My New Favorite Blog

While doing some research for an upcoming program at my job, I stumbled across http://radicalmasculinity.blogspot.com/, and was quite pleased with what I found. The blog addresses queer and feminist issues from what is actually a very level-headed and un-biased queer feminist perspective (something I personally have a hard time accomplishing). Basically, these are the blogs I wish I was writing.

Blogger Gauge, I salute you!

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Check it out: Shoe Tits.

Because I’m incredibly lazy I leave you all with one of my favorite youtube videos from one of my favorite youtube video-makers, Picnicface.

 

Women leaders in the early Church

Many thanks to Sojourner Magazine’s blog, God’s Politics

 

Women Leaders in the Early Church

by Mimi Haddad 02-16-2009

Look at these astonishing verses from Romans 16.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my relative Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; and greet his mother — a mother to me also. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you (Romans 16:1-15, NRSV).

Have you ever noticed how the church in the first century was far more egalitarian (with respect to class, gender, and ethnicity) than many evangelical churches are today? Isn’t this astonishing! Just look at the list of believers Paul celebrates as his colleagues in bringing the good news of Jesus to the world in Romans 16:1-15. A vast portion of these saints, who were also leaders in the church, were women and slaves. If we are people who hold scripture as an authoritative guide to our faith and our practices, then why don’t more churches today reflect the leadership that women enjoyed in the first-century church in Rome?

Who are these women in Romans 16? Paul begins his roll call of leaders with a woman — Phoebe, a deacon and leader who carried Paul’s letters to the church in Rome. By citing Phoebe first, Paul affirms the leadership of women already in place in this church. Further, Paul asks that the church in Rome “receive Phoebe in the Lord,” suggesting that Phoebe be received as Paul’s emissary to remain with the church, giving additional verbal commentary on Paul’s letters to the Christians in Rome.

Paul then turns his attention to the leadership of Priscilla, another female leader who earned Paul’s respect as a house church leader (1 Corinthians 16:19), a teacher of men (Acts 18:26), and a courageous leader who risked her neck for the gospel (Romans 16:4). She is also a woman Paul celebrates as his co-worker (Romans 16:3), a distinction she shares with men such as Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus, and Philemon.

Paul then remembers the hard (gospel) work of Mary, and the leadership of Junia the apostle (Romans 16:7). Not only was Junia an apostle, but she was “prominent among the apostles,” suggesting that her leadership was recognized at the highest level — by leaders such as Paul. The courageous leadership of Junia landed her in jail, along with her husband and the apostle Paul.

Given the patriarchy of the first century, you would hardly expect to see so many women, in one passage, cited for their hard labor and leadership in the church. Rather than silencing these women, as Paul silences those women whose voices were disruptive (1 Corinthians 14:34) or those who were abusive and who misled others (1 Timothy 2:11-15), here Paul acknowledges their voices, leadership, and service. What would happen if our churches gave women today this sort of honor and scope of service?

All told, Paul’s passage mentions 10 women (Phoebe, Prisca, Mary, Junia, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus’ mother, Julia, the sister of Nerus) and 17 men. In other words, 37% of those mentioned are women! While some evangelical churches have difficulty engaging the God-given gifts and leadership of women, let us take comfort that Paul, in the first century, viewed the gospel-labor of women as a priceless resource of God, and one that he chose to engage rather than ignore.

As the world evaluates Christian faith and its treatment of women, can we really afford to overlook the biblical foundations for gift-based, rather than gender-based, ministry?

No. We can’t.

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Hijab-for-a-day is TODAY!

Today I will wear the hijab as a part of Islam Awareness week. The week concludes with hijab-for-to-day and then an outspoken event tonight. (6 pm in the Multicultural room. Come!) 

I’m using this day for cultural reflection as well as feminist reflection. The issue of covering oneself or veiling oneself with the hijab is ripe for feminist interpretation and dialogue. Broadly speaking, in the past “Western” feminists have opposed this practice and seen it as a symbol of oppression(and I guess currently too…but I don’t know if there’s any broad consensus on this since “Western” feminism is not some monolithic group…), but I think more and more frequently, as cross-cultural discussion increases and the understanding of the intersections between sexism, racism, religion, feminism, etc. increases, veiling oneself becomes a much more complex and nuanced issue.  There are two important things that I consider with this issue: choice and intent. Does one choose to wear a headscarf or is it forced upon them? Is the intent to be submissive to the male gaze or is it more focused on conservative dress and a rejection of the hypersexualization of our culture? Faith and religion is important in all of this too, but I think choice and intent are key features of feminist debate surrounding this issue.

My personal opinions? I obviously think it is oppressive when women are forced to wear head scarves– when in places like Saudi Arabia, the law demands that women be covered.  What is key for me is that women have a choice whether or not they’d like to wear the hijab. So when places like schools in France ban the wearing of hijabs, I have a real problem with this as well. 

Like I said, intent is important too (and choice and intent are closely linked). Why does one choose to wear a hijab? I think listening to people’s stories is so important here. I have a friend I met in London that wears full hijab and she describes her reasoning as such: she didn’t want to be judged on her looks or beauty and she felt more comfortable when she knew people weren’t concerned with her body or how she looked. She was more confident when fully covered and more free to express herself however she wanted.

