Happy Patriarchymas!

(385 Posts)
thunderboltsandlightning Sat 24-Dec-11 21:48:32

I know, I know - but this is the feminist section and christmas is about celebrating the birth of the son of god, with women's spirituality and power completely written out of the story. It's the classic patriarchal mindfuck for women. Even Santa's a man, but who does most of the present-buying and wrapping?

Then there's the fact that christmas is all about women doing most of the work, with men enjoying the benefits.

Each year I find it a little more difficult to have to go through it all. Once you've seen what it's about, it gets harder to ignore the brainwashing.

Hope everybody has a happy peaceful time, whatever you are celebrating.

Trills Sat 24-Dec-11 21:48:57

No thanks, I don't want to have one of those.

thunderboltsandlightning Sat 24-Dec-11 21:49:18

Me neither, but that's what we get.

DontCallMeFrothyDragon Sat 24-Dec-11 21:55:00

Most of the wrapping? I've also done most of the shopping, the spending, the thinking of gifts... And Santa gets the praise?


Merry Patriarchymas to you, too, Thunderbolts. Hope you manage to enjoy it.

<back to the asti>

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Sat 24-Dec-11 21:59:46

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Youllbewaiting Sat 24-Dec-11 22:22:02

'Even Santa's a man, but who does most of the present-buying and wrapping?'

Mother Christmas?

lukewarmMulledWhine Sat 24-Dec-11 22:24:22

Oh ffs! Happy Christmas to one and all!

lukewarmMulledWhine Sat 24-Dec-11 22:30:47

Actually, my dh says fair enough, as it's women who do all the planning and work around Christmas (typically).

But still, it's time for everyone to eat drink and be merry wink

Trills Sat 24-Dec-11 22:33:12

Are the elves male or female or some kind of neuter?

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 24-Dec-11 23:17:35

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StewieGriffinsMom Sat 24-Dec-11 23:18:04

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ElfOfThePerverse Sat 24-Dec-11 23:26:02

I always assumed elves could be of either gender but the male ones tended to have the higher ranking and better paid jobs on the present production line.

We don't really go in for the religious aspect so I'm happy to wish everyone a happy pagan winter festival. smile

And DP did most of the shopping smile smile

DeePanCrisPandEeeven Sat 24-Dec-11 23:27:54

oh ffs. [yawn]

AmorYCohetes Sat 24-Dec-11 23:37:32

no you're right.

there are loads of threads on here with women getting stressed out and completely unable to enjoy themselves because they are doing all the work while their partners sit on their arses in a blissful daze. i was calling it wifeworkmas to my friends yesterday and they were agreeing. there's nothing wrong with pointing this out tbh. i am a sahm to two littlies, and i want it to be all magic and special and lovely, and it is, and it will be (i hope). it's important that everyone does their share though, and in our house we have, but this is not really the norm, from reading on here.

thunderboltsandlightning Sun 25-Dec-11 08:32:15

I'm getting a warm feministmas glow here. grin

Hope everybody has a lovely day today - back to the feminist analysis tomorrow!

thunderboltsandlightning Sun 25-Dec-11 08:35:44

P.S. Stewie - v. jealous of your stocking (fluffy socks!) and LOLing at your DH's fairtrade gourmet stocking approach.

gabid Sun 25-Dec-11 08:47:06

So you are all complaining about having to do all the work - what sort of relationship do you have? Can you not arrange/plan things/share out the work with your DP/DH? Are you not having this conversation or is your DH not respectful enough to share the load?

All this feminist moaning, we may not be able to change everything overnight, but you can make it work for you both in your own home I would have thought.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 08:54:58

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Happy Patriarchymas everyone!

SGM I'm jealous of you having a stocking! Sounds lovely though. DC didn't wake up until gone 8 this morning. Lovely lie in for me! (DH is working today so he was already up and out).

Also going to BIL and SILs today for dinner. BIL is doing the cooking. Hurrah!

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 09:04:31

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KeepingUpWithTheCojones Sun 25-Dec-11 09:13:32

I've been lurking on these boards and would like to thank all of you for changing the way I think in the past year.

This year DH has written the cards to his family, done all his own shopping and wrapped all his own presents. Looking back, we couldn't believe that this was something that before I'd just automatically done. It's strange to think that we didn't even realise we weren't equal in that respect before.

Hope everyone has a good day.


DontCallMeFrothyDragon Sun 25-Dec-11 09:17:06

I must start preparing myself something for Christmas. But seems a bit disheartening when I have no DP to buy on my behalf. :/

DS is surrounded by a pile of wrapping paper and toys, and for all the anti-Christmas feelings I had yesterday, I'm feeling kinda smug today, after seeing how his face lit up.

DBestFriend bought me The Beauty Myth, Living Dolls and Female Chauvinist Pigs, so happy with that.... grin

Happy Patriarchymas!

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 09:21:33

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SardineQueen Sun 25-Dec-11 09:23:57


Doesn't have the same ring does it grin

Have a good one all smile

Chandon Sun 25-Dec-11 09:25:17

Went to church with the little ones yesterday. DH did not come as "could not be bothered".

However, now that there is LOADS of work to do this morning, he has decided it is essential for him to go to church. On his own.

....he doesn't know I have a PLAN though. I have decided that 2012 will be the year where we will share the household chores more equally, and also the year where I will find a job (and regain some independence).

Time for a change in the Chandon household.

merry Christwomen to all! (and Merry Women's Greetings to the non religious)

BluddyMoFo Sun 25-Dec-11 09:31:07

Well we share the present buying load in this house and my bloke does all the wrapping and usually makes Christmas dinner too...though this year I want to try cooking it (gulp). If its usually your job in your house then thats your own fault. You cant make it into some xmas sexist bollocks. FFS!!!

Happy Christmas. Crack a fucking grin for gawds sake.

ChildofIsis Sun 25-Dec-11 09:31:43

When you look further back than christianity you'll find a mid winter festival that celebrates the great Mother Goddess who births the sun god and brings forth the 'lost' light and warmth.
It is absolutely about the feminine principal.

As a pagan, Yule is one of my favourite festivals as it celebrates the life giving nature of women.

The romans moved yule to the 25th from 21st to coincide with an emperor's birthday (trying to deify him to the people)
When you read about the constellations mentioned in the bible that coincide with christ's birth you will see that the birth was in summer, late july.
The church moved it to counter the very strong pagan traditons within europe.
It's all about men wanting supremacy.
They only have it if we let them!

Yuletide felicitations to all.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 09:37:49

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StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 09:38:50

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TheRealTinselAndMistletoe Sun 25-Dec-11 09:41:56

I went to church last night as DP is a Christian of the left wing pro women pro gay variety. Mary was mentioned as being a Virgin three times, coz that what important eh...

Tim minchin sums up Christmas for me in his song 'white wine in the sun'

Not to mention rude SGM! Do feminists not count in your "let's not be cunts to each other" drive BluddyMoFo?

SardineQueen Sun 25-Dec-11 09:55:44

Go Chandon Go! Do it!!!!!

Xmas here is going well - DD1 is happily crafting a feminist fairy sticker jewellery box

DD2 is eating chocolate money and doing play-doh with some measuring spoons. Earlier she shat on the rug (nappy malfunction) so that was festive! Maybe it was a comment on the patriarchal nature of the day?


chibi Sun 25-Dec-11 09:59:23

i am very very lucky that i grew up without any of the cultural baggage that most women seem to have (due yo a variety of fairly noninteresting circunstances)

such that whilst life involves the usual wifework bullhockey, it does not increase exponentially at xmas or at any other festival

having said that, i don't know how anyone doesn't see the massive pressure to have the perfect xmas, 'do it for the kids!', or know who is responsible for facilitating happy xmas memories

guff-ola, and the sooner we get rid of it the better

happy feministmas i am going to celebrate by downloading something tasty and feminist on to my new kindle (thx dh) -recommendations much appreciated

skrumle Sun 25-Dec-11 10:04:38

happy patriarchymas smile

am doing quite well on the book front so far - all women authors! germaine greer, dawn french, tina fey and jennifer crusie (i do like a laugh - am not sure greer's will be a laugh a minute though...).

verysmellyeli Sun 25-Dec-11 10:11:18

Happy Patriarchymas!

One of the benefits of being a feminist atheist is that DH has done all the veg and gone to church, and I am on the sofa with a bag of chocolate coins and a sherry.


StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 10:14:09

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StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 10:16:06

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BluddyMoFo Sun 25-Dec-11 10:57:36

*Then there's the fact that christmas is all about women doing most of the work, with men enjoying the benefits.

Each year I find it a little more difficult to have to go through it all.*

Sorry, wasnt trying to be a cunt....just thought that bit was so unnecessarily SAD - there is just NO NEED for anyone to feel that way. We ALL decide how we are treated in this life - we REALLY DO. Either dont put up with it or stop being a martyr about it. It really IS that simple.

Well not quite THAT simple if you have already got to that point....but surely most of us are clear about what we will or wont tolerate right from the start?

I dunno, maybe the feminism threads confuse me - I suppose I expect people in here to NOT put up with 'male/female roles' so was a bit surprised to read that quote above.

Seriously I wasnt TRYING to be a cunt.

Maybe it just comes naturally to me. blush

architien Sun 25-Dec-11 11:13:26

If you believe it or not does not change that for a great number of Christians Christmas is about the birth of Jesus by an incredibly inspiring woman. In my tradition Mother Mary is celebrated for being powerful in her vocation of mother of God. She was asked and she said yes. She is incredible in her strength despite all awful things the world was throwing at her in having to travel, the inn debacle...what ARE you on about?! She's refereed to as a virgin to confirm her as without a doubt expecting the son of God. Not any other reason... hmm
Woman's strength and personal spirituality is celebrated very strongly in my experience.
In fact that has helped inspire me in my career and as a mother.

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Sun 25-Dec-11 11:37:18

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forkful Sun 25-Dec-11 12:48:45

Happy Patriarchymas!

AlwaysWild Sun 25-Dec-11 15:58:32

Happy patriarchymass! I went to my first nativity with a highly attuned sense of feminist awareness yesterday. Fuck me the misogyny was coming thick and fast.

A Yule reclamation sounds just the job grin

Have a good day one and all!

Ps I referred to a gender less penguin as a she earlier. My fil said 'oh is it a lady penguin'. 'well I can't tell it's gender' I replied

teatimesthree Sun 25-Dec-11 16:12:07

Merry Women's Greetings, one and all! (lurker here)

I listed to Carol's at Kings yesterday, and while the singing was lovely, the bible readings were a bit of a shocker - I didn't remember that it started with Adam and Eve.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 18:14:10

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ThePoorMansBeckySharp Sun 25-Dec-11 18:29:56

"Then there's the fact that christmas is all about women doing most of the work, with men enjoying the benefits."

I don't know, men probably pay for most of it. <runs>

NICEySigh Sun 25-Dec-11 18:43:57

Happy, "lets whine and be a martyr and miserable bastard day".

This thread is utter bollocks in so many ways I can not care to mention.

Life is what you make it, as is what you choose to believe in and how you interprete it. Its 2011.

God forbid DH made christmas din dins after I prepared half of it. He wrapped his fair share. He even went to the in-laws without me cos I could face pregnantzilla and MIL.

As for spirituality, well... even the Church is moving on these days, even if slowly. You do have a choice in how much you choose to believe in. Organised religion isn't for everyone and there are all sorts of different Christian Churches with a different angle on the same thing. You are not obliged to stick with the one...

Threads like this are everything I hate about feminism.

Flame me back. I don't care. I can't bear this kind of shit. There is still stuff that feminism could help with. Christmas ain't one of them.

Bah-fucking-humbug to everyone who thinks differently.

Tyr Sun 25-Dec-11 18:52:28

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TheBrandyButterflyEffect Sun 25-Dec-11 18:56:24

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Yama Sun 25-Dec-11 19:03:07

I'm here to redress the balance. We've had a couple of anti-women posts and I'm very much pro-women.

I have pretty much either played with the dc or sat on a very comy chair with people handing me wine all day.

Luckily I was brought up in a family that likes and values women. I'm hoping that means my dd can avoid the type of people who take the time to criticise women on a feminism thread.

Yama Sun 25-Dec-11 19:04:39

That should probably be 'type of person' (I blame the aforementioned wine).

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 19:11:34

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AmorYCohetes Sun 25-Dec-11 19:11:34

Lol brandy.

All the people huffing and puffing about how this thread is pointless and they've got it sussed are wasting their lovely pep talks here, they'd be better directed on threads like this or this.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 19:19:34

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Yama Sun 25-Dec-11 19:21:42

Stewie - what's Captain America? I know I could Google but I'd rather you told me.

My children are very much on a diet of pro-female films. Inkheart being my current favourite.

I have a son and the way I see it, his happiness lies in treating others with respect. Especially, any females he gets into a relationship with. So, no entitled Little Lord Fonteroy for my boy. The happiest men I have ever met are the ones who treat others well.

I pity the men who come on here to try to unsettle us.

"The happiest men I have ever met are the ones who treat others well."

How true! And a lovely sentiment too.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 19:26:45

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StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 19:27:34

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BluddyMoFo Sun 25-Dec-11 19:30:01

Ooooh me and my bloke...we've been together 10 years now...we've just agreed to get married. grin

We are planning on August 2013.

I couldnt think of a better place to announce it than here. grin

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 19:31:25

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Yama Sun 25-Dec-11 19:37:03

That sounds good Stewie. My dh and dd will love it.

I have access to a badge making machine by the way.

Yama Sun 25-Dec-11 19:41:28

Handdivedscallopesrgreat - an observation I have made repeatedly for years. Think of the happiest men you have ever met. Yes?

Now, my raison d'etre is not to make men happy. However, if we can kill two birds with one stone ...

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Sun 25-Dec-11 19:42:44

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Oh, wow! Congratulations Bloody! smile

I am not going to say the titular greeting, but happy feministas!

thunder, thanks for starting this thread and thinking of all the women who don't feel like they have a choice about this stuff.

It's all very well for people to come onto this thread moaning that everyone can 'choose' whether or not to be oppressed, but unfortunately it's also total bollocks. The police get called by more women who've been subjected to domestic violence at this time of the year than any other. Not a happy Christmas message, but it kind of puts it in perspective for me.

FWIW, we've had a very gentle and peaceful day and so far DH has done everything except I've just made him some honey and lemon and I made some almond biscuits last night. But we don't go in for the whole traditional roast, we just have a quiet day with lots of carols and candles and the traditional nosy-parker walk around north Oxford to look at the poncey wreaths (and say happy Christmas to everyone else out for a walk ... we're not just nosy, honest).

I hope everyone else is having a good time and I'm glad I saw this thread. smile

Onwards and upwards with feminism in 2012! grin

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 25-Dec-11 19:51:13

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kickassangel Sun 25-Dec-11 19:51:26

Happy whatevers to everyone - we are having a v quiet day, and dh always does half the cooking for christmas, so I don't get too stressed.

Congrats Bluddy

AmorYCohetes Sun 25-Dec-11 20:16:17

Congratulations bluddy, how lovely smile

thunderboltsandlightning Sun 25-Dec-11 20:32:10

"Threads like this are everything I hate about feminism."


Anyway it's not about you. There are a lot of people on this thread who know exactly what I'm getting at, and I started this thread for a discussion with them. Feminism is the place where we can have these discussions whether you approve or not.

thunderboltsandlightning Sun 25-Dec-11 20:33:32

PS: Congratulations Bluddy.

AlwaysWild Sun 25-Dec-11 21:18:33

Totally agree thunder.

And congrats bluddy!

DontCallMeFrothyDragon Sun 25-Dec-11 22:08:52

Congratulations, Bluddy! smile

Laquitar Sun 25-Dec-11 23:33:52

If you don't like Christmas its fine don't celebrate it, i can't say i'm mad about Christmas either.
If you want to be miserable, again it is fine.
But please don't use Feminism to dress it up.

Very silly title and silly thread. It is a shame really because threads like this and another one i've just seen manage to push away readers who would otherwise visit the section. There are sometimes interesting discussions here but i personally feel put off because of crapolla like this one and i imagine other readers feel the same. So, no, you don't serve Feminism quite the opposite imo.

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Sun 25-Dec-11 23:45:09

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ElfenorRathbone Sun 25-Dec-11 23:49:38

LOL at all the posters getting irate because they've missed the point of the thread. And saying that this is the sort of thing that puts them off feminism - as if they'd all be feverishly working to overthrow the patiriarchy if only all these annoying threads on Mumsnet weren't constantly putting them off.

It's not about being miserable, it's about dumping the wifework to stop being miserable and to be able to enjoy it.

I've had a lovely day. Forgot to put the crackers out and forgot to cook the turkey, but hey, it made very little difference to the eventual meal (masses of gammon instead) and I didn't feel responsible for anyone else's reaction to that. Fab. No patriarchal bollocks round here and a very Happy Christmas had by me and the kids at any rate - not sure about those fonder of turkey than us. grin

Well said Elfenor!

And keeping the happy note going, congratulations BloodyMoFo! That's lovely news.

Laquitar Sun 25-Dec-11 23:58:37

Ffs not 'put off Feminism', but 'put off the Feminism section'.

