their label.  They can no longer align themselves with a Christian culture which is misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, bigoted, self-aggrandising and seemingly incapable of self-reflection.

 

Bill and Beni Johnson are the leaders of Bethel, a globally known megachurch, famous for its worship songs and healing ministry.  Bill Johnson took to Facebook this week to justify why he and his wife had voted for Donald Trump.  Using the Bible.  Bill Johnson-ology (a new brand of theology) is very self-esteem oriented…  Poor people lose self-esteem if the state helps them.  Rich people lose self-esteem if they are taxed because it robs them of their choice to show compassion.  Abortion also features highly (point 1) of Bill Johnson-ology.  It also involves a whole load of double standards where Hilary Clinton’s behaviour is unforgiveable, but Donald Trump’s is forgiveable.  Immigrants should not be helped, because citizens come first and actually Donald Trump is like Jesus because both of them suffered for not being politically correct.

 

After reading this, I then attended an Evangelical Alliance (EA) event in London.  It is 170 years old.  In its infancy, the EA had many disagreements, including Britain refusing to allow slave owners to join the alliance, standing against some Christians and their organisations in the US.

 

The event shared lots of things the EA is doing.  Its mission, evangelism, work with public leadership and its advocacy.  Yet, no one mentioned that evangelical is quick becoming a byword for bigot, racist and misogynist.  The UK and US media are telling the world that evangelicals voted in Trump.  Because we did.  Evangelical is synonymous with TRUMP VOTER.  And the EA doesn’t seem to realise what this means for their alliance or for the future of evangelicalism.  It doesn’t matter that US evangelicalism is different to that within the UK, because that’s a complex nuance and a false dichotomy.  Especially when so many evangelicals voted Brexit because they believe the EU is about to usher in the antichrist because they read it in a Left Behind novel or something.

 

I wish I could make this my Farewell to evangelicalism.  But I can’t.

 

I love Jesus.  I would be dead without Jesus.  And I love Jesus in an evangelical, unapologetic, charismatic, raise your hands to the sky and sing your lungs out kind of way.  I love the Bible and think it’s inspired by God and I believe in capital-T Truth.  I live in the tension of being a woman liberated by God while reading Bible passages about women oppressed by that same God.  And I don’t want to just explain it away by making it say what I want it to say.  I raise my kids to know that Jesus saves and my daughter got baptised in the sea and I tell them that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, whilst also trying to equip them to overcome the toxicity of evangelical culture.

 

Why does Bill Johnson get to maintain the label evangelical, when he’s misrepresenting the Bible so horrifically?  When he’s doing such great violence to sacred Scripture?  Why do sexual abuse apologists, racists and bigots get to keep the label evangelical, when they’re defiling God’s temple just the same as the market sellers Jesus chased out with a whip?

 

Evangelical culture left me vulnerable to abuse.  Cultural constructs of forgiveness, submission, consent and the status of women left me ill-equipped to deal with male violence.  And consequently a man almost killed my child and drove me close to suicide.  But Jesus saved me and He saved me back into the evangelical church.  So I’m not leaving, because this is my home.

 

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

 

Wake up Church, wake up Evangelical Alliance, wake up all you Christians.

 

Idolatry and the love of power wreak destruction in the holy places of God.  Our so-called brothers and sisters (oh God, how I weep that it was our sisters too) have elected an anti-Christ man to the most powerful office on earth.  Now is not the time for diplomacy, for platitudes or misrepresenting Trump’s insincere speech as “gracious and moderate”.  170 years ago, the leaders of the UK evangelical alliance stood against the US church in their perpetration of slavery and today we must stand against them once again.  For if we do not, we are culpable as bigots, racists and sexual abuse apologists.

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23 thoughts on “Wake Up.

  1. 10% more white women voted for Trump than for Clinton. They preferred a vile personality who spoke of grabbing women by the pussy over the potential first woman president. And not without reason.

    For most of the population there were far, far more important things to be concerned about than wondering whether the presidency could come in pink as well as in blue, or whether the president held feminist values, or even was a generally decent man. Clinton was a terrible candidate on the issues that people cared about. Her supporters who played the gender card were seemingly oblivious to the fact that, for instance, most women care a great deal more about whether their husbands have jobs than they do about having a female president. Identity politics and moral highmindedness are seen as ridiculous luxuries of the privileged by people who don’t know where the money for the next rent is going to come from.

