I thought it might be useful to deal with this one as we have been dealing with other hot button topics. It’s one of the biggest strawmen arguments used against MRAs after all–that they don’t believe in equality and want to put women barefoot into the kitchen. There are a few arguments against this. I will end by explaining my personal point of view as I have figured things out from the vantage point of my faith in Christ.
1. It’s actually not the MRM who advocate this: it is certain believers in Christianity who believe that the Bible teaches that men and women have particular roles in a marriage. A good example of this viewpoint is found in Ephesians 5, Titus 2, 1 Peter 3, 1 Corinthians 11, etc. This is incidentally subject to much debate within modern Christianity.
I was watching this movie called “The Shunning” which is about this young woman who belongs to an Amish community and supposedly was adopted by her Amish parents, and because she wants to play music and seek out her birth mother, she breaks a bunch of rules and they shun her. Now this is not a pleasant thing to have happen from what I understand and it didn’t look like a lot of fun, but it’s not like the law generally prevents her as an adult from doing what she wants to. If she wants to take the chance of being shunned so she can play the guitar and wear jeans, she has that option. We don’t live in the 17th Century.
So regardless of what Christians say or don’t so, it is literally a woman’s choice to be a Christian or not, and belong to a particular church, community or marriage if she feels like it. But it’s kind of like joining a club, sports team or getting a job–it has its own internal rules, and if you don’t like it, there’s the door. In the case of dealing with a particular Christian family or church that does believe in male headship, women in fact do have the freedom–to either struggle about what they believe, try to get others to change their minds, or leave. In no way does this halt a woman’s freedom.
2. There is a general attack on feminism, yes there is. The MRM is overall anti-feminist. This is absolutely true. However feminists are frankly either lying or deceived if they think that the only means of dealing with equality is through feminism. It is hardly as though femnists were the first people on the planet to be concerned about equality and justice.
In fact, if you read “A Voice for Men” nearly all their articles against feminism call for women to act like genuine equals before the law and not as specially privileged victims. Feminism is not called an outdated movement by MRAs because we want women to make us a sandwich; it is called an outdated movement because discussing ways–in all humility–for genders to understand one another better and get along better are consistently rejected by feminists.
3. MRAs are not ignorant, contrary to feminist belief, of what feminists stand for. What is deeply ironic is the sheer number of MRAs I have known or spoken to who used to be male feminsts or at least feminist friendly. The fact is that most MRAs see the notion of cooperation between men and feminists as an empty promise, and not because of not getting what they want. They see it as an empty promise because they see little evidence from feminists that they want to cooperate with men as equals at all. in fact most feminists calling for male allies just want their money, their nods and their lifting capacity.
Now, having said this–I’m sure many of us have had experiences with women who we worked with or volunteered with that we did regard as equals. And frankly, this is because we largely share the attitude that equality needs to be earned. For example just because you are born a citizen doesn’t mean you don’t strive to be a useful member of society, ideally.
Ironically, MRAs hold the side of the question feminists seem to avoid–the notion that if women want equality, they need to lose the female privilege of dodging accountability. Responsibility in this case is more about how on a personal basis you CHOOSE to be responsible for your actions.
So for MRAs, seeing how many feminist teachers, leaders, and spokesmen and women do NOT advocate for women taking responsibility for their own actions, it actually IS about equality, genuine equality.
And that brings me back to my original point about Ephesians 5. I have always believed that men and women have their personal, general and gendered sins that they struggle with. In a way we can’t help that–we’re born the gender we are born in and every society has its influence, and on top of that physiology affects our psychology. However civilization is a long history of us overcoming nature, and so nothing we do is necessarily written in stone. So we struggle with these things. I have always believed since I truly believed that men and women need to humble themselves as the Bible advocates in order to better understand one another. However I see feminism as a powerful influence in preventing this understanding. I strongly believe that in a Christian marriage, the man and woman need to begin positioned as Ephesians 5 advocates, with the idea in mind that as we draw closer to God, together, we will transcend such things as Christ promises.