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Posts Tagged ‘masculinity’

Men Who Claim To Be Allies

I started by morning, before coffee, reading Irin Carmon’s “Women shouldn’t trust the men who call themselves allies” at The Washington Post. Go ahead and read it.  After coffee. Carmon writes powerfully about Harvey Weinstein and a whole bunch of men who proclaim to be allies while harming, maligning, and harassing women.  The actions of this men tell us a story about how claiming to be an ally doesn’t actually mean you are an ally. This is a  story, the story, about power, misogyny, masculinity, and the emptiness of words without action. Camron writes:

To the preexisting condition that is misogyny in the world, such men add a certain sense of hopelessness. They fuel those old snickering jokes about the ulterior motives of men who visit feminist spaces. They exploit the fact that women are eager to affirm men making baby steps toward our humanity and make a mockery out of our socially ingrained impulse to give them the benefit of the doubt. At least the Bannons of the world stab you in the front.

As I read her article, I laughed grimly, though I wanted to cry, when I reached this line: At least the Bannons of the world stab you in the front.  At least, we know where the Bannons stand and how much they hate us. It’s the knife in the back from the men who are supposed to be friends, partners, colleagues, co-workers, bosses, and professors that we aren’t expecting. They say that they are allies. They say they are feminists. And we want to believe them. Like Camron, I’m not sure we should. (more…)

Track 13: Shut Up, Meat Loaf

Shut Up, Meat Loaf

Jennifer W. Spirko

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any music is improved by being played in a fast-moving car at night with the windows down. When that music is metal ballad, the speed, the darkness and the loudness of highway wind are all but required to fully enjoy it.

That might have summarized my relationship with Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell in college had it not been for a classic Mustang and a good friend.

By the time I was in college, Bat Out of Hell had been in release for a decade or so, its singles soaring through the local rock station of my youth. But, I didn’t really listen to the whole album until a friend copied it on a cassette. Some songs, we insisted, were “car songs,” and these were the obvious examples, since the longest and most fun of the bunch was about having sex in a car. (more…)

White, male and “evangelical”?

Over at Religion in American History, Ed Blum blogs about how the label of “evangelical” presumes whiteness, particularly the 2005 list by Time magazine of prominent evangelicals. The list includes T.D. Jakes and Luis Cortes.  Sans these two ministers “representing” African-American and Latino evangelicalisms (and we all know that evangelicalism is a varied constellation rather than unified movement), the list is overwhelming white.  I would also add that the list is overwhelming male, with four women featured. Out of the four women, two are listed independently ( Joyce Meyer and Diane Knippers) while Beverly LaHaye and Roberta Ahmanson appear alongside their husbands. While it is should already be apparent, I will say it anyway: All of these women are also white.

Blum’s critique, however, is not simply a take-down of Time’s (dated) compilation of important “evangelicals,” but rather he is responding to John Turner’s post reflecting on how this kind of  list might appear differently in 2012. In all fairness, Turner notes the utter lack of Asian Americans on the list, the inclusion of only one evangelical Latino minister and the presence of few women.

Using Turner’s post as a starting point, Ed argues that we should all really pay attention to lack of attention to whiteness in the labeling of evangelical. This inattention appears not only Time‘s list but also in the the field of evangelical studies more largely. His apparent frustration emerges in how evangelical often functions as code for white evangelical. Thus, other people who happen to  evangelical and who are not white get racial modifiers attached to their evangelicalism., which is what happens with both Jakes and Cortes. This seems to imply that if these categories are somehow monolithic. FYI, they are’t.

This post mirrors my own frustrated reaction application of evangelical, as if the term was devoid of racial and gendered classifications. Presumed, or even assumed, whiteness and maleness obscures rather than illuminates the racial diversity of evangelicalism past and present. When will studies of evangelicalism and American religious history take whiteness and maleness into account in a serious manner? (This round table on whiteness in Religion and American Culture is a helpful start.)

To even pose this question leads me to sigh very big sighs while banging my head against the desk.  Here’s a short form version of how I feel about the need to study whiteness:

Why don’t we problematize, or heck, even engage, the bodies attached to these ideologies? I think it deeply matters that white male bodies are ignored in favor of their ideas and their rhetoric. They become soley progenitors of words, somehow absent from the fleshy reality that plagues the rest of us (even though there is attention, not analysis, of physical appearances). Embodiment matters, and I want to know why there is still hesitance to press bodily analysis on certain, dominant religious groups. Griffith does lead the way on this, and I think Martha Finch’s work gets us closer to this kind of analysis. Why aren’t we analyzing white Christian bodies? Is it an assumption of invisibility and dominance? Or is there something more subtle and possibly insidious going on here? (Read more here.)

Here is what Ed writes:

My complaint is … with the entire field of “evangelical” studies. Until it can come up with a definition of itself that explains why books about it are almost uniformly about white people (because last I checked, lots and lots and lots of African Americans have fit Bebbington’s definition), then it needs greater definitional precision. So many American historians bristle at “whiteness” studies, but this is a clear case, to me, where whiteness is hidden in plain site. This is the kind of assumption that leads books about religion and the founders to exclude Phillis Wheatley, to focus on Charles Finney but rarely William Apess, to pine for Lincoln to be evangelical but to ignore Frederick Douglass, and to lionize Dwight Moody and leave out Ida B. Wells. (Emphasis is mine.)

The rest of the post is here, and make sure to check out the comments on Ed’s post too. What are we to make of this avoidance of whiteness? How we make the assumed into the analyzable? What is to be gained if we recognize the racialized and gendered presumptions of a term like evangelical?