    The huge numbers of women who turned out for Trump don’t hate women. However, they may have little time for the sort of privileged feminists who so value symbolic social justice victories that they expect the population to turn a blind eye to the fact that their chosen candidate is a hawkish and corrupt neoliberal, a lifetime politician from one of the two dominant political dynasties of the last few decades, who has made millions of dollars from professional politics, while their own livelihoods have become increasingly precarious. They neither like nor trust career political insiders.

    The good news is that this was not a vote for misogyny, racism, and hatred. Clinton supporters should resist the Manichaean narrative as it just shows how out of touch with the population they are. No, Trump voters held their nose and voted for him because he was the one who offered change. The fact that they were prepared to get behind such an exceedingly poor candidate is a sign of how desperate people are and is a terrible indictment upon the politics of the last few decades, from both sides of the political aisle.

    The overwhelming majority of the population, male and female, love and care about the women in their lives. They dislike Clinton, not because she is a woman, but because she is a particular type of politician and a particular type of woman. They dislike Trump too, not least because he is particularly repugnant type of man.

    Most of the American evangelicals I know were appalled by Trump and opposed him vehemently from day one. Most voted for third party candidates. I sought to persuade people not to vote Trump. I argued that the open identification of prominent evangelical leaders with the Trump campaign fatally damaged evangelicalism’s credibility and that we should consider abandoning the label.

    People’s politics are so much more complicated than complete identification with a single candidate. I have an exceedingly intelligent Chinese American friend from California who voted Trump. I know godly Christian women who voted for Trump. These same people are people who adopt kids, who run soup kitchens, who run refuges for abused women, who visit prisons, who welcome immigrants into their houses. These people voted for Trump—a painful decision for many of them—out of the same sorts of concerns as lead them to reach out to people in need. They saw their communities in pain and knew that Clinton and the people in the bubble around her could neither see, understand, or solve their problems. Trump, by contrast, identified with them and voiced their often politically incorrect concerns, even while he was ridiculed by the elite.

    Seeing such people spoken of as if they were hateful and ignorant is distasteful to me. They are good and intelligent people in hard straits who made a difficult decision between two very poor options. They deserve so much better than Donald Trump.

    The evangelical leaders who have excused Trump’s actions are inexcusable and should be firmly condemned. However, I draw great comfort from the fact that all of the Trump voters I know personally are precisely the sorts of people I would want as my neighbours. In your stance against misogyny, you would find strong allies among them. We simply cannot read people’s hearts and morals from the vote they cast. We need to listen to them and, only as they reveal their motivations and rationale can we determine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I very much agree with Alastair here, and was frustratedly trying to think of how to respond similarly without the personal experience of American politics that Alastair has.

      Trump disavowed so many of the highly dubious financial relationships that Hillary is known for; Wall Street, Saudi and others. She has reliably proven that she will literally say anything to get into power, and is quite happy to lie, cheat and bend the rules to do so.

      Compared to this, Trump’s own character flaws seemed relatively predictable. As Alastair says, people are not voting for their candidates flaws: If you say that people voted for sexism in Trump, did they vote for dishonesty, cronyism and foreign intervention in Hillary? No – if you credit people with looking past her flaws and voting for progressive values, gender equality etc. then you have to say the same of him, and see that people were voting for jobs, security and economic protectionism.

      I’m not “defending Trump”; like Alastair I find the man’s character repugnant. But I am defending those who voted for him from being maligned in a way that may as well come from a Democrat leaflet, with seemingly no insight into the fact that there is another side to the one presented by US liberals.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Tom and Alastair,

        Thanks for your comments! I think you’re both right about my lack of kindness towards my brothers and sisters who have voted for Trump. Alastair, I’m sorry to you and to your friends for coming over as hating them. My intention in writing the post wasn’t to condemn as terrible every person who voted for Trump, but rather to try and wake up the UK evangelical church to the fact that evangelicalism is getting subsumed into a) voting for Trump and b) being a bigot, a racist and a sexual abuse apologist. In doing so I characterised everyone in the same way. I was reminded then of this post I wrote (https://mrsglw.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/political-narratives-and-vulnerable-women/) in which I challenged the media portrayal of Trump voters in ways that are wrong and unkind, something I subsequently have now done unintentionally.

