cool stuff

(I’ve turned comments on on this one, despite the fact that anonymous individuals continue to attempt to sell all types of crazy crap to the readers of my blog)
A random one: I was thinking about the use of gender-inclusive language, etc., and realized that while I use gender-inclusive language myself in writing and speaking, I am really not bothered when others do not do so. I’m also not bothered by the idea of God being primarily represented as masculine in the Bible etc. I think there’s two main factors in this:

1. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a time period and family in which I was taught that women and men are equal, and that my being female was not a negative thing and I would not disqualify me from doing anything I wanted to do. And as a child, I usually believed what I was told.
I think that women who grew up before the whole women’s liberation movement were raised with the expectation that they would go into traditionally female roles, and that the world would deal harshly with them if they tried to take on any additional roles. For these women who found that these traditional roles were unappealing to them and who were part of the generation active in opening up new roles for women, the use of gender-exclusive language is representative of the “bad old days,” and threatens a return of the times when women had limitations placed on them by society.
Because I didn’t grow up with that sense of limitation, gender-exclusive language isn’t threatening to me. To me, it’s just an old-fashioned or more traditional use of language, with no implication that society will or should return to a pattern which places limits on women. Thus, it doesn’t bother me when people use it, and it annoys me when older texts such as hymns are re-written to be “gender-inclusive”–to me, the latter is nothing but an attempt to rewrite history. In such things as Bible translations, I think it’s appropriate to use gender-inclusive language when the original word was gender-inclusive; but not appropriate when the originally was obviously intended to mean male or female.
2. The second reason reflects the way I view myself: I see myself primarily as a human being, and secondarily as female. Being a “human being” first means that what is most fundamental to my identity places me in the same category as males and as any other potential subgrouping. This doesn’t mean the fact that I am female is not important–being female colors the way my human-beingness is represented to and interacts with the world; and adds to (rather than takes away from) my total identity.
In terms of the first creation story in Genesis, humans were made in the image of God–male and female. This indicates to me that both males and females are humans first, in the image of God; and second male and female, both of which must reflect some aspects of God. The second telling of the creation of humans gives us more specifics on this creation, and tells us more about being “male” and being “female.”
The story as a whole seems to say to me “Here is the cool stuff you get to do and be as a human being,” and then “Here is more cool stuff that you get to do and be as a male” or “Here is more cool stuff you get to do and be as a female.” To me, the first set of “cool stuff” is what we all have in common as God’s creations, that these are the most fundamental things about us is reflected in the statement “in Him there is no male or female” etc. The extra cool stuff is what differentiates us as male or female. I don’t see that this extra stuff has to be the same stuff in order for men and women to be considered equal.
True, that this stuff is different has been viewed to mean not only that women’s unique characteristics make them lesser than men; but that women do not in fact share any fundamental cool characteristics with men, but are fundamentally different and inferior creatures. However, I see this as evidence of the scurrilousness of human beings rather than a prescription of nature or God.
Many people seem to believe that because I’m female, the idea of a primarily masculine God ought to bother me and I should find some female concept of deity to relate to (memo to Dan Brown :). In a way, this seems rather sexist–like saying I’m a girl so I should go play with the other girls, not try to join in the games that are supposed to be for boys. The idea of a primarily male God doesn’t bother me, first of all because my identity is not primarily female–it’s primarily as a human being, thus the most important things about me are the same as everyone else and relate to God in the same way. Second, because of the wording of Genesis, God must have what we think of as “female” as well as “male” attributes.
Third, because while I think that males and females have some differences, I don’t see that as making one better or worse than the other. I see these differences as positive, not negative. Hence, while the Bible speak of God primarily in male terms, I see this as positive, not negative, and does not denigrate female-specific characteristics. Also, let’s not forget that in the gender terms of the New Testament, all believers–the church–are cast in female terms, as the bride of Christ. So if I am to be offended by a male God, then male believers ought likewise take offense at being cast as female in descriptions of their relationship to God.

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