Posted by: smstrouse | October 8, 2016

Gender: Pope Francis Fail

images-1Everyone’s up in arms (rightly so!) about Donald Trump’s despicable self revealed yet again. This time, though, his offensiveness goes beyond mere lewdness into actual sexual assault. My question is: who’s surprised? Sexual abuse and power have gone together since the first caveman dragged the first cavewoman off by her hair. Some men haven’t evolved past that stage.

The problem, though, is that in a patriarchal society, all men have power. A study has shown that one in five women surveyed said they’d been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point. One in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner and one in six have been stalked.

I would bet that because of underreporting the numbers are actually higher. I’d also bet that if you added in questions about sexual harassment the numbers would skyrocket. I can remember incidents from as far back as elementary school. It started on the playground and on the walk home from school – just boys being boys. It continued in middle school as some of the boys figured out that a penis could be used for intimidation. Walking to the store meant averting my eyes and ignoring the catcalls from gangs of hoods in passing cars. It’s just the way it was. As a young girl, I learned the way of the world. And the crazy thing about it is that I also learned that somehow I was too blame. Just being a girl brought on shame that then led to vulnerability to full-on sexual assault.

So even before the latest Trump revelation, I was dismayed to read about Pope Francis’ concern about gender fluidity. Especially after coming through the Season of Creation last month, extolling his encyclical letter Laudato Si’ (“On Care for Our Common Home”). I thought he really got how interconnected we all are, how our dualistic thinking about humanity and the rest of the natural world must disappear.

But obviously he’s not able to extend that thinking to the realm of gender. And if he thinks that conducting a study on the acceptability of female deacons in the Catholic church is as progressive as he needs to be, he’s got a long way to go.

If he thinks that by accepting gender fluidity we will bring about the “annihilation of man as the image of God,” I say, Bring it on!” Yeah, I know, “man” means all of humankind. I’ve been hearing that argument for decades. It got old a long time ago.  And it continues to uphold the power differential of patriarchy, which allows the rampant sexual mistreatment of women, girls, men, boys, transwomen, transmen, those who identify as genderqueer, intersex, gender fluid – in other words, any of us.

“Man”as the defining term for the image of God has got to go.



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