Reminder: AWH has moved! Update your links and feeds.

Just a quick reminder that Are Women Human has moved to arewomenhuman.me. I’ll be setting up a site redirect today so that all links from this blog automatically direct to the new site, but I’m not sure whether this means that RSS feeds will update automatically, so please change your feeds to those for the new site (RSS feed info is at the bottom right on the new site). Email subscribers will also have to resubscribe on the new site; you can do so in the right sidebar. See you at AWH’s new digs!


AWH is moving!

Happy New Year! I’m starting off 2012 by moving Are Women Human? to a new address and platform. I’m really excited about what this means for the blog – there’s a lot more I can do with it as a self-hosted blog, both in terms of the kinds of content and media I can work with, and in terms of supporting reader contributions and a more interactive community.

The new URL for Are Women Human? is http://arewomenhuman.me. All new posts after this one will be on that site only, so please update your links and your RSS feeds! In a day or two I’ll set things up so [arewomenhuman.wordpress.com] automatically redirects to the new address.

Readers who have been getting new post notifications by email will have to re-subscribe to get email post updates on the new site. The form to subscribe is in the sidebar on the new site. WordPress.com users, if subscribe using the same email adress that you use for your wordpress account, the new AWH site will show up in your Dashboard under “Blogs I Follow.”

See you all on the new site! <3


Top AWH posts of 2011 + exciting news!

I’m sure you’re all dying to know what the most popular posts (not to say the best ones) from Are Women Human? were in 2011, so here you go, a top ten list, roughly ordered by how much I like them ;)

10. Documents that led to C.J. Mahaney stepping down?
9.   Confirmed: SGM leader C.J. Mahaney to temporarily step down
8.   Reaction to Brent Detwiler’s documents – highlights
7.   Damage control at Covenant Life Church, pt. 1
6.   Mark Driscoll: If you don’t believe in hell, you’re going there
5.   Dianna Anderson: Dear Mr. Driscoll
4.  Ann Voskamp and Jesus as lover: Perspective from the Puritans, pt. 1
3.   Must read: On Cage Fighting, “Masculinity, Misogyny, and the Fear of Losing Control”
2.   Mark Driscoll Apologism Bingo (a top post in large part thanks to it being linked by Slacktivist! So exciting.)
1.   About Penn State

I guess people like reading about bizarre culty church scandals and Mark Driscoll. Go figure.

As for the exciting news: AWH is moving! I’ve been feeling constrained by the limits of wordpress.com as a platform, so I’m moving the blog to self-hosted WordPress. The blog’s URL will be changing, so readers will have to change their bookmarks and update their RSS feeds to the new address. I’m hoping to have the new site live on New Year’s Day (that is to say, tomorrow). I’ll make a post here when it’s up.

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Comments are closed. Please comment at the new AWH site.


NaBloPoMo wrap-up

So, this is it, the last day of NaBloPoMo. Woohoo for posting 30 days in a row! Some of what I learned by doing NaBloPoMo:

– I have a lot to say! Often when I’m working on blog posts I feel like I’ve run out of ideas, or have nothing to say – especially when I’m feeling particularly anxious or depressed. Turns out I have a lot of things I want to talk about. In fact, there were a number of topics I though I’d be able to touch on this month that I just didn’t get to.
– It’s possible to write a decent post in a day, but I also need to write more often and try to plan out my writing further in advance. And also do more writing just for practice. My long-term dream is to be able to write about gender and religion issues as a career, so I definitely need to think more about my writing as a craft and skill.
–  Daily blogging is hard bloody work! I knew that in the abstract; I mean, blogging a few times a week is also a lot of work. But, whew. I’m feeling a bit blogged out. I do plan on posting tomorrow for World AIDS day, but after that posting may be on the light side for a bit probably more like twice a week.
– Having awesome readers and commenters who leave encouraging and insightful comments gives me energy to blog more, helps me hone my thoughts, and gives me more ideas for posts.

All of my NaBloPoMo 2011 posts can be found here. Thanks for reading!


thanksgiving!

Just a quick Thanksgiving post! One of the things I’m thankful for today is having a thoughtful and support online community with which to share experiences and perspectives. Here are some of the bloggers/blogs that help create that kind of community for me:

Prairie Nymph – Prairie writes about leaving fundamentalist Christianity. I especially love her posts on gender ideologies in fundamentalism, and her thoughts on parenting and family life from a post-Christian perspective.

somaticstrength – on being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and rape in a fundamentalist Christian family.

Gender NOS – Max isn’t currently blogging much, but he does tweet a lot (his twitter name is at the link provided). He’s thoughtful and wonderful and one of my favorite people.

Dianna Anderson – examining evangelical Christianity from a feminist evangelical perspective.

And a couple new/new-to-me blogs:

I Kissed Reality Goodbye – Jeremy just started a blog looking at the damage done by Joshua Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye and similar teachings pushing “courtship” or “biblical dating” on Christian singles.

