By interrupting benefits.
And this idea got me thinking. One of the reasons people defend irrational and unreasonable beliefs is because they benefit from them. Take the benefit from the belief and suddenly very few are willing to pledge their loyalty and be a true believer. And this got me thinking even more. I always wondered why the Christian patriarchy movement showed up on the scene practically out of nowhere after decades of egalitarian Christian scholarship. But then I realized that the Christian hierarchialists over at CBMW removed privilege when they began to talk about responsibility, and that didn't sit well.
They interrupted the benefits.
Suddenly being a man meant two jobs, playing with the baby on his day off, even helping make dinner! They had become servants instead of lords. Hence, the allure of the Christian patriarchy movement, which made the man once again a lord with privileges and benefits.
The backlash got me thinking about privileges that are more hidden, but nevertheless there. The privilege of whiteness shows up regularly in egalitarian theology. Our egalitarian theology is decidedly by and for white western women, and such doesn't really do much to liberate women who aren't white and who do not live in a semi-wealthy suburb with the choices of career, homemaking, or a blend of both. A theology that assumes all women have the same choices has its left foot still stuck in patriarchy. It's an uneasy alliance in more than one way, especially when it comes to racism, but its effect shows up most when the subject of money comes up.
Everyone knows homemaking is a an expensive undertaking. The hierarchialist side of the church assumes without a debate that all women are able to stay at home, but so do egalitarians. And it is this assumption that makes our theology so decidedly white, and untenable for women who live in poverty. How does a woman who can barely feed her children feel she is following God's will, if God's will is for her to stay home and imitate Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart in her homemaking skills?
So, what to do? How can we create a theology that includes, and therefore liberates all women?
By interrupting the benefits.
White women benefit from the underpaid labor of poor men, women, and children. By recognizing this privilege, and that our choices aren't everyone's choices, we can create a more inclusive theology, which includes everyone, regardless of where they live and/or how much money they make. For really, unless we tear down the whole hierarchy, we will see the damaged parts being repaired, and our work undone, as we have for the past few years. Only by making it possible for all women to identify themselves with egalitarian theology, can we create the force that is needed to tear down the hierarchy of patriarchy.
Our great-grandmothers gave us the vote. Why don't we give ourselves and our children a church void of both male and white privilege?
We can do it. But only together.