        I am horrified at the way people like Bill Johnson are employing cognitive dissonance in order to justify Trump and I think that many are similar to him, good hearted people whose worldview is so totally blinkered by their privileged and/or limited experience of the world. As a teenage mother who survived solely on benefits, I find his characterisation of the social welfare system abhorrent.

        My concern, as a non American, living in the UK and passionate about Jesus and being an evangelical Christian, my priority is trying to insist that the UK church wake up to the significance of American evangelicalism and how it is coopting *all* evangelicals into a particular boat. I’ve seen plenty of Christians jumping ship and I totally understand why, and as Ruth says below, evangelicals don’t get a monopoly on the things I’ve included in this blog. However, I don’t want to jump ship, I want to challenge those in the ship to speak up and speak out (great to see how you have done this before the election Alastair) against this narrowing of the evangelical definition within popular culture and the media to mean “Trump supporter” and by “Trump supporter” specifically racist, homophobic, misogynist etc etc.

        Thanks for your thoughts and challenge.

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      • Thanks for the response, mrsglw!

        It is indeed hard to call out the evangelical leaders who have engaged in utterly shameful excusing of Trump’s actions (‘we all make mistakes, but God forgives us’, ‘King David was a murderer, but he was a man after God’s own heart’, ‘it was only locker room talk’, etc., etc.) without attacking profoundly reluctant Trump voters as collateral damage.

        However, it is incredibly important on the other hand that we don’t allow a reasonable compassion and understanding for such evangelical Trump voters to excuse the evangelical leaders who positively celebrated Trump and excused his abuse. They must be called out. Their presence at the head of evangelical churches and organizations leaves those churches and organizations rightly exposed to the charge of gross misogyny, unless they are dealt with and their statements publicly and entirely repudiated.

        Thank you for the grace of your response. I have actually been heartened by the firmness of some key evangelical leaders in standing against Trump since day one, while simultaneously trying to be charitable to his reluctant voters. One good thing that has come out of all of this is that a great many evangelicals, and especially women, feel deeply betrayed by the leaders who excused Trump. Those men may still head organizations and have authority in theory, but they have forfeited actual moral credibility and trust. People won’t listen to what they say any more. A lot of dead wood is being removed from evangelicalism by this. And for that we can all be very thankful.

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  2. I think it’s absolutely awesome that you see problems but still want to count yourself as part of the group. I genuinely mean that even though, for my part, I’m shedding the label.
    I do think Evangelicalism needs to examine its roots. Many of my issues with Evangelicalism are tied to its characteristic roots from the evangelical movement: conversionism, cruciocentrism, and holding scripture as the supreme authority. I dare say these now cultivate an in/out culture, a guilt-focussed culture, and the very misuse of scripture that you describe above. These are *structural* problems, not those of a few bad apples.
    I’m not saying there is nothing good, and one day I’d love to wear the label again, but I’m taking time out because the issues I see are too pervasive (even if they’re only mild in many churches).
    I think in this respect we are all called to be who and what we can be. As I wrote in a post on my blog, I will be an irritant – sand in the oyster shell. And you be who you are. And don’t for a minute regret that.

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  3. “I love Jesus. I would be dead without Jesus. And I love Jesus in an evangelical, unapologetic, charismatic, raise your hands to the sky and sing your lungs out kind of way. I love the Bible and think it’s inspired by God and I believe in capital-T Truth. I live in the tension of being a woman liberated by God while reading Bible passages about women oppressed by that same God. And I don’t want to just explain it away by making it say what I want it to say. I raise my kids to know that Jesus saves and my daughter got baptised in the sea and I tell them that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, whilst also trying to equip them to overcome the toxicity of evangelical culture.”

    YES, all of this! I want this too. But I have found it outside of Evangelicalism. I think it is one of the most dangerous myths of Evangelicalism that Evangelicals have cornered the market in terms of lively worship, or taking the Bible seriously, or being passionate about the saving love of Jesus. That’s not Evangelicalism, that’s the church. All over the church, in every branch and every denomination, you can find people who worship Jesus in an “unapologetic, charismatic, raise your hands to the sky and sing your lungs out kind of way”, people who “love the Bible and think it’s inspired by God”, people who talk about Jesus in just the same way you do here. You don’t have to be an Evangelical to find any of that, although there are many Evangelical leaders who will try to tell you that you do.

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    • Hannah, I want to thank you for raising this, because it is an important point.