Natalie’s Narrative – Natalie’s blog in her own words: “deconstructing the dominant narrative in the context of gender, race, nationality, politics, evangelicalism, poverty, consumerism, pro-peace efforts, human origins, and much more…” I just found her blog a few days ago when she linked to AWH, and I’m looking forward to reading more of it.

Do check some of these great blogs out! Hope all US folks reading had a pleasant thanksgiving day, or at least space to detox from the stresses and triggers that the holidays can bring.


NaBloPoMo so far

Day 15 of NaBloPoMo: All of my post drafts are still in fairly drafty form, so I don’t have anything topical to post today. Instead, you get to read (or skip, hah!) my thoughts on how NaBloPoMo is going and future posts I’m working on.

One of my goals for doing NaBloPoMo was to get myself to loosen up a bit about the writing process and what I share on the blog. I’ve tended towards long, article or essay type posts here, and while there are things I like about that blogging style (in part because it reflects the way I think), it takes a really. long. time. for me to get posts of that sort fully drafted, edited, and ready to go up on the blog. I was hoping that committing to blog every day would be a good way to make myself post pieces that haven’t touched on every single possible point I think I could make, and to trick myself into writing shorter and more manageable posts.

So far, it’s working. I’m still posting a few fairly long pieces, but for the most part I’m writing posts under (or not too far over) 1,000 words that either stand alone or are concrete chunks of larger series.

I’m also finding that it’s making me agonize less over the wording of posts being perfect, or every point being as completely clear or articulated as possible. I have a lot of perfectionistic tendencies (not helped by growing up Calvinist, let me tell you) that can really slow down my writing, especially when I’m in a particularly self-loathing mood (cf the whole Calvinist thing). I have to constantly battle the voices in my head that are never satisfied with what I write – it could always be more clear, more elegant, more concise or more comprehensive, more exciting, more funny, more insightful….on and on and on.

Those are all good things in writing, but being obsessed with everything being as perfect as it can be is a surefire way to get no actual writing done. And in the end, writing that you want other people to read has to be just done at some point. Not perfect – it will never be that – but done.

Agonizing less over elusive perfection also means that I’m writing posts a lot faster than I ordinarily do. Or perhaps that goes without saying since I don’t usually post every day. In any case I think there is some trade off in terms of the quality of the writing I’m doing, but not so much that it’s a really obvious drop, and posts are still readable. And writing more in over a certain period of time is better practice for improving one’s prose (and one’s speed at writing good prose) than producing less content that’s as polished as it can possibly be.

I guess the thing is that I’m a pretty risk-averse person. I don’t like to be wrong. I don’t like to have things missing or out of place. And I have to consciously fight off the idea that posts need to have every conceivable base to go up on the blog. And really…a blog full of perfect writing doesn’t sound all that interesting – not that I could produce such a thing in the first place! The best discussions often come out of points that aren’t completely articulated, or out of silences or thin spots that people fill out by thinking through a piece of writing together, once it’s done.

I certainly don’t want to get in the habit of sloppy writing. But I do want to train myself to not let the perfect the enemy of good enough when it comes to writing. To recognize that in the end, good writing is as much about knowing when to stop and just put it out there as it is about polished prose.

So I think I’m learning a lot, and getting a lot more on the blog in the process, so it’s a win all around.

What I’m working on:

– I have some more thoughts on Penn State that are still in pretty chaotic form, writing-wise. Before I read Toranse’s posts about the gaps in feminist writing on child sexual abuse, I’d been thinking about how patriarchy and specifically ideas about masculinity factor into the sexual abuse of male minors by male adults. There are really strong parallels here between the male-dominated hierarchies of the sports world and much of American Christianity, particularly in terms of what’s considered to be “manly” behavior, and how relationships between older men and boys or young men are seen as instrumental in shaping “real” masculinity. Both sports and religion set up male authority figures set up as proxy fathers to the boys and men under them – coaches, priests/pastors, etc. And there’s this idea that these kinds of figures, whether actual fathers or men who serve in similar roles, are absolutely necessary for strong or healthy male identity to coalesce in boys. There’s a recurring pattern where this role as father-figure and the trust invested in it are either exploited by child predators who use it to get access to boys and young men and youth of all genders in general (like Sandusky, like Eddie Long, like so many other predators in churches and sports teams and other institutions), or they’re built up into an extreme, uncritical devotion and loyalty to paternal figures and institutions that produces a culture of silence around problematic or abusive behavior.

– I’ve still got a lot more to say about race and class in the cult of true womanhood. I have a post halfway drafted about more of the gender and race implications of Michael Emerson’s findings in Divided by Faith. I also have a rough idea for a post sharing my and a few other black women’s personal experiences of dealing with misogynist, racist stereotypes about our sexuality and reproduction.