As someone who’s experienced a lot of street harassment, I’ve often thought of what it would be like to wear a scarf or some sort of facial covering. I hate the feeling of being objectified and I’ve always thought that I’d feel more comfortable being covered. I also revel at the opportunity to be judged on my intellect alone and not my body. But as I think this, I counter my own thinking with a thought that says, wait, why should I be cornered into feeling this way? This is society’s problem, not mine. I shouldn’t have to feel like I would be more comfortable if I was covered up. So I’m at a standstill here and while I think hijab-wearing can be a feminist statement for me in its rejection of hypersexualization and objectification, in many ways it’s only a bandaid solution and I know real feminist change requires a whole lot more.

So today I will attempt to wear a hijab. I wore one for a bit last night and felt that it might take some getting used to. (My head got really hot and I felt a little claustrophobic lol) But today, I will do my best. Is anyone else participating or have any thoughts on the subject? Here’s a Feminist Law Professors blog post to spark some.

Will any men wear a hijab today? Now, that’d be something interesting.

MU College of Engineering promotes class for young girls

From the Marquette University News Briefs this week:

1. College of Engineering expands Summer Academy

The College of Engineering<http://www.marquette.edu/engineering/> has expanded its Summer Academy with a class for young girls interested in engineering and problem-solving<http://www.marquette.edu/omc/newscenter/recent.php?subaction=showfull&id=1215102163&archive=>.

The Summer Academy offers kids as young as six the chance to design and program robots, experiment with polymers and build electrical circuits and balloon-powered cars.

“Engineering… it’s a girls’ thing!” for ages 6 to 12 will run July 14 to 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. Girls team up to work cooperatively and experience engineering problem-solving activities.

Cool.  And an interesting angle they chose to take.  I like the directness of “engineering…it’s a girls’ thing.”  Kinda has a ring to it.  The only thing I didn’t like was this, quoted from a Journal Sentinal article on the initiative:

Some blame an image problem. [For the reason why more woman aren’t in the sciences] That’s why Marquette’s summer academy instructors told the students about “Nerd Girls,” a group of “hot” women engineering students at Tufts University in Boston described on their Web video as “a team of knockout brainiacs who are changing the world.” These girls can design solar cars or stroll a catwalk in three-inch heels, all in a day’s work.

Nerd Girls founder and Tufts engineering professor Karen Panetta is taking the battle against engineering’s nerd stigma to a national stage, working with independent filmmakers to bring the Nerd Girls to reality TV and the big screen.

“If young girls could see that these young, talented women were doing everything they like and were not afraid to show their brains, wouldn’t that be a great program to disseminate?” Panetta said.

I heard about this “Nerd Girl” phenomenon a while back from a Newsweek article and I was skeptical then.  How progressive are we really being when women still have to be “hot” and “wear heels” to be accepted as “cool.”  We are encouraging women to be confident and proud in their academic studies at the expense of keeping intact the traditional means of the objectification of women.  I’m torn on this.  It’s one approach to encourage girls into the sciences I guess, but I would still like for there to be respect and glorification of women’s achievements without attention to their looks or sex appeal.  Ugh.

The Feminization of Salad

Tonight I ate organicgirl lettuce.  Although the salad was delicious, I couldn’t help but question the name of the brand.  Interesting, eh? Points of discussion: organic+girl+salad+”baby” greens+health food.  What does it all mean!?!?

Swedes observe differences in gay, straight brains

  Swedish researchers have observed a correlative link between brain structure and sexual orientation, providing some of the most concrete evidence to date for biological determination of sexual preference. As reported by Time:

Scientists at the Karolinska Institute studied brain scans of 90 gay and straight men and women, and found that the size of the two symmetrical halves of the brains of gay men more closely resembled those of straight women than they did straight men. In heterosexual women, the two halves of the brain are more or less the same size. In heterosexual men, the right hemisphere is slightly larger. Scans of the brains of gay men in the study, however, showed that their hemispheres were relatively symmetrical, like those of straight women, while the brains of homosexual women were asymmetrical like those of straight men.

New Scientist elaborates further:

[Researchers] used PET scans to measure blood flow to the amygdala, part of the brain that governs fear and aggression. The images revealed how the amygdala connected to other parts of the brain, giving clues to how this might influence behaviour…

They found that the patterns of connectivity in gay men matched those of straight women, and vice versa (see image, above right). In straight women and gay men, the connections were mainly into regions of the brain that manifest fear as intense anxiety.

“The regions involved in phobia, anxiety and depression overlap with the pattern we see from the amygdala,” says Savic.

However, gays’ preferences in partners usually parallel those of their heterosexual counterparts:

“We know from studies that men, regardless of their sexual orientation, retain masculine characteristics when it comes to their sexual behavior,” he says. Both gay and straight men, for example, tend to prefer younger partners, in contrast to women, who gravitate toward older partners. Most men are also more likely than women to engage in casual sex, and to be aroused by visual stimuli.”  

It remains unclear whether or not the difference in brain structure is caused by genetics or environmental factors, such as hormone baths in utero.

The study only observed 90 test subjects for each sex’s orientation; this seems rather a small number to make any definitive pronouncement on the causes of sexual preference. Close readers will see if the findings hold up.