Why I Want to be a Feminist Ally (Secular Version)

I would like to be a feminist ally. In this post, I will explain why I use that wording, what “feminism” and “intersectionality” mean, and explain why I support it. (This is the secular version of this post. I will be making a biblical case in a later post.)

When I say, “I want to be a feminist ally”, this means I am a male who supports feminism. I say “want to be” because there are a number of complaints from feminist bloggers about male “feminists”. One such complaint is of the Nice Guy Syndrome, in which guys will be feminists to either get praise (called “cookies”) or sex, and said guys turn hostile when it is not given. In addition, it is said that not intending to be sexist is not enough, for the harm is the same. (There is an old saying that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.) I want to *actually* be of help, and not offer some benevolent sexist paternalism.

What is feminism? One definition is that feminism is the idea that men and women are equal and the movement to achieve this equality for women. However, there is a stereotype that feminism is about man-hating, which is false. (Here is my translation of Sarah Andres’s post addressing these stereotypes; the original French is here.) What I will note is that feminism is not a monolithic movement, and that there are differing approaches how to achieve equality. (See here for more.) For the purposes of this post, “feminism” means “the movement to dismantle patriarchy (systematic disadvantaging of women in favor of men) and to empower women”. And, to aid in explaining my position in this system (and address at least one objection), I will explain “intersectionality”.

When I referred to “patriarchy” as “disadvantaging women in favor of men”, I choose a longer expression rather than use the controversial term used to describe this phenomenon: male privilege. Some dudes will object to being called “privileged” because they are poorer and there are women that are more successful than they are. This is explained by the concept of intersectionality, that talks about how we are all on a spectrum of privilege and marginalization. “Marginalized” means you face disadvantages due to certain aspects of yourself (such as being female, POC, LGBT, etc) and “privileged” means you lack those disadvantages. So, “male privilege” means there are things women face due to being female that men don’t have to face. Here is a video in which Kimberlé Crenshaw, the founder of Intersectionality Theory, explains the theory: https://youtu.be/ROwquxC_Gxc

In my case, I am privileged in being a cisman (meaning that I am a biological male who identifies as male), straight, a native English-speaker, and a native-born citizen of a core nation (in my case, USA). I am marginalized in being relatively poor (though I do not face absolute poverty), not being college-educated (though I am in school now) at the time of writing, and having grown up in an insular, controlling church (that many consider to be a cult). Other areas of note are that I have some privilege in being fairer-skinned, though it is not full white privilege in that I am mixed race, and thus my racial identity varies by country. (In USA, for example, I am considered black.) This is called “passing privilege”. Also, in Western countries (such as USA), I have Christian privilege. Due to these factors, the are women who are better off than me, because they have some privilege in areas that I lack. However, male privilege means that, even with my disadvantages, it will be easier for me to move forward since I am male. Feminists want to change the system, not to make things harder for men, but easier for women. (More on this later.)

One popular objection to feminism is that it ignores how men and women “naturally” are: men are seen as “natural” leaders and as gravitating towards certain interests, and women as “natural” followers, gravitating towards other interests, and feminists are accused of messing with it! First of all, this objection commits the Naturalistic Fallacy, which says that if something is natural, it *must* be good or moral, and immoral or bad if unnatural. In his book The Subjection of Women, John Stuart Mill observes that feudalism and slavery were formerly considered “natural” and observes “unnatural generally means only uncustomary”. In addition, Mill observes that women are specifically trained to be submissive and to not seek their own desires (qte. in Encarta Reference Library Premium). Plato too addresses the nature objection in his Republic through a dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon. In the dialogue, Socrates says “the only difference appears to be that the male begets and the female bringd forth” (qte. in Barry, p. 16; note: today the difference is seen differently in an attempt to be trans-inclusive, but that is outside the scope of this post), and thus generally irrelevant elsewhere. Socrates is depicted as making his point that it would be absurd to, once you acknowledge a difference in natures between bald and long-haired men, you were to forbid one from being shoemakers if the other engage in the trade (ibid). Instead, Socrates argues that sameness or difference is regarded in the presence or lack of natural talent (i.e., the ability to learn something easily and then to  to do it with little instruction), not gender (pp. 16-17).

