“Woman, Be Silent!” (plus my thoughts)

Tonight finishing listening to The Thinking Atheists’s podcast titled “Woman, Be Silent!”:

Rarely do I listen to podcasts of any sort, but I found this one interesting. Was already familiar with pretty much everything mentioned therein, but it was still worthwhile to listen to. I like the podcaster’s style and his decency toward guests. Very refreshing, especially for an atheist (just keeping it real). Provided me with food for thought.

Like the story of Lilith, which I’ve known about for several years but never really deeply studied up on. Should do that. (Btw, hence “Lilith Fairs” attended by feminists and lesbians.) The way I interpret that story is it represents the pre-domesticated woman.

See, this rise of civilization has been all about domestication. First humans aimed to domesticate animals, then came humans, with the rise in male-dominated (religious) hierarchies taking the role of domesticator of womenfolk (that being my current thoughts and understanding on that anyway). Just the way history shook out. And the “wild woman” is something that’s been demonized pretty heavily ever since. Sad fact of life apparently, says one modern wildish woman out in the crowd. The wild woman couldn’t be properly broken, which is a big reason why she’s been written out of history and left forgotten in religious circles — no one wants to speak her name except when condemning her. She’s considered a pain in the ass, unwilling to submit. Fell out of favor for a long time, yet, that spirit seems to be brewing back around again, though commonly in a distorted way that proves to be what some consider excessively hedonistic and promiscuous. Guess it comes down to one’s perspective on the matter. This is a time of sexual liberation but also of learning consequences resulting thereof. Can and does present tough lessons to reckon with.

I’ve been thinking about all of this wild woman vs. domesticated woman stuff for quite a long time as I’ve been forced to wrestle with my own lifestyle’s impact on myself and others. And I’m still left with a lot of mixed feelings.

On one hand, the push toward domestication disgusts me — it feels too unnatural, too restrictive at times, too often rendering what was once on some level regarded as sacred into popularized rubbish. Our needs aren’t apparently getting met, hence why we’re so prone to continue deceiving one another. We feel the need to explore despite it not being considered socially proper during certain life phases. And I’d argue we’re being driven into one another’s arms sexually all the more because so many of our other bonds have broken down. What at first seems like rampant hedonism on the surface might actually be a glimpse at the reality created through the utilization of remaining avenues of exploration and connection in a time when so much else is denied or rendered foreign to us. It’s a thought.

And on the other hand, there is a real need for self-control in each individual. We can’t just give into any and all impulses and whims — doing so will undermine the very values that we claim to esteem. Like loyalty and romantic faithfulness in a union. Most people can’t help but care about this (though I personally remain on the fence and in the outfield on the subject — double standards admittedly continue twisting me up). We value certain bonds over others, and each relationship sets its own parameters. But there still appears to be this need to deny desires at times so as to focus that energy on projects deserving to be catered to or bonds willfully being committed to. Because that’s the way life goes — we each have social needs and obligations. That requires a give and a take, which means not doing everything we might individually want whenever it strikes our fancy.

I know I personally struggle with some of this, as one highly individualistic and defiant one out in the bunch. Blame it on my immaturity if you must, but I’m still not sold on where to go from here. While I know that I don’t desire to resume my previous lifestyle since it wound up leading into some dark places, I’m not so interested in pretending to be someone I’m not in an effort to appease someone else’s ideal. Can’t do it anymore. Tried and crashed and burned. Epic and sad failure on my part.

I just don’t know what to do now other than take time to think and sort and ponder.

Getting back to the podcast, I really appreciate how well the podcaster treated the female Methodist pastor. Very respectful despite their differences in perspectives. My family is Methodist, and it is more lenient than Baptist faiths I encountered down South. Just to throw it out there, my ex-husband had been raised and home-schooled in a Primitive Baptist family where his father became a preacher. His father didn’t tolerate women wearing pants either, and he believed it was within his right to continue belting his adult daughters, to mistreat his sons, and to punish his wife physically. Very full of himself. So yeah, I understand much variation exists out there, especially comparing Southern experiences to liberal Christians up here in the Midwest. Big differences.

Also, I too appreciated Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book Infidel and would recommend it to others as food for thought. Very disturbing and illuminating read.

[Lightly edited on 10/7/2014 for greater clarity.]

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