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Mon 26-Dec-11 00:01:26

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ElfenorRathbone Mon 26-Dec-11 00:05:30

There are plenty of other feminist forums around Laquitar, if you're interested in feminism but don't like this one

UK Feminista has one and The F Word spring to mind. Maybe some people know some other ones as well.

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

Laquitar Mon 26-Dec-11 00:12:30

Thanks Elfenor.

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Mon 26-Dec-11 00:16:07

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AnyFuckerForAMincePie Mon 26-Dec-11 00:19:12

and Laquitar has started another thread to call us all silly there too

I predict a headache for ole Laq in the morning

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Mon 26-Dec-11 00:24:03

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AnyFuckerForAMincePie Mon 26-Dec-11 00:25:28

yes, you see this section can be very useful smile

Laquitar Mon 26-Dec-11 00:28:05

Not all AF. Not at all. Please don't put words in people's mouths. (i'll get annoyed and start another thread grin)

Thanks TheBrandy

Tyr Mon 26-Dec-11 01:11:40

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Tyr Mon 26-Dec-11 01:15:33

Oh and anyone ill informed enough to think the season is about the birth of Christ is in no position to talk about brainwashing. My six year old knows better than that.

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

Why is it 'silly'? Surely if it's that silly you'd have an actual argument, not just a bunch of insults to throw around?

FWIW, Christmas five years ago I felt very silly. My then boyfriend was a total wanker who made me feel useless, lazy, incompetent and clingy. My granny was dying and I was nursing her, and my boyfriend was letting me pay all the rent and all the food and do all the housework, and my nearest family and friends were over 150 miles away. I remember driving back home for Christmas and finding I wasn't welcome at his and he agreed to come to my mum's for Christmas Eve dinner, then didn't turn up - didn't call, just didn't bother to come. And I was so sure it was my fault for not being domestic enough, and for not being brilliant at throwing Christmas parties like his family did. It was such a rotten, lonely Christmas and I wish so much I'd been able to read something like this OP that might have made me see sense.

I am so, so lucky that it never got any worse than slightly depressing for me, but for lots of women, it doesn't feel like they've got a choice about this work, they're brainwashed into thinking they have to do this stuff or they're lazy or useless or not worth loving. Every person who says it's just 'silly' or that women can 'choose' is missing the point - some people need a jolt like this thread to help them realize what's going on.

seeker Mon 26-Dec-11 09:31:21

And I thought it was feminists who were supposed not to have senses of humour!

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 26-Dec-11 10:06:30

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thunderboltsandlightning Mon 26-Dec-11 10:14:25

Did Laquitar really start a thread to slag this thread off and then by the extension the feminist section? Sad.

architien Mon 26-Dec-11 10:26:15

LRD You are right that a lot of women suffer more due to the wifework expectations laid at them by society generally during the secular aspect of the Christmas season and that this can also be quite damaging when they are subtle I'm glad you're out of thatsmile

"for a great number of Christians Christmas is about the birth of Jesus" that particularly point being that for a number of people Christmas isn't about the birth....and that's fine too.

I went to a convent school. Up until that point I had not been exposed to feminist ideas. The sisters were influenced by Mary Ward who said "women in time will come to do much" and did a great deal to further independence and influence for women in society. If it weren't for them I wouldn't have had a career or as able to decide for myself what to do with my life despite social norms.

Life is complicated, every is trying to improve and enjoy their own lot in their own way.

flippinada Mon 26-Dec-11 10:29:37

Yes she did thunders sad

Its so true that women are generally expected to do all the grunt work of Christmas. If you're in a respectful relationship and that's appreciated and rewarded then fab. But what if you aren't, and you're just expected to do it?

I think that's what it's all about for me - why feminism is so important.

MJinSparklyStockings Mon 26-Dec-11 10:30:00

I did most of the shopping and wrapping, plus ebaying and working a few about 60 extra hours. I def am the only one who stresses - DH isn't awe struck by huge commercialism.

DH also worked loads of extra hours.

Difference is - I only claimed half of my hours, and will have most of January off, whereas DH is claiming all of his in money.

Personally - I think I got the better end of the stick, because we'd both rather be at home with the children but I have the more family friendly job.

Funnily enough I did ask my mother on Christmas Eve how she coped with a full time job, self employment and doing all of this for us. She said back then there were no computers, iPhones, laptops and thinks she just had more time to get on with it because there were less distractions (she hates smart phones).

But ...........

My Christmases as a child were magical, I remember them with huge fondness. So on that basis however hard work it was for my mother - and however stressy it is for me - it's worth it.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 26-Dec-11 10:37:39

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MJinSparklyStockings Mon 26-Dec-11 10:46:42

Because my dad was a pisshead my mothers third child.

Much as I loved my dad - I have a massive amount of respect for the work my mother put into making every aspect of our childhood.

I am well aware that my dad should have done a lot more - that's why I don't have the same respect for his input into our growing up.

He died when I was quite young and we were already beginning to have huge arguements about lots of issues - precisely because although I loved him - I didn't respect him.

MJinSparklyStockings Mon 26-Dec-11 10:50:16

And that's why I'm married to a man who is nothing like my dad btw.

My mum is an amazingly strong woman - her workload (including raising us 2) was immense - but my dad walked all over her.

thunderboltsandlightning Mon 26-Dec-11 11:03:06

People are really missing the point when they talk about their own individual christmases.

The fact is that overall most of the work (and it is a huge amount of work - generally unpaid) for christmas is done by women. These are choices made by individuals, they come out of social structures that are set up so men can exploit women's labour.

Similarly a lot of people are ignoring that christmas is a patriarchal festival. It's set up to worship the birth of a son to a male god, by a woman who had to be a virgin before she could be regarded as good. The whole thing is a mind-fuck for women, whether women want to actually consider it or not.

If you start viewing christmas with a critical eye e.g. listening to christmas services then its patriarchal nature is blindingly obvious.

And anything patriarchal is worth resisting. smile

thunderboltsandlightning Mon 26-Dec-11 11:04:30

"these aren't choices made by individuals"

I see what you mean about missing the point. I just know that for me, when I think about the underlying structure, it just casts into sharper relief what dynamics were playing out in my life or my mum's life, so I see it on a personal level.

It's true though that this isn't about whether or not we know individuals who do it all perfectly and don't get stressed - actually something that seems very cruel is it's all meant to be effortless, isn't it? Women are meant to knock up a lovely Christmas without seeming to get stressed or upset. FWIW the Virgin supposedly gave birth to Christ without labour pains - way to make other women feel rotten - so maybe there is a parallel there too.

thunderboltsandlightning Mon 26-Dec-11 11:25:57

Well of course she didn't. She was an incubator and incubators don't feel pain. Pain giving birth would have made her a female human being rather than a man-made fantasy virgin.

I was really meaning the posts saying "It's not like that at my house therefore your analysis is wrong" that were missing the point. You're aware that you circumstances are more of an exception than the rule, LRD.

Yes, exactly. And I think it must've been a guilt-trip, too. I mean we're horrified at Tom Cruise expecting Katie Holmes to give birth without screaming in the 21st century, but imagine feeling you had to live up to an example of a woman who didn't feel pain 500 or a thousand years ago. sad

Anyway, I'm off to my mum's for Christmas dinner we're having tonight, and I am so glad I read this thread first, as you can probably guess which category of people she and my dad fit into. sad

BluddyMoFo Mon 26-Dec-11 11:42:02

My dad did christmas dinner...and most of the cooking in general in our house when I was growing up...and my bloke does all the cooking and wrapping and cleaning in ours too. So maybe thats why I didnt 'realise' it was a patriarchal thing. I dont actually know ANYONE that HAS to do this stuff just because they are a woman. I know plenty who want to do it....its not for me though, I hate cooking. So I dont.

ElfenorRathbone Mon 26-Dec-11 11:46:59

I'm not sure people talking about their own christmasses and therefore any societal analysis is wrong, are so much missing the point, as that they are totally mindless narcissists tbh.

I mean, who would declare that because I'm fat, there's no such thing as starvation, so why doesn't everyone shut up about famine in such a such a country? Or that because my husband is nice, there's no such thing as crap husbands? I find it so childish and self-centred and well, just a bit stoopid, tbh. What must it be like to have them as christmas guests? Imagine the mindlessness of their christmas conversations. grin

thunderboltsandlightning Mon 26-Dec-11 11:49:26

It's mostly women who do it, exceptions are just that, exceptions.

Sexist stereotyping is always excused now by "women want to do it", "it's women's choice". Doesn't make it true. Women are conditioned from the time we are tiny girls that it's our job to undertake the domestic chores, including cooking. And it works. Women end up doing the majority of this kind of work.

Unless you can show that the majority of christmas work - planning, shopping, present-buying and sending, wrapping, cooking, decorating - isn't done by women, my argument stands.

motherinferior Mon 26-Dec-11 11:52:54

Of course it's done by women. As is most domestic work and childcare.

In my household, it wasn't; but that's not the point.

OTOH I do think it is up to individual women - because as a collective gender, we are composed of individual women - to say 'sod off, I am not doing it'. We are not quite as abandoned and isolated as to make that utterly impossible. Women have been saying 'sod off' to housework for a few decades now.

motherinferior Mon 26-Dec-11 11:53:33

And we utterly stop need to confuse domestic servitude with 'being nice'.

motherinferior Mon 26-Dec-11 11:54:05

(sorry, that was utterly incoherent. Let me reword it: We utterly need to stop confusing 'domestic servitude' with 'being nice'.)

chibi Mon 26-Dec-11 11:54:18


nice can get to fuck

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Mon 26-Dec-11 12:02:32

I am very not nice

Tyr wouldn't like me

I am quite, quite happy with that

MJinSparklyStockings Mon 26-Dec-11 12:03:21

Personally I couldnt care if the magic of Christmas for children is attributed to Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, or aliens from Outer Space.

So long as it's magical.

DontCallMeFrothyDragon Mon 26-Dec-11 12:06:18

Just thought I might add... I may have been rumbled by DS... Handed him a present from "Father Christmas" yesterday, and he told me it wasn't, it was from Mummy... grin

messyisthenewtidy Mon 26-Dec-11 12:17:12

Lol. Just read whole thread. The anti-fems really have no sense of humor do they?

DontCallMeFrothyDragon Mon 26-Dec-11 12:27:00

Hae you headed over to AIBU yet, Messy? wink

architien Mon 26-Dec-11 12:39:47

Some women report almost painless births even these days, some women report orgasms! Fortunate lot that they are wish my first birth had been like that and with my second I did feel physical ecstasy although there was pain too....being a woman is NOT all about being in pain and subjugation. To say that if she didn't feel pain was/is people likening her to an incubator is missing the point...she gave birth without pain...what a fortunate thing. She had a very human part in the Christmas story highs and hardships combined. Her birth rocked, empowered IMO.

I agreed with those saying that the gifts, decorations and meal aspect is expected to happen via women in general. Like paddling ducks. The threads about doing all the wrapping as if men cannot wrap or choose presents does go some way to provide examples of how society in general expect the work to be done by women. I don't agree with that point of view and here we've managed a more equal Christmas festivities with us each cooking/buying to our strengths. Although I have no desire to be rude to those who do not have the exact same ideals as us.

I've got Bugsy Malone on in the background here. I haven't seen it since I was a child. I'm quite shocked to see how sexualised it is. It seems interesting visually due to the props all being miniturised but I'm uncomfortable with the girls dressing and dancing in a sexualised way. sad Shame I love the cars and songs sad

My two are quite little just now so I've not experienced much of the daft "pink is for girls" "only boys like science toys" nonsense but I suppose like everyone else our family will come across that sort of nonsense as they grow. We don't make masses about Santa in this house it's more about the Christmas story.

Ephiny Mon 26-Dec-11 12:57:40

I know it's missing the point (and quite illogical) to say 'this isn't a problem for me, therefore it isn't a problem). So trying not to do that. But for me this thread - and the whole 'wifework' thing - is a baffling and frustrating aspect of modern feminism.

Yes I believe there are pressures on women to do certain things at Christmas and every day, 'conditioning' and dynamics in society and so on - we humans are all social creatures and there's always a balance between the 'personal responsibility' and 'society made me do it' extremes. But it seems to me that a lot of the feminist analysis is going way too far in one direction, and not focusing enough on women's autonomy and ability to make decisions, choose what we do and don't want to do, decide what sort of lifestyle we want.

Also it's hard for me to understand, because I personally have never felt these pressures that women talk about - I believe they exist, but it's difficult for me to 'get' it. But maybe that's a personality thing, and I'm just the sort of person who goes through life oblivious of what's expected or what anyone thinks of me! Maybe some people are expecting me to buy and wrap presents, or clean the house, or whatever else normal women do - but I don't know and don't care smile

ElfenorRathbone Mon 26-Dec-11 12:59:16

Oh please where is Mary's birthplan and diary and mumsnet report about her birth? Where is the documentary evidence that her birth was painless? Who first declared that her birth was painless? (I bet it was a man)

It's just all made up.

Ephiny Mon 26-Dec-11 13:04:41

The 'painless birth' thing I think was deduced from the 'fact' that pain in childbirth is a consequence of original sin, and since Mary was a one-off immaculate conception, she was excused from it. It's one of those tortuous 'logical' conclusions that people (yes very likely men, as this is the Catholic church after all!) have come to in trying to make sense of the teachings they're supposed to accept as absolute truth.

Apparently Mary also gave birth without any damage to her hymen (again the only logical possibility if you define virginity as intact hymen, and accept as absolute truth that she's a perpetual Virgin). That one makes my mind boggle a bit.

thunderboltsandlightning Mon 26-Dec-11 13:05:51

I suppose once you've swallowed the idea of a virgin birth, the rest is easy to believe.

Ephiny, why is the idea of wifework and men's exploitation of women's domestic labour baffling to you as an aspect of feminism. It happens, it's something that feminism needs to address. Just because it doesn't happen to you doesn't mean that feminism is mistaken in addressing it.

thunderboltsandlightning Mon 26-Dec-11 13:06:58

Architien, Mary was a twelve year old girl married off to Joseph and raped by god, and then expected to worship his son. I'd be interested if you could elaborate the "empowerment" aspect in that scenario.

lollygag Mon 26-Dec-11 13:13:38

Look,it's all just make believe! Like elves,pixies and the Equal Pay Act.

Ephiny Mon 26-Dec-11 13:14:23

I know, I thought I was clear in my first line that 'it doesn't happen to me' doesn't mean 'it doesn't happen'.

Why is it baffling? I tried to explain as well as I could in my post. This is an over-simplification, but I guess I have difficulty visualising how anyone gets into a situation like that, why exactly grown women are running around doing all this Christmas wifework stuff if they don't want to. Often it seems to come down to 'I want it to be done, but without me having to do it'. Which is how I feel about the paper I'm trying to write! But it's not a feminist issue, and I don't blame society or the patriarchy for it.

norrishohoholeforsaviour Mon 26-Dec-11 13:15:30

This is what I put in another thread. :

"I am fed up with being constantly told how 'lucky' I am because my dh does literally everything for christmas - he buys and wraps all the presents, does all of the preparation, cooking and washing up and has today, while I've been in bed all morning, has taken the children to the gym. Oh and hoovered, and cleaned the mess up.. Am I 'lucky'? Or have we just sorted out our 'roles' in a way that suits us?"

It's not automatically every woman who does everything

thunderboltsandlightning Mon 26-Dec-11 13:16:12

Well no, it's not simply make-believe lollygag. Christianity and its beliefs are an institutional part of our culture and society. They have, and still have a strong effect.

Ephiny, if women are being domestically exploited by men, and the culture supports that, then yes it is a feminist issue.

lollygag Mon 26-Dec-11 13:21:42

'It's not automatically every woman who does everything'

Wash your mouth out.We can't have that kind of namby-pamby thinking on this site.I will talk to the moderators about how that got through.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Mon 26-Dec-11 13:24:22

Pleased to see that "I'm all right jack" mentality is live and kicking on this thread

norrishohoholeforsaviour Mon 26-Dec-11 13:29:14

sorry - will go away and not return....

lollygag Mon 26-Dec-11 13:36:55

Or Jacqueline - as Monty Python might have said.

Ephiny Mon 26-Dec-11 14:02:17

OK, so it's a feminist issue. Fine. But the more important question, surely, is can we do about it?

This is the frustrating thing, for me. When someone comes on a discussion like this and says 'well, it isn't like that in my house' or similar, the response is never 'that's great! Do you want to share how you make that work? Maybe we can learn something.' Instead, they get shouted down, accused of having an 'all right jack' attitude, missing the point etc.

It's almost as though you don't really want to find solutions. You just want to be martyrs, carry on doing stuff you don't want to do, for reasons you can't really justify, and moan about it on here. Or complain that men aren't doing things that they (and I) don't think particularly need to be done anyway.

I guess I'm a practical type, I'd rather think about how I can fix and improve things, rather than sit around endlessly and unproductively 'analysing' them.

