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  1. January 16, 2014 5:00 pm

    They reflect, of course, a popular medieval view of human reproduction, which still can be found in some modern expressions of medieval philosophy (I have seen similar presentations in some recent Chassidic writings, for example.) This world-view arguably had its intellectual peak in Nicolaas Hartsoeker’s animacule observations. (For those who forget the scientific history of optics, Hartsoeker claimed to view tiny homunculi inside human spermatozoa through his newly invented barrel microsocope.)

    However, I do not believe “planter/receiver” terminology will have much of a future among most American Evangelical communities — it too quickly brings to mind contemporary “pitcher/catcher” slang.

  2. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    January 16, 2014 5:08 pm

    You mean “pitcher/catcher?” Your comment about the homunculi is interesting. I had heard it but forgot.

    But this terminology has been around for a good deal of time, for pehaps 2 decades if not more. Remember Dan Wallace used the language of “responder” in his Biblical Gynecology series. I asked him to changed the title, and he did not, but later a male blogger asked him to take down the title and he did. Of course, he still calls women responders, except of course, women like me who are rebellious and don’t respond, but tend to initiate at times. But you can see that he would not, as a man, respond to a request by a woman.

    Tim Keller has a lot of traction also and growing. I do think that it will not change until women take action. I would never put up with this in my workplace!

  3. January 16, 2014 5:48 pm

    Thanks for your correction (which I have used to update my comment). I originally had it right, but had an HTML error, and then when I went to correct it, I put in the wrong terminology. I think it is right now, though ….

    I suspect that you are right that these individuals will not change their underlying views, but terminology changes all the time. Unfortunately, the Evangelical community does not have any prophet who can change church opinion overnight.

  4. January 16, 2014 5:56 pm

    My wife and I met Dan Allender at a conference he was leading. (Some friends of ours bought us the tickets to go with them to it.) I’m pretty sure you are correct to say that he would “identify more closely with [us] egalitarians.” There is a point, nonetheless, where he also “might not realize the effect” of what he’s co-written with his Bible scholar friend Tremper Longman III.

    There does need to be some care taken with quotations and summaries and characterizations.

    For example, in the brochure you link to, the following appears as a paragraph right before the first four-paragraph bit you show us:

    In summarizing Gilligan’s work, Allender and Longman conclude generally, “Men define maturity in terms of separating from relationship and accomplishing a great dream; women view maturity in light of the qualities of care, connection and interdependence.”

    Those who’ve read Carol Gilligan’s works, even her most famous, In a Different Voice , will know that she focuses on difference in her research. Outside of the academy, we hear people popularly referring to her as the mother of “difference feminism.” In studies of feminisms, nonetheless, there is acknowledged quite a spectrum of consequential work from various researchers that fall under the umbrella “difference feminism.” The general opposition within feminisms to such is another group of scholars and writers whose scientific and / or philosophic research gets called “equality feminism.” (Here’s a draft paper posted by Political Scientist Dr. Nadine Changfoot on this whole issue.)

    So if we jump out of the brochure that summarizes Allender and Longman summarizing Gilligan, then we see more of what these two male authors are up to. And we can pay attention to their language.

    In Intimate Allies (which I’ve read), they characterize Gilligan as being different from feminists. In fact, on page 152, they infer that she is scientific vs. feministic (and the bold font here indicates my emphases):

    Recent studies done without the philosophic distortion of radical feminism indicate a fundamental rather than merely sociological difference between men and women. Carol Gilligan, in a landmark work, In a Different Voice, notes that men and women reason, communicate, and choose differently based on one fundamental difference: the priority of task versus relationship.

    They go on to provide a few direct quotations from In a Different Voice. And they conclude their “scientific” section with something very interesting. It’s interesting mainly because Allender’s work has, at times, focused on recovery from abuse, especially sex abuse perpetrated by adults on children.

    So, right after he sums up and quotes from Gilligan (as a scientist, not presumably one of those radical feminists who distort philosophically — a mis-characterization of inference indeed!), Allender writes this:

    Other studies indicate that men are more perverse and violent than women. Males are seven times more likely than females to be sexual abusers. And almost 82 percent of all sexual perversions are perpetrated by men. On the other hand, women are four times more likely to be depressed and eight times more likely to struggle with bulimia and codependency. All these symptoms point to emptiness and absorptive tendencies. Even in the symptoms of sin, men and women differ.

    Well, that’s quite a statement. Difference is everything here. Am I quoting Allender and Longman correctly?

