Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Bible as fountainhead of sexism: money, lesbian power and visions

By Guest Columnist Genet

Let's jump into Biblical scholarship and the position of women in Christianity.

It should be quite obvious by now, that until women do their own research on ancient societies, and until we control academic research with endowed chairs, foundational grants and plain old institutional money, we'll always be at the mercy of patriarchy. We are beginning to do this. Feminism has been successful in invading the academy. But our gains are very fragile, and our books could easily be taken out of print. We have a long way to go, and I have ideas of how to speed up the process.

Given Christianity's abysmal feminist record, it should be clear that any man who claims women have done nothing historically is an unredeemable sexist. Assume that men have run the show, when you should realize that ASSUME --just makes an ASS out of U and ME.

So how do we deal with sexism that men love to highlight in the Bible? They love preaching that women should obey their husbands, and these modern day Stepford Wives sit in those fundamentalist churches and listen to these men. If they walked out, the men would have no one to talk to! I say, we can answer them with historical truth, but I believe that as a lesbian, I don't want any churches that men run or that are funded by men. I have written them off as worthless to the lesbian feminist cause.

What I advocate is for women to use all their ministerial energy, to build women churches, and to change the messages that are preached at women. I want new sacraments that women create added to the "canon," and I want to use cannon to demolish the symbols of male rule worldwide. I'd like the ritual of the lesbian warriors, where we gather in a room, and raise our Labrys' high. Let's do a ritual of beheading our enemies, and feasting and celebrating afterward. Where is the long table? Where are the turkey legs piled high, and the huge gold goblets used to toast our power? Where is the ax chopping in half a bishop's miter, for example? Where are the prayers for the defeat of our sworn enemies? Do women even realize that patriarchy is enemy number one worldwide right now?

What I don't get is all the lesbian energy being poured into male-controlled churches. There are an incredible number of lesbian clergy nationwide, and every time I'd go to one of their conferences, they would complain about their position in the church. Why on earth are they still aiding and abetting a Presbyterian misogynist monster in the first place, for example? And this is just an example, because all the mainstream churches are bad, bad and bad. What happened to the desire for lesbian feminist and women welcoming churches? Why do they get jobs and spend all their time supporting and fighting with these patriarchal idiots?

Why are women still in the Catholic Church? Where is the self-respect of women, and why don't they leave and found their own institutions? Why are lesbians not following the example of successful African-American churches or even the Nation of Islam? Now, African-American churches give black people power and self-respect, but, like white churches everywhere, they are still sexist to their very bone. The Nation of Islam is a good concept for black sexist men, but it is terrible for powerful women, but still the concept of a separate entity is very appealing to me.

I don't know about you, but I have no hope for men. I have written them off as hopelessly sexist and destroyers of the universe. Every time I watch war on T.V., I see men blowing things up. So I want women to concentrate on being a true exodus community.

Mary Daly, in her sermon at Harvard Memorial Chapel in the early '70s, walked out of the church forever. She was the first woman ever to give a sermon in that chapel, and she had the right idea. Every lesbian feminist with a brain in her head, and every Christian feminist alive, owes a debt to the courage of Mary Daly. She told women that patriarchy was beyond redemption. I don't see Mary Daly getting the appreciation she deserves as a true pioneer, and liberator of women. She is the Lesbianati of Lesbianati, the Brain of Brains, and the greatest of the great!

I took Mary Daly's concepts into the business world. I've defeated men in business battle thanks to her tactics and insights. I've earned a higher income using her insights, and my spiritual life has been dynamic and innovative thanks to her works. When I need a boost after facing a hard day in the patriarchal trenches, I read Mary Daly. She's complex, and she's delightful. She's the best lesbian visionary I know.

What we didn't do is create lesbian space that meets regularly each week. Mary Daly was a teacher, but not a builder. Why is it that we have lesbian AA groups meeting every day in big cities, but no lesbian feminist dreaming groups doing the same thing? We are in recovery all the time, but we never recover! I see lists and lists of recovery groups in the lesbian and gay press, but I rarely if ever see the words lesbian and feminist together anymore. Is it because we have lost our love of battle and victory celebration?

Remember Larry Summers? The Ivy League college president was toppled from power for suggesting that women didn't make great hard scientists – that this inferiority was part of DNA. Women rose up and helped defeat Larry Summers. Why didn't lesbian groups nationwide celebrate our victory over this enemy of women? Why don't we tear down the statues like they did in Eastern Europe? Why are we so lacking in fighting spirit?