TheCrackFox Mon 26-Dec-11 14:07:19

If you are the practical type why are you on mumsnet and not out and about doing practical stuff? confused There wouldn't be any internet forums (let alone a tiny section on Mumsnet called "feminism") at all if people didn't discuss stuff.

lollygag Mon 26-Dec-11 14:09:49

Hey, CrackFox,don't suddenly pop up here and try and defeat us with logic!

fortyplus Mon 26-Dec-11 14:10:14

But Christmas centres around a virgin birth No need for men at all!! grin

chibi Mon 26-Dec-11 14:11:05

on the contrary, i think discussion is important - you can't develop an argument/foster a movement/take action that benefits all women if you think it only happens to you, or that it is your fault, or that no one else has ever noticed etc etc etc

back in ye old days this was called consciousness raising. it might not seem like anything is happening, but in the midst of words and shared experiences a movement coheres

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Mon 26-Dec-11 14:12:59

Ephiny, but you are missing the point

The most vocal Feminist posters are not the ones in the shitty unequal relationships (or aren't still in one...experience is brilliant at sharpening a viewpoint))

I don't understand why you think that is the case

Dustinthewind Mon 26-Dec-11 14:19:03

I must admit that one of my first emotions when reading of yet another woman complaining that things aren't fair and she's exhausted and her man has done nothing is irritation rather than solidarity with the downtrodden.
If you allow people to take advantage, they usually will even if they aren't necessarily doing it on purpose.
The fact that first world women still find it difficult to ask for a fair deal, and to make it happen in their own homes is annoying. I find it spineless, and depressing after all the fighting that went on to get women recognised as having rights in the law.
I was 15 when the sex discrimination act came into being, it was a fantastic feeling to have been part of that step. Yet we still have women complaining about Christmas, just like always. If you don't want to shoulder the burden alone, then make it unthinkable that it should be your problem entirely.
To me it has always been an issue of pointing out inequality and not being complicit in letting it happen, starting with my own life and my children's first.

Dustinthewind Mon 26-Dec-11 14:21:51

I think I posted on the wrong thread, it's all becoming a blur. smile

Ephiny Mon 26-Dec-11 14:24:17

I'm procrastinating! I will get on with something useful very soon, I promise grin

But seriously, I do want to discuss stuff. Like why/how so many women seem to have got themselves into this unhappy situation (and how some of us have been lucky enough to avoid the trap), and how they can get out of it. And how much we as feminists collectively can do about it, and how much comes down to the individual woman to make her own choices.

To use an analogy, I've struggled badly with weight and eating problems in the past. And there's a time and a place for sitting around discussing and musing over why we overeat - and this is valuable, because it's so often an emotional thing, and there are lots of traps for the unwary, people talk about an 'obesegenic' society with cheap and readily available fast food, high-calorie snacks, 'hidden' calories etc, and there are class issues too, education and money and time come into it. But none of that 'fixed' my problem. The only thing that could was me, realising that in the end it was my hand picking up the chocolate and putting it in my mouth, and I and only I could prevent myself doing that.

Personal responsibility. Why is it so bad to talk about that?

kickassangel Mon 26-Dec-11 14:26:28

I can absolutely see how it happens. It exactly defines my life. I have a degree and a good job and hate inequality BUT it seems that everyone around me just goes along with the idea that it is women who do all these things.

My parents are shocked at any mention of Dh doing housework, and MIL once slapped my wrist (literally) because I forgot her wedding anniversary. When I told her that Dh did his side of the family, she didn't say a word to him.

And guess what? I do ALL the stuff for Christmas and all that crap. It doesn't matter whether I enjoy it or want that kind of house/experience, no-one is even thinking that it's their job.

Now I do want all the things like a tidy house etc ( actually struggle to think in a messy environment ) so I do it. I wonder what would happen if I didn't do it though.

So I completely get the pressure on women to do these things. And because we're meant to go along with the myth that it's effortless, it isn't even seen, let alone appreciated and valued.

The time and effort it takes to do these things interferes with the ability to live independent successful lives and build careers. It supports the structure of society and is therefore a huge issue.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Mon 26-Dec-11 14:31:50

Of course personal responsibilty is important

I am personally responsible for my own life

It doesn't mean I cannot examine what is going on around me and not point out the unfairness of it

Is that so bad ?

Dustinthewind Mon 26-Dec-11 14:37:19

'It doesn't mean I cannot examine what is going on around me and not point out the unfairness of it'

I think it is necessary to do so, but then the question is how to effect change in the quickest and most effective ways possible?
Waiting for a bloke to realise that sitting on his arse being waited on is not a good lifestyle may take forever. Removing the cushion, sharing all the responsibilities of being a couple or a family or a fellow worker takes more effort but works better in my experience.
Silent sulking and whining and getting huffy is pathetic.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Mon 26-Dec-11 14:38:21

...and perhaps it's just in my nature to also look out for the people who, by dint of upbringing, social situation, circumstances etc etc are not in the best position to look out for themselves ??

just a thought...

Ephiny Mon 26-Dec-11 14:38:45

No, of course it's not bad. I just think we can do both (personal responsibility and role of wider society), what I've been trying to say all along is that I feel the feminist discourse on this particular issue has become rather skewed towards one of those things, and that it isn't productive.

But I can see that challenging that is going to meet a lot of resistance here. I've certainly had enough of it for one day!

kickassangel Mon 26-Dec-11 14:39:07

And sometimes, even if you know that there' inequality, it doesn't mean you're able to be the one to bring about change. When women campaigned for the vote, they could campaign all they wanted, but if men didn't change the law, they couldn't vote. I may campaign all I want about not buying all the christmas presents, but if no-one else does it, there will be a lot of disappointed people, and dd will see me being blamed for it and internalize that.

So personal responsibility is part of the solution, but not everyone has the power to make the changes. At some point we need to get those people with the power to see the injustice and want to change it as well.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Mon 26-Dec-11 14:39:17

dust and any relationship thread of that nature has that sort of advice on it, so I don't see your point, tbh

FrostytheSunshine Mon 26-Dec-11 14:40:24

I've read this thread with interest and have discussed several points with my DH. There is always value in discussion but also value in action. By action I mean anything from small changes to your own life up to throwing yourself under the kings horse!

Personally I think the fem boards on MN are good for reading, they make me think and surely that's the point.

architien Mon 26-Dec-11 14:43:00

Thunder your tone indicates to me that on the subject of our family beliefs you are not particularly open minded or respectful but instead antagonistic and so I'd rather than a lengthy one-sided bun fight please understand I would like to spend my time elsewhere. Rape is a very serious topic which is horrific. I'd suggest reading Matt. 1:17-23. It was not rape. The bible, nor other records, have her actual age. She was however known to be of usual age for marriage which was apparently 14-15 years due to the lower life expectancy at the time.

Dustinthewind Mon 26-Dec-11 14:45:30

'dust and any relationship thread of that nature has that sort of advice on it, so I don't see your point, tbh'

My point is so simple, I'm not surprised that you couldn't see it. smile
Why not do something about it, as an adult independent female? you are not trapped, or owned or a minor. Why not change your situation instead of wailing about how unfair and nasty it all is?
This attitude is why I don't post in relationships BTW. I lack understanding and tolerance.

Dustinthewind Mon 26-Dec-11 14:47:20

Going off to cook a Boxing Day dinner for 10, because I want to.
May you all have a happy and contented holiday.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Mon 26-Dec-11 14:47:30

kickass, yes

Sitting at home with your lovely husband who washes the pots and cooks the turkey is great. Simply saying "well I did it, so you can" is not helpful in the slightest. I could do that every single christmas.

it won't change anything for those women who don't have it though

only a societal shift will effect that change...and empowering women to say "actually I don't want to do that anymore" will help with that

along with the message that those who uphold the status quo are skating on thin ice if they want to hold onto their relationships

many, many people need the unfairness pointing out...I was reading a thread only today where the OP said she had been going along with some awful crap from her family and male partners for years without realising quite how badly she was being treated. having it poited out by strangers helper her to make a stand...

that refrain has been repeated all over MN ad infinitum

I doubt you will ever see a thread where somebody comes back to say "thanks for telling me I made my own bed, and thus I should have to lie in it..."

thunderboltsandlightning Mon 26-Dec-11 15:19:27

Most biblical scholars think that Mary would have been married around 12. Think modern day Afghanistan if you want to understand the patriarchal culture of that time architien.

Twelve year old girls can't consent to sex or impregnation. Particularly when it's god informing you he's going to do that to them. This is a disgusting scenario that came out of the minds of men who were inculcated into a culture where men could indeed rape very young girls and use religion as a justification. If god did it, why should they worry about getting 12 year old girls pregnant?

architien Mon 26-Dec-11 15:45:23

Thunder context is very important, girls the world over no doubt at that point in time were married at a very young age. I would like to read the links to "most biblical scholars" that you quote say age 12, perhaps you could PM me at your own convenience. I have for a very long time seen references to 14-15. Again I think that even that age is too young but then the culture of that time needs to be considered. This was the norm for a very long time before Mary was even born as I understand it and the Holy family at the time were not accepted as such by the general population much less held up as "an excuse to rape young girls". These days my faith doesn't even agree to marry folk unless they sit down and agree to contribute to family life equally.
Mary was the start to a change that was (and still is in my opinion) required in the world.
Merry Christmas/ winter festivities (whichever suits you best) to all.


kickassangel Mon 26-Dec-11 15:48:14

It's like the Marxist argument that the first step towards communism is for the working classes to see the inequality that they are in.

Telling people that they are in a situation because they have allowed it is victim blaming.

Some people may see the inequality, but actually consciously agree to go along with it. Many, many, others don't though, or only vaguely feel upset/depressed because of it, without really being able to articulate why. These people probably come across as the whingers & moaners, who love to be a victim. Some of them may be that kind of person, or even someone who doesn't see the work that their partner does, and takes them for granted.

But leaving aside those kinds of people (who are probably on a personality disorder spectrum, and therefore in a minority) there are still huge numbers of people - mainly women - who are in an abusive/oppressive/taking advantage relationship who don't quite get why, and still feel pressured to do all the wife work, resent it & then feel guilty for resenting it. That kind of cognitive dissonance is damaging to the individuals and those around them.

So, until there is a more universal recognition of the problem, threads like this need to exist.

Of course, once people see the problem, then some kind of action is needed. Some people have the power to change that. It could be as simple as talking to their family and sharing out the wifework equally. Others may find that they have a huge struggle to change anything. And when you risk losing your marriage, home & upsetting your kids, then it becomes a very difficult situation indeed.

thunderboltsandlightning Mon 26-Dec-11 15:57:11

I"m not PMing you anything architien. You made a statement that what was done to Mary in the bible was "empowering". You've failed to provide justification for that statement.

If we're talking about "tone", yours is super-condescending.

Also the idea that context makes men's rapes of 12 year old girls OK is appalling. You're right there was a context, it was a patriarchal society that used god and religion as its justification for abuse of women and girls. Christianity led to 2 further millennia of female oppression. Feminism plans to bring that reign of misogyny to an end.

MJinSparklyStockings Mon 26-Dec-11 16:13:47

I thought I had read some extreme views in my time, but the idea that Christmas is based on God Raping Mary - words fail me.

Re Marys age - given life expectancy at that time, in order to have children and be around to raise them, rather the leave then motherless and or fatherless at a young age, I would imagine early marriage was a necessity for both sexes.

I'm a lapsed Catholic but I'm sure such extreme views are offensive to anyone of that faith and any other similar religion.

Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel and if you want to follow the bible - conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit - I'm not sure where the idea she was raped came from.

architien Mon 26-Dec-11 16:18:17

I justified why it was empowering already you are just not seeing it. It's ok to disagree in my opinion. I am talking to you as an equal, considering your point of view and was attempting to have a conversation because your first post seemed very angry. You seem to be stuck. Nowhere did I say that "raping 12 year olds was OK". You appear to be spoiling for a fight misquoting and using shocking statements, not really engaging in conversation.

My best wishes to you at Christmas/ winter festivities (whichever is more suitable for you) all the same.

lollygag Mon 26-Dec-11 16:20:53

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

architien Mon 26-Dec-11 16:24:38

MJ Yes it is a tad offensive isn't it especially to those who have ACTUALLY been raped sad

as well as those who have just celebrated their religious festival as a family.

thunderboltsandlightning Mon 26-Dec-11 16:40:47

Think a few people have been persuaded by my arguments here lollygag. So not preaching to the converted in the slightest.

Architien, please point out where you explained how Mary was empowered by being a 12 year old girl forcibly impregnated by a male god, I must have missed that post.

My posts haven't been angry, I'm not sure where you're getting that. You keep talking about "tone" rather than engaging with the actual arguments, that's what is coming across as condescending.

messyisthenewtidy Mon 26-Dec-11 17:54:56

Truth is we will never know what happened with Mary seeing as it's highly improbable that she was impregnated by the big G. My guess is that Joseph was the actual dad and that's why he agreed to marry her.

Whichever way you look at it the Nativity story definitely fails the Bechdel test!

ElfenorRathbone Mon 26-Dec-11 21:41:16

Actually Architien, I've been raped and I don't find Thunderbolt's arguments offensive.

Just so you know. smile

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 26-Dec-11 21:45:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ElfenorRathbone Mon 26-Dec-11 21:45:32

It always really pisses me off when people decide that women who have been raped must feel a certain way about certain things btw.

Completely off subject, but one of the reasons we have such lousy attitudes to and conviction rates for rape, is because of the things we demand that rape victims say, think and feel and if they don't, we decide that they're not "real" rape victims. Very dangerous for women and needs to be called on when it happens. Sorry Architien I'm sure you don't mean any harm by it, but it's not any of our place to say what is (or should be) offensive or not to rape victims.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 26-Dec-11 21:50:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AnyFuckerForAMincePie Mon 26-Dec-11 22:16:59

I have been a victim of date rape

I don't take offence at feminist analysis of religion

kickassangel Tue 27-Dec-11 00:02:05

tbh, it doesn't matter whether it was rape, or holy or whatever. It romaticises the concept of young innocent girl, there to provide for the big powerful man & let him be ruler.

So many stories are based on the idea of the young, pure innocent girl being 'rescued' or falling in love with the big strong guy. She looks up at him with her adoring eyes, and then gives him babies to continue his patriarchal reign through the generations.

Which then totally justifies men going after younger women, and expecting them to hero worship them.

Prob why older women aren't seen as so sexy - they just don't fall for the bullshit so easily.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 00:16:41

I'm also a rape victim. The "this offends rape victims" claim gets old pretty quickly.

The analysis of Mary's rape by god is common knowledge in feminist circles and in feminist theology. It's not a new idea or limited to me saying it on this thread. I realise it's shocking, but something being shocking should stop feminists saying it. The sexual politics in the creator coming along and telling Mary that she's going to bear his child, are shocking. Do we think she could have said no? What would have god said if she had? What would have been the consequences? Remember this was the god of the old testament - Mary and Joseph were Jewish.

Patriarchal myth bolsters the patriarchy in a myriad of ways. I probably need to talk about this more fully. Will try tomorrow.

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Tue 27-Dec-11 00:28:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 00:30:11

Oh yeah, Zeus the rapist (amongst others). It's true that that's the context. It didn't spring out of nothing.

Mary was the rape victim who "consented".

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Tue 27-Dec-11 00:37:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tortington Tue 27-Dec-11 00:38:48

but god wasn't a man and didn't have a penis and if he did then the virgin mary woudnt be a virgin

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 00:43:28

Our father who art in heaven.

God made man in his own image (including a penis I presume).

The thing about god impregnating Mary but her still remaining a virgin is just another of those patriarchal double-think mind-fucks. Like BrandyButterfly says, the context was the patriarchal rape of the goddess(es) which has old roots and was repeated in the nativity story.

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 00:52:12

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

Man is the generic term for the species, and does not refer to the fact god made only "men with penises".

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Tue 27-Dec-11 01:04:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 01:12:39

Purely from a threoretical point of view, Mary wasnt impregnated (ie with sperm), at least not in the rabidly Catholic (put me off religion for life) schools I went to.

Greek and Roman Mythology do talk about Gods ravishing women, but the basis of Christianity is that Mary was pure and devout, that this is something she wanted to do.

If I remember correctly, Islam also concurs with the virgin birth (but I cant remember where I read that because in school other religions didnt exist).

I dont believe myself, but neither do I think attacking one of the underlying principles of Christianity, at the time of one of their biggest celebrations, is particularily appropriate.

