FeminismPhilosophyReligion and Spirituality

Don’t worship me, bro!

I’ve recently run across a video called “Dear Women,” put out by a group called Conscious Men. The video is embedded below.

I should say now that I appreciate the sentiment of the video. I really do. Women have been systematically excluded from positions of power and been sexually exploited for…ever. That said, I fear that Conscious Men are idealizing women, and this is a mistake.

The video goes on and on about our (i.e. women’s) “intuitive sense” and “profound capacity for feeling.” This does nothing but play to the stereotypes of the sensitive woman. Indeed, we certainly have many different perspectives that need to be heard. But the video makes it seem like women have tapped into some spiritual pathway that men cannot access, which is nothing but new-age baloney. The video also states that it is “rare to find an invasion or war instigated by women.” Of course it’s rare. It’s not often that women are national leaders, with the military capacity for such a thing.

I was tempted to ignore the pigeon-holing as just flowery language; a work of prose intended to make the point that men need to shut up and listen. But on their website, Conscious Men state that they “worship women.”

Here’s the thing, I don’t want to be worshiped. I do not claim to speak for all of woman-kind (or all of Skepchick-kind, for that matter), but I have to say that the concept makes me uncomfortable.

There is simply no reason to worship women, no more than there is any reason to worship men. Women are not inherently holy, nor good stewards of life. We just haven’t been given the chance to screw things up. If women had run the world from the beginning, I would be willing to bet that we would still have wars and still destroy the environment. (God may have been female, though.)

We’re not a gender of saints, and we are not a gender of sinners. We have racists, environmentalists, fundamentalists, atheists, liberals, conservatives, coffee-drinkers and scone-eaters. We have dark skin and light skin and harbor irrational prejudices, just like men.

Feminism – as I understand it – is not about proving that women are better than men, or about women’s dominance over men. It’s rooted in the concept that women and men deserve equal dignity. And we will not achieve anything close to gender equality if men are not involved in the fight.

And I think – behind the soothing music and disconcerting eye contact – that is the point of the video. It recognizes that men have been benefiting from conscious and unconscious sexism for millennia, and that men have an important role in stopping it. But please, don’t put us on a pedestal. That does not reflect kindly on any of us.

Women are not supernatural beings. If Conscious Men’s apology is sincere, just treat us as equals, recognize past discrimination and seek to make up for it, and I think we’ll get along just fine.

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Mindy

Mindy

Mindy is an attorney and Managing Editor of Teen Skepchick. She hates the law and loves stars. You can follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

18 Comments

  1. April 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm —

    It isn’t any better, in my opinion, when people dress up sexism in pretty language. It comes off as another way to refuse to see that women are simply female human beings. No better, no worse. It is just another limited gender role, it sounds like a new age-y version of the fairer/weaker sex to me.

  2. April 8, 2011 at 12:58 pm —

    First, let me say I appreciate the sentiment as well. I do my best to be conscious of what evils men and women have done each other in the past, and learn from it. There is nothing that can be ‘made up for’ now, in this moment.

    Now for some skeptical questions..

    Why does this make you uncomfortable to be worshiped? Do you recoil from all spirituality because some have abused it (i.e. organized religion)? Examining this may be a way to be a more conscious human.

    From what I’ve seen so far, there is something extremely interesting going on with the eye contact and facial expressions of these men. There is some new age-y fuzzy vagueness, and I think our challenge as skeptics is to come to our own truth.

  3. technomagik
    April 8, 2011 at 1:00 pm —

    First, let me say I appreciate the sentiment as well. I do my best to be conscious of what evils men and women have done each other in the past, and learn from it. There is nothing that can be ‘made up for’ now, in this moment.

    Now for some skeptical questions..

    Why does this make you uncomfortable to be worshiped? Do you recoil from all spirituality because some have abused it (i.e. organized religion)? Examining this may be a way to be a more conscious human.

    From what I’ve seen so far, there is something extremely interesting going on with the eye contact and facial expressions of these men. There is some new age-y fuzzy vagueness, and I think our challenge as skeptics is to come to our own truth.

  4. April 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm —

    i’m uncomfortable with being worshiped because, well, i’m not a goddess! nor am i inherently special simply because i’m female. to say that women should be worshiped is untenable. it creates a standard that is impossible to live up to. it is one thing to acknowledge that women have a unique point of view – or a unique set of views – based on our individual experiences. i think that is true. but it is quite another to be lifted up above men, just because i have a uterus. i want respect because i am a human being.

  5. April 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm —

    @technomagik

    Why does this make you uncomfortable to be worshiped?

    There are lots of ways to answer this, but for me as a feminist, I’ll say that it makes me uncomfortable because it is yet another role to cast women in. Consciously or unconsciously when you force women into the role of the Worshipped there are expectations that they remain in the boundaries of that role.

    Other things come into play, too, like an expectation of gratitude. You worship me, shouldn’t I be grateful for your worship, shouldn’t I show it somehow?