I think of Jesus telling his disciples to preach his word, but if a town didn't want to hear it, to just shake the dust off their sandals and move on. Wow, just leave! Mary Daly has told women to "just leave" for over thirty years!

So why aren't lesbian clergy with their fancy Harvard, Yale and seminary degrees doing this? Why are they mired in church politics of men, when they could be serving women directly?

Why are lesbians giving money to straight churches? Why are lesbians doing AIDS bike-athons, when they know all the money is not going to anything lesbian? Why is this?

I do have answers to these questions. Lesbians, like any other ambition humans, want to get ahead, they want power and glory, and so working for those big fancy Episcopal churches, and wearing the fancy outfits do give one prestige. There are better pay packages and pension plans, and also lesbians are often attached to the church of their childhood.

Another reason that we continue to serve in mainstream straight churches is that gay and lesbian churches often let us down. They abandon their people in need, and they betray their members. I've met more sociopathic clergy in these places than anywhere else on earth, for example. I could actually name names, but won't here, because I haven't consulted my attorney about libel laws.

When I was in search of spiritual direction at the beginning of 2000, I certainly didn't want to have anything to do with clergy. I wanted a radical layperson to talk to. I wanted a layperson who was well educated, had been very successful in business and also who had a radical activist past. Hard to find such a person you say?

Well, ask for what you want.

My solution to the hopeless state of Christianity vis-รก-vis institutions is for lesbians and our women allies to build on the boundaries. Mary Daly taught at Boston College, a Jesuit institution, and for over thirty years, she created radical women only classrooms. I liked the irony of this -- a lesbian teaching in a Jesuit place and giving them a punch in the face, by booting out the male students. I loved her heroics and her kick butt attitude. Some would argue, "well Mary is mean" but I would argue that men in radical feminist spaces are not really interested in learning or mending their ways, they are interested in disrupting and interrupting women powerful places. I've never met a single man who ever understood radical lesbian feminism, and the ones who use this party line are usually manipulative snakes or wolves in sheep's clothing.

Mary Daly is our great lesbian genius, and in my mind, she never sold out. She gives me a sense of self-respect in her radical nature, and I am still confused as to why more lesbians don't read her works, and engage her ideas. Most lesbians I talk to have never even heard of her! We have the books, we have the brilliant minds, we have the know-how, so what is stopping us? I often ponder this question.

Do we as lesbians really want a place of our own? We could have this if we pooled our resources and supported our sisters. We need to get serious about money, because it is money that causes lesbians to want these awful straight church jobs in the first place.

We need to get more clever at bargaining. If men want something, we can compromise, and demand a part of the pie up front. If there is an AIDS ride in your town, get them to use half the money for lesbian projects, for example. I'm shocked that over $8 million dollars was raised in Los Angeles for AIDS by the gay and lesbian center, and lesbians were a big part of the success of this event--100% of that money had nothing to do with lesbians. It may have supported AIDS testing for women, or AIDS testing for mothers, but lesbians rarely if ever get AIDS. Over $8 million for a disease that is very specific, and shock of shocks, a lesbian heads the gay and lesbian center in that city. What is wrong with this picture?

Most lesbians I talked to had never thought of this monetary issue. They had never put two and two together. We have to realize the deep nature of patriarchal conditioning, and self-hatred that women have within themselves. We blame ourselves for our lack of progress, and we row a boat with an anchor overboard. The men say, "Just row harder," and then secretly they laugh knowing they have rigged the game all along.

Then the same institution had a women's night fundraiser and WOW, $150,000 was raised for lesbian programs at the center. Yes, I'm glad that much money was raised, but it is nothing compared to $8 million. Men are clever at getting lesbians to work and raise money for THEIR causes, but if we had attached lesbian programs/AIDS fundraising to the same bike ride, we'd have split $8 million 50-50. That's right, equality means 50-50. Just do the math as they say.

I know, I'm digressing somewhat, but money is often an issue with lesbian feminist advancement. It is something every lesbian spiritually alive needs to address -- dollars are a spiritual issue! If you are in a partnership, take out a $1,000,000 life policy. Be sure to consult with a knowledgeable financial advisor before you do this. When you die, you will leave $1,000,000 at least to your partner, your community, and you may even have your name and statue in a courtyard somewhere. For the most part, this money is tax-free. I have yet to meet one lesbian couple that has actually done this. I don't get it, it's easy, it doesn't cost that much if you are young, and it's worth it when you get older.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to work with men when it comes to lesbian feminist dreaming. I want a powerful lesbian sisterhood building on the past and growing toward a future. I'm not interested in the straight world; it doesn't motivate me spiritually. I want action, answers and results. We've come so far, and we've worked so hard to have our lesbian nation described so well in literature and women's studies departments. What I don't get is our infatuation with the mainstream at the expense of our sisters. If we have resources, share them. If we have food, create a space to gather the Lesbianati together.

