Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood

kerrbrotherliftedA strawman is when you make a weak version of your opponent’s arguments, so you can put them down more easily. But really, sometimes “Christian” male-on-top hierarchists don’t need anyone else to make them look ridiculous. Sometimes, I dare say, they seem to be DIY enthusiasts for ridicule.

Like when Owen Strachan said a “boy” bear with a baby doll in a children’s show is evidence of “our culture undoing itself at the very foundations.” What? A boy playing with a doll baby? Are you not worried that one day he might turn out … a loving father???” I am sure if Baby bear pretended to be a pirate – a group known for looting, rape and murder – Owen Strachan would not have said a word.

The newest (how much do you bet me that it won’t be that for long?) example of their complete out-of-touch silliness is a piece on how complementarian Olympic skating is:

…The gold goes to that couple which has most mastered the skill of male leadership and female support making one glorious whole.

He Leads, She Receives

He leads her onto the ice and initiates each part of their routine. She receives that leadership and trusts in his strength. figure-skatingHis raw physical strength is more on display than hers; he does all the lifting, twirling and catching. She complements his strength with her own; a more diminutive and more attractive strength of beauty, grace, speed and balance. His focus as the head or leader is to magnifying her skills. Her focus is on following his lead and signaling her readiness to receive his next move. He takes responsibility for the two of them and she trusts his leadership and delights in it.

If he makes a mistake, she pays the larger physical price; he pays the larger emotional price. She falls, but he fails! So he has to learn to initiate and risk. She has to help him understand her moves and to endure his learning curve.

It’s an Art Form

They do not fight for equality on the ice; they possess it as a given. They are not jostling about fairness. They are focused on doing their part well. No one yells, “Oppressor!” as he leads her around the arena, lifting her up and catapulting her into a triple spin. No one thinks she is belittled as she takes her lead from him, skating backwards to his forward. No one calls for them to be egalitarian. “She should get to throw him into a triple Lutz half the time!” They complement each other in their complementarian approach to becoming one majestic whole. No one, least of all him, minds that the roses and teddy bears, thrown onto the ice when they have collapsed into each other’s arms at the end, are for her. It is his joy.

This is a visible model of what male leadership and female support are all about. It’s an art form, not a mandate. It’s a disposition, not a set of rules. When it’s done well, it’s a welcome sight in which both partners are fulfilled in themselves and delighted in the other…

ice-skating-13Well, actually, not all moves in skating as a sport displays male lead. She have certainly been practicing long before meeting him, and he is as much supporting her goals as she is supporting his. They are both world-class athletes, not a male athlete and a female pass-me-a-sandwich-and-stroke-my-ego supporter. For all we know, all the choreography could have been planned by her, and she may have led him more than the degree to which he physically leads her. What is more, no judge in the sport will penalize if (or when) the woman leads and the man follows. No male and female roles are prescribed in the rules. Gifts, not gender decide who does what. (Hey, that last sentence sounds egalitarian!)

How could anyone write:

They do not fight for equality on the ice; they possess it as a given. They are not jostling about fairness. They are focused on doing their part well.

… and follow it up with:

No one yells, “Oppressor!” as he leads her around the arena, lifting her up and catapulting her into a triple spin. No one thinks she is belittled as she takes her lead from him, skating backwards to his forward. No one calls for them to be egalitarian. “She should get to throw him into a triple Lutz half the time!”

As if egalitarianism is about insisting that each should do half of every task! (If there was an Olympic event for misrepresenting egalitarianism, John Ensor may have qualified with that statement.)

Yes, they possess equality. He cannot insist on leading her wherever and whenever he wants to go, and nobody can tell her to follow mollydaniyelhis lead because he is male. They need to work together, to discuss and exercise moves together. Unlike/like Ensor’s idea that his job is “magnifying her skills”, it is equally much up to her to magnify his skills. Before the crowd, he needs to be in tune with her readiness for the next move as she for his.

Ice skating is ultimately a show. It is years of practice in which a few dedicated individuals, unlike most, get the chance to team up to give few minutes of near perfection in special events like the Olympics. Marriage, on the other hand, is a reality in better and worse, sickness and health – and it is not true that the one who suffers no physical harm suffers most emotionally. In fact, some physically stronger partners physically hit, strangle and bash their partners against walls – and don’t feel a moment of pain doing it. The owner of the site with this ice skating piece even say women should endure physical abuse for a night, before contacting the church – not the police, but the church.)