      Do you want to know why I am here?

      I am here because I read everything that God Loves Women posts on her blog and have done for a very long time. I am here because she is a smart and a good woman, and because I think that it is important that I listen and think about what she has to say. In following her blog, I can hear perspectives that I might not directly encounter in my day to day life.

      I chose to comment because I know that God Loves Women is the sort of person whose love for women doesn’t entail a hatred for men, and whose commitment to listen to and believe women doesn’t entail a shutting out and refusal to consider the voices of men. I chose to comment because I have seen over many years of interacting with her that God Loves Women is someone who listens to what I have to say, thinks carefully about it, and responds. I have also seen her willingness to shift her position in response to what I have to say. Much of the time she will disagree with me. However, I respect that disagreement, because I know that it is a thoughtful and considered disagreement, not a reactive and dismissive one.

      I commented here because she is the sort of person with whom I can have a conversation that challenges both of us and leaves both of us considering perspectives we might previously not have reflected upon. I respect her deeply for that, as experience has sadly taught me that these traits are very rare in some feminist quarters.

      I first came across the word ‘mansplaining’ several years ago, not long after Solnit’s essay that introduced the notion appeared. After encountering the word, I looked for her essay and read it. My reaction to it wasn’t unmixed. I think Solnit’s concept of mansplaining was limited by her lack of exposure to all male contexts. Had she had such exposure, I suspect she would have appreciated something of what Deborah Tannen has spoken of as common but not universal sex differences in conversational styles (men tend to spar with each other and establish a generally playful back-and-forth game of conversational dominance, while women are more likely to focus on empathizing with each other and are less likely to challenge people or force them to fight their corner as men are). Some of the things Solnit experiences as ‘mansplaining’ might, in the context of a male conversation, more likely function the opening gambits in a fun and bonding game of conversational dominance. Neither conversational dynamic is wrong, but we need to be much more considerate of each other.

      However, by far my most dominant reaction to the essay was one of recognition. She gave a name to something I had often seen and also done on a number of occasions. Her opening anecdote was truly laugh-out-loud hilarious, but the essay moved into far more serious territory, as it revealed men’s failure to attend to and to trust women’s reporting of their own experiences.

      Although I wasn’t prepared to give the sexism dimension quite as much weight as Solnit wanted—the problem, I suspect, is in some measure one of clumsy failure to appreciate and negotiate differences between the sexes—my principal response to the essay was to take two extremely important points more fully on board. 1. I saw how women could find the ‘mansplaining’ that Solnit described deeply annoying and insulting and determined to be more careful and considerate in the future. 2. I saw how the failure to take seriously women’s self-reported experience and knowledge wasn’t just a matter of rudeness in conversations, but could fatally undermine processes of truth and justice in society. Appreciating Solnit’s wit and insight, when her book, Men Explain Things to Me and Other Essays, came out I bought a copy and read it.

      Unfortunately, since first coming in contact with Solnit’s argument, I have had the depressing experience of seeing a very helpful and important concept, a concept that helped me come to some awareness of things that I should have recognized before, mangled beyond recognition.

      Feminists recognized the power of the concept of mansplaining to name a particular type of engagement that frustrated them. It produced recognition on both sides of a great many conversations. The power of the name and the concept served as a sort of antibiotic by which certain unhealthy conversational dynamics could be effectively treated. Employed with wit and care, women could help men to see that what they were doing wasn’t cool and that, if it became deeply engrained, it could be profoundly dangerous. The great many decent men in society are good people whose behaviour will gradually change as they are shown what is wrong with it. As decent people they feel embarrassment when they recognize that they haven’t been considerate towards others, and this embarrassment leads them to treat problems in their behaviour and ways of thinking.

      The problem was that the concept was so effective that many feminists started to use it for every conversational dynamic that frustrated them. When they saw that they could get the upper hand in frustrating conversations and interpersonal interactions by embarrassing decent men for disagreeing with them and problematizing men’s typical behaviour, they started to use it all of the time. ‘Mansplaining’ started to be used, as you have used it here, Hannah, to dismiss and embarrass men who simply dared respectfully to express a different opinion than a woman. It typically had the desired effect: it shut the men up and gave women a sense of righteous superiority.