This may be redundant, but I want to thank Becki Jayne for her fine work in this department. She's one of the great ones. She has paintings and posters for sale, buy her works, promote her career. Make of lesbians to support and then give them a portion of your income. It's that simple.

Just a few weekends ago, I went to a fundraiser for a lesbian documentary filmmaker. The room was filled with powerful lesbians and our straight sister allies. Even a few men showed up. We were all together supporting a heroic lesbian sister. I got that checkbook out! I sent emails to everyone I know supporting her work, and I felt proud to be a lesbian that afternoon!

My donation was listed in her movie credits, and I felt proud of myself.

What does this have to do with the Bible and sexism? Everything. We have to assume that women were instrumental in early Christianity. We have to assume that men try to steal and cover up women's historical achievements all the time! Just look at how Mary Daly is erased even in gay male religious scholarship, for example. Read a gay male book that purports to be about "gay and lesbian" spirituality, and then check the index. If Mary Daly is not cited in the index, you can pretty well assume the gay male scholar is an "add women and stir" type of guy. Write to the author; demand to know why lesbian feminist scholars are not included. Bug our brothers! Demand to be included in the texts!

I don't know about you, but I want to build my own shining city on a hill. Every time I write a blog entry for Becki Jayne's site, I feel I am a part of a Lesbianati intellectual achievement. She energizes me, and inspires me, because she is real and powerful. She's just one of thousands of lesbians who make a difference. She writes and she paints, and she's a gem.

I'm tired of the LGBT bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich approach, when lesbians are starving for spiritual support, and are forced to accept the crumbs yet again. I'm tired of fundraising that completely freezes out lesbian needs, and no having one complain about it anymore. I'm tired of the cowardly liberals who won’t stand up and say, AMEN LESBIANS! I'm tired of lesbians not supporting other lesbians, damn it Janet, write that check to a sister now.

I'm tired of trying to find "women in the Bible" when we have saints alive with us now. Mary Daly was booted out of Boston College by the religious right. Will we support her financially, and create a space for her to share her wisdom without those Jesuit jerks getting the last laugh again? Henri Nouen was given a full-professorship at Yale, and he didn’t even have a PhD. Yet, Mary Daly had several PhDs, and was not granted immediate professorship at an Ivy League university. Henri Nouen was a closeted Catholic priest. He never spoke out in favor of women’s ordination, and he never criticized the Vatican. But he flew off to Nicaragua and talked about "liberation theology" aka Patriarchy Lite. Whose liberation I say? Not women's that’s for sure, and certainly not lesbians!

Will we just say, Jesus supported women, and was a radical male rabbi ahead of his time, and then move on to build our own cathedrals, and create our own centers of learning.

When will lesbians get a clue, and become a great Nation of Lesbian? Or will we bow down to the devil of assimilation and moderation? Will we forget our Amazon sisters who defeated and terrorized Roman legions?

But most important, do we have the collective courage to dream big? Do we want to rule our own world and be as powerful as we want to be? Do lesbians want leaders who focus their time on lesbian concerns, instead of diluting their efforts in the LGBT mess?

Yes, I believe in lesbian separatism, because I want lesbian issues to be number one all the time. Any man or straight woman is welcome to write a check for the lesbian cause. Believe me, we've written checks to all their causes to the tune of millions! Now it's payback time! All gay men are welcome to aid and abet lesbian victory worldwide. Gay men know about lesbian power and passion. They know about our physical strength, and our hatred of tyranny and inequality. They know we are serious about structural innovation, when all they can fall back on is the same old dull and dulling policies and procedures, the deadness of "Robert’s" rules of order.

Maybe a lesbian feminist reality would create results that would be spectacular for the human species. Maybe we do have the answer, and we can assume that the Bible was created through the innovative words of women in early Christianity. Lesbians were there at the cross, and the male cowards of the Bible betrayed Jesus when a "cock" crowed. They ran away from Jesus in the end, and these cowardly idiots took charge after it was all over. Peter the cockaludicrous coward taking over the church!

A true miracle would be lesbians throwing off the chains of patriarchy and creating a true spiritual lesbian utopia. Let all those Harvard and Yale Rev. Lesbians take lesbian community building seriously. Let's make this happen for us and stop accepting patriarchal crumbs now. I know that's who I'm going to support -- the radical out there lesbian thinkers and actors on a stage of our own. Let's do it and mean it this time!