#YesAllWomen, the Darwin Debate, and the God Complex by John Erickson


John EricksonThe one thing I typically will choose to do on the rare occasion that I’m able to sit down and relax is to watch a documentary.  While some people may go to the gym, read a book, or hang with friends, I typically choose to stay in, nestle up on my couch, and learn.  While on my last bout of relaxation, I chose to watch the HBO documentary Questioning Darwin. Although it offers very little new insight into the evolution vs. creationism debate, it does offer an interesting new way to look at the recent social media hashtag war feminists, allies, and supporters found themselves in over the #YesAllWomen movement that took the world by storm.

yesallwomen

Now, before I discuss #YesAllWomen, I have to admit that I did not enter into the safe space women created for themselves to tell tales of the horrible things they have and have had to face on a daily basis.  I firmly believe that men should not have entered into the digital space that women created to “voice” their opinions on a subject that women, specifically two women (writer Annie Cardi (@anniecardi) and one other, who has since made her profile private to protect herself and her identity) created.  Although I did see men chiming in as allies from time to time, the #YesAllWomen space proved more than ever that some men really can’t just shut up and let women have a space all to themselves.

The #YesAllWomen movement has become a tome of lived experiences where women were and are able to share the pain that they have, currently, or fear they will one day, experience.  The troubling aspect of the hashtag activism that took place wasn’t that women were openly talking about these horrible experiences but rather that the men, who openly engaged, accused, harassed, and ridiculed women (and some men), felt they had to do so in order to defend themselves from stories that had nothing to do with them personally, but rather indirectly put their divinely sanctioned manhood under duress.

manhood

This leads us back to the main question – what does all of #YesAllWomen dialogue have to do with the HBO documentary Questioning Darwin?  Simply, 1 Timothy 2:13, that states: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” and Genesis 2:18: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper [read: woman] suitable for him’” have led many men and women to become victims of a God complex that appears to have divinely ordained men to rule over women. While many of us have written about and refuted these biblical passages and norms, the sad and oftentimes painful aspect of the debate is that many communities and people, both young and old, believe these passages to be the literal word and wishes of God.

While the arguments in Questioning Darwin between creationists and evolutionists did not diverge from the same ones we have heard over time, the one argument that rose above the rest was that the men, who touted and blew their horns for the sake of creationism’s significance, often stated that they (read: men) could never have evolved from a primate because they were not only to rule over them, as dictated in Genesis 1:28, but also because they, as men, were made in the image of God and therefore bestowed with certain divine rights and privileges that primates and those created as helpers (read:women) did not have.  This ultimately lead men to feel as if they were the oath keepers of some divine truth, both within and outside of scripture, that places them atop of the proverbial totem pole of life.

sistine-chapel-creation-of-adam

22-year-old Elliot Rodger, the author of “My Twisted World,” a 141-page manifesto that he created prior to going out on a shooting rampage in Isla Vista, California near the University of California Santa Barbara killing seven people and a major proponent for why the #YesAllWomen debate started, stated: “I would have an enormous tower built just for myself, where I can oversee the entire concentration camp and gleefully watch [women] all die…If I can’t have them, no one will…Women represent everything that is unfair in this world, and in order to make this world a fair place, women must be eradicated.” Rodger and his MRA (Men’s Rights Activist) ilk all prove the point that men like him think and feel that women are not only objects that they can control but also can do away with at any given moment because they, like God, can do whatever they want.  They are the leaders of the world and therefore everyone else should just fall in line.

The success of the #YesAllWomen movement isn’t that it openly allowed women the spaces to talk about their painful lived experiences and fears but that it helped them to prove the point that their safe spaces are oftentimes eradicated by the likes of Elliot Roger, Paul Elam, Anders Breivik, and many other individuals who feel it is their place to tell women what to do and inflict verbal, mental, and physical violence upon them if they don’t listen.  #YesAllWomen proved that although not all men commit horrible crimes against women, the men that often get the headlines and create the most controversy are the ones that need to be watched out for.

If you can or have the ability to stomach their various manifestos or read their tweets and blog posts, the one thing that will ring true above all else is that these men feel threatened by strong and empowered women and girls, who they truly believe to be both beneath them and ruining the world that they are to rule over with their feminist agendas.  Although a lot of these MRA and religious men like to think they are Gods, they in reality, after watching Questioning Darwin or reading tweets like the one below, are sometimes nothing more than a bunch of baboon’s asses contained in 140 characters. Although they like to admit that they did not descend from apes, they oftentimes can be found acting like a bunch of babbling baboons.

