I’ve come down hard in the past on complementarianism — mostly because it’s a church term that was invented in the mid eighties that defies definition; that is, it would be meaningless to historical Christianity. Those who use it do so in order to dwell in ambiguity. That’s what I gathered after having read enough of the Council members’ meaningless platitudes: complementarianism can mean whatever suits your fancy at the moment.
When I was considering my current series of feminism as mental illness, I had a niggling memory of Mary Kassian having once said something retarded about equality. By “retarded,” I suppose I mean yet another meaningless platitude. When I put “Kassian” and “equality” together in my Google search bar, I hit on this blog. The Kassian article the author, Dalrock, links to is good enough for me as a case-in-point. The source article is found here: Cherishing Your Marriage.
I’m going to try to make quick work of the retarded bits. Let’s start with this one: “I am left with the impression,” says Kassian, “that he regards my desires and interests as more important than his own, and I feel cherished.” The “he” here is, of course, her husband. So in the strange meaningless alter-reality of the Council on Biblical Manhood/Womanhood, male leadership means that the man must regard the woman’s desires and interests above his own. While the biblical mandate to love your neighbor as yourself might indeed mean putting your own interests aside for a time, intrinsic to the ideal of the golden rule is self-love, not self-loathing. And, by the way, the golden rule is for everyone, including Kassian. In our society, where we make few sacrifices because we’re rich and spoiled, I can’t imagine how I would feel cherished if my husband put my needs ahead of his own. Groveling does not make me feel cherished.
The Scottish saying “a tatty and a pass” just popped to mind — I don’t know if I’m quoting it quite right; I first read it in an Alexander McCall Smith book. The meaning is what I’m after, though. In hard days, and there were many in those northern climes, the family would get a potato and a pass of meat to get the smell of it, but the dad would eat what little meat there was so he had strength to work. There was mutual denying of self-interest occurring. Some went without meat; meanwhile, dad worked himself to the bone. Who among the American university professor types lives like this these days? If Kassian’s husband is denying his interests for hers, he is likely forgoing what would make him an interesting person to begin with.
Next, here is part of what the author, Dalrock, quotes: “Brent upholds and guards my ‘equality’ so I do not feel the need to do so.” I don’t know how to analyze this one, to be honest. I have no idea what it means. If I were to ask my husband if he would please guard my equality, he would look at me as if I’d gone insane. And then he’d tell me to guard my own damn equality. Or something. It’s hard to tell, as I don’t usually speak in euphemisms and/or platitudes unless I’m trying to be funny. And it’s difficult to be funny if I have no idea what the words coming out of my mouth mean. Maybe that’s the point of humor, though — not knowing. I mean, it does inspire silly images such as a soldier standing outside the door and marching up and down the walk while robotically shouting, “She is equal! She is equal!” to all people who approach the domicile.
She goes on to describe how it’s possible for him to be her male-head-leader: She encourages him by “communicating to him all that has happened during my day.” In other words, she dumps on him. Okay, I do that one too, and so does my husband sometimes. It’s good to have a person to talk to at the end of a hard day. I’m not sure how it helps him be a leader, though. Is he supposed to sort through her complaints and problem-solve them? If it were a big problem, that might be doable, but everyday petty details are not the purview of leaders. If leaders wasted all their time on petty details, they wouldn’t get anything done. Rather, leaders delegate petty problem-solving to those they are leading and ignore the petty details.
This post is getting longer than I wanted it to be, so I’m going to wrap it up with one last token analysis. She uses the term “couch time” to describe the heart-to-heart communication she has with her
toddler. Oops, I mean husband. Look, when I hear a term like “couch-time,” I don’t think of a heart-to-heart dumping on one’s spouse. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love to sit and talk with my husband or conversely listen to him (he speaks about 100 words to my 1), usually over coffee or when out on a drive, given the complementarian manner of speaking euphemistically, I’m going to guess she meant something more fun than talking. I mean, change the meaning to Ooh, it’s couch-time, all kids in bed. Mommy and I need to do a little “communicating” and suddenly it sounds more … natural. If that were the case, it would hearten me a bit. I might actually believe this couple has the ability to maintain a male-female relationship as natural human beings.