– More on the Duggars and the question of choice: specifically, my frustration with how the rhetoric about how they’ve chosen their lifestyle erases the fact that the Duggar children are being raised in an environment rife with spiritual abuse, have almost certainly been subjected to severe corporal punishment that would qualify as physical abuse (and if they haven’t been, are very much an exception for Quiverfull families), and that the girls especially are being deliberately denied an education and any vocational training for work outside of domestic duties, and having their unpaid time and labor systematically exploited all so that their parents can keep having more kids. This is not ok.


Re-centering

Are Women Human? is now on Facebook – you can “like” AWH using the button in the right sidebar, or on the AWH Facebook page, also linked in the sidebar.

Sorry for the long and unexplained absence from the blog! I had a number of obligations and was also on the road a bit; I thought I’d still be able to get some writing done despite all that, but clearly that wasn’t the case.

To be honest, another part of the delay in writing has also been a bit of burnout over the SGM situation, or perhaps more over the way I’d been writing about it. Put simply, I’m a bit tired of writing about privileged white men all the time. That’s not what, or who, this blog is about. There’s no shortage of writing that centers privileged white dudes, way more than there ought to be, and not nearly enough that deals with the concerns of people who are not privileged white men (which is most people, after all). I’m not sure that the way I’ve been writing about the current drama in SGM does much to balance the disproportionate focus on people with privilege and power.

On the one hand, there’s no way to write about the issues I care about without spending a significant amount of time writing about privilege and power. The abuses that this blog focuses on are a direct product of inequitable distribution of power in the church, and abuse of religious authority and influence to promote teachings that oppress and harm people. So I need to talk about power, and powerful people – and when it comes to talking about Christianity in the U.S. or American society in general, that means spending a good amount of time talking about privileged white men.

Still, spending an extended period of time writing only or primarily about powerful white dudes in the church doesn’t jibe with my vision for this blog, and what I hope it will grow into in the future. If I believe that the extremely narrow range of voices and experiences represented in most church leadership is a direct contributor to oppression in the church, then part of fighting that oppression has to be devoting more time, attention, and space to neglected voices, and pointing to alternative models of church leadership and community. It has to include making visible the diversity of people and perspectives that the evangelical church in particularly so often marginalizes and renders invisible. In general I haven’t done as much of that kind of writing on this blog as I would like, but that’s especially been the case since all the drama between SGM’s leadership become public. My blogging became all about SGM pastors.

First and foremost I want this to be a space that centers the voices and experiences of people who are survivors of abusive church cultures. Part of that will definitely be continuing to call out men who foster toxic church environments. There’s a lot of therapeutic value in talking about these men and their warped and cramped worldview. When you grow up in this kind of system, you’re taught to self-censor any kind of dissenting speech, or even thought. You’re taught to ignore any doubts or feelings that things aren’t quite right. That any feeling that something is wrong is just you – being judgmental, being angry, being unforgiving, rebelling against God. The church and the pastors can never be wrong.

So when you finally find someone who is willing to name the system for what it is – abusive, oppressive, perverse – it’s a tremendous relief. I remember when I found the SGM Survivors blog for the first time. I wept. A lot. I didn’t even know I had that kind of emotion bottled up inside of me until I found people who were at last confirming what I’d thought for so long, that there was something deeply, horribly wrong in SGM. I didn’t realize until that moment that I thought I was all alone in feeling that way. And in one unexpected moment, I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew it wasn’t just me being paranoid or oversensitive. What I saw and felt were real.

I don’t agree with much of what the folks who run SGM Survivors and Refuge believe, but I’ll always be thankful that they made it possible for me to see that I wasn’t alone. I want my blog to do the same, but to be more inclusive and welcoming of people of color, queer people, trans people, people who are no longer Christian or no longer religious, and anyone who has been harmed or marginalized by authoritarian church leadership. And I want to make more space to talk about religious and secular communities that are working towards being more inclusive and less hierarchical. I don’t want to unthinkingly accept the disparities that exist in the church and the culture at large by spending all my time talking about demographics that are already overrepresented in public discourse.

So what does that mean, in a concrete sense? There’ll still be posts about Mark Driscoll’s toxic notions of masculinity, but I’ll also write more about alternatives to patriarchal masculinity. I’ll still pay attention to the current crisis among SGM leaders, but I’ll be spending more time talking about various experiences of marginalization in the church – e.g., what it’s like growing up as a girl/woman of color in a predominantly white, patriarchal church culture, about the racist and classist assumptions that underlie white evangelical definitions of “biblical” masculinity and femininity, about abuse and recovery in Christian families and communities, about queer sexuality and non-conforming gender, etc. I’ll still write about so-called traditional Christianity, but I’ll be spending more time talking about churches committed to practical theologies of social justice and equality, about deconversion and processing one’s own beliefs and spirituality after leaving an authoritarian religious group, about negotiating relationships with loved ones who believe differently, and other issues.

This blog isn’t ultimately about C.J. Mahaney or Mark Driscoll or any other blowhard complementarian. It’s about those of us who have been and are still being affected by their teachings, and I need to re-center my writing to reflect that better. I’d love hear any ideas or thoughts you all might have about how I can do that, or suggestions about topics that would be good to discuss.