      Seeing the term mansplaining, feminists started to introduce a whole raft of portmanteau words—manspreading, manterrupting, bropropriating, manslamming, etc. Everything that irritated a woman about men’s behaviour was given a term with man- or bro- attached, even when the men’s behaviour wasn’t entirely unreasonable and a little more consideration on the woman’s side would have improved things greatly. This sludge of clumsy neologisms (the French term ‘mecspliquer’ was always the best) swamped conversations and feminists started to use shame and embarrassment to win in every interaction with men. They failed to recognize that what they were doing was akin to using antibiotics when someone gets a scrape on the knee.

      Just as overuse of antibiotics to kill bacteria can eventually lead to the production of antibiotic resistant strains and to the increased obsolescence of many antibiotics, so the overuse of shaming on men will produce shame-resistant men and lead to the shaming words and concepts becoming altogether powerless. If you want to understand why America has a President-Elect who is shameless and guilt-free, perhaps you should take a look at yourself. Many people are fed up of the way that people on the social justice left have so overused the antibiotics of political correctness, feminist thought, gender theory, and race theory to shame them, dismiss them, lock them out of the conversation, and stigmatize them. They derive a sort of schadenfreude from seeing the social justice left slowly coming to the realization that their antibiotics of shame aren’t working anymore. People just don’t care.

      The more that feminists and social justice activists just dismissed them and their concerns (many of them quite valid), the more that they just stopped listening to, caring about, or taking on board what feminists said. They shut the voice of the feminists out from their conversations. They saw that the antibiotics of shame were being used to protect ideological systems that were without an immune system of their own.

      Much contemporary feminist thought wouldn’t be able to survive in the harsh climate of open discourse and argument. Many feminists fail to recognize that by relying upon the antibiotics of shame to deal with external challenges, their thinking never developed a resilience of their own, the sort of resilience that develops when our bodies fight off infections themselves. Exposure to challenge makes you stronger, but feminists have increasingly shielded themselves from challenge. They so often act like fainting Victorian ladies when people disagree with them. They shut down college debate, they no-platformed speakers who disagreed with them, they claimed to be triggered by everything.

      Now we are all reaping the consequences. Feminists have things to say that need to be heard. Careful prescription of shame and embarrassment to men who don’t treat women as they ought is very important for society’s health. However, feminists don’t seem to get that they are now viewed as irrelevant by most of the population and that an openly shameless form of male identity is increasingly arising in response to them. They now operate as if in a closed terrarium in their social media bubbles, where fragile and exotic flowers bloom, but where they are no longer deeply and meaningfully engaged with the broader environment. The rest of the world is starting to ignore them, most women refuse to identify with them, and the election of Trump is one symptom of their growing lack of traction in the public conscience. They have used shame, not to help people, but to establish their own cocooned communities of moral superiority.

      Thank God for feminists like God Loves Women, who are still prepared to listen to and engage with different opinions and not dismiss them with shame tactics. The fact that I am expressing difference in this comment thread at all is a sign of my respect for her, an indication that I don’t believe that she is a weak, thin skinned, and hyper-emotional woman (like far too many contemporary feminists, to be honest) to be protected from disagreement, but an smart and reasonable interlocutor who is well able to think, engage, reason, persuade, and be persuaded. That I am here is a sign that I haven’t left the room where the feminists are talking and closed the door behind me, leaving them to it.

      This openness to argument, if you want to know, is the only way that the feminist movement will have a meaningful future of moral credibility within the wider culture. Even on the left, among the people who are most inclined to listen to the feminists and social justice crowd, there is a huge reaction against and increased dismissal of them (see here for an important rant). You will make a difference when you reject the politics of deference and shaming and once again learn how to listen, how to engage, how to argue, how to persuade. Feminists did it once—and a number still do—so I see no reason why they cannot do so again.

      Finally, let me take issue with the accuracy of your use of the term ‘mansplaining’. I don’t think that you know what it means and, in case you think I am being oblivious to some irony in the situation here, let me explicitly point out that a man correcting a woman on the definition of the term ‘mansplaining’ is not the sort of thing that is covered by the concept. Have you read Solnit’s essay? If you haven’t, you should. It is brilliant and perceptive. I have read it, so I know what it says and am in a position to explain it to others. Yes, even to women.