PhotoJohn Erickson is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Religious History at Claremont Graduate University.  He holds a MA in Women’s Studies in Religion; an MA in Applied Women’s Studies; and a BA in Women’s Literature and Women’s Studies. The LGBTQ and women’s rights movements, masculinity studies, gender theory, and the utilization of technology in forming communities and creating new teaching methodologies influence his research interests.  His work is inspired by the intersectionality of feminism, queer identity, LGBTQ history, and religious and sexual cultural rhetoric. He is a Non-Fiction Reviewer for Lambda Literary, the leader in LGBT reviews, author interviews, opinions and news since 1989 and the Co-Chair of the Queer Studies in Religion section of the American Academy of Religion’s Western Region, the only regional section of the American Academy of Religion that is dedicated to the exploration of queer studies in religion and other relevant fields in the nation.  When he is not working on his dissertation, he can be found at West Hollywood City Hall where he works on policies and special events relating to women, gender, sexuality, and human rights issues that are sponsored or co-sponsored by the City of West Hollywood. He is the author of the blog From Wisconsin, with Love and can be followed on Twitter @JErickson85



Categories: Abuse of Power, Academy, Activism, animals, Belief, Bible, Christianity, Church Doctrine, Community, Domestic Violence, Education, Feminism, Gender, Gender and Power, Gender and Sexuality, General, God, Healing, Hierarchy, Human Rights, In the News, Justice, LGBTQ, Media, Men and Feminism, Patriarchy, Politics, power, Power relations, Rape, Rape Culture, Reform, Sexism, Social Justice, Spirituality, Theology, Violence, Violence Against Women, White Privilege, Women and the Media, Women's Rights, Women's Voices

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22 replies

  1. I suppose you saw that the Mormons did indeed rush to judgment and excommunicated Kate Kelly. A good example of your thesis.

    these men feel threatened by strong and empowered women and girls, who they truly believe to be both beneath them and ruining the world that they are to rule over with their feminist agendas. Although a lot of these MRA and religious men like to think they are Gods,

    nuff said.

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    • I’m so disheartened by the Kate Kelly situation. So many women on this blog have come to her defense but that defense has fallen on the deaf ears of those with the real power, these men, in her church, who literally think they are like Gods or at least communicate directly with them. Men DO feel threatened by strong and empowered women and girls because it seems to threaten some type of natural social order that they think they are “in charge of!” Although I am sad for Kate Kelly I believe she will become stronger for this and leaving a church that truly has been putting up a lot of smoke and mirror around the issue of women’s equality will help her fight even more for the issue of true equality for all without having to watch what she says or does. The Ordain Women movement will live on and even stronger now that they see what the Mormon Church is really willing to do to women who speak up and say things that they do not wish to hear!

      How do we define who feminists are and who does the defining is a very slippery slope. I’m sure you remember the ERA debacle that still continues here in the USA but especially in the 70s and 80s with women being the main advocates for the a narrative that “feminists are ruining America and the home!” The rhetoric has always been there and it will continue to be there in the future. However, now with the #YesAllWomen movement, the issues of race, class, disability, etc. are being brought to the forefront and it isn’t just a simple “us v. them” conversation but one really that we need to have with EVERYONE and especially with ourselves.

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  2. When you are walking down a dark street at night alone, it really is YES ALL MEN ARE MONSTERS, all of them. No exceptions, no free passes no mercy.

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  3. Why would any woman give any man the benefit of the doubt ever after all of this. Why bother anymore.

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    • maybe because a man wrote this?

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    • Turtlewoman – Trying to separate men and women is a futile task. We all have fathers and grandfathers, and some of us have uncles and sons. The problem is not the men – it’s the way our society is structured. The Mosuo people, who have a matrilineal societal structure, do not seem to have problems with their men. The big problem, in my opinion, is HOW do we take apart the Patriarchy without throwing out the baby with the proverbial bath water? AND, how do we do it without creating a mirror image of what we already have? We certainly don’t want a world where women are using a power-over structure like we have now. I think we need to move towards a more accepting and sharing society. If we don’t stop the current rape-and-pillage mind set, there will be no more oxygen-breathing creatures to worry about – female OR male. I like Riane Eisler’s plan: the partnership way.

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    • TW –
      I agree with you up to 50% of the way. It is VERY hard to do that and some men do not deserve the benefit of the doubt and if you don’t want to give ANY man the benefit of the doubt, no one should ever judge you for that. Your experiences speak to your individual life and you have to live a way that make you feel safe first and foremost.

      What I am saying is that some men do work very hard not for you to give them that benefit of the doubt automatically but for you to just consider it, for one brief second or however long you need, to understand that, like Carol and Katharine stated below, women and men are working together and that some men do get “it” and that they have been working together for a very long time (women’s suffrage, etc.)

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  4. Thanks for wring this, John!

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  5. As regards the Biblical assumption: “Adam was formed first” — then why do men have nipples? It makes no sense, but it proves a point — the embryo begins as female, and then it shifts to male (that is, if it is carrying a Y chromosome), and if not, then it simply remains female.
    https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070422070156AA5zJBU

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  6. Holy cow! (That is Hathor, BTW.) I’m sure glad I’m not active on social media and didn’t read #YESALLWOMEN. That’s really scary stuff. John, thanks for writing this blog. I think you’re probably right that men are, at root, afraid of strong, empowered women.

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    • Barbara,
      If you read these tweets and posts you’ll see there is a lot going on in the #YesAllWomen movement and then if you link to the other ones that started as a result #NotAllMen and #YesAllPeople, you’ll see how the rhetoric drastically shifts.