Tortington Tue 27-Dec-11 01:22:54

there was not penetration - not in my faith

in my faith god doesn't have a dick

and mary was a virgin


there was not sex

you presume God has a dick had sex with a woman with a penis. the all knowing creator who knows and thinks everything, needs to go for a piss - you're blowing my mind - omg - to piss be must need to eat and drink.....holy shit .....godpenetrated mary the virgin ....for teh rape bit....but then there is just this little matter of the eternal virgin thing...hmmmm right then lets call this double speak bollocks and just say that god raped a woman with a dick and its well known in feminist theory

ok then

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 01:24:48

Well looking at Wikipedia, and depending on how much you think you can trust them on chrsitian dogma, the concept of the virgin birth (using the same idea of virginity as we do) has been around since the second century:

"The virgin birth of Jesus is a tenet of Christianity and Islam which holds that Mary miraculously conceived Jesus while remaining a virgin. The term "virgin birth" is commonly used, rather than "virgin conception", due to the tradition that Joseph "knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son".[1] This doctrine was a universally held belief in the Christian church by the 2nd century,[2] and is upheld by Roman Catholicism, the Church of the East, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Protestantism and Anglicanism. It is included in the two most widely used Christian creeds, which state that Jesus "was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary" (the Nicene Creed)[3] and was "born of the Virgin Mary" (Apostles' Creed),[4] and was not seriously challenged, except by some minor sects, before the Enlightenment theology of the 18th century.[2]
The canonical gospels of Matthew (Matthew 1:18)[1:18] and Luke[1:26-35] say that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. These gospels, later tradition and current doctrine present Jesus' conception as a miracle involving no natural father, no sexual intercourse, and no male seed in any form, but instead brought about by the Holy Spirit.[5][6][7][8] In Roman Catholic and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox usage, the term "virgin birth" means not only that Mary was a virgin when she conceived and gave birth, but also that she remained a virgin throughout her life, a belief attested since the 2nd century.[9] (See Perpetual virginity of Mary).
The general Christian doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus (i.e., Mary's virginal conception of Jesus) is not to be confused with the Roman Catholic doctrine of her Immaculate Conception, which concerns instead her mother's conception of Mary. This is thought to have occurred in the normal way, not miraculously. What the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception holds is that, when Mary herself was conceived, she came into existence without the "stain" (Latin, macula) of original sin.[10]
Mary's virginity at the conception of Jesus is also a tenet of Islam.[11][12] Muslims refer to Jesus with the matronymic Jesus son of Mary (Isa bin Maryam), a term repeatedly used in the Qur'an.[13]"

God impregnated her and she never had intercourse.

Tortington Tue 27-Dec-11 01:26:17

we - humankind are made in his image - bothmale and female

and i think i read a lot of the confusion is about genderised words there are not a lot of languages where you can refer to something without it being male or female

but i can't go and researcht his so maybe some theologist or something could wade in on that point

also god is spirit anyway

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Tue 27-Dec-11 01:28:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 01:28:48

Patriarchal religion was made and is made in the minds of misogynistic men's minds. It reflected what they did and what they wanted to do.

Men at that time raped young women and girls and got them pregnant and forced them into marriage. So that's what they got god to do, minus the marriage part. Of course they said Mary wanted it, but then rapists always say that about their victims.

To understand patriarchal religion you need to look at its symbols and myths and see what they are really representing. It's not good.

And yes, god is a man. God the father, remember?

Tortington Tue 27-Dec-11 01:29:11

Man and woman are both with one and the same dignity "in the image of God"

from the catechism

Tortington Tue 27-Dec-11 01:31:40

god is spirit

he is genderless

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 01:35:25

In the quote you just used, God did not impregnate the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit did, and the Holy Spirit is not God but part of the Holy Trinity, of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

God himself cannot be automatically considered to be male either.
"This does not mean however that the Church wishes to anthropomorphize God by projecting human maleness onto Him. The Church knows that God “is neither man nor woman: He is God” and “God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood” (Catechism, no. 239). The Bible in various places uses feminine imagery to refer to the Holy Spirit — imagery that goes a long way back in both Catholic and ancient Jewish tradition. There is much theology in the Jewish tradition with regard to the “breath” of God or the “wisdom” of God cast in feminine, maternal, or bridal terms. The great Shekinah glory cloud who led Israel through the wilderness and who surrounded Solomon’s Temple, was understood by the rabbis in feminine terms. Though God is usually referred to in masculine imagery, Isaiah 42:14 describes the Lord giving birth after much travail. This image may lie behind Jesus’ saying in John 3:5 that we must be born of water and the Spirit. It is probably significant that Jesus uses “born of the Spirit” and “born of God” (John 1:13) rather than “begotten of God,” which would reflect more paternal parentage. This does not take away from Isaiah’s specifically calling God “Father” (Is. 63:16, 64:8) and Jesus echoing this dozens of times in the Gospels. The Holy Spirit inspired the scriptures and therefore respect for the Holy Spirit means respect for His choice of words and images to describe God in all their paradoxical tension.

The masculanising of God came from Jesus, prior to that, God can, in some Catholic circles, considered to have been Gender Neutral.

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 01:36:51

I think that if Christianity informs a festival that dominates our culture, a bit of analysis/pondering is fair enough.

That I agree with, but I am not sure insinuating God is a paedophilic rapist is the same as a bit of analysis/pondering.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 01:39:19

That's just another patriarchal mindfuck. "he is genderless"? Can't you see the total internal contradication in that statement. I bet your church never refers to god (not goddess) as she.

Women are just supposed to ignore all the gendering and pretend we're included too.

Christian fathers viewed women as inferior beings to the fully human men:

“Both nature and the law place the woman in a subordinate condition to the man” Irenaeus, Fragment no 32.

“It is the natural order among people that women serve their husbands and children their parents, because the justice of this lies in (the principle that) the lesser serves the greater . . . This is the natural justice that the weaker brain serve the stronger. This therefore is the evident justice in the relationships between slaves and their masters, that they who excel in reason, excel in power.” (Augustine, Questions on the Heptateuch, Book I, § 153.

“Nor can it be doubted, that it is more consonant with the order of nature that men should bear rule over women, than women over men. It is with this principle in view that the apostle says, "The head of the woman is the man;" and, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands." So also the Apostle Peter writes: "Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord." Augustine, On Concupiscence, Book I, chap. 10.

“The Apostle wants women who are manifestly inferior, to be without fault, in order that the Church of God be pure” Ambrosiaster, On 1 Timothy 3,11.
“Who are there that teach such things apart from women? In very truth, women are a feeble race, untrustworthy and of mediocre intelligence. Once again we see that the Devil knows how to make women spew forth ridiculous teachings, as he has just succeeded in doing in the case of Quintilla, Maxima and Priscilla” Epiphanius, Panarion 79, §1.

Confirmation of the inferior status of women was often seen in the belief that only man, not woman, had been created in God's image:

“You (woman) destroyed so easily God's image, man.” Tertullian, De Cultu Feminarum, book 1, chap. 1.
“How, then, would God have failed to make any such concession to men more (than to women), whether on the ground of nearer intimacy, as the male being in "His own image," or on the ground of harder toil? But if nothing (has been thus conceded) to the male, much less to the female.” Tertullian, On the Veiling of Virgins, chap. 10.

“ Women must cover their heads because they are not the image of God . . . How can anyone maintain that woman is the likeness of God when she is demonstrably subject to the dominion of man and has no kind of authority? For she can neither teach nor be a witness in a court nor exercise citizenship nor be a judge-then certainly not exercise dominion” Ambrosiaster, On 1 Corinthians 14, 34.

“So the soil, that is the womb, accepts the human race, and she nourishes what is her own after receiving it , and while nourishing this body, and while giving it a body, distinguishes it into various members”. Jerome, Letter to Pammachius.

“They shut themselves up alone with women and justify their sinful embraces by quoting the lines: ‘The almighty father takes the earth to wife; pouring upon her fertilizing rain, that from her womb new harvest he may reap.’ Jerome, Letter 133. To Ctesiphon, §3.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 01:41:30

I'm not insinuating it. I'm saying it straight out. Which bit of what I said was unclear?

Tortington Tue 27-Dec-11 01:42:21

and god always creates life by talking or speaking not sex - there is not gender to god - its just that man wrote the bible so the pronouns are male lots of default pronouns are male - i think it is in english and ancient greek - your male unless proven otherwise

ofcourse in a book written by men, 0put together by men and edited by men so there are no female gospels left then theres going to be strong masculine bent to this GENDERLESS spirit

its like giving god a race - saying god is white - its a tricky road to go down is that. and is only to further your own ends.

He has no race and he has no need to procreate and therefore doesn't need a penis

cos He is spirit

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 01:45:31

we could simply trade google quotes all night, I am more than capable of finding numerous posts about how the gospels empower women, the difference is I have a basic understanding of the religion (which again I point out I dont practise) and some respect for the beliefs of others.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 01:48:01

Why do you keep calling him him if he's genderless? "He" is a gendered pronoun meaning male.

God doesn't create life, nature creates life, and on this planet the female generally does.

The male god creator of the human race is a patriarchal reversal of what actually happens. It's an erasure of woman. Your creatrix was a woman Custardo.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 01:50:18

You don't respect my beliefs at all MJ. If you did you wouldn't be on this thread with your patriarchal propaganda.

Demanding respect for a religion that has created suffering and still creates suffering for so many women and girls, and has been the cause of murder and torture of so many women is ridiculous.

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Tue 27-Dec-11 01:53:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 01:57:48

I wasnt talking about your beliefs thunder I was referring to the religion you are so happily decimating.

And I will post on whatever thread I chose to post on, much the same as you feel free to do.

I happen to disagree with you referring to the Christian God as a paedophilic rapist, I find offensive, and so I have challenged it, God did not impregnante anyone.

Religions, most of them, not just Christianty, causes huge amounts of pain and suffering, to all genders.

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 01:59:49

TheBrandy, I am happy to stand corrected, as it is a long old time since I studied religion, but as I understand it, the 2 things that stand Catholicism apart from the other Christian Religions are Belief in the Virgin Birth and Transubstantiation. I thought only Catholics believed in either??

Tortington Tue 27-Dec-11 02:01:48

there is no gender neutral pro-noun and in english the default is male - its the English language - thats why!

in the beginning god created - but then this isn't the argument - the argument is whether god raped the virgin mary with his god penis * even though the holy spirit is well...errrrr a spirit... then told everyone to keep calling her a virgin when he

The male god creator of the human race is a patriarchal reversal of what actually happens. It's an erasure of woman. Your creatrix was a woman Custardo.

this is not fact. this is an opinion. my god is neither male not female - that is my opinion. If your god is a woman - good for you

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 02:03:33

And yes, god is a man. God the father, remember?

God is 3, God the father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit.

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 02:05:24

and with that, its off to sleep for me.

Night All.

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 02:27:08

Gulp - first time ever posting on the feminism board, please be kind to me...

I am a Christian. There are plenty of feminist Christian theologians, some of whom refer to god as she. Unfortunately we don't have a genre neutral pronoun, otherwise it would be the most appropriate.

There is plenty of church history which, any reasonable Christian would accept, is deeply biased against women (witch burning, the catholic prohibition against female priests - you know the score!). The bible was written by men, and that also comes across loud and clear. But as a Christian, I understand I am receiving this faith through 2000 years and more of complex history, and yet through the nonsense I do see some remarkable things. I see a 1st century male jew who spoke to Samaritan women, healed women who were bleeding even though just touching them made him 'unclean' and could get him stoned, raised women from the dead, and bothered to teach women scripture, a deeply transgressive act. I see him choose to be born by a human mother, and first appear after he comes back to life to a woman - and ask her to be the bearer of the news to the other disciples. I see him befriend prostitutes (I'm not talking about Mary magdalene - it's not clear in the gospels if she was a prostitute - but there are lots of other prostitutes who clearly are, iykwim). I see him defend a woman who was about to be stoned for adulatory and save her life. I see him praise a widow who gives what she has, over a man who gives what she can spare.

Jesus was a feminist. So when I look at my faith, I approach it wit the question, "how do I receive a tradition that is biased against me?" rather than, "how do I approach a god who is biased against me?"

messyisthenewtidy Tue 27-Dec-11 07:26:59

That was a nice post ABird. I agree that Jesus did some v pro woman things and as an atheist who sees Jesus as a great figure like Gandhi or Mandela I do find him inspiring but it is near impossible to see God as anything other than male, especially since, in my atheist opinion he was made in the image of man rather than the other way round.

Whilst the essence of Xtianity may be love I find it very hard to grasp. I mean the stuff Augustine and other early church founders spouted was so viscious that it makes me sick. It was very offputting as a child to be given excuse after excuse for God's ungodlike behaviour and I have met men who have told me that women shouldn't be priests because noone would listen to them.

I do think if the church were interested in doing the right thing they need to acknowledge the terrible wrong that has been done to women in the name of religion. But instead they brush it under the carpet and make excuse after excuse without recognising the psychological damage that has been passed down through the centuries. I dont think damage is too strong a word when you consider the nastiness of the creation myth, the exclusion from involvement, the witch hunts and other stereotypes thoat have coloured our collective psyche.

BTW although this thread has gotten a bit risque with all its talk of rape it has been pretty interesting. Insomuch as we are influenced strongly by Xtian beliefs it cant do any harm to analyse them.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 11:25:36

Jesus was not a feminist. He had zero to say about women's rights. He had nothing to say about male violence against women including sexual violence. He had nothing to say about the inequality that women experience (and no being equal in god's eyes doesn't count, inequality exists in concrete reality). Jesus doesn't deserve credit for something women created and women fought for. It's just offensive to be making claims like that about him.

I think what's confusing people here is that on this thread christianity is being treated as a set of myths and symbols, myths and symbols that arose from previous myths and also the culture of the time and reflected the interests of those men creating it. There are plenty of places where religion is given its undue veneration and respect but this thread is in part about examining it (well christianity) critically. Patriarchal religions are massive institutions with huge amounts of money and followers who get to preach their message week in week out, they have huge influence - many of them are institutionalised and state religions. If they can't cope with criticism in one tiny corner of the internet, well that word "fascist" springs to mind.

PS: Ghandi used to sleep with young women (older teenagers) in his bed, partially clothed, to prove that he could resist temptation. It was supposed to be an honour for the young women. He was a creep. He also nicked his ideas on resistance from the suffragetttes, who don't get held up as great holy figures the way jesus, mandela or ghandi do. But then suffragettes aren't men and through religion we're taught that only men are supposed to receive that level of adulation.

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 12:24:28

Patriarchal religions are massive institutions with huge amounts of money and followers who get to preach their message week in week out, they have huge influence

Now that I agree with and it's basically why I no longer practise.

lollygag Tue 27-Dec-11 13:32:15

It's not going to matter soon anyway.When the Western Banking and Economic system collapses shortly there will be a massive breakdown in 'Society'. When society ceases to exist so does Law and Order.It will essentially be the law of the jungle.
By the way,I'm calling it a win for thunderbolts in the cutting and pasting from Wikipaedia stakes.

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 14:35:37

I wasn't using wikipedia smile and I got bored of cutting and pasting when I couldn't be arsed to read or understand it although it is quite an imterwsting debate.

HillsnSpills Tue 27-Dec-11 14:47:04

Well I never. A thread in feminism section doing nothing but moan and bloody rant. Several days of doing nothing but whine and moan about christmas. Anything but wish people well and to have a good time.

Yes there is an imbalance in many households but really all I have really seen here is a load of vitriol and bad feeling. If you dont want to do it then fucking dont! No one is making you celebrate anything but for fucks sake leave other people to enjoy things.

AlwaysWild Tue 27-Dec-11 16:47:54

Seasons greetings to you too hillsnspills. Hope you had a good one.

OnemorningXmasCockMonkey Tue 27-Dec-11 17:05:55

Well I never, a poster in a feminist thread telling the ladies how to post.

Happy Christmas to you, Hills.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 17:39:10

I did wish people well and hope they enjoyed themselves.

A lot of women didn't though unfortunately, and had to work very hard instead.

kickassangel Tue 27-Dec-11 20:02:18

Wow. Well I guess that when women talk too much instead of smiling and nodding, then it can sound a bit shrill and moaney.

ThompsonTwins Tue 27-Dec-11 20:16:47

More power to your elbow Chandon. I admire your restraint - it would drive me to drink (well, more drink) to see your DH's not very subtle avoidance of family activity and work in the kitchen etc. Good luck with the PLAN.

ElfenorRathbone Tue 27-Dec-11 20:37:01

Ho hum. Another poster who hasn't actually read the thread of if she has, hasn't understood it.

This thread hasn't been moaning about christmas.

It's discussing some of its aspects from a feminist perspective. Sorry you can't tell the difference Hills. I had a lovely christmas. I expect most of the feminists round here did, becasue we're not doing unncessary wifework we don't want to be doing.


Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 21:01:03

Messy, I can totally understand what you mean about acknowledging the damage done by the church through history - I think it is a fair wrd, and I am part of the church! It has a less than perfect history, or course, regarding women and also regarding many other equality / justice issues, like slavery for instance. But I would point out that the church is not homogenous - just like feminism! I wqas bought up in a church where women could not be leaders. This took me a long time to get over, and did damage me I think. But just because some churches preach this, it does not mean all do. I'm sure there are feminists you fundamentally dasagree with?

Secondly, I would say that because I am a christian, I see God as real, jesus as a hisorical figure who was also, really and actually, God. He is not a myth or symbol to me, he is my friend. And like many great figures, he is appropriated by anyone and everyone to argue for the cause. I say, from knowing him through my faith, that Jesus was a feminist. He challenged the deeply anti-woman aspects of his culture in very shocking ways, and knowing him has given me the courage to speak out against other kinds of inequality that perhps I would not have been so concious of if it was not for my faith. Thunder says, from looking at him through the myths and symbols that have grown up around him, that he is not a feminist. I would agree. Many many church pracitces and doctrines are deeply patriarchal. But I would argue that most of these doctrines are not biblical and not from Jesus. Like any beautiful, good and powerful thing, the teaching of Jesus can be taken by powerful groups (men? the Romans? Heterosexual people? the rich?Etc etc) and used to support their positions.

