I’ve been reflecting a bit on the conversation about the ‘Year of Opposition’, and the comments in particular that dealt with gender imbalance.
What has really struck me about the above conversation is that all the voices are male. And I wonder whether the language of “thrashing things out” and the imagery of the boxing ring might have something to do with this? I had originally written that “the contributors can’t be held responsible for the lack of female participation” but on reflection, if the debate becomes couched in the language of aggression – which is often evident above – then they can. In my experience, a lot of women will simply walk away from that.
As per the ‘year of opposition thread’ though, this is again pretty culturally blokeish. What I’m not sure about is whether that’s something it’s okay to indulge — perhaps only so if we critiqued the idea as we went. The way many blokes have come to be made has made them want to express their Christianity differently to women, who are a vast majority in churches. If those churches didn’t have a (continuing) history of sexism, we’d be allowed to be open about that. I can’t decide if it’s right to ignore it.
So here’s the question – which I mean very sincerely – if ‘blokes’ are ‘blokeish’ is it wrong to write posts that are ‘blokeish’? If I was a woman writing a blog, would she be expected to reduce her feminimity to make her site a place where men felt more comfortable to comment?
I think the point above (made by Simon Jones of Third Way) about the long history of sexism and patriarchy may be key: in order to bring balance we do need some affirmative action the other way. But… sometimes it just feels ‘wrong’ to be a man. Mark Driscoll I’m not, and I’m not about to go into the woods and bang a drum while wrestling a wart hog, but neither do I want to be ashamed of masculinity.
The question I’m not sure about is why women don’t post much on blogs, or submit so many applications to speak at events, or offer to write articles so much. Is this still part of a history of being oppressed, or is it something else? It seems to matter, because if it’s the latter, then perhaps men and organizations/publications need to feel less guilty about gender imbalance. On the other hand, balance is possible – and very refreshing when it happens. For a long time In Our Time have had extraordinarily balanced panels, and not gone about it at all. It’s subtle, but powerful.