    What is flawed here is the thinking that feminists are different and their causes are different: in essence radical and distorting and lacking in research and unscientific.

    What is dangerous is to keep different the sin of men and the symptoms of the sin of men from the sin of women. What if Nature is not the cause of such difference? What if, as feminists who are mild or moderate or radical sometimes suspect, it is a sort of social construct of difference that is largely responsible for what appears to be, and is simply what Allender and Longman merely claim there must be, “a fundamental rather than merely sociological difference”? What if both the sex violence of men and the struggles of women (that these two men identify as they parse out difference) are causally related to binary thinking? What if, as Nancy Mairs says, “the fundamental structure of patriarchy is binary“?

  5. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    January 16, 2014 7:02 pm

    I disagree. Studies that cross cultures show that in some cultures women have the moral ethics that men have here, and women vice versa. I have read lots of scientific data and been friends with cross cultural psychologists all my life, and I just don’t agree with all this difference. Of course, there is difference, but is it fundamental? Is it hard wired? No, I think this is just an excuse to reject feminism.

    In real life, I am a pretty toned down, ordinary little woman who taught special needs kids, and sews and knits, but I like lots of typically masculine things to0, and am task oriented. I don’t want to be shoved into a relational box. But lots of women disagree with me. However, I have been reading cross cultural psych stuff all my life, so I am not saying this from a biased, feminist viewpoint, but from a scientific one and a lifetime of listening to psych reports.

    I agree that there are differences, as Gottman outlines, but he does not go on to extrapolate into all areas. He does emphasize the “emotional flooding” which men experience and may lead to more violence. That may be biological. But I think all this stuff about men being after a “great dream,” and women not so much, is just diminishing to real women.

    I can understand Mairs better, but I think some of it is still cultural.

  6. krwordgazer permalink
    January 16, 2014 8:18 pm

    You know, I really my husband’s “great dream” — the thing he wanted, and wants, most in life– is foundationally relational. His primary value is having a family, a wife and kids. And he certainly is masculine!

    All of this stuff is, consciously or unconsciously, patriarchal in perspective. Why do we say a man “plants” and a woman “receives” instead of that a woman “encompasses” and a man “is encompassed”? No other reason than that the male way of looking at sexual relations is considered the default. But the idea that men are creative while women simply organize what the man creates is fundamentally unsound. Since the nature of God is Creator, to remove creativity from women is to say they are less in the image of God, and therefore less human, than men. Dorothy Sayers’ book “Are Women Human?” makes it clear that throughout the generations, the impulse of the man has been to answer, “No, or at least, not as human as I am.” The creativeness of the man should therefore be turned to forming a new attitude that says “Yes, she is just as human, and just as creative, as I am.”

  7. January 17, 2014 10:52 am

    “Difference” and “equality” cannot be merely scientific or objective. The categories of “man” and “woman” or “female” and “male,” for example, are always fuzzy, subjective, and in the eye of the beholder.

    An analogy is the physics of color and the phenomenon of color terms. The famous Berlin and Kay studies, crossing cultures and languages, get at this. If anything is “obvious” in “Nature,” then it is the spectrum of colors. We all recognize color (and understand color blindness and even complete unsightedness). There is a reality to the hues. But is green “different” from blue? Can we native speakers of Vietnamese distinguish between them although our basic color term xanh cannot? For those of us who grew up communicating using tiếng Việt, this word, and that color, is what we are forced in English to call “grue” or “bleen.” These are two equals, no difference. There are blue shades and green shades in xanh, but so what?

    It's the "so what" that is the critical thing. Women can have babies; so therefore women must in the US of A earn on average and year after recent year merely 77 pennies to each $1 each man (who, by Nature, cannot biologically have babies) earns on average. Men have penises; so therefore men must be more sexually violent toward women and children. Women must wear headcoverings and be silent in the churches – because they are not men. Men must be the popes, the priests, the pastors, the elders, the teachers of other men – because women are not men and are sooooooo different ("hard wired" and "fundamental" and "scientific" not just "sociologically" and not ever equal really as this would be in the subjective eyes of those feminists, radical, philosophists). Suzanne, You make such a good point about crossing cultures to help us all see that, of course, there's difference, but in many ways and among many peoples of many eras of history, "so what"?