      One of the crucial statements that she makes is the following: ‘I love it when people explain things to me they know and I’m interested in but don’t yet know; it’s when they explain things to me I know and they don’t that the conversation goes wrong.’ I highly recommend that you reflect upon the sorts of conversational behaviour that statement challenges and the sorts of conversational behaviour that it doesn’t challenge. Many feminists could do well in following Solnit’s example here in expressing openness to learning from others: yes, even men. They could also benefit from reflecting upon Solnit’s focus in this statement. Note that she doesn’t focus on and fetishize her personal feelings of offence. No, her primary concern is primarily that the conversation goes right, that genuine communication actually occurs between people. Good for her. We can all learn from that.

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      • Alastair, I am massively conflicted by your comment. On the one hand, your characterisation of me has blown me away by it’s positivity, yet at the same time you’ve described many of my sisters as weak, thin skinned and hyper-emotional women and I’m really not sure how to respond! I’m glad that my approach is one which invites, but I would be unable to support much of what you say. I do think there are currently some huge problems with discourse and a lack of dialogue that are rooted in identity politics and a misuse of safe spaces. It gives me hope that we can continue to value one another in spite of our huge differences. So thank you and I don’t agree and arghhhhh I feel very conflicted!!!

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      • Thanks for the response. I really value the engagement.

        To clarify those remarks a little, I am definitely not referring to some fundamental feature of the nature of the people in question, but to something that, as a result of a particular climate of discourse and engagement, has often become ‘second’ nature.

        It is akin to saying that someone is ‘rude’. Most people who are rude could change, if they were determined to do so. Likewise, certain contexts encourage rudeness in people. These things can become features of our personalities, but people also very frequently move beyond them.

        My underlying concern is that a culture that is often heavily ordered around deference to victims and vulnerable people can inadvertently end up encouraging many people to become weaker and more vulnerable.

        For instance, one thing that is interesting to observe is that someone like Margaret Thatcher could only really have come from the right. Say what you want about her politics (for which I have little time), one cannot deny that she was a tough woman. However, her toughness was so visible precisely because she arose in a context where she wasn’t constantly cushioned from criticism by charges of sexism and misogyny thrown at her opponents. The feminists tended to dislike her, so didn’t shield her, with the result that she had the opportunity to prove her own thickness of skin, nerve, resilience, strength, and resolve.

        Hillary Clinton is a tough woman too, but the fact that there are so many feminists seemingly protecting her from attack by labelling critics as sexist prevents her from demonstrating it and strengthens the notion that women are fragile and that, even in the most powerful job in the world, they need people to rally around to give them special protection. This all proves counter-productive. Strength is developed and demonstrated by exposure to ever greater challenge and by the removal of protection from tough opposition, and fierce criticism. Only in a culture of challenge and criticism, where our characters and opinions are mercilessly stress-tested, can we truly demonstrate our strength.

        My concern is that the feminism that tends to predominate today does not provide for the development of such strength in key respects, particularly ideologically. This isn’t to deny that a great many admirable strength can be seen in other areas (in dogged weathering of insults and mistreatment, or surviving abuse, for instance), but these strengths are much less the creation of the movement than women’s own courageous responses to their life experiences.

        All this said, these sorts of interactions are encouraging to me too. When broken down to size, our differences, though still significant, can actually be seen to allow for a great deal of common cause and mutual appreciation. Thanks again!

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      • Hannah says:

        Alastair,

        I’ve only just checked back in on this page and found the comments. Sorry for the late reply.
        You’ve written a lot, and I’m not quite sure where to start, but many other commenters further down have made excellent points already so I won’t try and address everything.

        I accept your claim that your response is in good faith, though I must confess at times I wonder, given that in your attempt to correct my use of the term mansplaining you have provided a superlative example.

        I know you’ve stated that what you’ve written is not in fact mansplaining, but I beg to differ.

        The section you quote from Solnit is of course not from the original essay, but from the postscript added later.

        “I love it when people explain things to me they know and I’m interested in but don’t yet know; it’s when they explain things to me I know and they don’t that the conversation goes wrong.”

        I agree, one important factor in a ‘disputed mansplain’ (can I call it that?) is whether the writer/speaker knows what they are talking about. I am glad that you have read and digested the essay and that it has resulted in fruitful reflection for you.

        But of course, the second part of this quote is important as well.

        The important thing here of course is the knowledge differential. Mansplaining is objectionable because it reveals an assumption that the hearer does not know about the topic.

        The keen observation that Solnit makes is that women are more likely to be the victims of this assumption than men. And that men are more likely to make this assumption than women are.