We can see Socrates’ principle in action in our world. He specifically mentions that women get made fun of if a man is better at weaving and watching over saucepans and batches of cake, since those are seen as the strength of women (Barry, p. 17). In our world today, there is a stereotype that women aren’t good at math or science. However, this belief is contradicted by the existence of Hypatia and Marie Curie. One factor contributing to the existence of these stereotypes is confirmation bias, the tendency to only pay attention to ideas that confirm one’s preconceived notions. In addition, these ideas are taught to children at a young, highly impressionable age, so it is possible these norms can be implanted. (Studies of false memories show that memories can be implanted, and it is not much of a stretch to suggest that interests and desires can be implanted.) Furthermore, deviance from gender norms results in shaming: if a woman is too “uppity”, displays anger, or deviates from femininity norms, then she is called nasty names. If a man deviates from masculinity norms, he is compared to women. (It seems sexist to use terms related to women as an insult.) Sociologist Émile Durkheim observes that punishing deviance reinforces norms. So, all this means that talk of how men and women “naturally” are turns out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

A third point rebutting the claim about how men and women naturally are is cultural variability. Consider the village of Gapun in Papua New Guinea, where they have the custom of kros (which means “angry” in Tok Pisin). A kros is an angry rant about another’s behavior that generally includes strong language, and is generally delivered by women. In fact, men generally have their wives deliver a kros for them. For the villagers, such behavior is seen as in line with the nature of women (Cameron, pp. 32-34), whereas in the West such behavior is considered unbecoming to women and “masculine”. This supports the theory that most differences between the sexes are social, not biological.

Also, society tends to set up norms that disadvantage women. For starters, the traits and careers coded “masculine” tend to be more prestigious, and women in those fields tend to face a lot of sexism. In addition, social norms and conditioning make it more likely that a woman will take time off work for maternity reasons and thus have a gap in employment. (Note: there is a perception that feminism is hostile towards being a stay-at-home mom and having a more traditional lifestyle. It is not; feminism just argues that women should have the *choice* to be or not to be a SAHM. Feminists to pressuring women into being in the home.) Also, a lot of success comes from thinking outside the box and being creative. Thus, encouraging submission in women essentially functions to keep them down. For more, please check any feminist blog! 
Now, onto my reasons for supporting feminism. First of all, my support comes from the fact that women’s rights are human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (article 1) and article 2 indicates that the rights apply regardless of sex. Article 23 says, “Everyone has a right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work….to equal pay for equal work”. In addition, article 16 says, “Marriage should be entered into only with the full and free consent of the intending spouses”. Article 26 says that everyone has a right to an education and that “education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality…”.
This shows that human rights apply regardless of sex or gender identity, and thus apply to women. 

The first two articles indicate that, as human beings, women deserve the same rights as men. Articles 23 and 26 establish that women should be able to seek careers wherever they would like, and have the training to do so. (The line “favorable conditions of work” means an environment free of sexual harassment, among other things.) To say that women must be certain things because “nature” or “tradition” is a violation of human rights. 

The “full development of the human personality” brings up another aspect: the right to not just survive, but thrive. This is expressed in Maslow’s pyramid:  We need feminism so that women, too, can reach the top. This brings me back to what I said towards the beginning, about how feminists don’t want to pull men down, but to lift women up. Too many men have a scarcity mindset instead of an abundance one. They hear that women have a smaller piece of pie and jealously guard theirs, fearing they’ll lose their pie. However, a better model is an abundance one, that focuses on expanding the pie, knowing there is enough for everyone. In addition, since we are all interconnected, I cannot be all I can be unless you are all you can be, and you cannot be all you can be until I am all I can be. That means that if women are systematically disadvantaged, we all lose. We all win when everyone has the opportunity to thrive. 

In summary, I hope to be truly helpful in helping women to achieve equality (called feminism), rather than a burden. Intersectionality explains where we are on the axis of privilege and marginalization, and with my having male privilege, this means that, while there may be women better off than me (due to their having privilege where I lack it), a woman in my situation would face more hurdles in life. Feminism is not contrary to nature and is, in fact, in line with human rights and the best system to contribute to human flourishing. Women’s liberation will not hurt men; in fact, we all will win with feminism. This is why I want to be a feminist ally.


Barry, Vincent. Philosopy: A Text with Readings. 1980. Wadsworth, Inc.

Cameron, Deborah. The Myth of Mars and Venus: Do Men and Women Really Speak Different Languages? 2007. Oxford University Press

Encarta Reference Library Premium. 2005. Microsoft


Book Review: “The Power of Mindful Learning”, by Dr. Ellen J. Langer, chapter 1

After a year after writing the introduction to this book, I am ready to proceed (especially after having just taken English 101 and 102). So, here it is:

“Whether it is learning to play baseball, drive, or teach, the advice is the same: practice the basics until they become second nature. I think this is the wrong way to start” (Langer, p. 10).

This is the thesis of this chapter. Langer then cites examples that question the effectiveness of the basics, even questioning the very concept of the basics. She acknowledges why teachers teach the basics, but suggests mindful learning based on awareness of context and appreciation of uncertainty as better teaching methods. She cites two examples to contrast mindless and mindful approaches to learning. She then cites personal examples and research to support her claim that mindful approaches are better. After mentioning the role gender plays, she introduces the concept  “sideways learning” in contrast to both top-down (lecture) and bottom-up (experimenting) approaches to learning (pp. 22-23). She describes sidewaya learning as “learning a subject or skill with an openness to novelty and actively noticing differences, contexts, and perspectives” (p. 23). She uses piano playing as an illustration of the concept, mentions an experiment showing how a text can teach mindfully, and concludes with a hypothetical example of performimg CPR (involving the differences between infants, 50 lb children, and adults) to illustrate the importance of mindful techniques. She concludes the chapter with the question, “Which way would you want to learn the [CPR] lesson? How should we teach it?” (p. 31). 

