Why I Don’t Believe in Female Pastors by Andreea Nica

Andreea Nica, pentecostalism It may come as a surprise to those who identify as both feminists and religious practitioners that I don’t believe women should be pastors of any dominant religious congregation. This includes most religions which, I assert, are rooted in and structured by the tenets of patriarchy. Does that mean I think women should be congregants of a patriarchal-originated religious system? You guessed it – no. While this may seem like a radical notion to some, it took me quite some time to come to terms with my own conflict in being both feminist and a believer.

My transition from the Pentecostal sect was a long, intricate process that involved life-altering decisions. The notion of leaving the church was driven by my immersion in women’s studies during my undergraduate degree. There were many difficult questions I simply didn’t have an answer for, as the church didn’t provide me with them.

One of them…

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How I Loved Myself through Charismatic Worship

Breaking up with your first love can be an excruciating process; especially when it happens to be completely entangled with your being. God was my first love and he stayed for a long while. We had many exhilarating times together, particularly within the branch of Christianity I was raised in: Pentecostalism. I fell in love with God when I uttered his divine language at 13 years of age.

Currently, I’m writing my memoir and narrative nonfiction, Freeligious ™, for which I explore the scientific explanations of my charismatic experiences in the church, which inevitably led to a closer attachment to God. In the Pentecostal church, we were encouraged to connect with God through supernatural phenomena.

Read more at Feminism and Religion

The Purity Complex: Are Men Really Less Affected Than Women?

Women’s bodies continue to receive an inexhaustible amount of attention. As a society, we have glorified, scrutinized, degraded, hypersexualized, underrepresented, and misunderstood the female body. Purity culture has orchestrated a movement around the management, perception, and regulation of women’s bodies. As a former Pentecostalist, I grew up knowing there was more focus on my body versus those of my  brothers in Christ. There was a bodily divergence between men and women that I did not fully comprehend but felt obligated to adhere to; the ideological basis of this difference was filled with much ambiguity.

Read more at Feminism and Religion…

Purity Culture

How to Stop Perpetrators Like Ariel Castro From Victimizing Innocent Women

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Cleveland Police Department/AP Photo, Tony Dejak/AP Photo

The man who held three women captive for over a decade in Cleveland, Ohio has been sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years without parole. Ariel Castro claims he is not a monster and that he was a victim of child abuse. Castro also admits to being addicted to pornography before a court room of people who found it difficult to show sympathy for the perpetrator.

As a society, the time has come where we have an important question to consider: what can the mental health and criminal justice systems do to prevent these types of crimes from occurring?

The problem is two-fold:

Firstly, we have a society that rewards and promotes isolation and privatization along lines of family, religion, and even roles in the workplace. Secondly, the thought of seeking mental health assistance is still seen as taboo – sharing feelings and emotions have been marginalized by a patriarchal system – leaving individuals feeling alone in their treatments.

Castro apologized for kidnapping the women, but denied “beating and torturing the women and insisted that most of the sex was consensual” as reported on Huffington Post. Castro’s claims and statements are symptoms of a person with a mental illness.

According to CNN, Castro tells the jury: “I’m not a monster. I’m just sick. I have an addiction, just like an alcoholic has an addiction,” he said. “God as my witness, I never beat these women like they’re trying to say that I did. I never tortured them.”

While some have passed this off as Castro playing the victim and pretending to have cared for his captives, it’s evident this man is mentally and emotionally disoriented.

If society had a better understanding of how to detect deviant behavior or anti-social personality traits in others and what to do about it, we could help prevent crimes from being committed. An article on the Daily Beast describes “sociopathy as not simply a disorder of serial killers but one that exists on a spectrum, plaguing to varying degrees a large portion of successful, apparently well-adjusted people.”

To sociopaths like Castro, morality and social behavior are skewed which is why professional help is required. By identifying the signs early on, we can prevent the victimization of innocent people.

There has been much clinical research conducted around psychopathology dating back to 1980 when criminal psychologist Robert Hare developed the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). However, most individuals with a predisposition to deviant behavior are not likely to book an appointment with a psychiatrist anytime soon.

Depending where they fall on the sociopathy spectrum, perpetrators like Castro lack impulse control and remorse, and have a relentless need to inflict pain onto others. A central theme affiliated with this disorder is power – Castro derived a sense of power by keeping female prisoners. It gave him pleasure to know he was in control of the prisoner’s lives through the imprisonment, devaluation, and abuse he executed.

With 12 million Americans considered sociopaths, mental health professionals, the criminal justice system, and governmental bodies need to work together in educating society on how to detect a sociopath; develop prevention programs in schools that reach out to potential sociopaths; and create a non-judgmental, encouraging space for sociopaths to seek help for their deviant behavior. This will not eliminate all sociopaths but preventative programs must be implemented to mitigate causes of such damaging effects on society.

Assimilation into American Evangelical Theology: They Had Me at We’re Equal!

Cultural and social disparities exist within religious immigrant assimilation processes. Growing up in a tricultural home, I learned how to disentangle and integrate differing cultural norms and expectations. My biological parents are first-generation Romanian-Americans who identified with the Pentecostal faith. I was raised by my father and stepmother; my stepmother was raised in the U.S. by Italian-American parents. In my household, we spoke English as the main entrée with Romanian and Italian for dessert. Discovering my cultural identity in categorical terms proved difficult, but when paired with religious identification, it became easier and less important.

Given that my father wanted my brother and me to assimilate into the American culture as comfortably as possible, we regularly attended an American Pentecostal church. The Romanian Pentecostal churches we infrequently visited appeared vastly different; the social and cultural expectations seemed astonishingly dissident to that of the American church.