Thunder it is not fair to say christians cannot take critisism. Some can't some can. We're a mixed bag, just like any other group of people.

When I was struggling with some of these issues because of my church bckground, I found this book fascinating and very useful. I think anyone interested in a feminist Christian perspective would find it really good - although I recognize that's not everyone on this thread! smile

ElfenorRathbone Tue 27-Dec-11 21:05:49

God the father, god the son and god the holy spirit.

Only 2/3 male then?


MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 21:23:01

abird bought thanks.

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 21:25:20

I think most theologians agree God as a whole is gender neutral Elfenor. here is a lot of imagery in the bible of god crying out in birth pains, of her brooding over her children like a mother hen with her chicks - Some theologians use the terms 'God the creator' instead. The bible was written mainly by men in a patriarcha society so the words they chose reflected their own experience, and obviously used the term Father. Jesus did too, but again that could be because it was literally true for him?

Personally I do not feel I have a relationship with a male-only God. I have a relationship with a God who created all of humanity in their own image.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 21:32:13

Misogynistic theologians who enjoy the patriarchal mind-fuck agree that god is gender neutral because that's what suits patriarchy at the moment. It's good that you're appealing to male authority though Abird, men will generally always back up the status quo and stifle feminist criticism and analysis.

The thing is, he's called "he", he's a god not a goddess. It's quite clear he's a man, and that man made god in his image. You don't even have to be a theologian to spot it.

The problem is for women when they have to do these mental gymnastics to believe that patriarchal religion is about them and for them, when it patently isn't. It's about aggrandising and worshipping men.

ElfenorRathbone Tue 27-Dec-11 21:33:26

I think you can have the relationship you want with a deity but the organisation of the church has a whole, speaks ab out that deity as male.

It' a bit like the debate people always have about wehther "man" means human being. You can tie yourself in knots pretending that when someoen refers to a man and "he" "him" etc., they mean he or she, man or woman, but I prefer to be guided by what things mean in English and stop denying that the reason that the male pronoun was always used in English, was not because the male pronoun referred to men and woman together, but because women were being excluded from the discourse. They weren't even considered full human beings, so it was perfectly reasonable to talk about humanity as being male.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 21:34:45

Indeed Elfenor. Words mean something. Men know that which is why "he" and "god" get bandied around. It seems like it's only women invested in denying it.

kickassangel Tue 27-Dec-11 21:40:49

I think that there's a difference between whether someone believes in a godly being, and discussing how patriarchal society has interpreted and used that belief.

I don't think you can tell someone that they believe in a male only god when they believe in a male and female god. The holy spirit was female in many of the Hebrew texts so although there is an image if god the father there is also a female image

That doesn't really make any difference to how the Christian church has used the belief in a god to favor men, wealthy, white etc etc of society.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 21:46:55

The analysis that I've been promising and have failed at so far, is that as Mary Daly says that these patriarchal religious festivals are designed to make men feel good about themselves and women feel very bad about themselves.

It's not just that women do most of the work, although that has an obvious tangible effect on women, it's the whole festival that revolves around worshipping a male god and his son and that women are expected to unquestioningly join in this worship. Even if you are an atheist/agnostic you're still celebrating christmas, you're still going to be surrounded by the whole culture telling you this is about god coming down to earth in male form and how his son is king of us all. The reversal involved in getting a mother to bow down to worship her son, as Mary did to jesus, is astounding.

As well as that there are all the mythical subtexts some already mentioned in this thread, like the rape of Mary (the rape of the goddess), the woman as incubator, the backslapping boys club (the three kings, the shepherds coming to worship the baby) - in other words the patriarchy coming together in an orgy of women erasure, including the erasure of female divinity.

At the same time as women are feeling the pain of being written out of the religious, cultural and historical picture, men can feel good that one of them is god, is there to be worshipped. Because if god is man, then man is god. That's what the story is about.

So any women feeling a bit rubbish about christmas, or not as enthusiastic as they might expect to be, might think of taking a look at these religious traditions and beliefs and what they actually mean for women. This holiday works against us.

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 21:47:32

Ahh, off to the rest of mumsnet! Find the feminist boards a bit too... aggressive. "Enjoy the patriarchal mindfuck"? "Appealing to male authority"? Gosh, this board s a bit scary for me!

Elfenor, I have not denied the church through history has been patriarchal and biased. That is what feminist theology is: re-examining the tradition we have recieved to understand how gender and faith fit together considering our history. And reclaiming and reexamining the language of our faith is part of this. These criticisms are not new to Christianity, and there are many many theologians (of both genders!) arguing about it all. Christian feminism has become quite a mainstream area of study, along with the resurgence of liberation theology (which has similar themes but focuses on economic inequality). So yes, there are parts of the church who insist still that only men can preach, that God is entirly and exclusively male... and there are parts that don't. And the debate is there, and growing.

vesuvia Tue 27-Dec-11 21:47:36

Abirdinthehand wrote - "I wqas bought up in a church where women could not be leaders."

Are there any religions in which women are allowed to be leaders?

(I'm thinking CEO level, not middle management.)

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 21:50:06

I'm not telling anybody what they believe. I'm saying that christian mythology along with judaism and islam are monotheistic patriarchal religions worshipping the same male god.

This is not controversial.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 21:53:18

It depends if you're a liberal or a radical Abird. You obviously think that patriarchal religion with its history of women-destruction and woman-erasure is worth reforming, as a radical I say, let's get rid.

Patriarchal mindfuck is a technical term. smile I'm quoting Mary Daly who created the field of Feminist theology. She was a Thomist scholar.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 21:57:13

I've got to say I'm wondering what people who saw the title Happy Patriarchymas thought they'd be getting when they clicked on this thread.

Patriarchal religion is one of the pillars of male supremacy. It has caused, and still does cause, enormous harm to women and girls.

messyisthenewtidy Tue 27-Dec-11 22:10:17

I totally agree Elf and Thunder on the big male pronoun cover up. It's so frustrating when we are patted on the head with the "but it's the generic 'he'". If you look closer at what people are saying when they say this they are usually talking about male specific things.
Also in the past when they used the He pronoun they would have openly admitted that they were not talking about women, eg the US constitution use of 'man' blatantly excluded women yet now we are expected to believe that this has all changed. I must have missed that particular memo!

ABird thank you for the book recommendation. I will most definitely buy it.

vesuvia Tue 27-Dec-11 22:14:29

"He" is the default/de facto neuter pronoun in English.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 22:16:59

Who do you think decided that vesuvia? It wasn't women.

MooncupGoddess Tue 27-Dec-11 22:28:12

It's very striking in the nativity story that all the men get to do things, where Mary just submits. She's told she's with child by the Holy Spirit, Joseph drags her to Bethlehem, she gives birth unattended in a stable, then lots of random kings and shepherds turn up, then she presents the baby to the temple in accordance with Jewish tradition to be circumcised admired by more men, then God tells Joseph to take her and the baby home via Egypt.

At no point in the entire gospels, as far as I can remember, does Mary ever get a chance to make a decision or take action on her own account. Her virtue, in the eyes of the church, lies in being an adoring doormat.

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 22:32:40

Ahh, sorry thunderbolts - I though you were swearing at me and it confirmed my view of the feminist board as too scary to post on! grin at self

The book, by the way, is not an academic text (i can reccomend something else if that's hat you'd prefer?) but is structured as a conversation between 2 respected chistian feminist theologians, and is aimed at christians exploring the issue, though is very accessable if you are new to Christian theology (or to feminism, which I was when I read it at 19!)

Messy, yes, the maleness of the language in the bible is explicit and by and about men. That's why Jesus is so interesting - why sometimes it seems like even the gospel writers don't know what to make of him. There was a talmudic saying at the time or shortly after (sorry can't remember the ref but can find it if needed) that 'It is better to bury the Torah in the earth than to teach it to a woman'.

Contrast this with the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus visits these sisters, and Martha is very stressed out with wifework while Mary sits and listens to Jesus' teachings (this is a role men would usually take with an important Rabbi visitor, women would usually be serving food etc). Martha says to Jesus, 'Why are you talking to Mary - tell her to come and help me!' And Jesus says, 'Martha, you are stresed out by so may things. No- Mary has chosen the better way'.

That's the kind of thing I mean - Jesus' appraoch to women and gender issues in the gospel is complex, nuanced, and deserves examiniation. The fact that the church has plenty of episodes of shameful history and that many f these stories have form the very start been problematic to the powerful men involved with Chrstianity does not detract from this.

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 22:34:59

Mooncup how about the story where Mary visits Elizabeth?

vesuvia Tue 27-Dec-11 22:38:45

To expand a bit on my earlier comment, ("He" is the default/de facto neuter pronoun in English),

"He" is a very commonly used default pronoun for "people" if the speaker doesn't want to explicity describe them as being male, but the male norm is still usually implied.

I agree, thunderboltsandlightning, that it wasn't women who would have decided that, and I don't like it's almost exclusive use for supposedly neuter or male-and-female things.

When people refer to God with a supposedly neuter version of "she", I get the impression most people just think that it is daft - "political correctness gone mad" etc., because they regard it as so alien to what they have experienced as the norm. It annoys me that "she" is not regarded by the general public as a serious candidate for the neuter pronoun.

Also, let's not forget the neuter pronoun, "it"!

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 22:39:08

Sorry, that did not mean to sound like I was disagreeing wth you completly mooncup - yes, the women who would have been present have been written out of the story. Very unlikly Mary would have given birth alone, for example - but her female helpers are not mentioned.

but is partly a social thing - our nativity story that we retell in schoo plays and childrens books misses out a big chunk, where Mary chooses to visit Elizabeth alone, and Elizabeth has a prophetic insight into who jesus is, and Mary sings a song where she says she is blessed above all women and all generations will call her blessed. Its in the bible, but our society misses it out even though its bang slap in the middle of the nativity story.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 22:39:57

I'd recommend reading Beyond God the Father and also Pure Lust, both by Mary Daly, who like I said created the field of feminist theology. If you want to understand feminist theology properly, you really need to start there.

Her obituary in the National Catholic Record is here, which gives an outline of some of her ideas and philosophy:


thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 22:41:04

I notice that Jesus didn't get in the kitchen and do his fair share. Martha or Mary might have been beaten by the men in the household if the wifework wasn't done. Jesus appears to have very little understanding of women's reality.

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 22:42:37

I feel wierd calling god it, I use she or he, usually just 'You' in my head if im praying.

God calls herself

"I Am" or "The great I Am" or "I Am Who I Am" in hebrew. (YHWH)

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 22:48:16

Yes, I will get some of her stuff Thunder - she is Catholic, which is interesting, because I think there are some quite specific challenges to Catholic women that protestants don't face and vice versa, so I will find it interesting.

It says it's Martha's house, I think they did not have husbands / fathers there (they would have been in Marys place if they were there). So I guess they would not have been beaten, though they would have been socially stigmatised. I think Jesus is saying some things are more important, women are alowed to have different priorities to what their culture says - which was very transgressive.

He does cook for others in different stories - not in this one though smile

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 22:48:26

If jesus was a feminist he wouldn't have been telling people to worship god his father.

I can't believe we're having this argument here. The starting point of this thread was that patriarchal religious festivals, in this case christmas, are harmful to women.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 22:50:23

Look there are always people who want to defend patriarchal institutions - pornography, religion etc. I really don't feel like having to bat this back.

Please could you use feminism as your starting point Abird, not defending christianity and jesus, because that's just a maintenance of the status quo.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 22:54:28

And do you know what, in that story, jesus was your typical arrogant man. What he was saying was important, the work that was required to keep the household running wasn't according to him. Maybe martha didn't feel like sitting at the feet of some dull guy pontificating away expecting everybody to fall down at his pearls of wisdom, maybe she had a list of things she needed to do that day.

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 22:55:53

I'm finding abirds posts fascinating, like many a Mumsnet thread it's taken a turn, but as someone who struggles with the Catholic Church, it's wealth and violent history and has as a result, turned away from my faith (while still believing in I'm not sure what), this thread is enlightening.

MIL is staunchly religious in a ram it down your throat way, (frustrating at time but she is elderly so we all humour her) while at the same time being a strong independent woman and excellent role model, she is full of massive contradictions.

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 22:59:26

hmm thunder - I am a Christian and I consider myself a feminist. Am I not allowed to be a Christian and a feminist on the feminist boards?

It just found this which helped me make sense of why we are arguing I think - overview of feminist theology

I'd probably put myself in number 2, the author puts Mary Daley under no 3, (and I will read some of her work because I like broadening my perspective) and then under no 4 and 5 I don't think we're really talking about Chrisitianity at all any more. So, I'm guessing from your posts, you'd scrap the whole thing, I think I see immense value in my faith and would like to reform it.

There's not a problem in us disagreeing with each other is there? (genuinly confused)

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 23:09:13

MJ, thank you for being kind. I find feminism fascinating, I like discussing it, but I have never posted on the feminist boards before because i find them a bit intimidating, so I appreciate your kindness. Its fun to debate and disagree, I like hearing the opinions of others, as long as it's friendly and polite!

I so relate to your struggle MJ. I have always felt there was a kernal of truth in my faith, and found great comfort in scripture, and had religious experiences very real and important to me. But increasingly there wasa lot of stuff about my religion I could not stomach (mainly the homophobia and sexism) and it really tore me up. When I read Beyond Fear and Silence something clicked in me - she somehow uses the beauty of the text in a way which acknowledges the way the women in Mark have been sidelined by the writer, but yet still values it and makes sense of it as scripture. She's the one who poses the question (though she may be quoting, I can't remember) 'How do we recieve a tradition biased against us?' which I found so helpful in my understanding of my faith.

noddyholder Tue 27-Dec-11 23:10:21

You lot spoil everything

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 23:13:22

But it's not really feminism is it? I mean saying that jesus was being a feminist in that scenario is just incorrect, he was nothing of the sort - he wasn't centring women's interests, he was placing his pontificating above them.

I don't really see the point of coming on to a thread which is about radical feminist analysis of religion, based on the work of the very first feminist theologian who frankly hasn't been matched by anybody who came after her, to promote a weak form of liberal feminism that doesn't actually have its focus on women but rather on finding a way to rehabilitate christianity and god.

FrostytheSunshine Tue 27-Dec-11 23:18:49

Maybe Thunder Abird is posting on a thread on MN that is accessible to everyone, it's an opinion & she's entitled to join the discussion?

Surely it's better to have to have intelligent debate & discussion rather than none at all? RadFem or not women should be welcoming those who are happy to debate the idea of feminism as so many women today feel it's not a subject that needs debate.

thunderboltsandlightning Tue 27-Dec-11 23:26:38

I didn't say that Abird isn't entitled to join the debate, however she's not actually engaging with anything I've posted about here or the topic of the thread. Saying jesus was a feminist isn't a debate. It's more reflexive patriarchal wah-wah.

What is interesting is the idea of patriarchal religious festivals are designed to make women feel worse about ourselves, to remind us of our unimportance in patriarchal culture, except as workers or worshippers, never at the centre, never divine. That's what patriarchal religious myth is designed to do. Are women interested in examining that?

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 23:28:11

I don't usually post in this section either abird but this thread and some posts on another thread by garlic have been really interesting.

I'm off to bed shortly and I will read your latest link tomorrow.

We have quite a traditional set up in some ways, because I have the more family friendly employer, but DH cooks, cleans, looks after the children as well as me. I think (in our set up) DH has the raw end of the deal because he would love more time with the children but that's on another thread.

FrostytheSunshine Tue 27-Dec-11 23:32:10

It would be something I'd be interested in reading more about. I'm very new to these boards on MN so I'll lurk with interest for now.

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 23:32:45

Sorry, I thought it was a debating board.

I totally get why it might be annoying to get people on here denying there is a problem, denying feminism is necessary, denying all the inequalities in our society and blaming rape on women's miniskirts. (I follow some of the threads, I have seen the nonsense you get sometimes!). I guess I am probably not as radical in my feminism as many peple who post here, but I am a feminist.

Like any text, interpretation is key, isn't it? So you say the text of the bible is un-salvagable. I say it's full of crap but there is beauty there too. I am tired of seeing it through the lens of male interpretation, but I do still want to interpret and understand it.

It is interesting that being a feminist means many evangelical Christians question whether someone is a Christian. And being a Christian seems to make some feminists question whether someone is a feminist! Seems I and a whole load of other women are a bit stuck really... nobody wants us! grin

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 23:35:58

It's funny thunder Christmas didn't / doesn't make me feel bad about myself, the complete opposite in fact, perhaps it's the meditterean family but I love Christmas, I love the presents, the fun, the magic elves, seeing all the DCs happy.

I didn't get a mountain of gifts, but I did get a beautiful text from dss, a big hug and kiss with a thank you from DH, a lot of joy from my childrens faces.

DH put in extra hours to pay for it, I put in "extra hours" to make it. I wrapped - dh supplied the GnTs and nibbles and generally ran around, fetching carrying, finding. Even though this is a more "traditional" set up, it works for us.

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 23:36:18

Sorry Thunder, xpost.