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  7. Yes, a good one. So few, so rare. Thanks John Erickson. It’s appreciated. It really is.

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  8. John, thank you so much for your post. Its so encouraging to have men voices echoing the #yesallwomen movement, especially after the MRA took it and co-oped it as their own. I will never understand the want to oppress allies in the struggle to make visible the invisible. So often we engage (as I know you are aware) in discussions with patriarchy and misogyny trying to assert the very realness of rape culture/patriarchy/violence and oppression against women and sometimes I really do appreciate (though I am well aware I DO NOT NEED) the pretense of male allies. You have always been and continue to be one of those very real voices that echo with ours. THANK YOU.

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  9. Thanks, John, for this post. It’s important for male allies to report on misogyny, since it’s much harder for us women to look at much of it because it literally makes us sick. It’s similar to what my Jewish girlfriends told me when I was writing a dissertation of Nazi propaganda about women: “Better you than us. It would affect us too deeply.”

    And speaking of that dissertation (entitled “Motherhood for the Fatherland”), what I discovered was that social Darwinism was at the root of all Nazi propaganda, whether the “rapist” misogyny of the male leadership, the more traditional (“Kinder, Küche, Kirche”) propaganda of some men and women in the party, or even the Nazi militants’ propaganda. This last group was hard for me to stomach, since my definition of feminism doesn’t include racism and anti-semitism (and that’s why I called them Nazi militants, not Nazi feminists), but for their time (1920s and 1930s), they were very similar to conservative, reformist feminists, asking for a piece of the Aryan pie.

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  10. I am sure there are plenty of women who want to buy into this idea that it is ever possible to be free as long as men are in the room. I want men to get the other men off my back, and out of my way. I want men to lock up the rapists, and to make the world so miserable for the womanhating idiots, that that is that. I don’t want to work with men, I think it is a complete waste of my time, nor do I trust men at all. Their time is pretty much up, and as a radical lesbian who longs for more and more women’s spaces, I am absolutely fascinated when women talk to each other, when we are together, when we build communities together.

    Why would any woman in her right mind give men the benefit of the doubt after their warfare on women globally, and stop with the obscure African tribe examples, we have out of control men in every culture of the world, and they are getting more and more aggressive and toxic, and now the ultimate, we are having men claiming they are lesbians and demanding sexual access to lesbian spaces, because they are TRANS and lesbians who reject trans sexually are oh so transphobic. We have trans threatening Dyke Marches, advocating for an end to butch lesbians, death threats you name it. But hey, men get whatever they want don’t they?

    So no, I am sick of male rule. Men just do the work, get those idiots out of my way, tell them to shut up when they talk to much, keep the trans out of lesbian only space, stand up to all male supremacy. That’s good, but on a dark night, if I see you coming toward me, I am going to be ready to do battle, because you are a man, and I don’t trust you. And I hate it when women sell out to men, or say not all men, because in my book, I can’t tell the difference.

    I am not greatful to men, I simply want them out of my way, out of my community, I want a woman’s country period end of. I want it.

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    • TW – You have every right to feel the way you do. No one should ever tell you differently. I appreciate you taking the time to read my post and to comment (whatever you say!)

      I could talk at length with you about the issue of lesbian spaces being “taken over”, as you say, and how they don’t exist anymore. The sheer fact that many people feel that this may be the last year for the Michigan Womyn’s Festival is a topic of “space” that needs to occur.

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    • A woman’s country sometimes sounds good to me, too! But, I still ask, how will you determine whom is “female” enough to qualify? It’s easy to say that the intersex people are a minority, but then, so are lesbians. Here’s another point of view: http://skepchick.org/2011/12/bilaterally-gynandromorphic-chickens-and-why-im-not-scientifically-male/

      Our culture is the problem. Patriarchy is the problem. I don’t want to be lumped into a group of “all women,” because that would include some like a certain politician named Sarah P. and a lawyer named Phyllis S. The problem is not the men (some of whom are on our side, by the way). The structure of our society is the problem.

      You have the right to hate all men, but hating everyone in a particular category is usually referred to as prejudice and bigotry, which I’m pretty sure are not values that most lesbians would endorse.

      So, Turtlewoman, how would you like to proceed to get to your goal of a woman-only world? What values would this world espouse?

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  11. “We are having men claiming they are lesbians and demanding sexual access to lesbian spaces, because they are TRANS and lesbians who reject trans sexually are oh so transphobic. We have trans threatening Dyke Marches, advocating for an end to butch lesbians, death threats you name it. But hey, men get whatever they want don’t they?” Seriously? It must be nice living with all that cis gendered privilege TW. I just, you realize that IS actually what hate speech is, right? I mean, call a spade a spade.

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    • Exactly! There is a serious issue of space that needs to occur here and I think that you are touching on an important point because we have to appreciate and understand people’s experiences and know we all come from different life paths.

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  12. Ezer = helper. Eve was Adam’s god given helper. The word ezer is not a kitchen slave.

    Better way 2 think of this word is as a spiritual baby sitter.

    Godde is the nation of Israel’s helper/ezer.

    Matiarchal-Christianity.blogspot.com

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