Saturday, April 26, 2008

What A Man, What A Man, What A Mighty Good Man...

I wore high heels and pearls to my Theories and Methods class Thursday night.
I was going out to see Shawn's improv show afterwards (which, by the way, was really fun!), so it only made sense.

But oh the irony- I wore high heels and pearls to class on the night that the subject was religion and gender roles. How perfect.

That night we were discussing a section from Howard Eilberg-Schwartz's book "God's Phallus and Other Problems for Men and Monotheism". Now I've spent a fair amount of time in Women's Studies classes, but I'd never really been exposed to the area of "Men's Studies", so this was fascinating for me.

Eilberg-Schwartz talks about the idea of a masculine monotheistic God as problematic for men in Judeo-Christian culture, because God becomes this sort of "ideal beauty image" that men must live up to, but can never quite achieve. Freud would see it as a "projection of the ideal" upwards, whereas feminists would call it "a reflection of the problematic real".

There is also the problem of homo-eroticism that comes from the marriage analogy used by the scriptures. If men are to be married to God they must become homosexual (which is not acceptable in a patriarchal context where being masculine means procreating) or they must become feminized to avoid the homo-eroticism. He also talks about how God must be veiled in order to solve this problem; unlike other religions (Hinduism, Greek and Roman gods) we never see God's genitalia.

Also, we see Jesus portraying more feminine traits- loving, nurturing, healing, but (to paraphrase Eilberg-Schwartz) in the end he's still a man, a dragon slayer who must go it alone.

Hmm...It's really just too hard for many to conceptualize a completely spiritualized God with no physical or at the very least anthropopathic/anthropomorphic existence. Did God create man in God's own image, or did man create God in his?

I'm currently and slowly gliding into a research paper on the radical feminist philosopher Mary Daly so it was interesting to discuss the other gender's side of the story. So often I think we ignore the fact that men are victims of the patriarchal society in some ways too. That's not to say they don't profit from it more than women, but that profiting comes at a price.

It's too late to really dig in to this stuff and you, my faithful reader, probably don't care all that much...but I'd love to hear any thoughts you do have.

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