I thought I was engaging with your topic? I think yes, many church traditions(and our crazy capitalist media-led society in general as well) do make women feel bad about themselves. But I would make a distinction between the traditions of the church and what I see as a centra core of truth in Christianity which no, is not designed to make women feel that.

MJinSparklyStockings Tue 27-Dec-11 23:42:11

It's also funny that my mothers parents, whose roles were very traditionally defined - held my grand mother at "the centre", the glue that binds the family together.

Although my grand father worked while gran was "a housewife" in the traditional sense - there is no doubt that her views and her role was "central" and the most important - what she said went.

In our culture the Virgin Mary is very much revered and adored, probably more so that Jesus.

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Tue 27-Dec-11 23:44:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Abirdinthehand Tue 27-Dec-11 23:58:20

Woo, go the Church of Scotland! I didn't kno that Brandy.

I wend to a church once, and asked , 'Do women preach at your church?'

A: Well, yes, we don't have theological problem with it - any Elder of the church can preach.

Me: Cool! So how many women on the eldership?

A: Ah, we wouldn't allow women on the eldership - we would have a theological problem with that.


It was quite mindbending. In most of protestantism though, this is a question for debate, and denominations do change their stances - it must be very hard in catholicism because it sems s se in stone.

MJ, I would be interested in your feelings about the veneration of Mary - sometimes I feel wistful that catholicism has such a strong female character at the center of the faith which we don't, but sometimes d you not find it uncomfortable that her main (only?) role is as a childbearer? Sorry, really don't want to offend you (or her!) but just interested in your views as a Catholic.

vesuvia Tue 27-Dec-11 23:59:46

TheBrandyButterflyEffect wrote - "there have been (if memory serves) two woman convenors of the Church of Scotland."

Thanks for that information.

MooncupGoddess Wed 28-Dec-11 00:03:16

abird - yes, the Visitation is a nice bit of the gospels, with Mary and Elizabeth meeting up and the child leaping in his mother's womb. But it still doesn't involve much decisive action on either woman's part, does it - essentially it's just Mary going to see her cousin.

And the Magnificat is all about Mary saying how blessed she is to be chosen by the Lord. Classic submissive stuff.

I like your posts though! And I agree that Jesus' attitude to women is unusual and impressive for his time - it is one of the aspects of the gospels that suggests to me that Jesus was a real person (though am not a Christian myself).

Abirdinthehand Wed 28-Dec-11 00:09:08

That's interesting Mooncup, yes, I had not thought about Jesus' trangressive approach to gener as evidence of his existence (probably because his existence was never a question for me). But yes - why would the male writers incude these incidents which they clearly find problematic if they did not feel compelled to include them because of truthfullness? It is not the kind of stuff they would want their Saviour to be doing - talking to bleeding women and Samarians and lepers all of the place, yuk!

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Dec-11 00:17:10

I may be late here, but I'm a Catholic and women's spirituality and power is there in our telling of Christmas. Joseph is on a par with the donkey and hired help, but Goddess worship is all ago.

Anyway, Christmas is a time for my mother to re-assert her rights over the kitchen, for dad to visit his sisters and for me to have a great day.

I love it.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 00:21:46

abird that catholicism has such a strong female character at the center of the faith which we don't, but sometimes d you not find it uncomfortable that her main (only?) role is as a childbearer? Sorry, really don't want to offend you (or her!) but just interested in your views as a Catholic.

Im non practising and have been for a long time, but I was brought up in a staunchly Catholic background, these are just my views.

Re her role only being a child bearer, that is central, its a very matriarchial view, that the "mother" is all important, I'll talk about my grandmother, rather than the Virgin Mary, because I find it easier to explain.

My grandmother would be an anethma to todays feminists (I think), she fulfilled a very much traditional role, she cooked, cleaned, did all the house work, raised the children, my grand father never did housework, he was the "bread winner", but my grandmothers role, was seen as the most important thing. being "mum" did not belittle her role, it was the most important role.

She was (is) the centre point of our family, the person whose views held most sway, to whom everyone turned. To say Mary was "only the child bearer" is to demean the role of the mother, God didn't just pick anyone to bear a child, he picked Mary because she was strong, good, pure.

She is the "mother", not just of Jesus but of the whole Catholic Church, it may have been hijacked to patriarchy (for want of a better term), but the Catholic Church owes its very existance to a woman.

The village my mother and my grandmother are from is full of icons to the Virgin Mary.

I went to an all girls convent school, we were taught we could be anything, do anything, go anywhere, no limits were put on out education, no doubts about our abilities were cast. It was assumed we could go into any career we wanted, attend any university, achieve any heights. The nuns, were in their own way, seen as strong and powerful women.

Abirdinthehand Wed 28-Dec-11 00:23:28

I find the Catolic approach to women so double-sided though Dione - all venerating Mary, but then no women prests? It's fascinating, I'd love to understand it better from a Catholic point of view (most churches I've been to take a 'Catholics mean well but are a bit misguided and heretical' approach, which I find a bit rude and shallow - educate me!)

Abirdinthehand Wed 28-Dec-11 00:26:50

I like the emphasis on Mary as someone who CHOSE to accept the gift and pain of being the mother of Christ, which makes her powerful, rather than someone it was forced on. And that makes a nice symmetry - God chose her, she chose to bear him.

MJ did you ever feel there wasa contradiction between Mary's importance and the lack of women in church leadership?

This thread is really confusing now.

We do have a gender neutral pronoun - it's 'it' in the singular and 'they' in the plural! (And incidentally, there is a long history in Christianity of not using a gendered pronoun for God).

I don't personally believe thunder's interpretation of the Mary story, but IMO the point is that many people do believe that that is what happened, God made Mary pregnant, and she was just meant to be obedient and put up with it, and this shows that women should always put up with what men say and do. I don't understand how saying that is offensive to religion? The only people I've heard seriously defend that idea are people who quite seriously and literally believe women are inferior and that this is part of God's plan. And TBH I don't really care about offending them, it seems like quite a good idea to me.

If you don't think women are inferior or that men should use a story about a girl who in our culture is of an age considered to be a child, as an incentive to rape young women ... fine, dissociate yourself from it then. I don't understand defending it, and I'm Christian myself.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 00:32:36

I stopped practising at about 20, and at that time, had never considered the lack of woman in the priesthood, but the nuns who taught me were accorded huge amounts of respect - they were seen as strong powerful women, so I had never really seen there as being no women in leadership. Our head mistress was not "less" than the Parish Priest, she was just "different", with a different role.

I am far from the biggest fan of the Catholic Church and I am no Theologican, these are just my personal thoughts, based on my own experiences.

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 00:38:18

Mary was kept on in christianity in order to entice in the pagans who needed a goddess to worship. It's why there are Marian cathedrals all over France. The protestants completed the goddess erasing project of christianity when Mary was cast out of their worship.

"I like the emphasis on Mary as someone who CHOSE to accept the gift and pain of being the mother of Christ, which makes her powerful, rather than someone it was forced on."

Well if men can persuade people that the woman consented then there is no rape. Acquiescence "Thy will be done" isn't consent though and it certainly has nothing to do with power. It would be crazy to argue that anybody else apart from god had power in that scenario.

"Luke 1:26-38
New International Version (NIV)
The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Abirdinthehand Wed 28-Dec-11 00:39:31

LRD - I guess I would distinuigh between what really happened - which I believe was positive, life affirming, and gave Mary a choice - and what we have recieved through 2000 years of patriarchal religious interpretation. And I would be happy to reject the latter (which I would call 'religion') but defend the former (which I call 'faith').

I don't think it's offensive at all to discuss it though!

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 00:42:35

Once again, this thread is about christian symbolism and myth-making i.e. what is actually contained in the bible and christian dogma that came from that.

Just to say, "well I wish for something different", isn't actually an argument.

Abirdinthehand Wed 28-Dec-11 00:44:31

Ohh, goodness, thunder, this is the first time ever I will post bible verses on MN! But since you are ok with it, I will suggest that you stopped reading to early - mary's song straight after this passage shows her as having made a positive choice:

Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Mary’s Song
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 00:46:24

abird, you would probably love chatting to MIL, she loves God, and the Church, she goes every day and is accorded massive respect within her community.

Whatever you thoughts on the Church as an institution, they certainly look after her well (she is a long drive from us and we cant always be there). I am glad she has her faith, it comforts her, makes her happy.

She was widowed at quite a young age, and is quite content in her belief, that when she dies, she is going to God and to her husband, whatever my personal thoughts on that, I find her faith touching.

Abirdinthehand Wed 28-Dec-11 00:49:35

But Thunder, I believe the Bible is in some way 'special', it is scripture to me (and to millions of others). But I also recognize that the stories in it have been retold and interpreted so many times in patriarchal ways that they have come to symbolis things which, in fact, I do not think were actually there at the begining. So much of the christian feminist theology I have read reinterprets the text from a starting position that the old interpretations are based, the male writers were biased, but God is not biased. It's not wishful thinking, it's redressing 2000 years of bias.

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 00:58:42

Well OK Abird, but this thread is about the bible as myth and symbolism and the way in which it promotes the patriarchy and oppresses women. It's just another book, it's not special, apart from the way its message has been used to harm so many women, and to justify that harm.

I know it's special to you, and to millions of other christians, and boy hasn't christianity been able to force it down the the throats of so many of us for two millennia. However there is a religious section if you want to talk about religious faith rather than feminist analysis (which doesn't rely on faith or wishful thinking). You could even start a thread about feminist approaches to faith in this section. However on this thread you are derailing the topic which takes as its starting point examining patriarchal religious myth.

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 01:00:54

Men wrote the bible. Men invented god in their image.

That's where my argument begins. From that we can examine the stories they created, and felt the need to tell e.g. the virgin birth, jesus the son of god etc, and why they felt the need to invent those particular ideas. What were their motivations? What did they achieve by getting people to believe these stories?

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Dec-11 01:02:15

Most Catholic women know the power lies with them. Most priests know this too. Where women are educated and knowledgable, the church follows. But at a snails pace, so that they keep the developing world on side.

The Catholic church ceased being a leader long ago, but it never forgot the role of the Goddesss is necessary and it's women drive it forward.

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 01:04:34

My dream would be for every catholic woman to walk out of that church and never set foot in it again.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 01:06:50

I wonder, if MIL walked out of Church and never stepped foot in there again, who would be there to look after her, when we cant be??

Who would visit her, take her to hospital appointments, take her for lunch, help her with chores, and generally care for her well being?

messyisthenewtidy Wed 28-Dec-11 01:13:52

Actually ABird, if you are to assume that 2000years of patriarchy has twisted the original message of Jesus then you actually have quite a bit of freedom to interpret the essence of the religion in the way you believe. and it is quite reasonable to assume Jesus was in favour of equality considering that he did treat women as individuals whose worth wasn't solely connected to their sexual purity. Unfortunately the male church founders saw his own celibacy as a rejection of sex and women.

I had to laugh the other day though when I advanced the Jesus-was-a-feminist-because-he told-Martha-to-sit-down theory to my mum who is a committed christian. She snorted with laughter and said "I bet he ate the sodding food she served him though!"

Anyway just off to bed. But please dont be scared of the feminist boards. We may be opinionated but we are a lovely lot really and i for one have found your posts very interesting.grin

messyisthenewtidy Wed 28-Dec-11 01:26:36

Sorry, really am off to bed but isn't it true that Catholics have a ton of female role models to choose from in the shape of the saints that the protestants got rid of? Or did they all have to be virgins too?

Tortington Wed 28-Dec-11 01:29:54

what i wont have is the bollocks that god raped a mortal virgin: there is absolutley no evidence to support this. fucking feminist hysteria making shit up - have a fucking word

BluddyMoFo Wed 28-Dec-11 01:32:02

To be fair though - the whole bible is made up so I wouldnt worry to much about the finer details really...

kickassangel Wed 28-Dec-11 05:45:49

I like to hear the full range of feminist thought. I didn't have access to "radical" feminism when I was younger so coming across it here is good, and I am often in agreement with it. However, I doubt that I would even engage with a discussion if ther were only one type of feminism being posted about. The very act of discussion draws me in, and makes me come to my own conclusions.

I think it unlikely that an Internet chat will change anyine's beliefs (religious or otherwise) but having the opportunity to hear those beliefs is important.

I went to a church school and I was never happy with the pTriarchical atmospher, even though it was a girls school. This thread is helping me to see why I felt that way

seeker Wed 28-Dec-11 08:25:56

How does the Magnificat suggest that Mary had any choice in the matter? It suggests that she accepted her destiny willingly, but not that she had any choice, surely?

SardineQueen Wed 28-Dec-11 08:55:53

"Most Catholic women know the power lies with them."


No abortion, no contraception, no sex before marriage (whose going to get found out) and all sorts of awful things being done around the world in the name of this church. No women allowed in any part of the power structure all the way up to the top. I mean, seriously? That's just getting silly.

SardineQueen Wed 28-Dec-11 08:57:05

What about the young girls who have been raped and refused abortion? So many harrowing cases - that one recently where a girl of about 12 was excommunicated because she was raped and her family got her an abortion (IIRC). Power lies with women in the RC church what a preposterous statement.

SardineQueen Wed 28-Dec-11 08:58:04

Sorry that's just made me so mad.

(Raised RC and most of my friends still practicing FYI)

chibi Wed 28-Dec-11 08:59:38

maybe the power referred to is the power to help clean the church, cook meals for the priests and do their washing/housekeeping

rc women have lots of that power from what i have seen (raised catholic)

SardineQueen Wed 28-Dec-11 09:26:31

BTW a pope headline did make me actually LOL the other day:

"Pope condemns 'superficial glitter' "

Accompanied by a picture of him bedecked from head to toe in intricate golden robes and surrounded by massive gold candlesticks grin

I mean if anyone knows about "glitter" and utilising it to its own ends it's the Vatican!

Sardine, that's awful. sad

abird - I agree. But I think that's why it's important to step back and see the Bible as a tool that the patriarchy has used to oppress women - it has been incredibly successful. I went to a talk about the different translations and people saying that this interpretation on this thread is irreligious would really be shocked to see how some people have used the words of the Bible to justify really horrible behaviour. It does happen. And oppression isn't something you can separate out from the tools of oppression - IMO we need to understand both.

I hope this isn't digressing, but I find it really interesting how many people will admit that, as Christians they are offended by the homophobic use of the Bible. And they will admit that it is easy to find passages that condemn homosexuality, but that this does not make it right to do so. We should I think be doing the same about the anti-women passages - admitting they are there and acknowledging the problem.

messyisthenewtidy Wed 28-Dec-11 11:07:28

Sardine, that reminds me of my Brazilian catholic friend who said to me "at home the woman is in charge" as she was slaving over a gorgeous meal whilst the men were in the lounge playing drums!

Maybe she felt power because she was skilled and indispensable, and tbf her Dh did appreciate her, but it seemed a bit of a hollow victory when it resulted in her doing the lion's share of the housework as well as working outside.

SardineQueen Wed 28-Dec-11 11:50:18

The whole RC thing (and prob other religions too but it's the one I know best) is terribly hard. If it's the religion and a part of your upbringing and/or culture it's unthinkable to jack it in, as it's a part of your identity. Yet all this awful stuff. The people I know just try to keep their minds off the horrible bits as much as they can, not think about it too much - as if they did think about it they'd have to jack it in and they can't do that IYSWIM.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 11:55:52

sardine what has surprised me from this thread, is how deeply ingrained into me my catholic upbringing is.

I disapprove of huge aspects of "the Church" - but it's there and it runs through me.

I think your Brazilian friend can be likened to my gran - the centre of the family.

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 11:59:44

"I wonder, if MIL walked out of Church and never stepped foot in there again, who would be there to look after her, when we cant be??

Who would visit her, take her to hospital appointments, take her for lunch, help her with chores, and generally care for her well being?"

All the other women who walked out beside her. It's not the catholic church that takes care of the old and sick and needy, it's women. The catholic church just gets to claim the credit.

Abirdinthehand Wed 28-Dec-11 12:02:35

Yy lrd. There are ani-woman passages in the bible. There is a male bias in the bible. There is gendered language in the bible. It has been used to oppress women, gay people, black people, Catholics, Protestants, scientists, children, just about anyone really.

It sounds like all of us agree on this. The difference is, some people (including me) think it also contains useful and good things, and the way it has been written by men and used by men (and white people, and heterosexual people, etc etc) does not mean a new discourse is impossible. Theology is evolving all the time, Christian practice evolves all the time, and I feel feminist Christians are a prophetic voice in the church, giving a godly perspective on how the bible and Christian practice can be reinterpreted and reread to reflect the pro-woman, universalist approach of Jesus himself.

Of course, if someone does not see the value of the bible as a text, or faith as a real issue for many people including feminist women, they can take the stance that the whole thing is irredeemable and both the bible and christianity should be rejected completely. This stance is valid and logically coherent, but it does not really help those of us who do have some kind of faith. It suggests one has to choose between believing in equality, and having religious faith (unless it is a goddess-focussed faith).

