Of masculinity & abusive breeding grounds.


I’m posting over on Plymouth Brethren Dropout today. Follow me over there for an examination of how enforcing strict gender roles creates a hostile environment where abusers feel safe.

Masculinity has a very narrow definition within the Plymouth Brethren, and can only be expressed in dominance. The dominance given to men, according to the assemblies, is over the entire earth, over gatherings of local believers (especially women), over their wives, and over their children. In short, men are considered the representation of God’s authority on earth, and thus often cannot be spoken against.

Read more.

I don't want to be

Love is hard work.

I don't want to be

From vavva_92 on Flickr. Click image for original.

Content note: talk of self-harm, sexual assault, suicide.

I used to be a songwriter. Or at the least, a writer of poems. Then I basically stopped for a long, long time. For some reason, though, lately I’ve been turning back to poetry to express some of my thoughts. So I share this with you all (though it was originally meant only for me, then put on Tumblr, but I think maybe I should share more personal things on here that might not be so polished). Continue reading

Acceptable Femininity: some rambling thoughts about gender roles, high heels, and makeup.

Lately, as I’ve been delving into what feels like a whole new world of heels and cardigans and makeup, I’ve been thinking about how my opinion of femininity has morphed throughout my admittedly short life. I’ve noticed a pattern, and I’d like to share it with you:

My acceptance or rejection of the feminine within myself and others is directly related to my acceptance or rejection of misogyny.

I do really want to stress that this is an introspective piece, and that what has held true in my life absolutely doesn’t hold true for others. After all, I’m speaking as a white cisgender woman* — I wouldn’t dream of imposing my experiences or conclusions for myself on others who have not lived my life.

*What this means is that I was assigned the gender of woman at birth, and I’m comfortable with that assignment. (For those for whom this concept is new, I suggest checking out Hank Green’s wonderful video on sexuality and gender that I’ve included here.)

Continue reading

My 2013 in review.

It has certainly been a year.

Looking over this report, I feel really honored. I didn’t write nearly as much this year as I intended to. Between depression, PTSD, and trying to take care of myself, most days I simply didn’t have the emotional, physical, or mental energy to do so. But I’m pleased to see that I did write more than I wrote in 2012, which is progress at least. I fulfilled last year’s resolution, even if only in part.

I want to thank all of you who take the time to read my little blog. I’ve found such an amazing community through Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and blogging. You all have challenged me, supported me, changed me, and I am so grateful for you.

Perhaps 2014 will be a year in which I write even more, find even more freedom. Who knows? We’ll see where it takes us.

My top 5 posts this past year, according to WordPress:

  1. The body I have.

    I am fat.

    And for the first time in my young life…

    I am okay with that.

  2. Strange and unprepared.

    This is a conversation I don’t know how to have.

    How do I write about no longer identifying as a Christian in a way that won’t turn my entire world upside down?

  3. When something’s not okay: pondering reconciliation and relationship.

    Pattern of wrong behaviour with disregard to criticism + widespread or deep offense = no reconciliation for me. No forgiveness. We are not okay. It’s the relationship aspect that often throws a wrench in this formula for me.

  4. Of church, feminism, and safety.

    So until church in general stops doing things like choosing to believe the best about abusers rather than their victimstelling the lie that love is a choice that can be made regardless of emotional connectionforcing rape victims to confess sexual sin while forbidding them to talk about the rapetelling women that they can cause men to sin by existing in a female bodydemonizing men and women who divorce abusive spouses, and anything that values rules and regulations over people that the church is called to love with the tender love of Christ…I’ll be chilling out here, outside the walls where life is messy, I can set my own boundaries, and I can finally be safe.

  5. Of privilege in progressive circles.

    Just because I’m a good person, just because I’m progressive, just because I’m involved in working towards a better world, doesn’t mean that I am unaffected by privilege, exempt from critique, incapable of bearing responsibility for abusive behavior…or even incapable of being an asshat.

Click here to see the complete report, and thank you for making this possible.

Still here, around the web.

Happy December!

My apologies for not writing more often over here. I’ve been keeping pretty busy with work and life in general, along with fighting a fresh battle with depression that has kind of been keeping me pretty focused on just getting through day-to-day life.

I have been writing here and there, however, and wanted to give you an update about some of that!

I wrote about my first experiences in a Halloween shop, along with describing my experience with Halloween up until now, over on my personal Tumblr:

Scary things — even things that were supposed to be scary for fun — were wrong. They made light of true evil, making it more palatable. They were representatives of the real demons, ghouls, witches, Satanists.

That was the horror — what I was taught either explicitly in ways that I can’t quite recall or implicitly from just believing in Christianity, was that those things were real. So representations of them were personally horrifying, and anyone who thought they were funny or totally fictional I deeply distrusted. After all, they were supporting true evil, so who knew what they were capable of?

My friend wrote an excellent piece about how to respond to someone who regularly deals with PTSD or anxiety attacks, and I contributed my own piece as well:

Keep in mind that this is pretty specific to me, and it’s taken me a year or so to figure out what exactly I need during these attacks. Your mileage may vary, whether you’re the one with PTSD or the one trying to help someone else. jaythenerdkid storified some other great ways to help someone who is having a panic attack(though her list doesn’t cover PTSD, and I’ve found that my PTSD episodes need to be handled differently than a panic attack…hence this post).

My old college, good old Bob Jones University, held a week of chapel services about a “biblical” view of homosexuality, and I did my best to scream about it as loudly as I could while pointing people to the wonderful organization that is BJUnity. I storified my screamings so if you missed it on Twitter, you can still read my take on the sermons.

I’ve also started a new side-blog called Plymouth Brethren Dropout. I want to provide a resource for others leaving the Plymouth Brethren movement to see assembly distinctives and theology and practices dissected in a critical, meaningful way. In the past few years, I’ve found a lot of support and healing through various forums and support groups pertaining to purity culture and Christian fundamentalism at large, but I’ve been unable to find such a place online that discusses the particulars of the open assemblies. So I decided, in the absence of such a place, I would create one. On that blog, I wrote about my journey from a very dedicated assembly girl to the liberal feminist I am today:

I thought of how often I heard preachers opine about how it was against nature and against God for a woman to have authority over a man, only to say in the next breath that the silent covered worship women offered during the Lord’s Supper was surely sweeter to God than the rumblings of the men. How often they repeated that the Bible was clear in its separate roles for men and women, but assured us that didn’t mean that we didn’t have an equal standing before God. How women who held careers rather than staying home were looked down upon for not fitting the ideal of the homemaker, and women who remained single beyond their 20′s were viewed as too strong-willed to be able to submit to a husband. The constant assurance that they held women in the highest respect, which was exactly why they had to rule over us for our own good. Yes. Benevolent sexism certainly fit the bill.

The more I learned about the systems of inequality in our culture, the more clearly I could see how the assemblies dehumanized and oppressed women — and I’d internalized it all

I’m also still running the Zeldathon tumblr, though that’s definitely taken a bit of a back-burner in the last month.

I hope you all are doing well, and I hope to be writing a bit more often in the weeks to come. Love to all.