I am not going to go over the content in detail (even summarizing it will make this post very long), so I am going to address a few concepts, and discuss their application. I will discuss obedience to authority, the value of doubt, sideways learning, and how they relate to feminism, religion, and language learning. 

When Langer questions the existence of the concept of the basics, writing, “Perhaps one could say that for everyone there are certain basics, but there is no such thing as the basics” (p. 15, emphasis Langer’s). Langer suggests that it may appear easier to teach one set of basics because “the teacher needs to know less, a single routine little room for disagreement and hence may foster obedience to authority” (p. 15).  In my Fundamentalist upbringing, obedience to authority was highly valued, and rebellion was viewed heinously, being seen as witchcraft (based on 1 Sam. 15:23). In my view, obedience to authority is a questionable value: after all, obedient participants in the Milgram experiments were willing to apply an electric shock at a dangerously high voltage level when told to do so. In addition, obedience to authority may make it easier for abusers to get access to victims, and to gaslight, shame, silence, and control them. Also, it may make it harder for people to speak out against said abuse. Furthermore, Nazi war criminals defended themselves with, “I was just following orders”, a defense rejected by the courts. To expand on that, social progress has often come about through disobedience to authority, and we are the beneficiaries of that today.

Now, to the value of doubt and sideways learning. Concerning the former, Langer writes, “The rationale for this change in approaches [to mindful learning] is based on the belief that experts at anything become expert in part by varying those same basics. The rest of us, taught not to question, take them for granted…. The key to this new way of teaching is based on an appreciation of both the conditional, or context-dependent, nature of the world and the value of uncertainty. Teaching skills and facts in a conditional way sets the stage for doubt and an awareness of how different situations may call for subtle differences in what we bring to them” (pp. 15-16). I gave the definition of sideways learning above. The bottom line is to think in different ways and to say, “There’s a box? What box?” Langer mentions experiments involving a pilot study (pp. 18-19), a game called smack-it ball (similar to squasj but with a small racket that fits like a baseball mit is worn on both hands, p. 21), and a piano study (pp. 26-27). In each study, the group given mindful instructions to vary their technique, use previously learned material and/or experiences, and to think in creative ways outperformed the control group, enjoyed the activity more, and had a better grasp on the material.

The smack-it ball experiment was done to study gender differences. Langer writes, “In general, young girls are taught to be ‘good little girls’ which translates into ‘do what you’re told’. To be a ‘real boy’, on the other hand, implicitly means to be independent of authority and ‘don’t listen to all you are told’…. Our hypothesis was that motivation to be a good girl would lead to taking in information in a mindless way. Similarly, being a bit rebellious was expected to result in conditional or mindful learning” (p. 21). They told some players, “One way to hold the ball is…”, and other players, “This is how you hold the ball.” After practice, the researchers replaced the ball with a heavier one that required different body movements. The boys performed the same regardless of instructions or the ball. The girls who received instructions in an absolute way performed worse with the heavier ball, but those who had received conditional instructions performed as well as the boys regardless of the ball used (p. 22). Langer also suggests that is why girls have a harder time in math in high school. They excel in grade school, but the do-as-you’re-told doesn’t help at higher math levels, since numbers need to be seen in new ways. 

I was skeptical of the claim that boys are urged to be rebellious, as that’s not my experience, but that is another topic. Anyway, this betrays an aspect of sexism and one more reason why we still need feminism. Being a guy, I will not harp on this (I would rather hand the mic to women), but I will say the following: guys, we need to stand up for women’s right to dissent and to speak up, and not call her names. We need to consider her viewpoints and examine her conclusions and their implications. Also, we need to train people of all gender identities to question dogma, to look at alternate ways of doing things, and to consider multiple perspectives. 

Now, to talk about religion: first, in Fundamentalism, obedience to authority is highly valued, and rebellion is seen as witchcraft (based on 1 Sam. 15:23). For me, that meant that rebellion was punishable by a whipping (not with the hand), threats of hellfire and brimstone, and allusions to Korah (Num. 16). People at church thought that if you didn’t choose one of the options those in authority presented, you were in rebellion. 