I think making women make that choice is wrong. People have more than one identity, and there identities are often complex in the way they overlap. Consider the black (oppressed) man (oppressor). The white (oppressor) disabled (oppressed) rich (powerful) woman(powerless). The intersections between identities are contested spaces, and interesting to explore. But having more than one is ok. I am white. I am Christian. I am female. I am liberal. I am a feminist. Some of the relationships between these identities are uncomfortable and complex, and I recognise that. But they can and do coexist in millions of people, so exploring the ways they coexist is interesting nd useful. Suggesting it has to be one or the other is illogical.

Also, general comment - do remember many of the feminist concerns with the catholic church would not apply to all churches - most people practicing Christianity inEngland and Wales at least are not catholic, I guess that would be different in Scotland / Ireland.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 12:05:00

You are very wrong in your assumption that other women are doing these thing - it's mostly men.

And how would she access that support network and community? How would she know them??

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 12:10:03

And to add, I don't think "the Chuch" does take care of MIL - it's the community within it that she has been able to access by attending - the "Church" itself, as an institution does nothing, nonetheless it is be being a part of this wider community, that she has a full and active life with caring individuals around her.

Her faith is touching, but the practical support she receives by being a part of this community definitely enables her to have a better quality of life.

She has a better social life than us!

Abirdinthehand Wed 28-Dec-11 12:15:49

By the way, hope this is not too random, but it just occurred to me the shakers were started by a woman, mother Anne. They were an American faith with some links to Christianity, very interesting people.

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 12:17:58

I think the results of the bible and christianity speak for themselves abird. Just for starters

2 millennia of female oppression by men, justified by the claim that it was willed by god
the crusades
goodness knows how many other "holy" wars
the witchburnings in which tens of thousands/hundreds of thousands? of women were murdered by the church and the professions
the complete erasure of female spirituality and divinity from our western culture
the ownership by men of women through marriage, only changed within the last 150 years
the rape of children within the catholic church and its following cover up

Also being a woman isn't an "identity", it's a state of being. If you'd been born as you are ten thousand years ago, or if you are born ten thousand years in the future, you would have been and will be a woman. Christian not so much. It's a cultural construct, one that it's possible to reject. So please don't pretend it's not a choice you're making.

I think it's unfair for women that christianity and all the other patriarchal religions even exist. Feminism is a place where that can be discussed.

Abirdinthehand Wed 28-Dec-11 12:17:59

Mh I always kind of saw the church as the sum of the people in it? What is it if not it's members? But this may be a catholic /Protestant difference - we have a concept of "the priesthood of all believers" meaning the church consists of everyone in it, and all have equal access to god, which may not be part of catholic theology?

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 12:20:24

BTW I didn't say you couldn't be a feminist and a christian Abird. I said that on this thread when you insist on talking about your "faith" that christianity isn't misogynistic and woman-erasing against all the evidence that shows that it is, is derailing the thread, because I started the thread to talk about patriarchal religious myth which is demonstrable, which can be analysed.

You haven't addressed my point about how jesus acted like your average sexist man thinking that his pontificating was more important than the work a woman had to do, either.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 12:24:28

thunder no one is saying it shouldn't be discussed - except you - who seems to have an issue with the path the discussion has taken.

abird I was just trying to make a distinction between the Church as an organisation and it's members - although you could argue that the reason MiL receives so much help is that the Church Community is mDe up of good, Christian people.

We had her 80th Birthday party after mass, and it was clear to see she is well loved and respected.

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 12:32:23

Yes I'm wondering why people are ignoring the topic of the thread which is patriarchal religious myth

We can hear prosletysing about religion in a whole lot of places on every day of the week. There are churches in all our towns, villages and cities. Christianity is our state religion. Radical feminist analysis of it, pretty much nowhere.

I guess some people would be happier if there was no radical feminist analysis of it whatsoever. Which is why this thread is being derailed.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 12:37:11

I see lively debate in a topic which is interesting people.

What's the problem with that?

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 12:44:45

I see a bunch of people who find radical feminism very threatening and want to shut those kind of discussions down. Abird isn't debating, she's making statements with no backup apart from "faith" and when they are contradicted, ignoring the contradictions e.g. the claim that jesus was a feminist, which is very easily disputed.

Talking about how great christianity is, isn't lively, it's soul-crushing.

With regards to the catholic church, I'm actually interested in how any woman stays in it once they discovered about the systemic rape of children going on within it and the cover-up that ensued afterwards. Quite a few of those priests have been shipped off to developing world countries where they can continue their paedophilic activities. Where do people draw a line?

lollygag Wed 28-Dec-11 12:57:07

I don't know what the difference is between a Feminist and a Radical Feminist.From what I can work out 'Radical Feminists' have a lot more spare time on their hands as they are always posting on MN.Feminists,on the other hand,don't seem to have the time as they are too busy making their own way in the world.

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 12:57:48

Anyway back to christmas. This is Daly's analysis of the psychological effects of these male centred holidays and traditions:

"The "milestones" of this articificial memory are male milestones, and all too frequently function for women as millstones. Thus for example, religious and national holidays conjure memories of servitude - shopping, cooking cleaning etc. Patriarchal weddings imply the legal and ritualised loss of one's own name and autonomy. Going to work commonly means accepting a dead-end, low paying, Self-erasing job. Birthdays are reminders of ageing and subsequent patriarchal devaluation. While the milestones of adult "life" may be dreary for individual males, they are at the same time a collective boost to the male ego, to the Mythic Male, with whom each man identifies. Thus Christmas, Easter, Veterans Day, Washington's birthday, a marriage in the family are designed to be "uppers" for men and "downers" (disguised as uppers) for women."

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 13:03:15

Have I done something to offend you Lolly?

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 13:11:24

thunder wow, what a sad, depressing view of life.

Really, just sad.

lollygag Wed 28-Dec-11 13:12:42

Yes! You're mindset is that of perpetual victim.You reference medieval witchhunts to 'prove' that women are still in 'servitude'.Get a grip.It's a good job the suffragettes didn't have the internet or they'd never have got anything done!

chibi Wed 28-Dec-11 13:14:43

on the other hand, if they had been chirpy and happy with the status quo, and unwilling to look critically at how society was organised (even if sometimes it was a bit of a downer) who knows when women would have won the vote

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 13:14:48

Do you really find no joy in any of those occasions, in the coming together of family, in the celebration of life, in the magic for children??

chibi Wed 28-Dec-11 13:21:18

there is more to this than whether any individual delights in a given festival, and whether that is sad

(in any case , there are plenty of festivals i have nothing to do with, eg diwali, and both me and diwali just roll on regardless, and i don't think that is particularly sad, or joyless)


the most significant festivals in our culture are predicated on the goodwill and labour of women, for the most part, if they are to be clebrated and enjoyed as is the norm

viz: xmas - the tradition is a big slap up multi course meal, beautifully decorated house, thoughtfully chosen presents, cards for all and sundry - mostly, it is women who are making this possible (regardless of my own personal circumstances, or yours, or Betty Sue down the road)

chibi Wed 28-Dec-11 13:23:45

i think it is no bad thing to look critically at these cultural events with a feminist lens - if the whole architecture of them is constructed on women's backs, well, it's not very magical to me, anyway

i wonder if a critical analysis should unpick the religious aspects from the cultural - i think there is misogyny to be found in both, but to me they are different. Are the different enough to merit being looked at seperately? what do other posters think?

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 13:28:17

"You reference medieval witchhunts to 'prove' that women are still in 'servitude'.Get a grip.It's a good job the suffragettes didn't have the internet or they'd never have got anything done!"

Bollocks. Can't you read what I wrote?

I mentioned the medieval (and renaissance) witchunts along with a whole lot of other crimes the christian church has committed and approved of, to illustrate what a violent woman-hating institution it is.

And my point about christmas is the psychological effect it has on women to be constantly bombarded by and having to take part in these male-worshipping festivals, festivals that have at their root the explotiation and erasure of women.

Your little dig was crap. The only person it shows up is you.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 13:30:14

There are lots of festivals I don't celebrate - but that doesn't lessen the value of them to the people who do celebrate them.

A world with no Christmas, no birthday parties, no Easter egg hunt, that's not a world I, or any of my friends would enjoy.

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Wed 28-Dec-11 13:31:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lollygag Wed 28-Dec-11 13:33:11

Well it's not all 'constructed on women's backs' chibi.I like to credit the men who produce the electricity for the big day.And the men at the waterworks and the sewage plants.And the men who built the roads so we could go to the shopping centre.Oh and the men who built the shopping centre.And the men who work on the freighters who transport goods around the world.And the men who built the house that I live in and the hospital I sometimes visit.Actually if I look out my window everything that I see was built by men!
Maybe they do have some uses.

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Wed 28-Dec-11 13:35:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chibi Wed 28-Dec-11 13:36:24

i had a great xmas this year, as did my family

it was not predicated on wifework, or on expecations that i was somehow responsible for everyone's happiness, even where it was to the detriment of my own

i am not saying this to boast, but just to clarify, i really don't think it has to be a choice between festivals which depen on women's servitude, or a joyless existance devoid of celebration

it just seems like a false choice

and 'well i enjoy doing x y z for my family' doesn't negate this argument - have a look at the many many many threads over the last few days in relationships or christmas borads posted by women at the end of their tether precisely because of the cultural expectations that they are responsible for producing the whole megillah

chibi Wed 28-Dec-11 13:41:19

lollygag, are you missing the points of my posts on purpose, or am i being unclear?

i posted:

xmas - the tradition is a big slap up multi course meal, beautifully decorated house, thoughtfully chosen presents, cards for all and sundry - mostly, it is women who are making this possible (regardless of my own personal circumstances, or yours, or Betty Sue down the road)

in theory we could do an oscar style list of people throughout history to thank, but most people's experience of xmas and other holidays probably relies on the experiences more close to home

chibi Wed 28-Dec-11 13:42:26

or if you like, we could also give thanks to the women who gave birth to and raised all those fabulous men, and their mothers too, from whom they likely learned precepts of childrearing, and their mothers as well...

SardineQueen Wed 28-Dec-11 13:46:19

YIKES at the great long list

Men make all the electricity do they confused

Must be static from their xmas jumpers.

lollygag Wed 28-Dec-11 13:48:50

That's a sexist comment! (but quite funny).

lollygag Wed 28-Dec-11 13:52:07

chibi you are right.We should give thanks to the women who raised all those fabulous men.Absolutely.

sonicrainboom Wed 28-Dec-11 13:58:29

Interesting. Of course we should have celebrations and enjoy them - but also be allowed to look at them critically and see what they mean and what really happens during the festivities. In a patriarchal societies celebrations are probably going to be centered around men in some way and women are going to do the boring work - most of the cooking, cleaning, shopping etc.

There are a lot of wonderful things about the winter holiday season. When we understand what is bad about it (women doing all the work etc), we can begin changing it to something better.
Wishing you all a patriarchy-free Yule as possible next year smile

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 14:00:43

But wouldn't it be better to raise the bar for everyone than try to remove the enjoyment of those who do like the occasions?

TheBrandyButterflyEffect Wed 28-Dec-11 14:04:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SardineQueen Wed 28-Dec-11 14:05:10

Oh shit I forgot a grin after my little joke there!

chibi Wed 28-Dec-11 14:06:30

i don't think that anyone is saying that you can't enjoy xamas as you wish, even where that means that the lion's share of the work undertaken to facilitate it is done by you

i think the point is that we can look at it critically, and from the premise that a just society is not one where festivals mainly (sewage works notwithstanding) depend on the labnur of one sex, primarily to glorify the other sex

chibi Wed 28-Dec-11 14:06:56

ee by gum

xmas, not xamas obv.

lollygag Wed 28-Dec-11 14:09:18

Labnur sounds like a rude word.

chibi Wed 28-Dec-11 14:12:36

oh lollygag, your posts are as germane as they are entertaining

don't ever change <<festive hugz>>

lollygag Wed 28-Dec-11 14:15:38

I wont.I'm just going to look up the word germane now to see if I should be offended.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 14:17:09

I may be missing something - but I don't get how DDs 1st birthday party is centred around a man - it's centred around dd and all her little friends.

kickassangel Wed 28-Dec-11 14:17:54

But the men are doing those things as their paid employment, for which they are respected. The whole point of wife work is that it goes unseen and unthanked.
There are laws protecting workers from oppression an abuse, but very little to protect a woman against working al day, staying up til midnight to wrap presents, then getting up at night if the kids wake up.

If an employer expected that from an employee, they could be taken to court. If a family expects that from a mum, she is supposed to enjoy it.

Women are often so conditioned to accept this that they are complicit in the arrangement which is why it's so damaging. Mentally, it can be impossible to see a way out.

kickassangel Wed 28-Dec-11 14:20:18

Shit slow typing on iPod. Imagine my comments appearing about 5 mins before they do

Zombi Wed 28-Dec-11 14:24:39

I bought the presents but hubby wrapped them and made the dinner just as he does every year.

kickassangel Wed 28-Dec-11 14:27:35

I agree that religion is deeply mysoginistic. Years ago I asked Xenia how she was both catholic and feminist, as I find it hard to sit the two together.

The whole image of celebrating childbirth I fine problematic. Obvious the arrival of a child is good but how women are perceived I find very mixes messages about.

Loads of images of pregnant women or women with new born relate back to virginal expectations. But preg women often seen as dirty or shameful is they remind people of sex. The idea of 'didn't she do well' in sometimes a patronizing way. Or that somehow a woman cheated by having a cs. Almost no red to the trauma and mess of childbirth

Then we celebrate it.

Prob not v coherent but not sure of my own thoughts on this,

Need to get up and feed cats, have breakfast but will be back later

lollygag Wed 28-Dec-11 14:28:30

Zombi,go somewhere else.This is a thread for the oppressed.You'll spoil the ambience.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 14:38:44

Zombi - I'm wih you smile, but if you look further down the thread you will see relating your own experiences is narcissistic grin.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 28-Dec-11 14:53:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 15:02:13

I don't assume that because my family is fine etc - I have enough life experience to know differently - all may be fine in my life now - but that certainly hasn't always been the case.

However I would like to see improvements for those who don't have the same enjoyment - not a loss of enjoyment for those whose celebrations (of whichever festival) are pleasant for them.

Abirdinthehand Wed 28-Dec-11 15:03:55

Hey all, I really, really agree with Chibi that there are 2 issues - the way women tend to do all the work of Christmas, birthdays etc (which I don't think is really about religion per se, it's broader than that) and the other issue of whether Christmas and other Christian festivals are patriarchal in their stories and symbolism. They do benefit from being examined separately, and I would have no questions that the first issue is defiantly an example of misogyny in action for a great number of women - and also lots of media representations, adverts etc at this time of year reinforce those issues.

Thunder, I really don't think I have derailed this thread. I thought you wanted to discuss the patriarchal aspects of Christmas. We have discussed whether the nativity story as told in the bible and as told by society is patriarchal. We have discussed the role of Mary in catholic and Protestant traditions. We have discussed whether the maleness of the central character of the gospels means they are necessarily patriarchal, or whether he could be constructed as a feminist. Yes, I approach this from a standpoint of faith, and you don't, but I feel I have explained myself clearly and have given the reasons behind what I think as much as I am able to with the speed the thread is going and the time I have. I have pointed you to the books / theologians, and bible passages which have influenced my thinking on this, just have you have. I have enjoyed discussing these things with other thoughtful, intelligent women.

I get the feeling from your posts that because my feminism does not look like your feminism, you feel it is not valid and you do not want me to post. I have in no way tried to proselytise my religion here - and if you feel that is what I have done I am very sorry. I am not evangelistic in my faith, and certainly would not want to convert people. I am genuinely interested in the way others navigate the difficult spaces where gender and religion overlap and clash, and I want to hear what they think - whether they are christian or not.

This is the first time I've posted in feminism, and I chose this thread because it is an issue I have read about and thought about a lot, and which has had a deep impact on my own life. I'm not sure I'll post again tbh, but I will continue to read the threads with interest. And I have met some lovely people with interesting views, for which I thank you all.

Zombi Wed 28-Dec-11 15:06:29

Lollygag I can't help it. The man is Delia Smith with a dick. I'd compare him to Ramsey or Oliver but they ARE dicks!

MJ grin

MJinSparklyStockings Wed 28-Dec-11 15:13:37

abird I've found your posts fascinating and well written (and I bought the book) - I genuinely hope to cross threads with you again.

lollygag Wed 28-Dec-11 15:13:57

'Deli Smith with a dick' - Now that's a phrase you don't hear everyday!

lollygag Wed 28-Dec-11 15:14:14


kickassangel Wed 28-Dec-11 15:30:42

abird - don't stop poosting. I don't agree with some/all of your posts, but then I'd say the same of everyone on mn, so that shouldn't bother you.

Part of the problem is that a typical 'troll' tactic is to pretend to be disingenius about a topic, and bring in arguments that sound kind of supportive of feminism, but then use that to say 'so your arguments are wrong cos this is feminsim' and to ignore the points made by others. There have been some posters who did that on a very regular basis, and it was pretty much an attempt to stop the conversation from progressing towards more 'hardcore' feminist arguments (fwiw, I'm really not sure the labels we use are accurate).

You have come across as someone with a genuine point of view, willing to discuss it & trying to be open minded.

There are disagreements within feminism, as within any political movement. you may need to just agree to disagree with certain other posters.

