Sunday, February 4, 2007

And back to my strange obsession....

I have an odd obsession with Focus on the Family. It's probably akin to the obsession most people have with train wrecks, or the obsession some people have with the rise of Hitler or the reign of Stalin. Something along the lines of, Just how does this go on anyway?

So I was flipping through hoping for a repeat of wonderful moments like the time James Dobson admited that gender roles need to be taught or the review of Audioslave's latest CD that praised Chris Cornell's increasely spiritual lyrics. (I believe that Chris Cornell's lyrics have been profoundly spiritual for quite sometime, and that he's far closer to Gnostic than right wing Christian. Oh, and that he just might be a prophet. I hope more fundie kids start listening to Cornell, maybe they'll wake up and take religion seriously.) Unfortunately, today has yet to turn up anything remotely amusing or ironic. Instead, I found this article on Nancy Pelosi. Which is just annoying.

While the author, Matt Kaufman, claims that his concerns about Pelosi are not based on her gender and that "what matters first and foremost about a candidate isn't gender or race, it's where the candidate stands on the issues," the rest of his article makes his misogynistic preconceptions blindingly apparent.

First, he mocks the historical importance of Pelosi's ascendency to Speaker of the House. Mind you now, I don't really care for Pelosi. I'm a libertarian, not a democrat, and while I'm more than delighted to have a powerful figure in Washington who supports abortion rights, gay rights, and generally not making me live according to someone else's conception of Christianity, I'm not too delighted by the fiscal policies of the Democratic Party. (Of course, the Republican Party's fiscal policies of the moment suck as well, so I currently vote based on social not financial issues and lean toward the Democrats.) But it's about damn time a woman had a federal, elected position of power in this country. Concerns about Pelosi's politics aside, I'm happy we finally have a female speaker of the house. And I'm saddened that she felt the need to use gendered language to talk of how she'll lead, but it's a step in the right direction, and a very historic moment that indicates that our country is continuing to move in a direction to overcome mass cultural sexism.

Second, he claims that our culture places too much emphasis on attaining political power. That statement alone is probably correct. I think my great aunt achieved something as valuable as Nancy Pelosi has when she taught me and a number of my cousins that "Anything a man can do can be handled by a woman in long pants and sturdy shoes." And possibly when she and her twin sister became the first women to wear pants to church and stared down the eldership. Small victories are important. For feminism as much as anything. But by making this point around Nancy Pelosi's macro-level victory Matt Kaufman sends a clear message that he believes that women, especially should stay out of that dirty, nasty public square.
Regrettably, some people have their priorities messed up. Nancy Pelosi may think "from the kitchen to the Congress" is a big promotion, but in truth, what she did in the kitchen was probably more valuable than what anyone (not just her) does in Congress. And that's not because women should be confined to the kitchen, but simply because it was one of many valuable things people do close to home, with their families, where real life takes place.
Tell me, would this argument have been made about a man? Does the Shrub have his priorities out of order because he ran for public office? It's ridiculous to pretend that this essay is not influenced by a certain formulation of gender norms, so let's not lie to ourselves.

Then, of course, there's the obvious canon within the canon reading of the Bible. While I do agree that our culture undervalues the work done by men and women on the micro-level (including families, houses of worship, local communities, and coffeshops), the Bible, which Focus on the Family claims is the source of their values, doesn't look upon family life as the be all and end all of human existence. Check out Matthew 8:21-22, "another of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'"