However, I do think religion should be approached with a sideways learning approach. (Since I am a Christian, I am telling this from a Christian perspective, and am open to perspectives from other religions.) Evangelicals tend to see themselves as following the Bible, but often approach the Bible mindlessly. I discovered this when I read texts from outside my sect (JW literature, Jewish writings, Catholic materials, etc.) and saw Bible passages presented in ways that I had never seen before, and never would have seen otherwise. This shows that there are multiple perspectives to the Bible. A midrash says that there are seventy facets to the Torah. So, when reading the Bible, we should read it from multiple perspectives and consider out of the box interpretations. We should also consider critiques from critics of the Bible, in order to enhance our understanding. I think that a mindful approach will make religion more just. 

Now, for foreign languages. Learning a language involves vocabulary and grammar. I think it is an idea to learn words related to topics of interest,, and to learn grammar so that these topics can be discussed with someone in the language. Vocabulary related to topics that one is not interested in will also have to be learned. A mindful approach may be to learn the vocabulary to express how one is not interested in this topic. Thus, learners should vary the material that they are learning. 

To conclude, Langer shows the insufficiency of the “learn the basics” approach and introduces us to sideways learning. I showed how these are relevant to feminism, religion, and language learning.

Feminism Reflects Christ Better Than Does Fundamentalism

I grew up Fundamentalist, and in my circle, feminists were bashed as man-haring rebels against God’s Divine Order. However, over the past couple of years, I have read feminist blogs and interacted with feminists on said blogs and on Twitter. As a result of all this, I have concluded that the teachings of Jesus are better reflected in feminism than they are in Fundamentalism. Let me explain how.

Let’s start with a popular definition of feminism: the radical idea that women are people too. We find this idea reflected in the Bible, back to Genesis: “God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.”(Gen. 1:27), and “There is neither Jew nor Greek, their is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female — for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”(Gal. 3:28)

This belief in women’s being human motivates feminists to insist on autonomy, boumdaries, and consent in human interactions, and that corercion should be avoided. This consent must be informed, and is considered invalid if obtained by deception. Well, this is integrity par excellence, and integrity is a value everywhere in Scripture. Also, it is written, “Love your neighbor as yourself”(Lev. 19:18). This respecting other people’s boundaries and acknowledging their autonomy is a integral part of showing concern for others, allowing us to have what Martin Buber describes as an I-thou relationship(approaching them as people) rather than an I-it one(approaching them as objects). Also, Erich Fromm mentions that a healthy self-love and others-love are interrelated. Setting our own boundaries is an expression of that healthy self-love. 

By contrast, autonomy, boundaries, and consent are sorely lacking in Fundamentalist circles. Despite the scriptural injunction, “But we have rejected shameful hidden deeds, not behaving with deceptiveness — or distorting the Word of God”(2 Cor. 4:2a), Fundamentalists are infamous for their lack of honesty and alternative facts, calling it all “The Truth[TM]”. They apply Philippians 2:4-11 to the populace, but the leaders act more in line with the boast attributed to Lucifer in Is. 14:13-14

They love Eph. 5:22, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord”, using it to justify misogyny. However, some ancient Greek manuscripts do not include the word translated “submit”, in which the verse reads, “Wives, to your husbands as to the Lord.” This means the verse is a continuation of v. 21, “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ”(emphasis mine). Also, in Greek, the word for “submit” has a meaning of its being voluntary, which requires consent. Fundamentalists tends to not get consent, and prefer coercion. They sometimes reference Eph. 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her”; however, this often is used as a means of promoting paternalism.

Christian feminists are not opposed to submission per se, but only opposed to it when it is one way, and/or the burden is placed solely on women. As we saw from the quote in Eph. 5:21, this is a biblical criticism. This is in agreement with what Jesus Himself says, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and are called ‘benefactors’. Not so with you; instead, the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the one who serves.”(Luke 22:25-26). But demanding that their followers submit to them and that wives submit to their husbands, these leaders are “lording it over” them. Also, treating people in a paternalistic way, justifying control because it’s for “their own good”, is NOT an example of being a servant; it is still “lording it over” them. 

Another way in which feminism reflects the character of Christ can be seen by comparing the depictions of Babylon and the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation. First, it is written about Babylon, “The blood of the saints and prophets was found in her, along with the blood of all those who had been killed in the earth”(Rev. 18:24). Next, onto what it says about the New Jerusalem, “The kings of the earth will bring their grandeur to it”(Rev. 21:24b). Throughout Revelation “the kings of the earth” refers to humanity in rebellion against God, and the passage indicates their redemption, rather than their destruction.

Fundamentalism damages even its own. There are countless spiritual abuse survivor blogs out there, with this list being just a few, and many people raised Fundamentalist go through religious trauma. There is widespread silence on abuse in Fundamentalism, and encouragement of women to stay in abusive marriages. 

