I don’t debate with religious traditionalists, aka complementarians on the rightful position of women, because it’s generally a waste of time, energy, and good will. I think the best way to deal with most of them is to ignore them. Not ignore in a rude and dismissive way, but to simply do something else instead of debating whether hierarchicalism is superior to more egalitarian alternatives.
It’s not that I don’t respect their right to differ. It’s just that it seems pointless to argue something so
obvious. Sort of like arguing the advantages of using a computer instead of a crank telephone. I’d rather invest in sharing useful information with people who need and want it.
A central claim of traditionalist/complementarians is that hierarchy is necessary, that it’s hard wired into human relationships, that God made us that way, that it’s “natural.”
What they don’t realize is that natural hierarchies are different from the kind of hierarchies they propose. Natural hierarchies are more like heterarchies. That is, they aren’t rigid, they are fluid. They are based on need/provision rather than assigned position.
“A heterarchy functions something like a committee, but one in which everyone can talk and listen to each other simultaneously. The various elements of this system all communicate with each other, contributing to a consensus about which perceptions and activities are most relevant at a particular moment. In a heterarchical system all the different elements mutually interact, and one of them temporarily gains control in cooperation with the others. This system is very ancient, and it determines attention not only in human beings, but in all vertebrates, and it has been doing this for several hundred million years, an indication of how useful it is.”
I participate on an email discussion list for people who have experienced or are experiencing abuse. Many subscribers are women who have been imprisoned in rigid hierarchical marriages. Their experiences were often made worse by churches that taught a hierarchical relationship in marriage.
Where did we get the notion that relationships should be hierarchical? I think it came from the ownership of people, viewing people as property. Basically it’s a slavery based idea. Hierarchicalists have a sense of ownership of those under them. They’d not want to call it ownership, they would be more comfortable calling it “authority over,” but their actions betray what it really is to them.
I’ve known a lot of authoritarian hierarchicalists, and I can’t remember any who were successful at being fair and honorable with their “authority.” Hierarchicalists know that’s true, but they excuse it by saying they aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, and therefore it’s not the system, it’s them. Well, it is the system. The system places too much power in the hands of those who can’t or won’t handle it well. They are doomed to fail in their task a high percentage of the time because skill doesn’t have anything to do with them getting the job, or keeping it.
In a hierarchical system women have no real power, and are free to use their abilities only if it suits the whims of those over them. They are, permanently, Underwoman.
It’s time to change costumes.