Personally, I think that it's perfectly normal for a conversation to veer off onto tangents. It happens naturally. Sadly, some posters on mn deliberately do this in feminism to stop the feminists being heard. So, bringing in tangents can be seen as an aggressive move.

I almost feel like this thread needs to be split into two - 1. The social pressures to conform to a role of womanhood. 2. how religion perpetuates misogyny.

Those with stories of how your household is equal - i think ti's fair enough to say 'over here we've got a result' but it can sometimes sound a bit like 'I'm all right, so why bother'. But that's the problem with the internet rather than rl

kickassangel Wed 28-Dec-11 15:31:58

and abird - you should continue to post, OR poost wherever you want!

Abirdinthehand Wed 28-Dec-11 15:44:09

Thanks kick, just wanted to say I wasn't really aware of all that about trolls etc - tbh I read some of the feminist threads, but when some random person jumps in on a thread with 'but if women are dressed like that they should take responsibility...' or crap like that,I loose interest- we all know they are wrong, we all know the arguments against, and whilst I respect tose of you with the energy to fight it out I don't have the energy to read it all(again!). So if I missed nuances on the feminist board or posted things which would be inappropriate had I known all your recent history, I am sorry - I am a newbie!

But I'm really, truly a feminist, and really truly a Christian, and really truly not a troll. I came with no agenda other than to discuss an issue I find interesting with others, and hear their views on it, in the hope f developing my own thinking on the matter.

OnemorningXmasCockMonkey Wed 28-Dec-11 16:26:45

I've been interested to hear the differing opinions about Christianity viewed through a feminist lens. It's not something I'd given deep thought to, and it's interesting to me because even though I'm an atheist it has a huge impact on our cultural lives.

kickassangel Wed 28-Dec-11 17:28:03

the impact of religion on society is v interesting.

i'm currently trying to find an online MA in equality/women's studies because I feel so horrendously ill-informed on so many matters. Almost all the posts I make are just my own musing, I have no ref. to back up my thoughts.

I think it's prob a life-times study to really analyse society, but I'm still interested in trying to make sense of the world that I live in.

messyisthenewtidy Wed 28-Dec-11 17:32:49

ABird I've ordered a copy of that book. When read, maybe we can discuss it if youre up for that? I'll start a thread to see if you're about. [Fsmile]

Deargdoom Wed 28-Dec-11 18:24:08

People can quibble all they like about what Jesus may or may not have said (it was all written down third hand many years after his death) but the Christian church is based more on the teachings of the apostle Paul who was about as mysoginistic a bigot as you could find. (Truth be told, he was a hater of mankind)
I'd like to see figures on church attendance because, patriarchal as it is, I see women as keeping it in business. I'm basing that on my observations of the 5 sin temples I have within walking distance of me. It is nearly all women I see spilling out of them on Sunday mornings, bringing the children along for good measure.
In the case of the Catholic church, I find that incredible and disturbing. I suppose it's a tribute to the power of brainwashing children but I wonder why it seems to be women in particular who are still keeping the whole rotten ship afloat. Talk about licking the boot that's standing on your neck.
What is the attraction?

chibi Wed 28-Dec-11 18:44:20

leaving aside the potency of inculcating belief in the very young (c.f. the Jesuit 'give us the child until he is 7 and we will give you the man') and the comfort of habit, and cultural expectations there is something beyond that that keeps women going

For all that it is a juggernaut of oppression there are some powerful ideas in xtianity - viz the beatitudes: blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek.

Or the bit about consider the lilies of the field, who neither toil nor spin; or His eye is on the sparrow etc.

i have heard it called pie in the sky when you die, which is blunt, but accurate

as far as memes go these are potent for people who are oppressed. this is a bible thing, not a Church thing; the Church doesn't go in for liberation theology quite so much and has a detailled track record of stomping it out

Then there is the Virgin Mary who is v easy to identify with as a woman more done to than doing, and an icon of strength through submission

i guess that's why i go, or some of it. it is totally at odds with my feminism, and i don't know that it could ever be reconciled. At its heart, i suppose that this is the way i know how to be a person of faith.

i couldn't possibly defend it as feminist on any level; consider me like your smoker friend who smiles a weak and hollow smile when antismoking adverts come on telly.

Deargdoom Wed 28-Dec-11 18:53:29

Well thanks for being honest but I still don't get why beatitudes which encourage the oppressed to see their lot as a blessing should appeal to either sex, least of all women.

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 22:01:14

"I get the feeling from your posts that because my feminism does not look like your feminism, you feel it is not valid and you do not want me to post. "

I get the feeling you just aren't listening to me Abird. Your posts haven't been anything to do with the topic of this thread. Coming on here and saying that jesus was a feminist and that you have "faith" that the misogyny of the bible and the church isn't really what christianity is about, despite all the evidence ignores what I posted about which is the exploitation of women at christmas in the service of demonstrably patriarchal celebration.

I'm happy for you to post, it's not up to me whether you do or not. I'm not happy when you derail this thread and refuse to engage with anything I actually posted.

I engaged with you, I actually addressed your claim that jesus was a feminist. I haven't seen you even responding to that.

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 22:05:34

"I almost feel like this thread needs to be split into two - 1. The social pressures to conform to a role of womanhood. 2. how religion perpetuates misogyny."

Those things are deeply connected though. Religion is one of the main mediums that patriarchy has used to disseminate its misogynistic ideas of what womanhood should be. It tells us how to act, it tells us what a good woman is - clearly it doesn't have such strong power as it used to, but it still has influence.

As Daly says, patriarchal religious traditions and ceremonies have a detrimental psychological effect on women. They force us into damaging behaviours and undermine our view of ourselves.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Dec-11 22:17:16

I do not know a single religion that isn't patriarchal, that is because they were founded in patriarchal times. There are none still in existence from before the agricultural revolution, when men became dominant.

Sardine, your comments on the attitude of the Catholic Church with regard to sex before marriage, contraception and the threat of excommunication of women who have abortions, only apply in the developing world. When did you last hear of someone in the Uk being threatened with excommunication? Or even being refused communion for having sex or taking contraception?

thunderboltsandlightning Wed 28-Dec-11 22:19:31

Yes the catholic hierarchy can't get away with that level of bullying the west. They might lose the rest of their congregants.

ElfenorRathbone Wed 28-Dec-11 22:37:22

Picking up on Chibi's post, it seems obvious to me why women should identify with the message of redemption through suffering that the Catholic church presents.

It's not such a big surprise either, that some of the most beautful, moving hymns are negro spirituals which came out of slavery.

seeker Wed 28-Dec-11 23:06:42

What I find really, really baffling about the Catholic church is that it has rules and doctrines and all the rest, and some of them are astonishingly misogynist. But I'd you challenge q Catholic about them they always say "oh, we don't pay attention to the rules we don't like"

So people in sub-Saharan Africa are supposed to not use condoms to protect themselves from AIDs because a consequence of their use would be to prevent conception, but catholic women in the Home Counties can take the pill because "It's a matter of conscience"

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Dec-11 23:33:32

Yes Seeker, that is the case. The reason for this is that the church is the people. The hierarchy seldom lead, instead they tend to follow. I think this is true of most established religions where the congregation are mostly born into the religion, as opposed to converts. Scientology for example does not behave in such a way.

BTW, I think the teaching on condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS has changed recently.

seeker Wed 28-Dec-11 23:49:17

The teaching on condom use has changed to enable male prostitutes to use them to prevent disease. So far so liberal.

DioneTheDiabolist Wed 28-Dec-11 23:58:01

That was given as an example. Actually am pmsl though. Surely it is really liberal (if not entirely feminist) for the head of an established religion to be so concerned about the welfare of male prostitutes.

ElfenorRathbone Thu 29-Dec-11 00:16:23

It's not the welfare of the male prostitutes he's worried aobut, it's that of their clients.

All measures to avoid sexually transmitted disease in prostitution, have always been about protecting the clients, not the prostituted men and women they are abusing.

SardineQueen Thu 29-Dec-11 08:32:34

Dione you can't pretend that the RC church in the developing world is an entirely different organisation from the RC church in the UK/ West. They have are exactly the same faith, with the same head. I'm not sure what your point in making that separation is?

SardineQueen Thu 29-Dec-11 08:34:29

Seeker seriously?

So male condoms are now allowed to use condoms with their clients but not anyone else? what about female prostitutes? Or women with partners who they know are HIV?

Dione what is your line here. It is hard to argue that the RC religion hasn't caused a huge amount of pain worldwide with it's teachings and policies. Why don't you lay your cards on the table rather than making little digs at people's posts?

SardineQueen Thu 29-Dec-11 08:37:35

here about condom use

So after all those years of teaching that people even in areas with high levels of HIV must not use condoms, they have finally said that people can if the sole reason for the condom is preventing infection. And use a male prostitute as an example.

Yes how liberal hmm

thunderboltsandlightning Thu 29-Dec-11 11:39:03

Women as incubators.

Gee, I wonder where they could have got that idea from. Maybe there's something in their giant rule book.

vesuvia Thu 29-Dec-11 13:34:05

Quote from the Telegraph article -
"acceptable to use a prophylactic when the sole intention was to “reduce the risk of infection”"

How does someone prove that the sole reason for their condom use is the secondary reason (infection risk reduction), while ignoring the primary reason (conception reduction)?

TamIAm Thu 29-Dec-11 15:55:30

Well it's not all 'constructed on women's backs' chibi.I like to credit the men who produce the electricity for the big day.And the men at the waterworks and the sewage plants.And the men who built the roads so we could go to the shopping centre.Oh and the men who built the shopping centre.And the men who work on the freighters who transport goods around the world.And the men who built the house that I live in and the hospital I sometimes visit.Actually if I look out my window everything that I see was built by men!

Oh, the men who went to work in respected jobs, got lunch breaks, sick leave, holiday pay, toilet breaks, and a pay cheque at the end of the week?

Which is completely unlike women who do, what is it now? 90% of the world's UNPAID, UNRECOGNISED labour and are expected to console themselves with meaningless platitudes like "Oh, but you're the heart of the family".

You've just neatly pointed out the very difference between men's work and wifework. Congratulations smile

lollygag Thu 29-Dec-11 16:47:26

Yes,the main difference being that if the men stopped work the lights would go out but if the women stopped work we'd have more dust about.

OnemorningXmasCockMonkey Thu 29-Dec-11 17:01:46

If I stopped work our bills wouldn't be paid. Then the lights in our house would go out.

Do you really think that's all women bring to a household, lolly, or are you on a wind up?

Tortington Thu 29-Dec-11 17:14:41

we'd go homeless

since when did women work for pin money?

since never in history

thunderboltsandlightning Thu 29-Dec-11 17:16:15

If women stopped our reproductive labour, there wouldn't be a human race.

thunderboltsandlightning Thu 29-Dec-11 17:16:42

Which is why the religious boys want to control it, and us by extension.

TamIAm Fri 30-Dec-11 01:39:25

Yes,the main difference being that if the men stopped work the lights would go out but if the women stopped work we'd have more dust about.

Perhaps this is where the difficulty lies - perhaps you're actually in a rare privileged position where you're not actually doing a whole lot of unpaid, unrecognised labour. If so - lucky, lucky you. But you do realise that's just not the case for the majority of the world's women, right? If not, perhaps get out and talk to some people and open your eyes a bit.

It's actually not that hard to see that if the unpaid labour force in the world stopped their labours then the workers of the world wouldn't be able to work. Unpaid work supports paid work. Thus men who work outside of their homes don't have to look after children whilst they're at work - because women are at home doing it (unpaid and unrecognised). Rearing children is a societal issue, but only women are expected to do it.

Likewise, (assuming that the worker in the family is male and the unpaid worker female), if the woman doesn't wash the bloke's sock, jocks and workwear - how is he going to go to work and not be fired because of disgusting personal hygiene? How is he going to work if he is starving or his blood sugar levels so variable that he passes out regularly? He needs food regularly, and reasonably healthy food at that. How is he going to get enough down time to relax from the stress he's experienced during the week if his wife or partner doesn't look after the children on the weekends so that he can recover in order to work another week?

And you know what? This isn't even about me feeling resentful about how much 'wifework' I do. In my house, I'm the worker and my husband the SAHP. He does an awful lot of the unpaid labour - and there's a lot of it around here, we live on 10 acres. He's just been out for the last 2 days fixing the tractor and then slashing the paddocks to ensure that we're not at risk of any bushfires that might threaten over the next couple of months (we're not in the UK). But if he stopped doing the unpaid labour he does - I just could.not do the paid labour that I do. I wouldn't have the time, the energy or the resources to do it all. It plays an absolutely integral role in my ability to be professional - so I value it, very much. So many men (and women, evidently) don't even see the unpaid labour as labour let alone value it. I'm lucky. Many (most) women are not.

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 30-Dec-11 02:20:30

Same Church, same head, different people, different ways of working. As has been said before, the church on the UK and the West adopts a much different approach to such things as pre marital sex, contraception etc.

I never claimed that the catholic church did not cause suffering. And I don't understand what you mean when you talk about "digs".

Merry Patriarchymas, one and all


I am lying in bed eating pastry which was super-cheap last night. I will go on a walk with my daughter a bit later if the good weather holds.

Dinner is going to be the things that were reduced to clear in Tesco express last night.

Lovecat Tue 25-Dec-12 11:37:06

Merry Patriarchymas! I'm drinking pink champagne & eating chocolate croissants while DD is forcing DH to teach her how to use her inline skates.

Turkey has been on since 7...........

NB This is the first Christmas I haven't been to church since I was born. I'm not even guilty. I think I'm finally becoming a lapsed Catholic - cheers! grin

jessjessjess Tue 25-Dec-12 11:51:29

Who says women do all the work in all houses? Bit unfair to assume that's always the case - my DH did the big food shop and does all the cooking and most of the washing up.

If you do everything for men and then complain about it, you are part of the problem.

LRDtheFeministDude Tue 25-Dec-12 22:15:36

Season's Greetings and Down with the Patriarchy! grin

Nice to resurrect an old thread, SQ.

jess - no one, that's who! grin

Sunnywithachanceofjinglebells Tue 25-Dec-12 22:34:10

Merry Patriarchymas all.

I'm sitting here with my umpteenth glass of wine smile

LRDtheFeministDude Tue 25-Dec-12 22:35:17

One of the few truly feminist ways to celebrate! grin

FrothyDragon Tue 25-Dec-12 23:34:55

Merry Patriarchymas, you lovely lot!

I'm severely under the influence of a few glasses of wine, ne thought I'd drop by and share yhe tale of my Patriarchymas with you all.
The Old Dragons (AKA Teh Parents) turned up at half eleven this morning (yes, after that moan the people who know me on Facebook saw...) Don't see parents often, so Mini-Dragon was suitably excited, and went tearing down the passage as soon as they pulled up. First thing I heard from DM... "His hair's getting long. You need to cut it, before people think he's a girl..." hmm (It's shorter than the last time they saw him...)

So, Mini-Dragon drags DM and DF indoors, ready to show them the treats Santa's brought him... A baking set, books, a pirate ship, a game, DVDs, and the pride of his stocking, an Ariel doll (MD is Little Mermaid obsessed, and has been begging for an Ariel doll since last year... Is now tucked up in bed with Ariel, Jessie and his Little Mermaid book.) Upon Ariel being waved in her face, DM commented... "I know he looks like a girl, but you don't need to buy him girls toys too". angry Luckily DF took more of an interest as MD took to showing him how her dress turned into her tail, and her shoes, and what not....

Anyway, quick dash round DSil's. Another year, another poke at the "singleton". Last year, I got a "grow your own boyfriend". This year, a "blow up" boyfriend. Why do we not have a facepalm smiley yet?

(Luckily sanity was restored upon arriving at SIL's parents'... sans my own parents... That is, until MD ended up with a sherry trifle by mistake... I'm sure he wasn't walking straight afterwards...)

Anyway! Back to el vino! Merry Patriarchymas to some of my favourite people! grin wine

LRDtheFeministDude Tue 25-Dec-12 23:59:39

I'll suggest we have a nice solidarity-fest in anticipation, frothy ... I'm off to my parents tomorrow!

On the plus side, sounds like a lovely haul of presents for your DS, and I hope you had some nice things too. smile

(And wine wine wine ...)

FrothyDragon Wed 26-Dec-12 00:16:25

Ooooh, good luck for tomorrow, LRD! grin <sends MD to provide lectures on sexism/relevant problem points>

He got Brave from Nanny and Grandad Dragon... Cleverly sneaking in a feminist approved film without them realising.

If it helps, when the parents start, I just imagine the FWR section having a good chuckle... "They whaaaaat? Pass the wine, I can't believe this one..."

Frans1980 Thu 27-Dec-12 00:44:47

I heard christmas was originally actually a non-religious pagan holiday before it was hijacked by christians who added the whole jesus stuff.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Thu 27-Dec-12 01:08:14

Frans: Yup. Common to Roman, Norse and Celtic traditions. Basically everyone in the northern hemisphere went in for a spell of feasting, being nice, giving gifts and lighting lights in the middle of winter and that's why a lot of people still do it now. Christmas is just the most current name for it (just as people use the names of days of the week which were originally references to Norse and Roman deities...)

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