Feminism is opposed to abuse. This is reflective of the heart of Christ because the Bible depicts God as hearing the cry of the oppressed. Feminists teach that your pain matters, and that oppressing others is wrong. This is why they support autonomy, boundaries, and consent, since abusers tend to ignore these things. Feminism concerns itself with ending the oppression of women. However, I, though a cisman(a biological male identifying as male), have benefited from these ideas. The church I grew up in did not teach boundaries and consent; so upon reading feminists online, I realized I could set boundaries for myself! Pick-up artists tend to be extremely unpopular in feminist circles, due to their being notorious for not respecting women’s boundaries or accepting “No”. However, in her book Confessions of a Pick-Up Artist Chaser, Clarisse Thorn mentions a PUA who actually benefited from feminist ideals and used them for himself. Also, feminists insist that the boundaries of even jerks and abusers need to be respected, and that one can only do what is needed to protect oneself and others. This is a good example of Christ’s command to love one’s enemies. 

So, while Fundamentalists decry feminists, and accuse the latter of destroying God’s order of things, and even of being an Illuminati plot to destroy the family, when you look at the Bible it seems that the spirit of the law is better reflected in feminism than in Fundamentalism.

Being a Feminist: Between Clichés and Truths (by Sarah Andres; translation mine)

This post is a translation of a post on Sarah Andres’s blog. The word “post” links to the original. Now, for the words of Sarah Andres:

For many, “feminist” is an insult. A cuss word. A synonym for a bossy, domineering woman [French, dominatrice, “dominatrix” is an alternative translation]. Castrator. For this article dedicated to my[Sarah’s] life facing sexism, I’m making a compilation of remarks I receive when I say I’m a feminist. These come from those close to me as well as from strangers. They’re recurrent, and full of clichés to deconstruct.

“You’re a feminist? Well, you must be a lesbian, seeing that you don’t like men.”

That was said to me one day by a man I bumped into at a soirée. It was said without spitefulness, without aggressiveness, it was nearly a constant. You’re a feminist THEREFORE you don’t like men. Eh, no, my dear fellow. Whether or not I’m a lesbian (because we beat our mucous membranes) it’s not men that I dislike, but patriarchy. True, not all men are bidet scrapings. But even if not all men threaten women, all women are threatened by men. Sexism, like every other oppression, is institutional and systematic. It sets up a system, and that is really the problem.

Being a feminist is wanting equality. A man isn’t worth more than a woman, and vice versa. It’s not men that feminists dislike, it’s sexism. Is that really so hard to understand?

“Concretely, I don’t understand how one can be a feminist today! You women now have the right to vote like men, thus there is nothing else to demand.”

There again, this type of reflection often pops up in my face when I talk about feminism. The fight for gender equality doesn’t just stop at voting rights, abortion, contraception, etc., though they’re essential, as these rights are endlessly put in danger. On my blog[that is, Sarah Andres’s blog; link above under her name, site in French], you’ll find a plethora of articles on my daily life facing sexism.

“And what does your boyfriend think of this? I mean, it can’t be easy having a feminist for a girlfriend.”

You’ll notice the heterocentrism of the question. No, sorry, the affirmation. Note that at the time of writing these lines, I have never had a romantic relationship. Nothing to do with my feminism, but if you want to know more about it, here you go:

The line underneath says, “Feminism isn’t only reserved to women.”

“As long as you don’t show your breasts in public like Femen, it doesn’t bother me.”

In other words, looking at boobs in HD on porn sites and stark-naked women in advertisements doesn’t bother you. But should a woman parade by, airing her breasts, while making a political statement, that’s an issue. Basically, a pair of boobs should serve to breastfeed her kid, sell a vacuum cleaner, help you polish your broomstick, but it’s dirty if that becomes political. I can see we don’t live on the same planet.

Anyway, you aren’t credible; you can’t even agree with each other!”

It’s true that, when we look at the political parties, the multitude of social movements that exist or have existed, or even all the religions, all have the same political and social vision and ideological viewpoint in their thinking such that all agree amd are never divided. Bah, no. There are good women for bickering. Now, anyway.

“A feminist, that’s someone hysterical, sexually frustrated, hairy, ugly, frustrated, and with no sense of humor whatsoever.”

Well, I subscribe…

 A Male’s Gratitude to Feminism

CONTENT NOTE: This is an “PG-13” rated post and talks about sex, rape, and misogyny.

TRIGGER WARNING: discussion of rape, misogyny, and spiritual abuse


This post was inspired by the following tweet from a follower under #SpiritualAbuseIs: Check out @iSierraNichole’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/iSierraNichole/status/832015035153186816?s=09
This is what was taught at the church in which I was raised: the pastor often blamed wives for their husbands’ unfaithfulness, saying the husbands cheated because the wives wouldn’t have sex with them, saying, “If you don’t do your homework, someone else will.”