    Putting someone on a pedestal seems like a gift, a loving gesture, until you understand that it actually lays a burdon on them to live up to the standard of the pedestal.

    I don’t speak for all women, but in general I’d say we do not want to be your goddesses. We want a level playing field on which to explore and live up to our potentials. That’s it.

    Plus, I hear you can’t get pizza delivery all the way up on that pedestal. 😛

  6. April 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm —

    @technomagik

    Why does this make you uncomfortable to be worshiped?

    There are lots of ways to answer this, but for me as a feminist, I’ll say that it makes me uncomfortable because it is yet another role to cast women in. Consciously or unconsciously when you force women into the role of the Worshipped there are expectations that they remain in the boundaries of that role.

    Other things come into play, too, like an expectation of gratitude. You worship me, shouldn’t I be grateful for your worship, shouldn’t I show it somehow?

    Putting someone on a pedestal seems like a gift, a loving gesture, until you understand that it actually lays a burdon on them to live up to the standard of the pedestal.

    I don’t speak for all women, but in general I’d say we do not want to be your goddesses. We want a level playing field on which to explore and live up to our potentials. That’s it.

    Plus, I hear you can’t get pizza delivery all the way up on that pedestal. 😛

  7. April 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm —

    omg kammy you said that way better than i ever could. especially the pizza part.

  8. April 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm —

    This would be great material for a lampoon. Somedoby, quick – send it to Dave Chappelle.

  9. April 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm —

    I’ve seen some statistical evidence (which I of course can’t remember the source of – there’s a book though, and it’s a serious one) for the fact that there’s a lot of things that women, on average, are just plain better at than men. They’re small differences, sure, but they’re big enough to be worth noticing. And the range is wide: Cognitive processing, pain threshold, stamina and endurance, etc. etc. etc. And many of them are things that are important in modern society (though perhaps less in our original evolutionary environment).

    Grounds for worship? No. Grounds to sit down, shut up, and bloody well listen? Certainly.

  10. April 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm —

    Dammed with extravagant praise.

  11. April 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm —

    The main problem with being put on a pedestal is that it’s really long way to fall if you step out of line.

    Sure, someone might worship me if I act the way they want, but as soon as I get old or fat or bitchy, then it’s all yanked out from under me and I fall all the way to the floor as an unworthy woman. It’s always conditional.

    There was an episode of ST:TNG where Data was captured by some alien to be part of his museum, and I think that was a good portrayal of this issue. His captor met all his needs and desires and never harmed him. He could have everything he wanted, except for freedom. I don’t want to be worshiped and valued as some amazing display piece oddity; I just want to be a person.

  12. April 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm —

    So Conscious Men get to decide what attributes I need to have in order to be on a pedestal? What if I’m not intuitive and feeling, but logical and interested in data? I found it hard to get past the gross generalizations and stereotyping.

    Not to mention, the whole thing came off like a bad cult recruitment video.

    It would have been funny if it ended up being a spoof of really bad seduction technique.

  13. April 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm —

    I don’t think any of the guys in the video have ever watched Judge Judy.

  14. April 8, 2011 at 11:37 pm —

    This is a very nineteenth-century way of thinking. Just like being the perfect Victorian lady denied women the possibility of being smart, strong, independent, outspoken and even healthy because they embodied the perfect, admirable traits of being delicate, gentle, sweet, soft-spoken and meek or frail and in need of a guardian, this way of thinking denies women the possibility of being logical, powerful, goal-driven, and independent because we’re supposed to be so admirably intuitive, spiritual, nurturing and giving.

    While I wouldn’t object to being worshipped as an individual as long as it resulted in me getting whatever I wanted with no effort and did not end with me being sacrificed on the solstice, I don’t see the appeal of being worshipped for traits that I don’t possess. I’m not spiritual, intuitive, or nurturing. I’m acerbic, logical, and kinda selfish sometimes.

    My cousin, the mad genius on our now-defunct blog, had the best quote ever about situations like this. I’ve had to use it several times to illustrate this exact point. “The thing about worshipping women is–and I can’t believe this even has to be said–CHIVALRY AND FEMINISM ARE NOT THE SAME THING!”

  15. April 9, 2011 at 3:18 am —

    This worshipping thing is just sexism in a new age-y guise, but if these dudes wanted to massage my feet and bring me salty snacks while I lay around watching TV all day as an expression of their adoration, I wouldn’t say no either.

  16. April 9, 2011 at 9:39 am —

    Wow Mindy. You took the words right out of my mouth. My reaction was a little stronger though To add to it I also felt that I was being talked down too. I had to shut it off about halfway through.

    I feel like they were saying we think you’re special and we’ll treat you that way. Usually being the special one in class wasn’t that equal. I live Catgirl’s reference to the ST:TNG episode. It’s a good comparison. Laika I agree whole heartedly

  17. April 9, 2011 at 10:28 am —

    Mrs Thatcher.

    I rest my case.

  18. April 9, 2011 at 1:35 pm —

    Kept waiting for the punchline and imagining a laugh track. The intentions behind it were probably good, thanks for trying.

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