    Pearl S. Buck, who also was named 賽珍珠 (Sài Zhēnzhū), correctly did "not believe there is any important difference between men and women." She also wrote "If the white, Gentile, adult male believes that his nation is a democracy, let him remember that there are others — and perhaps nearer to him than he knows or cares to believe — to whom he appears only as a dictator." One can only wonder if Ms. Buck was also able to see these things "equalities" and "differences" because she was – as she claimed – "mentally bifocal"; in other words, she was able to live in "my several worlds," including that "small, white, clean Presbyterian world of my parents," and that "big, loving merry not-too-clean Chinese world."

  8. krwordgazer permalink
    January 17, 2014 4:44 pm

    I read another interesting tidbit today. A Harvard study in 2009 concluded that one of the main barriers to women in leadership had to do with the relationships men find it easier to “incubate” (using Keller and White’s word) among business associates. It is not that men don’t “incubate relationships” – it’s that the woman’s time and other constrictions (she still does the vast majority of the housework and childcare even when she’s in the business world) tend to keep her relationships centered in the home and family.

    The idea that women are relational while men are creational is thus entirely false. The difference is in the nexxus of power in where the relationships are primarily cultivated.

  9. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    January 18, 2014 7:54 am

    Thanks for all your comments. It is the kind of thing one can offer endless opinions on.

    I think the best women can do is ask for equal treatment. Some people also see the sexes benefit by having differences taken into consideration. for example, more women in the workplace want time off to care for children and parents, but i am aware of more men moving into this role as well.

    i don’t like Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, but a young man told me recently that he had read the book and everything came clear to him. He is now very happy in his marriage. His view is that if he doesn’t always understand his wife, that’s okay, we’re normal. They seem happy. i didn’t criticize the book to him.

    There are physiological and cultural differences which are huge, but when I interact with men I don’t know, I expect them to treat me as someone who has the same goals in life as men, to generate one’s own ideas, to communicate and dialogue on par with others, to contribute and interact as equals. That’s the fun of being here. We are as bloggers more alike than we are different. We love systematizing and obscure posts that may or may not relate to anyone else. Of course, I see myself as culturally feminine, but only a portion of my posts fit into that characterization.

  10. sheila permalink
    July 28, 2014 8:41 pm

    I think that the issue is that these writers are dealing with a subject deeper than biology. They are addressing spiritual issues that are beyond what you are referring to as freshman biology. As a woman, who has some feminist tendencies myself, i do not take issue with their assessment, rather, I believe they are giving dignity to women and men and the interrelationship of their roles in love, relationships and life.

  11. July 29, 2014 9:51 am

    Timothy J. Keller and Jeffery O. White write the following in the pamphlet Suzanne has quoted from:

    A husband may enjoy sexual channels as his primary love language, but his wife may desire spending time together. He continues to be “romantic” and wonders why she claims he doesn’t love her.

    (The category of “Erotic” love.)
    n. Loving sexually.
    Love can be expressed by finding out what pleases your partner sexually. It might involve taking plenty of time to enjoy foreplay and creating an appropriate climate. It might involve initiating love-making. It might involve finding ways of keeping the passion in your love-making and preventing it from becoming boring or predictable.

    7. Physical/sexual relationship

    2. Love? Do you expect to love each other always? Do you expect this to change over time?
    3. Your sexual relationship? Frequency? Practices? Taboos?
    4. Romance? What is romantic for you?

    Their sexual acts reflect these tendencies. A man is a planter. A woman is a receiver.

    Only in a covenant of marriage is sexual intimacy not a lie.

    Since sex is the deepest way to entrust one’s self to another, its use will have gigantic effects on the user. If it is used in marriage, along the lines mentioned above, it will greatly build up your ability to love, entrust, commit, and give. If it is used outside of marriage, it will badly damage this “commitment apparatus”, for trust will become a lie. Sex was never intended to stand alone. When you separate it from a relationship of complete commitment you misuse it, distort it, and do damage to yourself as a human being. Sex is God’s ordained way to say to another person: “I belong completely and exclusively to you.” It must not be used to say anything else.

    4. Sex was created to point us to the intimacy which we are to have with God. It serves as a sign which foreshadows and anticipates the future of our relationship with God.

    “Sexuality is an important window into the heart of God. God’s plan is for us to pursue and know him in and through the sexual intimacy we have with our spouses. Spiritual intimacy and delight are not opposed to sexual intimacy; spiritual intimacy is actually found in the midst of the relational, fleshly delight of reunion. A taste of the character of God is found in sexual foreplay, heightened arousal, orgasm and quiescence. God is a God of passion. He adores joy, and he delights in our delight in glory.”
    Allender and Longman, Intimate Allies

    Aren’t they referring to biology if going beyond it?