This was actually preached frequently. The verse used to support this is 1 Cor. 7:5, “Do not deprive each other, except by mutual agreement for a specified time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

The teaching was, in sex, couples should be Creative, Interesting, and Available (abbreviated CIA). In theory, it applied to both men and women, but 99.9% of the time it was preached against the women. One of the comments was, “Ladies, how hard is it to spread your legs and smile?”

The pastor also once made a remark that people should move, rather than just lying there. I have since read online that lack of movement in sex is often a response to rape. (More on this below.)

We guys were fed a generous helping of misogynistic propaganda. We were told things like, “The system is biased towards women, against men. Society and most of the church are this way, but I, and there are very few others, have the guts to tell you the Truth[TM]”, and, “All a woman has to do is to bang her head a few times in order to bleed, call the cops, and the husband is powerless, because they’ll believe her”; also, “She can hit you, but if you hit back, you’ll get in trouble.” We were also told that after six months most women “close the garage door”, meaning sex would be rare. In fact, when I expressed a desire to go overseas, and was not released, I was told, “God is only trying to protect you, for 80% of women out there won’t do you right. They’ll turn you down for sex and you’ll be tempted to cheat with her girlfriend.”

On one occasion, when I expressed doubts about my faith after being confronted on lust, I was told this was my last chance, for God was getting bricks with which to knock me upside the head.  I was told that if I were to backside, I would either go insane(the pastor said, “You need me more if you’re smart”), get a venereal disease from being a womanizer, or end up in an unhappy, sexless marriage. But, I was told that if I went with God(TM), I could have a wonderful marriage, and all I would need to do would be to tell my wife to put on her teddies for sex. 

Even at the time it wasn’t appealing; it seemed crude, disgusting, and was a turn-off. Now for a confession: back in those days, had I gotten married, I would have begged until I got it. This is why I am thankful for all the feminists I encountered on Twitter and on blogs (especially the Love, Joy, Feminism commentariat, who patiently have answered my questions, even when I’m exasperating at not getting it!). I now know that what I would have done is wrong, and I’m grateful to have been enlightened before I even started dating, let alone got married. Even though the church presented themselves as experts on marriage and family, I feel I’ve learned more in the nearly two years of being on social media and interacting with feminists than my entire time at the church! I think, thanks to them, I can be a better boyfriend and husband than I would be otherwise. Also, it is due to what I read on these blogs that I recognize that the remark that people shouldn’t just lie there immobile was making light of marital rape, something that would never have occurred to me otherwise. (In my days of ignorance I also made some comments that make me cringe nowadays.)

Like St. Paul said in 1 Tim. 1:13, “I acted in ignorance”; well, since I’m a virgin, technically not “acted”, but the point remains. The problem with my begging is that it does not allow for a “no”, and a “yes” is meaningless if “no” won’t be taken for an answer. But, growing up, we weren’t taught boundaries, we always had to be ready if the church needed something, and not listening to the pastor, as God’s Delegated Authority(TM), was as not listening to God. This does not allow a healthy culture that honors boundaries and consent to form. Feminists say, “Men, you need to respect women’s boundaries and consent, for women are people too.”, which implies being human means the right to set boundaries. Also, since we were taught that since the Bible says, “You were bought with a price”(1 Cor. 6:19-20), the idea of bodily autonomy would have been anathema. (Interestingly, they didn’t mention “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters.”, 1 Cor. 7:23, NRSV.) Thus, I am grateful also to feminists in letting me know that I can set my own boundaries.

However, since I heard that some women have a higher libido than their husbands, I considered that possibility frequently, and often interpreted the CIA teaching in that light. Maybe with being a virgin who never dated and who is uninformed on sex, it’s too early to say it, but, even taking into consideration the fact that my autonomy and consent matter, I still want to be available to my wife when I get married, mainly to make her happy and to express gratitude for picking me out of 7 billion people.

I will end with this: though I did it in ignorance, to the feminists out there reading this post and all women, I am sorry for my role in perpetuating the system. Though I was brainwashed, and didn’t know, I am still sorry. I am glad  have been enlightened and have a chance to change direction. (From a religious viewpoint, I think this is what repentance is. In Judaism, part of repentance[teshuvah in Hebrew] is recognizing the damage caused. Sadly, in the matrix I grew up in, the damage was erased; the shadow on the cave wall was interpreted differently.)

No, Whistling At Me Isn’t A Compliment(by Sarah Andres, translation mine)

This is a post from the blog La Mal-Baisée by Sarah Andres. You can view the original here.Now, here’s the post:

As a woman I regularly suffer what they call “street harassment”. Whistles, insults, touch-ups…men treating women as objects are numerous. And they crack down at every street corner.

At the age of 12, I was wearing a B-bra, measuring 1m50, and my new stretch marks on my hips and thighs testified to recent physical and hormonal development. I was taking my first steps in puberty, learning this ” new me” and learning what I like, things that weren’t simple for my part. But, above all, I had to confront exterior looks. Therefore, at age 12, in this manner, I lived my first experience of street harassment. I didn’t know the term, and I ignored that it acts as a real phenomenon in society.