But perhaps the clearest evidence of how the Christian™ hierarchist view does not care equally about men and women is this:

She complements his strength with her own; a more diminutive and more attractive strength of beauty, grace, speed and balance.

Yes, her strength is called smaller (more diminutive), and in many cases it physically is. (Compared, of course, to her skating partner. Compared to most people, male and female, a female Olympic skater is very strong.) But “diminutive” strength is not what I will focus on now: Her strength is also called “more attractive.” That, of course, is a matter of taste: I am a heterosexual woman, and find male strength more attractive.

pairsWho finds the woman’s strength more attractive? Heterosexual males do.*  Yet the personal taste of less than half of humanity is stated here as an objective fact: What men like is the likable thing, what men desire is the desirable thing.

Such a mindset does not care about the needs of both genders equally. Such a mindset comes from a heart colder than the ice on a skating rink. And the hierarchist’s cutting answer, sharper than the blades on ice skates, to the one whose needs are ignored?: “Just submit more. And do it joyfully.” Pro skaters on the other hand, male and female, have to consider both partners and their needs and skills.

————

Note

* Lesbian females will also find the woman’s strength more attractive, but I am sure Ensor was not thinking of them when writing this.

sl-yog-winter-skating-Figure-skating

Comments on: "Skating on thin ice: John Ensor on a slippery slope" (8)

  1. You did it!!! So many great points and pictures. “DIY enthusiasts for ridicule”…oh my, so true :) As humorous as this has been for us, it’s also very sad that the complementarian theology has digressed this far. I want to keep loving these people but it’s these kinds of ideological antics that hinder the conversation from moving forward in helpful ways.

  2. In the end, reading what they’ve written is so boring… that’s after you get over feeling sick that they can justify what they’ve written. HOnestly… it’s a good thing they’re going to heaven where they’ll realise they were wr… wr… wr..ong… all along!

  3. Retha: “Such a mindset comes from a heart colder than the ice on a skating rink. And the hierarchist’s cutting answer, sharper than the blades on ice skates, to the one whose needs are ignored?: ‘Just submit more. And do it joyfully.’ ”

    So true and so sad.
    The gospel is supposed to be good news.
    They have perverted it and made it very bad news for women.
    Their gospel is the bad news version.
    It’s the “bad news” gospel.
    An Oxymoron.

  4. Wow, that is really strange!
    Whatever one might think about men and women’s strength such a piece by Ensor still ignores that the woman Olympic skater possesses more skating ability than almost everyone on earth, male or female.
    Let’s see how this Ensor guy would match up with her on the ice.
    I was watching pairs skating the other night, and I remember distinctly thinking one of the pieces seemed to really frame the abilities of the woman, and the man was in more of the supporting role.

    As Mara has said this is a definite perversion

  5. Good insights here, Retha! I’m working on a post about this too and will definitely link to yours!

  6. People who want more on this topic may like these articles:

    http://happyhanveyhome.blogspot.com/2014/02/complementarianism-on-ice-dancers.html

    http://froginparis.blogspot.com/2014/02/marriage-on-ice.html

    Dancers explain how couple’s dance moves (which would include figure skating) is not a male-always-leading story.

  7. […] contributing his or her strengths and deferring to the giftings of the other.  As Retha Faurie at Biblical Personhood puts […]

  8. Anonymous said:

    Talk about reading into things! I wonder how much this author really knows about figure skating. I thought paired skating was about teamwork, not the male being in charge and responsible for the both of them.

    And talk about strawman arguments – when have egalitarians ever cried “oppressor” simply in response to teamwork? Do we not cry “oppressor” with reference to acts of oppression?? Do we not object to belittling where it exists, not where it doesn’t? If there was no inequality, there is no need to fight for equality. That the church as a whole does not recognize that there is inequality within its pews is the focus of advocacy for equality. Simply claiming, “See? The female skater doesn’t fight for equality!” is completely missing the point. Or deliberately ignoring it.

    The female skater trusts her partner because he has earned her trust. If he demonstrates little regard for her, she should not trust him. Her safety is at stake, and a self-respecting skater would not ignore the risks of partnering someone has not earned her trust. She would switch partners. Loyalty to a partner has limits.

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