Doug Wilson’s recent post reminds me of something he wrote back in 2013. So much so, that I pulled up a draft of what I was writing in response back then, and it basically matched word for word. I figure that if Doug can recycle his arguments ad nauseum, at least it gives me a chance to make good on stuff I didn’t publish two years ago.
His current post is about how non-Christian women really are mostly on the spectrum of whores and dykes, so it’s totally legit to “generalize” them as such because — wait for it — 50 Shades of Grey sold a lot of copies. The assumption here (quick lesson, in case Doug’s fans aren’t up on logic, but assumptions aren’t real proof) is that a. all these copies were sold to non-Christians; b. all the readers were women; and c. all the readers approved of the book. And when I say “all” I mean “all” in the way that Wilson appears to use it, which is “generally speaking, because I’m not going to bother being clear about this, since it’s more fun pretending I was clear in the first place and then mocking everyone who called me out on my BS.”
The post a few years ago similarly challenged us to consider the sexual double standard set forth by liberals, and was similarly used to sidestep the issue of his tendency to blame the victim in abuse scenarios. It appears from reading this post that Wilson sincerely believes feminists are staunch fans of 50 Shades of Grey and Lil’ Wayne, which is apparently hypocritical of them because they don’t like it when men tell women what to do.
So I’m wondering, based on these and many other posts like it: Does Wilson know any real feminists or real non-Christians, or is he still arguing based on some two-dimensional scarecrow he’s made up in his head? He seems very keen on letting us know how much people misunderstand his arguments, but he doesn’t waste his precious time actually trying to figure out the arguments of anyone who thinks he’s wrong.
In the post from two years ago, Doug urges us to compare 100 women who like him and follow his teachings and 100 women who don’t, in what he seems to believe is a good limitus test of happiness and safety: whether the women have been physically abused, been called “bitch” by a boyfriend or husband, or have read 50 Shades of Grey. He obviously believes the 100 women who follow his teachings would get better grades on this test.
So, Ok, I’m accepting the challenge. I know a fair amount of women who do like Wilson and a fair amount who don’t. Probably over 100 of each. I also know a fair amount who have abandoned his teachings (and teachings like them) precisely because they were abused in some way under those teachings. I’m not sure which category I’m supposed to put them in. Presumably, they’d go in the “don’t like Wilson” camp, although that’s obviously unfair; they don’t like Wilson because his theology enabled their abusers.
But still, for the sake of argument, let’s leave them out of it. I think we can safely say that the women who follow Wilson’s teachings won’t be reading 50 Shades of Grey, because according to Wilson, that’s a sign there’s something seriously wrong with you. To hear Wilson tell it, reading that book means you’re basically apostate. So, yes, Wilson, if they agree with you, they clearly won’t be reading that book. I believe this logical fallacy is called “circular reasoning,” if you care to keep track. Although, come to think of it, most of the Facebook posts I’ve seen mentioning 50 Shades over the years were made by people in Wilson’s camp — in the negative, obviously. I’m sure they read it twice just to make sure they disapproved.
However, of all the feminists I’ve discussed 50 Shades of Grey with, not a single one of them, male or female, was a fan. They’d read it, or at least started to, because they were curious what all the fuss was about. Because they don’t believe buying a book makes you apostate or anything. They said the book was degrading and insulting to women, that the female character was an idiot, that it was absurd, poorly written, and not erotic. I confess: I read it. I was in a hostel in London and it had been left behind by someone, and I had an evening to kill that I didn’t want to spend trying to get the best of the horrendous internet connection. I was not impressed. The book was mildly amusing, in the same way that horrible things that have somehow become popular are — Doug Wilson has jump-started his notoriety on this exact principle. I’m guessing the book became popular in part because it’s so easy to make fun of; everyone loves to hate it. And that’s kind of our cultural ethos right now. Not that Doug would know anything about that.
So on to the second part of the test: being called a “bitch” by your boyfriend or husband. Here I draw a blank, because this is not something I’ve ever asked anyone else or that anyone else (again, outside of the abused women formerly from Wilson’s circle) has ever volunteered. I have insider knowledge of myself and that’s it. However, if I consider my ex-husband, who was going to counseling with Wilson at the time of our divorce, compared to every other boyfriend I’ve ever had (none of whom were big Wilson fans) then sorry, Doug, you lose this one. Your camp is the only one that ever called me a bitch. Your camp is the only one who’s ever called me a lot of things, come to think of it.
The third test, that of physical abuse, is of course the most serious. I’m not sure what Wilson considers physical abuse, but I do know a few things that he thinks aren’t physical abuse, or at least weren’t abusive enough to merit much in the way of church correction. So I don’t think I know anyone who Wilson considers to have been actually physically abused, in his camp or out of it (as far as I know, he’s never stated publicly that anyone was). I do know that every single woman I know who I would say has been abused, however, was abused at the hands of a so-called Christian man who believed in traditional gender roles. More, the more dependent my friends have been on their boyfriends or husbands, and the more patriarchal their boyfriends, husbands, and broader community were, the more likely it was that they stayed in a bad situation.
That’s what feminists are trying to prevent, actually: the entrapment of the weak by the strong. In pop culture, feminists write parodies of Robin Thicke, beg Miley Cyrus to get a clue. In real life, they live, and they want other women to have the same opportunities. Because as much as feminists like community and supporting one another, in the end, they know those things can get pulled out from under you. So you’d better know how to survive on your own if you need to.
When I think of feminists, I think of my group of female friends in Sandpoint — all of them beautiful, in the way that the summer forests and the mountains of that region are beautiful — warm, in full bloom, adorned by the natural slant of the sunlight, strong, tireless, shaped by laughter and the glory of capability. We are designers, scientists, mothers, triathaletes, homeowners. We run businesses and clear trash from cliffs; we go rock climbing and skiing together; we trade clothes regularly because we are frugal and because we see where someone else would wear a thing with better grace. We are all close with our families, but we can all take care of ourselves solo. We are afraid of neither the future or the past. We do not suffer fools. We love deeply and selectively, because we, too, want happily ever after. We believe in sacrifice, but we also believe in standing up for ourselves. We believe we are human beings before we are women. We have differing opinions, strengths, and talents. We vote. We get paid at work. We love our work. Our work makes the world a better place. And this, Doug Wilson, is how you actually praise a group of people. You don’t praise a group of people by saying “they’re better than some really hideous people I could mention.” You also don’t claim that you’re being nice because you’re only nice to the people in your camp. Even the gentiles do as much.
Feminists want the world to be a safe and fair place for everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, gender, level of attractiveness, or marital status. They don’t like patriarchy because it demands that women put themselves in a vulnerable position, suspending their own needs and safety in the hope that the man they’re under can provide for everything. And, of course, sometimes he can, and sometimes he’s wonderful. But certainly not always. Mind you, feminists are not adverse to being stay-at-home moms. They just don’t want to be required to be stay-at-home moms in order to be considered “real” women.
They just don’t want a woman to be required to submit against her better judgement. Because there lies the road to the kind of madness that Doug ends up defending.