The study Preserving Patriarchy: Assimilation, Gender Norms, and Second-Generation Korean American Evangelicals, “found that individuals maintained a substantial commitment to patriarchal gender norms and articulated these norms in language consistent with American evangelical theology rather than in ethnic/cultural terms.”

This was precisely my story.

Read entire post at Feminism and Religion Blog.

Polyamory – A Modern Perspective

     Monogamy can get so monotonous so why not love many? There are many forms of non-traditional relationships emerging in modern society with polyamory being at the forefront. In the last decade, there has been wide-spread coverage of polyamory in media, films, academic journals, and law. However, society is still in the dark on what exactly constitutes polyamory. It’s common for society to clump a group of people together with a singular label; however, that’s not how social and relational dynamics typically work. In this post, I aim to provide basic insight and clarification into the constructs of polyamory and eliminate harmful stereotypes that have developed around the concept.
A revolutionary book I recommend is, The Ethical Slut, which examines non-traditional forms of relationships, with a focus on polyamory. It aims to shed light on common misconceptions of multi-partnered relationships. Polyamory can be defined as, “The open acceptance of multiple romantic/sexual relationships.” A feminist perspective is further elaborated, “whilst it is often seen, from the outside, as fulfilling men’s fantasies (representing the possibility of infidelity without guilt and having sex with more than one woman), many within the polyamorous community regard it as a more feminine way of managing relationship, with much emphasis placed on the importance of open communication, the expression of emotion, and support networks” (Hot bi babes and feminist families: Polyamorous women speak out, Barker and Ritch, 2007). Whilst this may be a shocking discovery to some, it may also resonate within the poly community.
     ‘Poly’ is many. ‘Amory’ is love. Polyamory is ‘many loves.’ To mention, I am not promoting one relational construct over the other. What I am suggesting is that each relationship consists of participants with similar relational goals in mind. Many of the differences lie in perception and execution. For example, most poly individuals accept their jealousy as a natural inclination, but strive to remove it from their relationships. In the article, Whatever happened to non-monogamies? Critical reflections on recent research and theory, “A great deal of the research on non-monogamies concentrates on the rules, contracts and boundaries employed by non-monogamous people in order to manage their relationships. Generally the aim of such arrangements is to ensure the stability and security of the relationships and to minimize painful emotions, notably jealousy.”In mony (monogamous) dynamics, ‘break-ups’ usually result in the diminishing of the relationship; whereas poly defines this as a ‘transition’ where the interaction is still alive, but sexual intimacy may be removed. Also, in poly relationships, there can be primary and secondary lovers, along with hierarchical constructs present.
     Those who strive to eliminate barriers such as jealousy in their relationship/s tend to have healthier outcomes. Whether you’re in a mony or poly relationship, it’s important to realize both forms of relationships strive for shared relational elements such as intimacy, open communication, honesty, maturity, and growth. It’s easy to identify a concept better or worse than the normative model; yet the challenge lies in deconstructing relational components of a dynamic despite sexual orientation or organization. In my next post on polyamory, I will take on a feminist theoretical framework in relation to poly constructs and how it impacts female sexuality.
Tell us what you think about Polyamory below!
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The Hostility Effect: Just Conform

We all know who you are. The ones who always have to be different. Deviate from the norm. Stand up for alternative rights. Educating themselves far more than necessary. Appear different. Disrupting society. Vagabonds as my grandpa says. Let’s take a moment to reflect on these individuals and their relationship with society. What are the philosophical and psychological implications of their deviation from societal norms and standards? Do they wish to lead more seemingly difficult lives? Most people choose the path of least resistance so it doesn’t make a lot of sense for these individuals to take a path of most resistance. Essentially, there is a chief answer as to why non-conformity is prevalent amongst certain groups. What is it? Lack of benefit.
Change is necessary to those who realize their marginalization. Admittedly, some do continue life in a state of disbelief or depression, but not everyone is capable of being silent after knowing they are a marginalized group in society. Why does society blame them? Society blames and devalues these individuals because though their rebellion, they confront those who adhere to the standards set before them. Modern society is created through a hierarchical order where a marginalized presence must exist in order for the dominant group to reign. Through a modern capitalistic framework, values taken out of a corporate handbook, and the hierarchical order of humanity; we have created globalized inequalities.
Theses inequalities manifest themselves differently depending on the economic condition, political positioning, and social conventions of the cultural landscape. The subservient group knows their place and should remain there. In certain locations, the marginalized groups are given barely enough to survive, presenting the illusion that there is always more to gain if they work hard enough. In other areas, people are starving on many levels, replacing any hope for improvement with daily survival. The ones who dwell in the dominant group will rarely deviate from their habitat. Why would they? Even if an individual acknowledges the social processes that take place and the atrocities of globalized inequalities, they cannot defy their group so profoundly and possibly end up empty-handed. In this case, the issue at hand is one of motivation. What motivates those who do fight for a more productive, egalitarian society?
Simple: Death vs Survival.
Once you know what group you inhabit and who your master is, you ultimately have 2 choices: Death or Survival. I don’t mean this in a fatal, mortal sense. With enlightenment comes a fierce passion that induces a fire within you. At your core, you KNOW you can either fight the rest of your life to educate, create warriors, heal others, advance society, reap fulfilling benefits in order to survive. On the other hand, you can choose Death. Death is knowing everyday and deteriorating internally through complacency, apathy, and chronic emptiness. Most people will subside these feelings with substances, addictions, disorders, poor health, negative relationships and so forth in order to cope with not surviving. Most people believe it’s hard to survive, i.e. fight for an egalitarian system, but the reality is that it’s far more difficult to conform and prevent yourself from reaping the benefits of what it means to be human through our interconnectivity with the earth. Those who embark on a journey of most resistance do it because it reaps the most rewards, and frankly, there is no other way once you know.