It was springtime and hot. Arriving at a pedestrian crossing at the exit to my neighborhood, I stop. A van passes in front of me. Inside: 3 or 4 men open the window and honk the horn.

Go on, dearie! Give us a blowjob!

[literally, “suck us!”]

Eh, you’re too good, you know!

When I returned home I told my sister, older by six years, of this experience; she responded to me, “You have to get used to it. It’s to be expected. Boys will be boys”. [Literally, ” That’s guys.”] If this “first time” naturally shocked me, being totally unprepared to receive such advances given so openly, I ended up adapting and integrating it as a rule. Around 14 or 15, I even thought that a stranger’s whistle in the street to be a compliment. I had integrated it into my education. I considered it a norm. “It’s to be expected. Boys will be boys.[literally, that’s guys.] As a woman I’m supposed to please them.” I’ve come a long way.

What Is Street Harassment?
It was brought to the attention of the media through the release of the documentary Femmes de la Rue[literally, Women of the Street](2012), produced by Sofie Peeters from Brussels, and acts according to the collective Stop Harcelement de Rue [literally, Stop Street Harassment; link in French]: “(…)behaviors addressed to people in public and semi-public places, to accost them, verbally or not, sending them intimidating, insistent, disrespectful, humiliating, threatening, or insulting messages due to their sex, gender, or sexual orientation.”


It really makes being in the street a pain in the butt when you’re a woman (note that doesn’t only affect women, as the sidebar above specifies), and has nothing to lose with being pretty, ugly, fat, skinny, or hairy. And when you wear a rolled-over pullover or miniskirt, there’s often the guy at the descent to the metro who comes to ask for your number, and bawls you out when you make the choice to ignore him. Anyway, a recent study proved that 100% of women using public transport are victims of sexist harassment [link in French].

In public spaces, men invest more public space than women, who only cross it. The reason isn’t hard to understand. The other day, I was visiting a large French agglomeration. It was 4 P. M. and I was at the metro exit. I opened the city map to try to get my bearings. I was barely standing there 2 minutes when 3 guys come to accost me:

“Eh, dearie, have you lost your way? Because in exchange for a blowjob we can help you find it” [literally, “because if you suck, we can help you recover it!”]

Not feeling like responding, I prefer to get myself out of there. A minute later, another guy, different from the others, comes towards me: ” Eh, miss, whatcha looking for? If you want, I can accompany you home. We could get to know each other. ” What did I do? I pulled out my smartphone and started my GPS. Too bad for the old school positioning. Too much of a pain in the butt, too wearying, too insecure.


In France, being a woman in a public place consists of developing multiple strategies for your daily life. It’s concentrating all your energy on vigilance in going about. It’s changing sidewalks when you hear a man walking behind you. It’s reflecting on your outfit every morning: “Today, I’m taking the metro. I’m going to limit risks: no skirt.” It’s spending time finding verbal replies to potential aggressions. It’s having a tightened stomach and therefore closing your trap when it arrives. It’s lowering your head and speeding up your steps upon the approach of a group of men. It’s this everyday, and it’s wearying.

Even a few years ago, I felt responsible: “Shoot! Maybe if I hadn’t worn shorts so short?” But no more. I’m responsible for nothing. Absolutely no woman is. We dress as we like, we go where we want, alone or together, according to our fancy. Justifying a phenomenon of harassment, shot against a woman, due to her outfit or her behavior, is to make her responsible for the aggression, to the benefit of the one really responsible.

Likewise, many people are confused as to the difference between harassment and flirting. I often hear that whistling at a woman on the street “is a compliment”. To make things more clear:


(Chart by Paye Ta Shnek )
Translation of table:
Expressing politely, in an an adapted context, one’s desire to know a person or see them again, and respecting their eventual refusal.(flirt)
Whistling at a person anywhere: Parliament, on the street, at work, or in transport.(harassment)
Commenting on a person’s appearance or outfit who didn’t ask or whom you don’t know.(harassment)
Insisting after a refusal or lack of a response.(harassment)
Taking a person’s refusal for timidity.(harassment)
Following or imposing your presence on a person who hasn’t responded or expresses a refusal to exchange.(harassment)
Sending sexual texts to a person who hasn’t consented to that game.(harassment)
Using your position to obtain favors.(harassment)
Threatening a person to accept your advances.(harassment)
Touching/pinching butts/breasts outside of a mutually consenting encounter.(aggression)
Hugging/kissing[the French word embrasser means both] a person by surprise or against their will.(aggression)
Placing a woman against a wall by surprise or against her will outside a mutual and consenting encounter.(aggression)

And for those still not convinced: am I supposed to have something to square with the opinion a stranger holds about my physical appearance?