    “A taste of the character of God is found in sexual foreplay, heightened arousal, orgasm and quiescence. God is a God of passion. He . . . “?

  12. D. Hawxhurst permalink
    November 9, 2015 12:22 pm

    Suzanne, when you say “I feel my whole body recoil as I read this kind of thing.” It sounds like there are some deeper issues here with you that you are not addressing. I know being a feminist is a noble cause in our post-modern society, but it also is a defense mechanism that can block allowing God to penetrate deeper into our souls and reveal something that needs to be addressed. I heartily disagree with how you have interpreted Allender, Longman, and Keller. Granted I disagree with most modern feminist assertions, but I can do so without it calling forth something in me that might bias me from learning from others or prevent me from personal growth.

  13. November 9, 2015 1:13 pm

    Dear Ms. D. Hawxhurst,

    Please know that Ms. McCarthy passed away earlier this year:

    She would have been happy, I imagine, that you were interested in what she was not addressing and might have been amused that you saw her as first and foremost “being a feminist.” She would have chuckled at “feminism” itself as being a defense mechanism against the work of God upon ones soul, perhaps. Once in a comment after her post at one of her blogs, she did write, to try to clarify, “I am a feminist in that I believe that women should have equal rights. I don’t know why someone would give up that belief.” And yet to put Christianity and Feminism together in the title of another post spoke to her understanding of feminisms of various sorts for different peoples: In the book she was writing, I’m not sure feminism per se figures at all. It would have been really nice if you and she could have talked privately about these sorts of things. Sometimes, as you suggest here to her in public, what goes on personally is not always all one desires to address. If only we all understood how profound our own individual biases. Thank you for taking time to comment.

    J. K. Gayle

  14. krwordgazer permalink
    November 13, 2015 1:19 pm

    D. Hawxhurst, I don’t know whether you are a man or a woman, and I can’t speak for Suzanne, who is in a place where such things can no longer hurt her, but I don’t know why it would be surprising for a woman’s “whole body [to] recoil” at the idea that she is essentially a receptacle, that she is there to receive whatever men give her– particularly in light of what has also been mentioned here about the percentage of abusers who are men! Women who don’t feel any recoil at such a thought perhaps have not thought through the implications of these statements, or the results of certain kinds of real men believing them in the real world.

    As for bias– we all have bias. Your own bias may have something to do with the fact that youare not emotionally moved at the idea that women don’t (can’t) have original creativity of their own, but can only take what men create and “shape” it. As a woman, this implication that I am less human than a man does emotionally move me, because it affects my self-image as a woman and a creative (I hope!) writer in a way it may not affect you.

    There is no reason to assume that Suzanne’s bias was such that it prevented her from “learning from others or personal growth.” Such an assumption may reveal another bias of your own.

  15. helenevarye permalink
    May 7, 2017 1:01 am

    J.K. Gayle and Krwordgazer: I occasionally browse my mothers posts on this blog, when I am particularly missing her, or needing to hear her voice in her writing and discussions mostly with you two, and a few others. As you can imagine, it is hard to read some comments, like the above by D. Hawxhurst. I want to thank you for being her ever faithful friends. Many Thanks.
    It may also interest you to know that Jay is working hard to finish the editing of her book.

  16. May 8, 2017 11:07 am

    Dear Helen,

    Your mother, as you know so well, was very thoughtful to give time even to those who trolled her blogposts and who disparaged her views. What Ms. Hawxhurst neglects and what she therefore may find herself missing is your mother’s engagement with her online in ways that gets all of us thinking better. I am sad you miss her. When I was missing my father, who had fought cancer but lost, she emailed me to sympathize and to empathize and to encourage me as she herself was struggling:

    “I am sad to read your posts about your Dad. My mom died of cancer about 20 years ago. When my dad died recently he was in his nineties and relieved to go. He always missed my mom so much.

    Each stage of life brings new pains and a different aspect of love, how vulnerable we are when we love. I am glad that you are still blogging. I intend to keep blogging although I do need breaks.”

    Thanks for sharing the good update on her book as Jay works on completing the editing.

    As I did last year, I will think of you and your sibling and Jay’s children again this year on Mother’s Day! And here’s where your mother once blogged about her mother (and notice how she engages with and gives sympathy to the one commenting at the end). This is a good place to “hear her voice in her writing”:


    Kurk (aka J. K. Gayle)


  1. Suzanne McCarthy: No more crankypants! | BLT

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