        The problem is not only when men wax lyrical to women on topics they are mostly ignorant of, it is also when men assume ignorance in women and therefore over explain, or explain things that the women in question are in fact fully aware of.

        Many times throughout this post you have indicated clearly that you believe I need educating on this matter. For example:

        – your lengthy introduction to the concept, including its origins and history
        – your reflections on (or more properly, critique of) the development of the term in feminist use and theory
        – your attempt to define my own usage of the term (“as you have used it here, Hannah”) in accordance with your loaded description of problematic feminists (a description that others have already rightly objected to)
        – your unnecessary over explanation of your antibiotic analogy
        – “If you want to understand why…. Then perhaps you should…”
        – “Many feminists fail to recognise…” (I assume you mean me? Though you in fact know nothing about me.)
        – Your assumption that you know how to do feminism better than many feminists (“… Is the only way that the feminist movement will have a meaningful future…”)
        – “… If you want to know…”
        – “You will make a difference when…”
        – “I highly recommend that you reflect upon….”

        Your assumption that I do not know, followed by your attempt to inform and educate me, is indeed a perfect example of mansplaining. So perfect in fact, that I wonder if you are really serious?

        One of the important things that Solnit’s essay, and the concept more generally, draws attention to is that women’s voices are not seen as credible. Men often feel free to correct women, even when women are talking about their very own experiences as women. It is assumed that women ‘misread’, ‘don’t fully understand,’ ‘don’t see the whole picture’ etc. That is, if only women saw things the way men did, women would agree with men.

        Indeed, you demonstrate this attitude even in your comments about Solnit’s article itself when you write: “I think Solnit’s concept of mansplaining was limited by her lack of exposure to all male contexts. Had she had such exposure, I suspect she would have appreciated…..”

        This is code for: Had she seen things the way I see them, then she would have appreciated what I appreciate. It is not Solnit’s ‘lack of exposure’ that is the problem, rather, your assumption that she hasn’t had the ‘right sort’ of exposure.

        The reason that I called mansplain on your (but not just your) initial comment was that I believe that the same dynamic was present in your comment on mrsglw’s initial post.

        mrsglw was right to call out the sexism and double standards of many evangelicals. She has experienced it herself, and she saw it in action.

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    • Hannah,
      This thread should really be printed, framed and a gold medal awarded.

      Not only was there the initial mansplaining but your calling out of that got you a full essay with original references proving how wrong you were (and how weak and pathetic you were for being wrong). When MrsGLW challenged that she got another dose telling her why she was wrong and that by attacking you he was doing you a favour.

      Maybe as well as a gold medal for mansplaining we should also award -5/10 for self awareness and 11/10 for arrogance?

      Dave

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m gutted. I have been increasingly horrified at the number of US evangelicals who have supported Trump but I suppose that even though I had respected them up until then as people who were following their level of revelation, I could write them off in my thinking because I didn’t agree with their policies anyway. But BILL JOHNSON! c’mon! Honestly, it has made me also want to eschew the label of evangelical… I’m aghast that he wrote something like that, when he could have said so much more about trump… but he’s chosen trump so he chooses not to.

    I’m shocked, disappointed, battling cynicism and feel sickened by the ‘evangelical’ vote that got America, and of course, the rest of us (because we will all reap the results of this vote) into this mess. Ugghhhhh

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s not so much that BJ voted Trump – most rich white Christians are cradle Republicans. Where Grudem and Graham and the others at least had the courage to campaign for their convictions (terrible as I think they are), Johnson issues this the day AFTER as a kind of “Well this is what I found in the Bible and that makes me right and you wrong.” It’s the lack of compassion and the dismissal of the pain and fear others are feeling. It’s the inability to just be glad his political party won, but rather the compulsion to try and anoint it as God’s deliberate will. The time for this would have been a week ago. The thing now is to encourage your Republican congregation to live like Jesus and protect the vulnerable in their community – and looking at some of the terrible stories coming out of Redding this week they need to do that pretty badly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. alex says:

    Mansplaining mansplained! Well done Alastair I think you just reached the event horizon of “not getting it”!