Having force, you could turn a bit paranoid anyway:

” Eh, miss!”
“Well, nothing. Do you have the time, please?”

Very recently, the creation of non-mixed compartments on public transport in Germany has revived the polemic. The idea is to create cars specifically reserved for women, in order to fight the phenomenon of harassment. Well, yes, there’s nothing like the Middle Ages of course! Anyway, speaking of flashbacks, we could just simply require women to stay home and only go out in the presence of a man. Radical but effective, no? In fact, the “little” problem with this German law(already in force in other countries) is that it’s (again) women who must bear responsibility for the harassment of which they are victims. It’s always on them to adapt, not on their aggressors.

To finish, just a little advice: for flirting, there are spaces and contexts specifically made for this. You’re in a pub in the evening and someone catches your eye: you decide to approach them. If this person consents to the flirt, then there’s no problem. But personally, asking for my number when I’m leaving for work or have to go to class…No! Just, no. It’s neither the time nor the place. Do you really think that I’ll hand out my number to a stranger crossing the street?

My Journey to Egalitarianism

Note: This is the story of a cisgendered, straight male who grew up in a complementarian environment moving towards egalitarianism; the impact of comp teaching is harder for women.
Now for the part of my story involving gender roles. Though the term wasn’t used, my church adhered to complementarianism, which teaches that men and women are equal on status but have different roles, the leading roles going to men and the supporting ones to women. Our church wasn’t opposed to women preaching, for we were pastored by a husband and wife team(and the wife became the senior pastor after her husband died) and Joyce Meyers was played in church. However there were many sermons on husbands’ being the head of the house and the wives’ need to submit, something that was strongly pushed and lack of submission by wives was strongly preached against. Husbands were to be providers and 1950’s gender roles were upheld as ideal, but there was some leeway for wives to work. I heard sermons that it’s best that young women work close to the church and/or family, rather than in the world, as a means of protection. This existed for the young men as well, but seemed to be stressed more for the young women.

I was a teenager when I began to move away from comp teaching. At that time I felt treated like I had no brains, and was told that submission meant I had to accept that treatment. As you could guess, I hated that treatment. I vowed to never treat anyone like that, and after I got married, that I wouldn’t go along with the throw-my-weight-around approach.(Yes, I had expressed misogynistic views before this.)

When at 18 I started questioning my upbringing. The only way I was able to explain it was using Plato’s Cave Allegory(which is my profile pic). I decided I wanted more than the four walls of my insular church. Thus, I decided I wanted a wife from outside my bubble, which meant there would be no male headship and no submission. I decided I just wanted to be able to have my life and not be forced into a cookie-cutter mold; thus I wanted someone who would agree that we would let each other have their lives. But I also wanted someone for whom these interests overlapped.

The next stop was my reading Richard Foster’s book In Celebration of Discipline. Due to the subordinate status of women in Greco-Roman society by even addressing women in the first place, Foster explained, Paul was empowering women, giving them agency. He also pointed out that the command to husbands to “love their wives” isn’t that much different from the command to submission, for obedience to that command required a lot of submission on the husband’s part. Foster pointed out the sting of the teaching fell on the husbands.

Years later I read an excerpt from Liza Mindy’s The Richer Sex(later the whole book). In this book Mundy mentions women becoming the primary breadwinners and even outearning their significant others. (Overall there is still a pay gap, with women behind.) I and my friends had been made by our church to work at a job long hours making next to nothing. There were times I requested from church leadership to find another job, but was denied. We were told that women were into it for the money, that they wouldn’t want poor guys. However we were also told men were supposed to be the providers, because “if any provide not for his own, and specifically for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). Actually that verse means people shouldn’t dump their elderly relatives onto the church, but is commonly used to promote traditional gender roles.

Anyway, when I realized there are women willing to accept as significant others men with less education and/or who make less money, I welcomed it. I was in my late-20’s at the time, and this meant I actually had a chance of not being an old bachelor. I came to see traditional roles as favoring the rich over the poor. This plus other things caused me to question the stereotype of feminists as man-haters. I came to see women’s lib as necessary for the liberation of all humanity; the view that I can’t be all I can be until you can be all you can be. It was at this time I became pro-feminist.

Later I found Sarah Bessey’s book Jesus Feminist in Barnes and Noble, which I bought. I read a few other books and followed feminists on Twitter after I got an account (and some followed me back). I found articles on egalitarianism(the view that men and women are equal both in status and role) and came to embrace this label. While I do have questions about certain issues, there is no question that women deserve basic respect that comes from being human, the right to not be restricted by their role but to pursue their dreams,security; in short, human rights!

This is the story of how I became egalitarian and came to identify as pro-feminist; in a later podcast, I’m going to present a case for egalitarianism/feminism.