Thursday, March 13, 2014

Powerful essay on Religion and Gender Inequality by Samantha Eyler

My disdain for christianity is rooted in the injustices I witnessed growing up in churches. The normalization and constant reinforcement of girls' and women's place behind a man (her husband, father, pastor, son [!!]) and at the service of men; the sick concept of "holiness," which justifies the enforcement of strict and gendered physical appearances and conduct; the restrictions in physical activities and vocational and career aspirations; and, the unwavering expectation that one day their lives will be whole and completely god-worthy as subservient wives and mothers--only then.

When I was 19 I told my pastor (who was also a bishop) I believed I was gay, he said I was just confused because I had never been intimate with a woman. He recommended reparative therapy, which I accepted to try as I trusted him as my spiritual guide. Toward the end of the meeting, he suggested I have sex with the young woman I had been dating and that this act would resolve all my doubts. It was in that moment that everything I ever thought to be true came tumbling down. The role of women as tools that exist at the service of men and the ranking of sins (sex out of marriage was less of a sin than being a homosexual) were what led me to walk away from christianity and never look back.

I recognize that my christian upbringing was more literal than most. That most christian women are "allowed" to wear makeup, pants, cut their hair, pursue vocations/careers, and in some instances lead congregations. Still, the fundamental inhumanities exist as the word "allowed" remains. I also recognize that my scars run deep, that the wounds remain, that the rancor I carry is both because of what I witnessed underneath church roofs and what I know to be true about the devastation and ongoing massacre (of bodies, minds) brought about under the shadow and guise of crosses (522 years and counting).

Many, many of my loved ones identify as christians or catholics, and my love for them is unwavering. I hold their right to hold their faith close to their hearts in the same breath with which I hold my own truths. We are complex people navigating complex worlds.

Although I prefer to think and strive toward justice rather than equality, I found this by Samantha Eyler to be powerful and compelling. It also brought back haunting memories.

"Why I Had To Lose My Religion Before I Could Support Gender Equality"