    Hesitate to comment lest it spark another 3 volume novel from Alastair. His original comment wasn’t a suggestion to understand and listen to why people voted in such numbers and against their self interest for Trump, but a demand we assume the most noble and understandable of motives for them as a group. The suggestion they were turned off politically by Clinton’s dealings as an ” explanation ” with no mention of, let alone explanation of why Trumps dealings were overlooked or forgiven is nothing other than whitewashing a catastrophic payload of racism and misogyny, as well as being an idiotic suggestion in its lack of equivalence.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Stephanie Offer says:

    The feminists I know meet Alistair Robert’s description of Godloveswomen, I’ve never met any of the others, if they exist. So many women have been subject to violence by men (1/5 have experienced some sort of sexual violence) and I think that is where a lot of the safe spaces/trigger warnings stuff comes from. That said, I don’t recognise the victim mentality you lay out, the women I know who have been abused or raped etc. are amazing, strong women. Maybe they don’t fit a masculine version of strong? Because to me it felt like that is what your comments boiled down to, be like us, debate like us, talk like us, spar like us; whatever you do, don’t be a woman. It’s no accident that when a man wants to insult another man he uses terms like “big girl’s blouse”, “crying like a little girl” etc. (For what it’s worth, I’ve read Solnit’s essay too)

    I’m a “vulnerable” person, in that I’m too ill with a mix of physical and mental illnesses to work. There is absolutely no way we have too much deference to the vulnerable in our society. It feels more like being a despised political football, at times even within the church.

    In terms of dialogue we do need to listen to one another more, on both sides of the divide and follow Jesus’ example of meeting people where they are, but not leaving them where they are, helping where we can to break down prejudice and hatred towards any group is important. We as a church need to resist the tendency that’s around a lot to make certain groups of people (immigrants, Muslims, the rich, the poor, POC, LGBT etc.) into an “other” to be despised or blamed for everything and help us all to see every person and group of people as beloved of Jesus.

    However, that also means resisting calls for cheap, easy grace, especially without any repentance; people have been so hurt by recent political campaigns in the UK&US and it is important to acknowledge that and to allow people to express how they feel. In the end we only learn empathy and compassion when we see how our words and actions affect someone else.

    As for the term evangelical, I don’t feel like I know what it means anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m struck by Alastair’s criticism of mainstream feminism as being a movement of weak and vulnerable people. Jesus Christ came to live as a weak and vulnerable human, starting as the weakest and most vulnerable of all – a baby. Throughout Jesus’ ministry He shows vulnerability, strong emotions (rather than ‘banter’), and passivity. I don’t believe that men and women are inherently different (I think these things are human traits rather than biologically-determined, and shaped by cultural expectations more than anything) but it is striking that the same ‘weak’ traits supposedly being shown by feminists (not by any feminist I’ve actually met, mind) and seen as un-masculine were part of Jesus’ character. A culture of toxic masculinity which makes men feel unable to be vulnerable and emotional is literally killing men via skyrocketing suicide rates.

    Regarding triggering – we now know more than ever about PTSD, anxiety disorders etc. They are disabilities. Trigger warnings and safe spaces are as much disability access provision as a wheelchair ramp or subtitles. We wouldn’t belittle an Army veteran with PTSD who is triggered by loud noises or sudden movements (I hope) so it shouldn’t be acceptable to do the same with a young woman who is a rape survivor.

    Regarding the election – speaking as a white person, it’s important to remember that white people can be capital-N Nice People but also do racist things. Racism isn’t just something that Bad Racists Over There do, it’s something that all white people are prone to because racial privilege is something we benefit from. I am a white working-class Christian, so I am not speaking from an elite position either. But Trump is the KKK’s choice of candidate, white supremacist forums around the world were championing him, and neo-Nazi groups in the US and in Europe feel validated by his election. If that isn’t a good enough reason for white Christians to not vote for him then it feels like a massive kick in the face for people of colour, including Christians of colour. It says ‘your lives are worth less than my own insecurities’. I think as Christians we are called to do all things – including voting – from a position of putting others first. This is not an endorsement of Clinton (I was a Bernie Sanders supporter) but an endorsement of listening to people of colour and the danger they now face.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. It’s shocking that so many supported Trump. If I visited the US I definitely wouldn’t go to a church led by a Trump-supporter. We can disagree on politics – in England the CofE has traditionalist Tories and left-wingers. They interpret the Bible differently and that’s fine.

    But sexual assault’s another matter. I have two young daughters, and if sexual assault is so low down the priority list then I wouldn’t feel that they’d be safe in such a church.

    Like

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