What lens do you look through?


Question: QUESTION: Hi there. I am in quite the predicament here and I hope you can offer me some advice. I am a proud and strong feminist, and I have been for as far back as I can remember. My boyfriend has always been very supportive of my feminist views, and told me that he loved my independence and the fact that I was so opinionated and not afraid to speak my mind. He always considered himself a christian(while I am an atheist) but he was a liberal christian, and he was more spiritual than religious. He didn’t believe in the christian dogma, and he was always  open to new ideas and points of view.

Well, he has been going through a difficult time emotionally lately. He is incarcerated at the moment. He recently attempted suicide, and had what he calls a near death experience. He believes that “God” saved him, and now he is intent on living a “good Christian life”. Now religion and the bible is ALL he can talk about, and he is convinced that christianity is the “Truth”. He is not even open to a different perspective. I have noticed a drastic change in him since finding religion.

He has become posessive and controlling, and he talks down to me. Just the other day I received a very upsetting letter from him. He said that if he and I were ever going to marry I would have to “accept Jesus as my savior” and live my life according to the teachings of the bible. This includes giving up my feminism and independence, because “a good christian wife is subject to her husbands authority just like I am subject to christs authority”.

Women’s equality is something that I feel very strongly about, and biblical teachings pertaining to women’s rights go against everything I stand for and believe in. He wants me to learn to be more “submissive” and “obedient” to him.

Also, he scolded me like a child the other day when I was flirtatious with him, telling me it is a sin for me to try to “tempt him” by putting “lustful ideas and thoughts” in his head. I told him that sex is natural and healthy, and something that is part of a mature and loving adult relationship. He basically told me to shut up(not in those words) because I am a woman, and must follow his lead. I was very insulted and angry, and quite frankly I am ready to break it off with him.

One of the reasons I fell in love with him was because he was not like the men I knew growing up. He treated women with respect, and viewed them as his equals. He has always valued my thoughts, feelings and opinions. Now they don’t mean anything because I am a woman.

And one more thing. He told me that I would have to bear his children if we were to be married, and not use birth control because we have to be open to “gods will”. even though I made it clear that I didn’t want children, and that was something we had both agreed upon. I feel like even if there was a god, he gave us a brain for a reason. so that we could make intelligent, thoughtful and rational decisions. We are not meant to be puppets. We have minds of our own. It also bothers me because I am highly diabetic and therefore at a high risk of complications. He is willing to risk my life?!

Sorry for the long e-mail but it’s a difficult situation to explain in such a short space. Could you please share your thoughts on this? I am confused and upset, and I don’t know who to turn to. I feel that since I was honest with him from the beginning about who I was(I haven’t changed he has) it isn’t fair of him to expect me to change to plase him. Please help.

Lisa

ANSWER: Lisa,
here are my thoughts. It seems that since you are opposed to what his worldview brings to the table you need to think about moving on. He was also honest from the beginning with who he was I assume. Then something traumatic happened and he changed as I understand it. Dating is when you get info to find out if you are going to stay with someone. You are getting info that lets you know the future of this relationship is not healthy. If you try to change him that would be unfair. So I think you need to sit with him and lay out what you have laid out here and see what he says. Because you said several times in this post that you are a “strong feminist” I wonder if you are being shown that you may have some irrationality with your beliefs. Who knows I don’t know you, but I wonder given what you have said. Now faced with something that doesn’t “buy” into what you believe you are feeling threatened.

———- FOLLOW-UP ———-

QUESTION: I do not understand what you mean by “irrational beliefs”. Who knew it was a radical idea in the twenty first century, when we had a viable female candidate running for President for the first time in history, that men and women are equal.

I can assure you that I do NOT feel threatened. I know who I am, and I am proud of the woman I am. And I don’t feel that I should have to change who I am to make a man happy. I also don’t feel that he should have to change who he is. I feel that people(both men and women) deserve to be loved for who they are. That is why I have made the decision to leave him. Obviously HE is threatened by MY beliefs, which is why he is demanding that I change.

If not wanting to be treated as domestic servant and baby making machine is “irrational” than so be it. I don’t see how any self-respecting, intelligent woman could embrace a religion that teaches her that she is a lower form of human life simply because she is a female, and that she should surrender her identity, her hopes and dreams etc for a man. I get angry when I see any group of people being oppressed. I wouldn’t date a member of the Aryan Brotherhood or KKK, and to me there isn’t much difference. Christianity teaches hatred and intolerance. Not only for women, for other groups of people as well, including gay and lesbian people. And I have some close friends who are gay that I love dearly. They are the kindest most compassionate people I know, and there is NOTHING “sinful” about two people loving each other, regardless of gender.

Anyway, ultimately you are right. THis isn’t going to work. Time to move on. Just wanted to clarify a few things. I know there are a lot of misconceptions about feminism. I am not some “man hater”. IN fact, I prefer the company of men to women! All I ask is that men treat me as a valuable human being, and respect me as their equal. Nothing irrational about that.

Lisa
 

Answer: Lisa,
I look at the world through different lenses. As a father, husband, counselor etc…When I read you writing it seems you look at the world through the lens of a feminist. You can choose to do that. Yet, at the same time when you look through this lens and approach the world in this way it will turn some people off. I think a wiser approach to take is to recognize the different beliefs and respect them even if they go against what you believe. I’m sure Mother Theresa, Bishop Tutu and Billy Graham would disagree with your view of Christianity teaching hatred. Yet, they would still approach you respectfully I’m sure. There seems to be venom behind your writing. I don’t know you and if I think you come across that way then how must you come across to people you work with or see you occasionally. I am not attempting to judge you, but give you a perception of what you may be putting out there into the world. Good luck in your endeavors.

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